If something doesn't turn out it's not a failure. We just learned one way that doesn't work. -Dr. Robin Dickinson

Episode 024: Why Kids Need to Understand Their Bodies (And a Few Practical Ways to Teach Them) with Dr. Robin Dickinson

What happens when you’re already living your dream…but it’s a dream interrupted?

Dr. Robin Dickinson was a family practitioner who loved her job and her patients, and she was GOOD at what she did. But when the pandemic sent her kids home from school, they needed her more.

What happened next is nothing short of extraordinary.

In today’s interview, you’ll learn:

  • Why teaching kids in-depth medical science helps them understand and care for their bodies.
  • Why education should focus on a balanced approach that includes hands-on skills and trades.
  • How to tell kids that certain foods are “good” or “bad” the RIGHT way – in spite of the social media voices saying we mustn’t ever never ever…
  • One doctor’s advice on managing candy consumption!!!
  • That imperfect parents can still parent GREAT kids (good news for me, you too?)
  • How to encourage scientific thinking
  • Plus a little bit about Doc Robin’s TWO awesome #LifeSkillsNow summer camp workshops!

I love Doc Robin’s philosophy on helping kids OWN their health not through cajoling, not even by example, but by education. Can’t wait to hear what you think of this one!

Video or audio? For the first 5 years, this show “The Healthy Parenting Connector” was a video interview series. You can still watch the video, but NOW it’s also a podcast, renamed “Healthy Parenting Handbook.” Find all the episodes here or listen on your favorite podcast player:

 

 

 

Can’t see the video? Watch Teaching Kids About Their Bodies here on YouTube!

No time for the video? Here are the notes!

These time stamps align with the audio podcast and not the video, but they should be pretty close!

Helping Kids Understand Their Bodies

  • 2:36: I love Dr. Robin’s story and I’ve used it before as an example when talking about entrepreneurship. She shares with us how she pivoted her career from family practitioner to online teacher a few years ago.

People do what they need to do when they understand what’s going on with their bodies instead of just being told, “You should do this…” -Dr. Robin Dickinson

  • 6:47: Dr. Robin calls her classes pre-med for kids. How is that different from just biology or anatomy classes? Most of us will experience some type of health problem or disability as we go through life. We need to understand how our bodies work so that we can take care of them. When kids study “pre-med for kids” they become health detectives learning about their bodies. 

It is terrifying if you don't know about your own body, and we can prevent a lot of health problems when people actually understand how it works. -Dr. Robin Dickinson 

  • 8:56: We hear lots of critical talk on the state of education in our country today, but Dr. Robin points out some positive trends taking place. There is more individualization for kids who have different needs and interests. When something isn’t working, we can look for another way and have options. 
  • 9:43: There’s definitely a trend to push engineering, technology, and sciences in education. Robin even sees this in her daughter’s scouting troop. 

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  • 11:23: In a way, medicine is actually a trade. Doctors learn through an apprenticeship and there’s lots of hands-on education. 
  • 12:57: When Dr. Robin is teaching and hands a student a medical instrument she can tell by watching their hands if they’ve had experience playing an instrument, working in the garden, using tools, or sewing. These students are more comfortable using their hands and naturally know how to hold things.

It's just very empowering to know if something goes wrong, I can take care of it myself. -Dr. Robin Dickinson

Teaching Kids About Food and Health

  • 15:02: We need a different approach to teaching kids about their bodies. Telling people what they should or shouldn’t do to take care of themselves just doesn’t work to create change. When people understand the why behind healthy choices they’re empowered to make those choices for themselves.

Food is what we need. That’s our fuel. That’s our nutrition. Those are the building blocks of us. -Dr. Robin Dickinson

  • 17:48: Another problem Dr. Robin sees is that kids learn about different organs and parts of their bodies separately instead of seeing the whole body as connected
  • 18:29: Teaching nutrition and actual details about our food is better than labeling food as “good” or “bad.” Fostering a healthy relationship with food in your kids.
  • 19:22: You don’t need to only eat the healthiest foods. Think of your diet as a budget. You need to get adequate nutrition. Can you eat the ice cream, which your body doesn’t need, and still get all the nutrition that you need? Or is the ice cream crowding out nutrient-dense food? If you’re struggling to know what your child needs for proper nutrition check out this interview!

To him, it’s not, “You have to eat good food.” Instead, it’s, “This is what I need to be who I want to be, to achieve the way I want to achieve, to feel the way I want to feel.” -Dr. Robin Dickinson

Developing a Good Relationship with Food

  • 23:38: People are trying to give kids food at every turn. We don’t have control over what they feed at school or a birthday party, but we do have control over the food in our homes. If you don’t want your kid eating something, don’t keep it in your home. 
  • 24:24: We don’t want our kids to feel guilt over food. Help your kids tune in to how food makes them feel and what their body needs and is asking for. 
  • 25:38: We’ve been struggling with candy lately in our house. I never buy it, but it just comes into our house! We usually have a Costco nut jar that is the limit to how much candy we keep in the house. The other day my younger two boys had about 2 pounds of candy that didn’t fit in the jar! I don’t want them to eat it all, but I worry I’ll screw them up by limiting candy. Here’s a rundown of our dessert rule if you want to hear more. 

What if our kids thought that to be a good adult, they had to be perfect all the time? -Dr. Robin Dickinson

  • 26:27: We need to let our kids see us mess up. We need to be able to go to them and admit we made a mistake and apologize or just acknowledge our mistakes that weren’t against them. They need to know it’s ok to make a mistake, it’s ok to change their minds. Don’t beat yourself up for not being perfect. Acknowledge the mistake and say “Now how can we move forward from this?”

Encouraging Kids to Think Scientifically

  • 28:47: Let’s shift gears a bit and talk about encouraging our kids to think scientifically. Encourage them to ask questions and make predictions. i.e. What do you think will happen next? Show your kids how to find the answer when they don’t know something. Teach them how to find good resources. 
  • 29:58: Cooking is a great place to practice thinking scientifically. If you’re baking a cake and the center falls find out why that happens. If you have allergies in your house, you can experiment with finding the best allergy-friendly recipes to make your own substitutes. Which ingredients do what in the recipe?
  • 32:24: We want our kids to take ownership of their health. The more you can relate healthy choices to them and their bodies, the more real it will feel and the more ownership they will feel. 
  • 33:34: Teachers have a very broad education, so if you’re learning about health and nutrition, learn it from a doctor who has a really in-depth education in health. 
  • 36:49: Dr. Robin tells a fun story about some of her young students learning about anemia

#LifeSkillsNow Summer Camp is Back for Season Three!

Get a free family pass to the #LifeSkillsNow Season Three virtual summer camp!

camp leaders

Get 13 skills workshops right away when you register!

Prepare your kids for life with solid skills for living that aren’t taught in school!

LEARN MORE

  • 41:30: Dr. Robin hears from parents all the time that their kids are teaching them about nutrition and calling them out on unhealthy choices!
  • 42:23: You can hear more details about Dr. Robin’s online pre-med classes at this time stamp.
  • 45:09: We leave you with a step you can take today to help your kids think scientifically. The next time your kids ask a why question, don’t answer. Instead, answer with “I wonder why.” or a question to lead them to the answer. 

Resources We Mention for Learning About Your Body

Dr. Robin DickinsonDr. Robin Dickinson MD is a family physician, medical school faculty, and homeschooling mom. She also is married and together with her husband has two kids, four cats, and one very cute dog! Even with her education, she felt overwhelmed and frustrated when trying to teach science to her own children. So Dr. Robin created her science curriculum when she couldn’t find what she needed for her own kids. Now we’re all benefiting from that frustration as she has creating a solution for all of us!

What You Should Do Next:

1. Subscribe to the Healthy Parenting Handbook Newsletter

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3. Enroll in the Online Cooking Course for Kids:

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About Katie Kimball

Katie Kimball, CSME, creator of Kids Cook Real Food and CEO of Kitchen Stewardship®, LLC, is passionate about connecting families around healthy food. As a trusted educator and author of 8 real food cookbooks, she’s been featured on media outlets like ABC, NBC and First for Women magazine and contributes periodically on the FOX Network.

Since 2009, busy moms have looked to Katie as a trusted authority and advocate for children’s health, and she often partners with health experts and medical practitioners to stay on the cutting edge. In 2016 she created the Wall Street Journal recommended best online kids cooking course, Kids Cook Real Food, helping thousands of families around the world learn to cook. She is actively masterminding the Kids’ Meal Revolution, with a goal of every child learning to cook.

A mom of 4 kids from Michigan, she is also a Certified Stress Mastery Educator, member of the American Institute of Stress and trained speaker through Bo Eason’s Personal Story Power.

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

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