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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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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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Teach Your Child Conflict Resolution to Create Positive Change

January 14, 2016

By Amelia Orozco

Teach Your Child Conflict Resolution to Create Positive Change | "The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically...intelligence and character—that is the goal of true education." | Image of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with that quote.

Celebrating the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is a great way to create change for good in our homes and communities. His insistence on nonviolence in the face of hatred and racial discrimination shows us that even the toughest fights can be fought without one flying fist.

“I have decided to stick with love, for I know that love is ultimately the only answer to mankind’s problems...hate is too great a burden to bear,” Dr. King said at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in August 1967.

Even today, both in the mundane and in the monumental, we must make the conscious choice to decide to follow the path of love and peace.

As parents, our actions dictate the manner in which our children interact with others. In a world saturated with news of riots in the streets stemming from racial discrimination, our demeanor matters more than ever. After all, your home is your child’s first school and you are his or her first teacher.

In high school, where adolescents experience both physical and emotional maturity, it is just as important to address these issues. This is the day and age when the skewed images of perfection are dictated by social media. Bullying abounds behind the mask of a phone or computer as people lash out and insult each other with abandon, never fearing the consequences. At this formative stage, a young person can still be swayed to one side or the other. Will your children be the peacemakers or the fighters?

To be peacemakers, it starts with a plan to agree to resolve conflict intelligently. Conflict resolution is taught in many schools and organizations around the country, but you can also practice at home with your teenager.

Unpack ideas such as:

  • How to de-escalate an argument
  • Dealing with anger
  • What our body language communicates to others
  • Training our tempers
  • Acknowledging our feelings and others’

We are all entitled to be angry, but what we do with that anger can have significant consequences in our lives, whether they are good or bad.

Ask your teen’s school if they currently offer a conflict resolution program for students. If they do not, ask if they can offer one in the near future. Your opinion is very important in your child’s education and most schools are open to new ideas that affect positive change.

At home, encourage your child to stand up for him or herself and others to affect positive social change. It starts with your child’s world and can grow larger as his or her peers are affected. What change will your child make to honor Dr. King’s legacy?



Amelia Orozco is the senior editor and writer at the Chicago Zoological Society/Brookfield Zoo and a community and entertainment reporter for TeleGuía Chicago and Extra Newspaper. A mother of three, Amelia also maintains an active role in her community and church by working with youth and promoting education and diversity through her writing and volunteer efforts.
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10 Things to Know About Hidden Disabilities

January 5, 2016

By Jessica Vician

10 Things to Know About Hidden Disabilities | Between 13 to 20 percent of children in the U.S. experience a mental disorder each year, according to the CDC. That’s nearly one out of five kids. What can you do if your child shows signs of an issue? How can your treat your child’s friends and classmates who have special needs? | A teacher helps a girl learn.

Between 13 to 20 percent of children in the U.S. experience a mental disorder each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That’s nearly one out of five kids. What can you do if your child shows signs of an issue? How can your treat your child’s friends and classmates who have special needs?

In a guest post on Love That Max, filmmaker Dan Habib discusses 10 things people might not know about hidden disabilities. Usually labeled “emotional and behavioral disorders,” these disabilities include, but aren’t limited to: anxiety and depression, bipolar disorder, ADHD, and more.

Read the article to learn about these 10 things you should know about hidden disabilities. From Individual Education Plans (IEPs) and how the education system works with special needs to how some of these children communicate through their behavior, the post is an important read for parents of children with and without special needs.

After reading the article, check out the rest of the blog, written by a mother of three children. One of those children, Max, has cerebral palsy and inspired the “blog about kids with special needs who kick butt.”

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Do you let your baby cry or do you comfort them?

December 10, 2015

By Jessica Vician

Do you let your baby cry or do you comfort them? | Before you became a parent, you probably talked to your partner and friends and researched what to do when your baby cries. Should you rush to the baby’s side and comfort him or her, or should you let the baby cry it out? | A mother holds her crying baby.

Before you became a parent, you probably talked to your partner and friends and researched what to do when your baby cries. Should you rush to the baby’s side and comfort him or her, or should you let the baby cry it out?

Everyone has an opinion, and many insist theirs is the right one. But what’s best for you? We want to hear which approach—or combination of approaches—you take.

Cry It Out
Some research suggests that letting a baby cry for a short period of time won’t cause any harm and may actually help the baby and the parents sleep longer in the end.

You can try “controlled crying,” during which you wait a certain amount of time before comforting your child. With this method, you first wait two minutes, then the next time three, and gradually extend the amount of time you wait to comfort your child. The intention is that your child will learn to soothe him or herself back to sleep.

Soothe the Baby
Others are strongly against the cry it out or controlled crying approach, stating that a baby’s cry is the only way he or she can communicate. If ignored, the parent isn’t giving the baby what he or she needs.

For example, Ask Dr. Sears, a website with advice from several pediatricians, says,

The cry is a marvelous design. Consider what might happen if the infant didn’t cry. He’s hungry, but doesn’t awaken...He hurts, but doesn’t let anyone know. The result of this lack of communication is known, ultimately, as ‘failure to thrive.’ ‘Thriving’ means not only getting bigger, but growing to your full potential emotionally, physically, and intellectually.

So what are your thoughts on this topic? Do you let your baby cry it out, do you soothe him or her immediately, do you practice controlled crying, or do you just do what you can in the moment?

Tell us in the comments below and share why you do what you do. We can all learn from each other. And remember, if someone does it differently than you, that’s okay. We’re all doing the best we can.

Tags :  parentingparenthoodinfantbabyemotional
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