13 Inspirational Quotes From Your Favorite Children’s Books

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I have a profound connection to children’s literature. When I was young, my parents read to me often and instilled in me the joy of reading. I was transported by the tales, my imagination whisking me on amazing journeys to fantastic new worlds.

Even today, when books struggle to compete with movies, TV, the web, and mobile apps for our kids’ attention, reading to my children has taught me that there is still a tremendous, unique power in sharing stories.

That’s why, as a pediatrician, I’ve chosen to fill my waiting room and exam rooms with favorite children’s books rather than TV screens or toys. I love walking into a room and finding a parent sitting on the exam table, child on lap, reading together.

Below, I’m sharing some of my favorite inspiring quotes from children’s literature. I hope they inspire you to share one of these stories with a child in your life.

1. “And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”

― Roald Dahl, “The Minpins

2. “You can’t stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”

― A.A. Milne, “Winnie-the-Pooh

3. ” ‘Why did you do all this for me?’ he asked. ‘I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.’ ‘You have been my friend,’ replied Charlotte. ‘That in itself is a tremendous thing.’ ”

— E.B. White, “Charlotte’s Web

4. “Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.”

― Dr. Seuss, “One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish

5. “Not all those who wander are lost.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien, “The Fellowship of the Ring

6. “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

― J.K. Rowling, “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

7. “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

― Lewis Carroll, “Alice in Wonderland

8. “I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.”

— Louisa May Alcott, “Little Women

9. “You must never feel badly about making mistakes … as long as you take the trouble to learn from them.”

― Norton Juster, “The Phantom Tollbooth

10. “All grown-ups were once children … but only few of them remember it.”

― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, “The Little Prince

11. “I bet if you go through the rest of your life telling yourself, ‘I’m sparkling,’ you’ll have a whole different energy and experience.”

― Wendy Mass, “Heaven Looks a Lot Like the Mall

12. “I don’t understand it any more than you do, but one thing I’ve learned is that you don’t have to understand things for them to be.”

― Madeleine L’Engle, “A Wrinkle in Time

13. “Listen to the MUSTN’TS, child, Listen to the DON’TS

Listen to the SHOULDN’TS, The IMPOSSIBLES, the WONT’S

Listen to the NEVER HAVES, Then listen close to me—

Anything can happen, child, ANYTHING can be.”

— Shel Silverstein, “Where the Sidewalk Ends

(originally posted for MindBodyGreen)

7 Science-Backed Reasons To Get Your Kids Outside

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(Originally posted for MindBodyGreen)

Most of us intuitively know that we feel better when we spend time outside.

But sadly, as our lives become more dependent on technology, we are increasingly disconnected from the Earth — and this disconnect could be harming our children more than we think.

Acknowledging the adverse effects on children’s well being, author Richard Louv coined the term “Nature Deficit Disorder.” His research has led pediatricians like myself to prescribe time in nature as a way to combat the health ills associated with lack of free outdoor play.

Looking for encouragement to get your kids off the couch this summer? Here are seven research-based reasons to venture into the Great Outdoors:

1. It encourages exercise.

The closer kids are to green spaces, the more likely they are to run around outside: a recent Canadian study found that the physical activity of 11 to 13 year olds rose relative to the amount of tree-filled space in their neighborhoods. Of course, this doesn’t mean you’re out of luck if you’re a city dweller — simply make time for play in a shaded public park.

2. It reduces anxiety.

Children in Maryland and Colorado who played in green schoolyardsreported less stress compared to their peers. They also showed an increased sense of competence, as well as ability to form supportive social groups.

3. It improves focus.

One study of kids in Illinois found that even just a twenty-minute walk in the park led to a substantial attention boost. As the researchers note: ” ‘Doses of nature’ might serve as a safe, inexpensive, widely accessible new tool in the tool kit for managing ADHD symptoms.”

4. It makes kids smarter.

Researchers found that Barcelona school children with more exposure to outdoor greenery performed better on cognitive testing. The effect was greatest when both home and school environments provided “green” time.

5. It builds a sense of community.

Canadian adolescents living in greener environments reported a stronger sense of “place,” or belonging to a healthy community. This finding has important ramifications, as these emotions might also increase kids’ engagement and involvement in keeping their neighborhoods safe and healthy.

6. It helps them develop deeper connections with family.

In a survey of 60 American families, participation in camping experiences was found to improve family relationships.

7. It raises their interest in the environment.

Childhood exposure to natural settings is associated with a greater interest in environmental stewardship — and ultimately with pursuing professional careers and adult hobbies connected to nature and the environment.

7 Things I Wish Everyone Taught Their Kids

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Every December, I start to think about intentions for the coming year. Not as once-a-year resolution making but as part of an ongoing process of self-reflection and re-commitment to what is true for me.

Lately, I find myself meditating often on a theme that’s central to my roles as both father and pediatrician: what essential truths must we teach our children?

For me, as I suspect for you, this is and will remain a work in progress. Coming to grips with the reality that — surprise! I’m human too! — has served to deepen (rather than undermine, as I feared) my connection with my patients and their parents.

As we practice together, I welcome your comments and additions to the list.

1. Have the courage to fail.

Both purposefully and inadvertently, we are giving our kids the message that perfection is the goal. So many kids I see are struggling with measuring up to “ideal” that they become increasingly anxious and depressed, giving up prematurely on dreams and withdrawing from friends and family.

The greatest inventors of our time all have one thing in common — they failed, many times, until finding their way. It takes a lot of courage to fail, admit it, and get back up again. Honoring this process is crucial and does not contradict having goals. In fact, I’d argue both are keys to developing self-worth.

2. Nurture your creativity.

When we are young, much of our time is spent freely creating — art, music, dance — anything involving imagination. Creating is simply the act of making something that was not there before. It’s all about freedom of expression. Yet somehow as they grow, our kids learn that things have to look “right.”

No! Musician Peter Himmelman, the most spontaneously creative human I know, offers, “A kid’s greatest asset is a sense of wonder. The freedom to fearlessly explore the world is the bedrock of human creativity.” It is this fearless exploration that I believe will lead us to out-of-the-box solutions to our greatest 21st century challenges.

3. You have much more in common with your fellow humans than not.

Scientists currently estimate we share about 99% of DNA with each other. We have so much in common with our fellow earth-dwellers despite our apparent outward differences. Too often, these differences — racial, ethnic, religious, cultural, generational — are used to justify horrific acts of prejudice and aggression.

If you watch young children at play, you see how easy it is for diverse people to get along without judgment. What is profoundly sad is that we train this tolerance out of our children. This must stop! Think how much more peaceful a world we would live in if we honored our shared dreams, visions and desires.

4. Embrace your differences.

Though we are far more the same than different, it is also important to celebrate the things that make us unique. While not an excuse to exclude or judge others, we can acknowledge we all have special gifts and challenges. For example, we all learn differently. Anyone who spends enough time with babies realizes that they display noticeable variation in motor skills, language development and social play. Yes, some children have extreme challenges requiring specialized support and educational assistance. But much of what we diagnose today as a “disorder” is in fact well within the bell-shaped curve of “typical.” These variations need not be “treated” but respected and nurtured.

5. We are the Earth, and the Earth is us.

Native Americans have taught me a crucial ecological belief, one I’ve tried to impart to my children and my patients. The well being of every living entity is absolutely interconnected. How we treat the earth and our fellow creatures has a direct impact on our health. The most recent example? Pregnant women exposed to high levels of air pollution are more likely to give birth to children ultimately diagnosed with autism. Global climate change is real, it’s here, and it’s going to cause universal harm – unless we act now.

6. When left alone, we usually heal ourselves.

One of the most powerful lessons I teach my patients is that our bodies have such innate powers, such wisdom, that they spontaneously recover from most common ills. Colds, coughs, sore throats, and fevers do not usually require heavy-duty medications to resolve, and many of these treatments offer more potential for harm than good.

I often point out during office visits how well minor scrapes or cuts are healing, and kids are amazed that their little bodies have done that all by themselves. A tincture of time is an extremely powerful prescription.

7. You can’t get rid of all the stress in the world but you can learn how to better cope with it.

There are days I wish I could wave a magic wand and evaporate the stressors plaguing my patients (and my kids). Yet I’ve learned that, one, I can’t, and two, nurturing equanimity in the face of challenges is one of the greatest gifts we can bestow on our children. We must teach them more effective ways, like yoga and meditation, to cope with what inevitably will come their way.

(Originally written for MindBodyGreen)

5 Reasons Why Gratitude is Good for Your Health

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Gratitude: An intentional appreciation of what and who you have; an acceptance and explicit acknowledgment of what life brings you.

That’s how I define gratitude, one of the 10 words I believe everyone should live by.

We’re knee-deep in the season of gratitude. Thanksgiving, in fact, could be seen as the high holy day of gratitude practice.

(continue reading at MindBodyGreen)

7 Prescriptions Every Child (And Frankly Every Adult) Needs Now

MotherAndChildWalkingTheTracks-850x400While you are doing your best to live a “MindBodyGreen” life, you’ll notice that more and more children are suffering from asthma, allergies, ADHD, autism, and autoimmune diseases like diabetes. The conventional health care solution has been to prescribe more medications, a one-ill-one pill approach that is increasingly expensive, ineffective and unsafe.

Time for a paradigm shift!

In my integrative pediatric practice, I choose instead to prescribe deceptively simple yet profoundly transformational lifestyle changes that are effective, safe and inexpensive. These solutions are truly preventive rather than reactive, helping families create health and wellness.

(continue reading at MindBodyGreen)

DIY: Make Your Own Natural Hand Sanitizer

KidWashingHandsInSink900-850x400One of my all-time favorite messages for families is: Go to your kitchen cabinet before your medicine cabinet.

That’s one I work with at the Whole Child Center and a core theme of my book, Treatment Alternatives for Children. (sidenote: all these remedies work for us big kids, too.) Some of the most amazing safe, cheap and effective treatments can be grown in your garden or found at the market rather than in the pharmacy.

A prime example is my DIY natural hand sanitizer. Modeled on the mythical “Thieves” blend of essential oils, my hand sanitizer recipe includes oils with proven anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties and adds aloe vera gel for smoothness.

(continue reading at MindBodyGreen)

10 Things I Wish Every American Knew About Health

shutterstock_59208547-850x400Despite throwing tons of money at the problem, Americans really are sicker than ever. Chronic health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, asthma, anxiety and depression are wreaking havoc with our minds, bodies and bank accounts. Our “one ill—one pill” solutions are expensive, and frequently associated with adverse effects.

What to do?

For my part, I engage families every day, counseling about lifestyle prescriptions that include nutrition, fitness, rest, and stress-coping mind-body strategies. While my patients trend towards the greener, more holistic variety (as I’m sure do all you MBG readers), I find I’m revisiting the same themes in my quest to helps folks create a healthier life.

So here they are, the top 10 things I wish every American knew about health. Spread the word and put me out of business. I’ll happily spend more time doing yoga.

(continue reading at MindBodyGreen)

10 Words Everyone Should Live By

10-words3I’ve noticed a trend in wellness circles. Whether in my work with patients or in my yoga classes, I keep coming across the same words. On a given day, one might be the theme of a dharma talk or a TED Talk video someone mentioned to me. (Or, as was the case one strange morning, the same word was featured in both.) I am sure the universe is sending me messages, and the more I mention these to friends and colleagues, it seems like they’re hearing the same words.

Which of these words resonates with you? My guess is some will at different times, but they’re all good words to live by.

(continue reading at MindBodyGreen)