Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Persuading Toddlers to Teenagers to Eat Healthy Food; Fun tips on Mealtime Manipulation

Knowing and wanting your children to eat healthy food is one thing. Getting them to do it is another. As they learn to exert their own will and say 'no' in the various stages of their development, rather than the stress of forcing, lecturing, giving ultimatums or any of that 'bad vibe' stuff, try using a bit of merry manipulation. It's fun, creative, and time better spent for all of you. Instead of a 'battle of wills', mealtime can be fun and a bit playful - and we all know how well kids learn through play.

Basically, whatever 'turns them on' at that particular age of their life can inspire you to create that same sense of fun with food. Get them eating it without them associating it to something they don't like. Here are some ideas . . .

You can turn it into a game of cause and effect. Every time you take a bite out of it, it makes you do something. You can't help it - it's as if the food takes control of your body! Take a bite out of their food and pretend it makes your arm wiggle all over the place. Oh no, this food makes me hop on one leg! And when I eat this, it makes me fall to the ground as if I am dead for 5 seconds. Then, let them try it.

During the particularly defiant stages, sitting beside my son with my plate just close enough for him to reach it, I'd try things like "I didn't give you any "X" because I'm afraid you'll like it too much and I don't feel like sharing so whatever you do, don't touch it" (said in a mock stern tone). They love to defy so use that against them. Is it manipulation, perhaps, yet is it fun. You bet! I once told him that the reason I didn't want him to eat a particular food is that it will make him invisible to me for 5 seconds. Of course I'd find reasons to look away or get up for something - always able to see him somehow in my peripheral vision or in a reflection. Then, when I notice he eats it, I make a big do about ''oh no, where is my son! He was here a second ago, I can't see him anywhere!" Then 5 seconds later, pretend you can see him again. Or, pretend when they eat a certain food, it makes You do something - so they have fun manipulating you.

One afternoon, my 2 young sons and I saw a show about dinosaurs - herbivores. After, I rigged lettuce leaves on bungee cords and hung them over the backs of chairs and other fixtures and we'd walk around the room like dinosaurs eating the leaves. I'd been trying to get them to eat lettuce for ages and this worked like a charm.

Pizza is a great place to sneak healthy food into them. I got away with hiding broccoli, cabbage, carrots, beets, lots of veggies under that layer of melted cheese. For 1 son, I called it 'Rainbow Pizza' - he loved rainbows. And for the older son, when he questioned the unusual colours in the pizza, (my inspiration was the Monty Python skit about the chocolates filled with lark's vomit?), I just told him it was bugs, monster vomit and Kryptonite. He couldn't wait to eat it.

From a young age, we started the tradition of a fruit drink each morning. Fresh and frozen fruit, juice and add yogurt or flax oil (hardly noticeable in taste) to keep the drink from separating. Makes great Popsicles, too. It's easy, fast, and delicious. And with a supply of various frozen fruit it provides fantastic variety and combinations.

Of course as they got older, they were pretty well trained to eat a variety of things yet if they still tried to get out of it, I'd try other types of merry manipulation like - public peer pressure. Elementary school boys don't want to be embarrassed in front of their friends so I'd threaten to give them a big slobbery kiss in front of everyone if they didn't eat some of the healthy stuff. Yep, that worked. As they became tall, strong, teenagers, I had to change my strategy so I'd threatened to show my old lady stomach if they didn't finish their food. Even though I am in good shape, no teenager wants to see their mothers stomach - ewwww.

Parenting comes with such responsibility and when it comes to healthy nutrition for our children, try a bit of merry manipulation. It's fun, creative and reduces stress.

Bon appetite!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Partner over Passion; Choices Women Make when Dating

When it comes to single women over 40 and their search for 'that special guy', maybe the good guys do win in the end.

I've been pondering this of late since 2 good friends of mine are going through strikingly similar situations when it comes to finding that 'relationship'. Their stories are so exact in their timing and situations that it's eerie, especially since we all live in different cities and these women are unaware of the others existence.

Here's the dish . . .
Great mothers, they both raised children while balancing work, and are now accomplished in their chosen professions. They're fit, good looking, happy, confident, divorced, and in their mid to late 40's. Their children are late teens and beyond. They would be considered 'a great catch' by many.

After venturing out into the world of dating, they both finally met someone who rocked their world! These guys connected to them in so many ways - it was passionate. "It's like I've found my soul mate". Yet as electrifying the excitement of the relationship was, so came the jolts of big misunderstandings, heated arguments and realizations that, oh no, I can't stay in this relationship. Too different in their values in certain areas that it would not work out. Both spent 2 years on that Rollercoaster with the man who felt so right yet was so wrong. It's one thing to know it's not the right relationship, it's another thing to turn off the chemistry and walk away. Chemistry is magic and it doesn’t come often.

Then, within a week, I get a call from both of them - same story. I knew they had both met a great guy 2 years ago and that they had some separation periods throughout because both women felt a little unsure when pressed for a stronger relationship. Now, both men wanted a commitment of marriage. This was their dilemma.

Without a doubt, both men were really nice who absolutely adored them. Family and friends thought he was perfect. Never any big conflict or waves. They had so much in common from activities to lifestyle, the perfect partner yet . . . there was no zing. These guys were everything these women thought they wanted yet there was no electrifying chemistry, no big passion spark or 'ahh' this is sooooo right when you're in their presence. You know the feeling I'm talking about?

They didn't have it from the beginning or throughout. And they do love their man - yet love means many things. Although both women get along with their ex-husbands, they don't want to go through the agony of a failed invested relationship again and fear making a mistake.

So as women, we're wondering. Do we have to compromise the passionate chemistry to find the perfect partner? Is there something 'wrong' with us if we can't just appreciate how fortunate we are to have found a nice guy and shallow to expect more? Are we all supposed to believe the 'zing' will fade anyway so let that expectation go?

Have we become smarter by giving up on finding that magical chemistry that is so elusive? Or have we given up in our expectations? Hmmm

In the end, it looks like my friends are going to chose the quality of Partner over Passion. I support and will route for them whatever decision they make. Although I don't know their partners well, I really like them. They're really nice guys and I'm thrilled to see them win.

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Saturday, July 4, 2009

When Aproaching an Unsuspecting Customer, Recognize When NO really means "Back-off now, or you'll never see me again"

No can mean many things when uttered by a customer. Yet when it comes to the unsuspecting customer, be extra careful.

An unsuspecting customer is someone who didn't come to you, you approached them.

Now of course, the worst case scenario of this is with phone calls to your home, unsolicited intrusions into your inbox or that 'knock' on your front door. Granted, these are intrusive and hard to avoid yet at least we can have a smidgeon of control by call blocking, spam filters, and signs on our property. I'm talking about those times when you are out in public and someone 'approaches you'.

We know we can't avoid being advertised to or stop people from approaching us in public yet it can be done with an element of respect and consideration. An example of this are kiosks in airports. You are walking along to get to your flight, you see them, they see you, they approach you to promote their product - you can simply smile and shake your head No and walk on by. The sales person respects the unsuspecting customer's privacy and disinterest (in a product they weren't looking for in the first place) and the customer respects the sales person for not infringing on their request to be left alone.

Now, I have nothing against a sales person giving it another attempt - I respect that. Maybe your customer/communication skills and passion for your product can inspire the interest of the unsuspecting customer. If you don't have those skills or, if you're only out for self-interest, look out! You and the product you are representing may never have a chance with that customer again.

Here's an example of where it went horribly wrong.

Yesterday, I was racing around town catching up on 'all those errands' that just pile up. Really hot out there maneuvering through traffic as I go from bank to mailbox to dry cleaners to grocery store, all the while resenting how much time this eats up in my day. I dashed into a healthfood store - the last stop, grabbed the vitamin bottle and went directly to the cash registrar.

There was a Sales Rep for a new product lurking by the check-out counter holding brochures. I knew she was going to approach me and I could tell she was not keen in her 'job'. Not wanting to be bothered dealing with an unskilled, unmotivated 'sales person' while trapped with her at the till while my purchase goes through, I tried to avoid the 'inevitable pitch' and do it in a way that was respectful for all involved.

The 1st time she asked me to see her product, I simply said

"I appreciate it yet regrettably, I have absolutely no time today. Perhaps later, just not today. Thank you for understanding." I thought that was pretty direct in a polite way.

Sales Rep: "Oh, I thought you were someone who was interested in their health."

Although I was surprised by her comment, she was in her 60's, probably unskilled in understanding the effects of how she words things and I wanted to be polite.

"Perhaps another day. Please know at this time, I am on the verge of a headache and I've a very hectic day. I'm sure you can appreciate why now is not a good time for me."

The Sales Rep continued to push her product. Incredulous! Since I teach people how to communicate with diplomacy, I thought I'd practice a bit more of what I preach even though I could feel an insulting comment bubbling to the surface. So, I turned to face her directly, steadfast engagement with her eyes and a slow, even tone said . . .

"With all due respect to you, please know - without a doubt - that now, is not the time to promote your product to me."

If she had respected my wishes, and just let me go, perhaps next time in that store, I'd check out the new product yet no. She pushed again to show me her product.

I left that store knowing I would NEVER COME BACK.

Shame on:
- the company who hired a Rep with no customer service skills and no desire to learn them

- the Rep who ignored the customer's pleas for the self interest of 'making a sale'

- the store employee who witnessed and allowed a customer to be harassed by an outside Rep

When you approach an unsuspecting customer, listen to what they mean when they say NO. If not, when it comes to getting their business (add music here) You're never gonna get it. Never, ever gonna get it.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

When Canadians Dare to be Bold

Happy Canada Day!

Canadian flags are everywhere. Maple leafs proudly displayed on shirts, hats, painted on faces, even the flags on vehicles reserved for hockey teams have now been replaced with the national flag. Parks are filled with music, celebration, the fireworks just finished.

It's great, yet it also seems somewhat brash . . . for a Canadian. Rather loud and attention getting behaviour . . . don't you think?

Now don't get me wrong. I love Canada and I proudly extend a most heartfelt and appreciative acknowledgment to this country, all Canadians, everyone who has enjoyed Canada, and all those who hold this country near and dear in their hearts. It's just that on a whole, although Canadians are proud of their country, it's not something that they display in such an overt manner, except for today. It's as if Canada Day gives Canadians 'permission' to be bold and demonstrative.

As a communication style, Canadians tend to be more reserved. Polite, quick to apologize, somewhat humble, and not too confrontational (notice the inference?). We're not that direct or demonstratively aggressive.

Perhaps it was a comedian I heard on CBC radio who summed it up perfectly "When we get mad, we write a letter"

When I'm in the United States, it's common to see American flags laced throughout the residential areas. Americans are patriotically demonstrative - especially on their home turf. Canadians aren't, unless they are traveling - then the flag comes out . . . on their luggage.

And to those Canadians living abroad, I'd like to extend a special 'good thoughts' your way. My most memorable Canada Day's were when I was far away; 5 of them in France and 4 in 4 other countries. I felt a special excitement to see who else was Canadian & have that instant common bond - we'd search each other out - reminisce and appreciate. We'd dare to be boldly Canadian.

The funny thing about Canadians, we may not be demonstratively patriotic the other 364 days of the year. We may not flaunt our flag on our front lawns. We may not even remember the words to our national anthem. Yet today we can step out of our reserved mode and dare to be bold.

Happy Canada Day.

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