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Why You Should Always Send a Birthday Card

April 26, 2016

By Sunny P. Chico

Why You Should Always Send a Birthday Card | Download these birthday card templates and print them for your kids to send.

Along with better weather and greener outdoors, spring brings a lot of birthdays and celebrations. While some celebrations are easy—birthday parties with your child’s classmates are frequent—some are harder for your family to celebrate, like when family members live far away.

But there’s an easy solution that keeps your children in touch with far-away family members and brings joy to the recipient: birthday cards.

A few years ago, I was visiting with my beautiful mother and came upon a colored box, which she kept near her bed. I asked her about the box and she told me that its contents helped her relax when she got anxious, go to sleep when she had trouble, and put a smile on her face every day.

The box was full of birthday cards, Mother’s Day cards, and retirement cards. I asked her which ones brought her the greatest joy and she said that she only kept the ones with a handwritten message inside. Greeting cards come with beautiful and thoughtful messages pre-written, but the most special cards are those that have an extra handwritten message by the people you love.

I immediately realized that I had been mimicking this behavior ever since my children were born over 30 years ago. I have an old hatbox that I keep my cards in! Anytime I receive a handwritten card, I put it in my hatbox instead of throwing it away. My mother helped me realize that there is still joy and comfort that these cards will bring me in the future.

We live in a very busy world that is dominated by technology. We text, we email, etc. It makes us more efficient in many ways—I know it helps me a great deal—but this communication cannot take the place of the very special messages inside my hatbox.

After finding my mom’s box of cards, I took a look inside my hatbox. I was surprised at what I experienced. I laughed and cried at the beautiful memories, and felt like I had touched many people’s lives. It was a journey looking back. I particularly paid attention to the handwritten messages, which became more meaningful.

I quickly started searching for only those that had handwritten messages. Reading the cards made me pause and think. It made me slow down for a short time and reflect.

I will go through my hatbox from time to time, but I now know that it will be one of my prized possessions by the time I am 80. It will help me relax, go to sleep, and put a smile on my face every day.

Take those extra minutes to write your thoughts in the cards you give, and encourage your children to do the same. Those handwritten cards will be a gift that lasts a lifetime.

To help your children share cards with their loved ones, the YOU Parent team created these card templates that you can download and print for your use.

Tags :  socialemotionalactivitiesfamily
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Plant a Tree for Earth Day 2016

April 19, 2016

By Jessica Vician

Plant a Tree for Earth Day 2016 | A group of teens plant a tree.

As your family watches the plants, trees, and flowers wake up this spring, say thank you by celebrating Earth Day on the 22nd.

This year, Earth Day’s global theme is Trees for the Earth, as they are working toward a goal to plant nearly 8 billion trees by Earth Day 2020—the 50th anniversary of the day.

Rally your family to help Earth Day reach its 2020 goal by planting one or more trees this year. Not only is it great for the environment—after all, it takes about 96 trees to remove the carbon dioxide produced by one person in a year—it’s a great opportunity to teach your kids about the benefits of trees while watching it grow over the years.

After checking to see what trees will grow best in your area, let your kids pick one out from your local nursery or home improvement store. If you have the space, choose a small one to maximize the growth your children will see over the years. My family planted a small tree when I was in middle school and that tree is over 30 feet tall now. Every time I visit, I’m amazed by its magnitude. That small tree grew so much in size while I was growing up and becoming an adult.

While you’re planting your tree (and creating your own memories), teach your kids about the value of trees with these facts from EarthDay.org:

Your family will also get a good workout by digging the hole for the tree and planting it, so celebrate afterward with lots of liquids and a delicious meal!

If you’re planting a tree for Earth Day this year, snap a few photos and share them with us on Facebook or Twitter. We want to see the beautiful trees your family chose!

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Is your teen in an abusive relationship?

April 12, 2016

By Jessica Vician

Is your teen in an abusive relationship? | Nearly 1.5 million teens in the U.S. admit to being physically harmed by someone they are romantically involved with in the past year. How can you recognize the signs? | A teenage girl rests her head on her hand, looking upset, as her boyfriend tries to explain.

Did you know nearly 1.5 million teens in the U.S. admit to being physically harmed by someone they are romantically involved with in the past year? And that number is only the amount of teens that admit to it.

This type of violent behavior often begins as early as 6th grade, according to DoSomething.org. And it’s not happening in scary places—60 percent of rapes of young women occur in their home or at a friend or relative’s home.

How can you recognize the signs of an abusive relationship?
Even though your child is in a transitional period as a teenager, you still know his or her core personality the best. Look for negative behavioral changes and listen to how your teen greets his or her significant other to see how they behave around each other.

Pay attention to these potential signs:

  • Excessive texting and calling
  • Criticizing appearance (for example, hairstyle or clothing)
  • Isolation from friends and family
  • Bruises, scratches, welts
  • Harmed or dead animals or pets on your property

How can you confront your child about an abusive relationship?
If you suspect that your child is in an abusive relationship, you will need to talk to him or her. Before you bring it up, it’s a good idea to speak with a professional.

Find a therapist or organization that specializes in abusive relationships or teen relationships and talk to them about your concerns. A professional will have the best advice for confronting your child about the relationship.

Here are some online organizations that can help:

In the meantime, keep these tips from Love is Respect in mind when talking to your child:

  • Talk about the behavior, but not the significant other.
    Your teen may become defensive if he or she thinks you’re attacking the significant other, so it’s important to keep the behavior separate from the person.
  • Don’t demand a break-up.
    Ultimatums rarely work, especially on teenagers. It’s more important to listen and help your teen come to the conclusion on his or her own that it’s time to leave the relationship.
  • Be supportive.
    If your teen is sharing his or her concern with you, listen and be sympathetic. Don’t criticize your child; instead, show your support by praising him or her and speaking to your teen’s worth and potential.

Setting the tone for healthy relationships is important in the teenage years. Even if your child is in a bad relationship now, you can help him or her leave and get on a path to healthy, loving relationships in the future.

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What puts your child at risk for diabetes?

April 5, 2016

By Jessica Vician

Pick up the kids from school or daycare. Need dinner. Exhausted. McDonald’s drive-thru. Sure, there should be some greens, less fat and sodium in there, but there’s no time for anything else. Can’t keep feeling guilty.

Let’s take a moment. The above scenario is fine every once in a while, but has it become the norm?

How many times in the past week have you resorted to drive-thru or take-out? In the past month?

How many times has your child had at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day in the past month?

Have these one-off situations have become the routine? Are you actively helping your kids be healthy? Could they be at risk for a health problem like diabetes?

It may sound crazy, but if drive-thru dining and TV have become the new routine, even your kids could be at risk of diabetes. Let’s look at the facts.

What is diabetes?
There are two types of diabetes, but both can affect your child.

  1. Type 1 diabetes is also known as juvenile diabetes because it is often diagnosed in children and young adults. In this version of the disease, the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin to regulate the person’s blood sugar.
  2. In type 2 diabetes, the body can’t use the insulin it produces properly. This type of diabetes usually occurs in adults and often can be prevented by having a healthy weight and getting regular physical activity.

How can I make sure my child doesn’t get diabetes?
Because of the rise in child obesity, doctors are seeing more cases of type 2 diabetes in children and teens. What can you do to help your child prevent Type 2 diabetes?

  • Serve proper portions of healthy, well-balanced meals and snacks 
  • Serve a variety of foods, including lean proteins, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains
  • Make sure your child gets at least an hour of physical activity a day
  • Skip the drive-thru and have a picnic in the park or on the lawn. Getting your child outside will lead to play and physical activity.

Check out this infographic on portion sizes to make sure you’re serving the right amount of food.

Child Portion Control Infographic | For healthy eating tips, go to ChooseMyPlate.govChild Portion Control Infographic | For more information on healthy eating, visit ChooseMyPlate.gov

Illustration by Leah VanWhy

Thursday, April 7 is World Health Day. This year, the World Health Organization (WHO) is focusing on diabetes. Learn more on their website

Tags :  healthphysicalinfographic
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