Importance of Sleep

The average kid has a busy day. There's school, taking care of your pets, running around with friends, going to sports practice or other activities, and doing your homework. Phew! It's tiring just writing it all down. By the end of the day, your body needs a break. Sleep allows your body to rest for the next day.

Everything that's alive needs sleep to survive. Even your dog or cat curls up for naps. Animals sleep for the same reason you do — to give your body a tiny vacation.

Not only is sleep necessary for your body, it's important for your brain, too. Though no one is exactly sure what work the brain does when you're asleep, some scientists think that the brain sorts through and stores information, replaces chemicals, and solves problems while you snooze.

Most kids between 5 and 14 get about 9.5 hours a night, but experts agree that most need 10 or 11 hours each night. Sleep is an individual thing and some kids need more than others.

When your body doesn't have enough hours to rest, you may feel tired or cranky, or you may be unable to think clearly. You might have a hard time following directions, or you might have an argument with a friend over something really stupid. A school assignment that's normally easy may feel impossible, or you may feel clumsy playing your favorite sport or instrument.

One more reason to get enough sleep: If you don't, you may not grow as well. That's right, researchers believe too little sleep can affect growth and your immune system — which keeps you from getting sick.

Nutrition

Nutrition for kids is based on the same principles as nutrition for adults. Everyone needs the same types of nutrients — such as vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, protein and fat. What's different about nutrition for kids, however, is the amount of specific nutrients needed at different ages. So what's the best formula to fuel your child's growth and development? Click on the tabs to the left for nutrition basics for girls and boys at various ages, based on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Consider these nutrient-dense foods:

Protein. Choose seafood, lean meat and poultry, eggs, beans, peas, soy products, and unsalted nuts and seeds.

Fruits. Encourage your child to eat a variety of fresh, canned, frozen or dried fruits — rather than fruit juice. If your child drinks juice, make sure it's 100 percent juice.

Vegetables. Serve a variety of fresh, canned or frozen vegetables — especially dark green, red and orange vegetables, beans and peas.

Grains. Choose whole grains, such as whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, popcorn, quinoa, or brown or wild rice.

Dairy. Encourage your child to eat and drink fat-free or low-fat dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, cheese or fortified soy beverages.

Aim to limit your child's calories from solids fats and added sugar, such as butter, cake, soda and pizza. Look for ways to replace solid fats with vegetable and nut oils, which provide essential fatty acids and vitamin E. Oils are naturally present in olives, nuts, avocados and seafood.

If you have questions about nutrition for kids or specific concerns about your child's diet, talk to your child's doctor or a registered dietitian.

Stretching

Why Stretch before playing? 

  • Prevents injuries
  • Getting loose
  • Helps kids’ bodies recover after exercise
  • Helps kids’ bodies become and remain flexible as they grow
  • Reduces muscle tension and feels good

Types of stretching: Dynamic Stretch (Functional Movements), Static stretch ( non- movement)

It’s very important to make stretching a regular part of their routine. Proper stretching helps decrease the risk of injury such as cramps and strains, while increasing flexibility and range of motion.

Have your child stretch when their muscles are warm by engaging in a few minutes of physical activity first, as stretching cold muscles can lead to injury.  Many experts actually recommend warming up with a light jog. Stretches should be done on both sides of the body. With active stretches that work more muscles, the stretched muscles learn to extend while another group is working.

Here are a few static stretches to try:

Kneeling Stretch

Have your child kneel with both feet pressed together and knees apart. Arms should be along each side of their body with both palms up. Bend over slowly as if trying to touch the floor with their forehead. Hold this position for 10 seconds, breathing throughout. Release and repeat.

Shoulder Blades Stretch

Stretch the shoulder blades by having your child stand with arms stretched out, parallel to the ground. Keep the palms facing backward with their thumbs toward the ground. Have them press their arms back as if squeezing a ball behind their back. Breathe normally and hold for 10 seconds. Release the stretch, inhale and repeat.

Hamstring Stretch

Have your child sit on a mat with their back straight and both legs extended in front. Bend the right leg until the bottom of their foot is next to the left leg. Lean forward, reach for the toes and exhale. Hold for 10 seconds, release and repeat.

Side Stretch

Have your child stand with their legs shoulder-width apart, right hand on right hip and their left hand overhead. Have them lean toward the right as if trying to touch their right shoulder with their left hand.  Exhale while leaning over, hold the stretch for 10 seconds, return to the starting position and switch sides.

After sports or physical play, kids should do a cool-down routine that includes some stretching. Now is the time for static stretches concentrating on the muscle groups they used in their exercise (say, calves, hamstrings, and quads after running). Show your child how to stretch into a position where they feel the muscle being activated. Look for the sensation of tightness, not pain, then hold, without bouncing, for 20 to 30 seconds.  Never force stretches and avoid bouncy movements. Enjoy summer fun, sports and being active while stretching properly. Remember to stop if any stretching begins to hurt.

Proper Attitude Towards Failure

The Game of Baseball is Not Perfect and Neither Are You!

A very good baseball player:

  •  will get three hits in every ten bats over their playing career. That means that they fail seven times in every ten at-bats.
  •  will make mistakes.
  •  will learn from his mistakes and try to not repeat them.
  •  will maintain good body language and not show his emotions on the field. He will show class and maturity.
  •  will have a positive outlook and will encourage other players when they're not having a good day.
  •  will try to find any way to help his team win even if they struggling themselves.
  •  will find some good out of every negative situation.
  •  will NEVER quit or give up on himself and his teammates!

Grow up! Act your age! No one will feel sorry for you other than your parents, so DON'T show your emotions on the field! Remember, failure is part of the learning and maturation process. Its the road map to success!