Your 6 1/4-year-old: Sending clear messages

Your 6 1/4-year-old: Sending clear messages

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Your 6-year-old now

Children are adept at reading nonverbal cues. Say your child races in to show you the masterpiece he just painted. Your eyes stray briefly from your book and you toss out a casual, "That's beautiful, honey." What you just told him with your body language and tone of voice: "I don't care. Please don't bother me."

Nonverbal communication – body language – comprises more than three-fourths of all communication. Use it to your advantage as a positive behavior-shaping tool. Most parents provide lots of verbal approval, for example. But add a broad grin and a high five to that "Good job" and your words will carry more weight. In fact, most people – kids included – subconsciously trust nonverbal messages over verbal ones.

Other ways to show, not tell: Look your child in the eye and bend down to his level when you speak to him, to let him know that he's important. Most children also love to be touched, so rub his back, tousle his hair, or give a quick hug to express your approval.

Your life now

Fats are an important part of your child's diet – provided they're the right fats. What to look for? Fish such as salmon and tuna, peanut butter (look for no-sugar-added varieties) served with carrots or on whole-grain breads, hummus (it's made from pureed chickpeas, sesame seed paste, and olive oil), avocado, yogurt, ground flaxseeds added to cereals or breads, nuts (in moderation), wheat germ. Cook with olive and canola oils rather than cottonseed oil, lard, or shortening, and avoid fried foods – your child may not develop a taste for them if they aren't often on the menu.

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