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Resolutions: Physical Well-Being

January 20, 2015

By Jessica Vician

Resolutions: Physical Well-Being | New Year's Resolutions: social well-being, emotional well-being, physical well-being, academic success

This month, YOU Parent is featuring a series on making resolutions that address a child’s four core needs for success in life: social well-being, emotional well-being, physical well-being, and academic development. Visit us next Tuesday for the final article addressing academic development.

Children mimic so much of our behavior it’s sometimes a little unnerving. Do you remember how bad you felt the first time your toddler said a cuss word, without even realizing what he or she had said? What about the pride you felt the first time your child voiced an opinion that sounded like something you would do—something so unique that it linked the two of you together?

Whether it’s good or bad, our children model our behavior. That’s why it’s so critical to behave the way you want your children to, from watching your language to living a healthy lifestyle. We live in a challenging time for health—teen obesity has quadrupled in the past 30 years and anorexia and bulimia are prevalent in the teenage years and beyond. How you choose to behave around your children can make a big difference in their physical well-being in childhood, through the teenage years, and beyond.

This year, try one or more of these resolutions to promote a healthy lifestyle with your children.

  1. Eat healthier.
    Load your plate with vegetables and fruits of all colors. A colorful diet of whole foods will give your body more nutrition and energy to tackle anything that comes your way. Do some research online to find out which foods keep your immune system ready and have the most vitamins and minerals, and talk to your kids about why those things are important. Need inspiration? Read how this mom teaches her kids about nutrition in the foods they eat every day.
  2. Exercise more.
    Some people love to exercise and others loathe it. But exercise isn’t just about going to the gym. Find weather-appropriate activities you can do with your family to get the blood flowing and your bodies sweating (try dancing, playing in the snow, or indoor jungle gyms this winter). Sign up for a 5k race with your teen and train together. Whatever you do, you’ll be releasing toxins and kicking those endorphins—which help you fight pain and stress—into gear. You’ll feel better immediately and your body will thank you.
  3. Speak positively about your body.
    Most of us have something (or many things) we’d like to improve with our bodies. Whether it’s a trimmer tummy, losing the stretch marks, or bigger goals, it’s okay to want to improve within reason. But be careful how you speak about your body in front of your children.

    Instead of looking in the mirror and saying, “I’m so fat,” find something you like about yourself, and share it with your children. “I love my tiger stripes because they remind me of when you were born,” or “I like that my body curves in at my waist and back out again like an hourglass.” Ask your children what they like about their bodies. Your child will pick up on your attitude and message, regardless of what you say, so why not make it positive to promote better self-esteem?

These resolutions seem small and simple, but they may be more challenging than you expect. That’s okay. Take the challenge and choose at least one of these resolutions for 2015. Not only will your body and mind thank you, your children will benefit from the important lessons you’re teaching them.


Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Education

January 19, 2015
Illustration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his quote, "The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically... Intelligence + character-- that is the goal of true education."
Illustration by Leah VanWhy.
Tags :  cultureholidayeducation

How to Balance School + Extracurriculars

January 15, 2015

By Noralba Martinez

How to Balance School + Extracurriculars | A boy throws his arms up excitedly in front of an illustrated green background with alarm clocks.

My mother always tells me that life seems faster nowadays and that we are all too busy. I want my children to be busy enough to be involved in our community, learn, be fit, and stay out of trouble. However, I do not want them to be so busy that they lack time in their day to study, be creative, relax, and be kids. My daughter is 12 years old and my son is 14 years old. You can imagine how many school activities we have in one month, but then add to that soccer practice and games, Bible youth group, and church volunteering. We have at least six extracurricular activities after school in one week. It’s important to know when to decrease or increase the amount of activities your child is involved in. The key is keeping a healthy balance. Here are some simple ways to keep that balance.

Keep a visual calendar of all activities to avoid scheduling too many in one day and to allow your child time to study or prepare for another event. Mark the calendar with important dates like special events, test days, and presentations.

Make a contract with your child before he or she joins an extracurricular activity. Set realistic expectations, talk about the rules of the activity, and discuss consequences if the activity affects your child’s academic progress.

Check Grades
A big trigger to look for when you are worried that your child is doing too much is a decline in his or her grades. Check your child’s grades at least twice a week. If your see a drop in the grades, talk to your child about how to best help him or her. Remember to value school and make academics a priority over activities. Many schools have the “no pass, no play” rule, which does not allow a student athlete to play a sport unless he or she is passing all classes.

Power of Choice
Allow your child to choose the extracurricular activities and sports that he or she wants to be involved in. This choice will increase the motivation and effort your child devotes to that activity.

Extracurricular activities are great. Enjoy them with your child. They will help him or her learn valuable life lessons like team work and will help build a well-rounded child. For more information on extracurricular activities and volunteer opportunities, contact your school district and your city’s park and recreation department.


Parenting Around the World

January 14, 2015

By Nikki Cecala

Parenting Around the World | Three children smile for the camera in front of fields in Vietnam.

As a parent, have you ever done something and later thought, I wonder if other parents do this? If so, you are certainly not alone. I am an avid Google user, especially now that I’m a parent (who isn’t, right?). I’m constantly searching for insights, opinions, myths, experiences, etc. regarding parenting. When I struggled with getting my 19-month-old son to sleep in his crib, I searched everything from bedtime routines to letting the baby cry it out. He would hyperventilate so badly—to the point of throwing up—until I picked him up.

After three weeks, I decided to end the torture for the both of us. But it got me thinking, why is co-sleeping frowned upon in America? Can it really be that bad for the child? I searched the affects it had on children into adulthood and found that some countries recommend co-sleeping. For example, Swedish parents believe that children should have access to their parents’ bodies for comfort and should be allowed to sleep in their parents’ beds. It is similar in India, as children sleep with their parents until they are six or seven years old.

I felt a little better knowing I wasn’t the only mother in the world who co-slept, and took my research further to see how other countries around the world parent differently from us in the U.S.

Potty Training
I was impressed by this one. Vietnamese parents have their children potty trained by nine months! In America, three years old is average. Their secret? They use the sound of a whistle. When the parents recognize that their child is urinating, they make a whistling sound so the baby can associate the whistle with peeing. Can you imagine being diaper-free before the age of one? Please hold while I daydream for a moment of a potty-trained baby.

Japanese parents encourage independence by letting their children venture around the neighborhood, and some even take public transportation by themselves. It is common to let children as young as four years old run errands for their parents and take the trains or buses while doing so.

In France, children aren’t given special baby foods. Rather, they eat just as adults do. There is also no snacking, as mealtimes are enforced.

Spanish families let their children stay up late in order to foster their social skills and engage with family throughout the evening. If there’s a family party, the kiddies are staying up with the adults!

Norwegians believe in daycare or barnehage (children’s garden) as early as one year old. Why? Because they strongly believe that fresh air is good for the children and it encourages parents to go back to work.

What do you think about these parenting styles? Are you inspired to bring a few of these into your household? Tell me in the comments below. And next month, I will talk about American parenting styles that impress other countries.


Resolutions: Emotional Well-Being + Self-Esteem

January 13, 2015

By Nely Bergsma

Resolutions: Emotional Well-Being + Self-Esteem | New Year's Resolutions: social well-being, emotional well-being, physical well-being, academic success

This month, YOU Parent is featuring a series on making resolutions that address a child’s four core needs for success in life: social well-being, emotional well-being, physical well-being, and academic development. Visit us each Tuesday in January for the latest article addressing each of these needs.

For most of us, the New Year arrives hand in hand with setting resolutions to change behaviors, make positive life choices, or perhaps try to experience things that we never have.

Self-esteem and a healthy emotional well-being can act as an armor against many of the situations families face from early in life to adulthood both inside and outside of the home. As parents, we can set resolutions that model positive behavior to help our children build healthy self-esteem.

Children with healthy self-esteem benefit in many ways throughout their lives. They tend to be comfortable in social settings and enjoy group activities as well as look to experience new things with confidence. When challenges arise, they work toward finding resolutions and voice their opinions without belittling themselves or others. Here are two New Year’s resolutions you can make to help your child develop strong self-esteem and emotional well-being.

Be a positive role model.
When our children see parents being hard on ourselves, or being pessimistic or unrealistic, they risk looking at themselves the same way. As parents, we can make the resolution to nurture our own self-esteem more than ever this year. We can look at ourselves, our children, and situations that may arise in a more positive and realistic manner. Make simple changes such as personal cleanliness, positive interaction with others, simple acts of kindness, speaking positively about yourself, and avoiding hostile situations.

Enhance the home environment.
As parents, we are responsible for providing a safe home environment for our children. Children who do not feel safe or are abused are at greater risk for having poor self-esteem. Let us take stock of the home we have created for our children this year.

  • Is the home clean and orderly? That will help children feel safer, more comfortable, and take pride in their homes. 
  • Do we have arguments in the home? How are they resolved? Try to make disagreements as levelheaded and respectful as possible. Listen to each other and compromise in a solution. This behavior teaches children the best way to disagree. 
  • Is there trust and open, respectful communication in our home? When we listen to our children when there are problems, we establish trust and respect for them. Children raised in a family who trust and respect each other will have more confidence and stronger self-esteem. 

It is important that we look to identifying behavior, situations, and things in our lives that are within our control. The best way to model healthy self-esteem is to look at these obstacles in a realistic way and make positive changes while our children are watching and interacting with us.

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