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Your 8-year-old now
Left to their own devices, most children are "intuitive eaters" – they eat when they're hungry and stop when they're full. They never get ravenous or stuffed.
They eat three meals plus snacks but don't gain excessive weight. They eat some of whatever they're served and, over the course of a week, wind up with a fairly well balanced diet that includes sweets and fats in moderation.
To avoid disrupting your child's naturally healthful eating habits, start by making a variety of foods available at meals and snacks. Don't ban certain foods, not even candy or chips – forbidding them tends to add to their allure.
Likewise, most nutrition experts don't favor rigid portion control. When a child is allowed to have only "so much," he may sneak food or overeat when you're not watching.
Keep nutritious choices on hand and let your child see you eat these foods, too. Avoid using food as a reward for good behavior or for school performance – or for punishment. Food should be a neutral commodity that people eat first for fuel and second for pleasure, without other emotional strings attached.
Your life now
Family time is important – but so is grown-up time. Spending time away from your kids, whether with your partner or by yourself, is critical for everybody's mental health.
What many parents don't realize is that they're not depriving their child of anything: Adult-free time benefits a child, too. It's a chance to recharge and to be responsible for entertaining himself.
Your child also learns that he's not the center of the universe and that adults are different from kids, with their own needs, privileges, and agendas.
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