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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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6 Potty Training Tips for Success

March 22, 2016

By Noralba Martinez

6 potty-training tips for success | In over 15 years as an early childhood intervention specialist, this mom has helped potty train hundreds of toddlers. Here are her 6 key tips. | A child's feet point to a potty training toilet.

When it comes to potty training, every child is different. I’ve supported the potty training of hundreds of toddlers through my career as an early childhood intervention counselor, and the strongest advice I can give you is that consistency is the key to success.

Here are six tips that will help you through this journey.

Is your child ready?
Your toddler needs to be ready before you can begin potty training. How do you know if your child is ready?

  • Your child knows when he or she is going to the bathroom, even if it’s in a diaper.
  • Your child is able to pull up his or her pants or underwear.
  • Your child doesn’t go to the bathroom during naps and can stay dry for at least two hours.
  • Your child communicates a desire to use the toilet.

Model the behavior
Once you know your child is ready for potty training, take him or her with you to the restroom. Show your toddler that going potty in the toilet is a natural and normal thing everyone does.

Explain in simple terms what you are doing. Be patient and calm, as it may be difficult for your child to understand at first.

Make it easy and remove obstacles 
Keep the bathroom door open at all times so your child can access the room whenever he or she feels the urge to go. Put the potty chair in an area your toddler can see and get to quickly. If you’re using a child seat on your toilet, put a stool next to the toilet.

Set a schedule
Take your toddler to the potty chair or toilet every 30 minutes. He or she can sit for five minutes. If your toddler doesn’t go, it’s okay. You’re setting a schedule to encourage him or her to have the opportunity to empty regularly.

If you need help remembering to have your child go every 30 minutes, you can use a timer or a potty watch. Just be sure to stay consistent so your toddler can expect the opportunity to go.

Reward and praise your child
Motivate your child and increase his or her success at potty training by praising all efforts and rewarding accomplishments. Stickers are a great way to reward your toddler when he or she goes in the potty. Some parents have a special basket of dollar-store toys the child can choose from after a successful potty. Verbal praise also goes a long way to influence your toddler.

Bye-bye potty chair
Just like you have to say good-bye to your toddler’s high chair, playpen, and many other baby items, you will also say goodbye to the potty chair. After your toddler has demonstrated independence and self-care responsibility, transition to the toilet full-time.

Potty training can seem like a daunting task, but if you’re patient and stay positive and consistent, you and your toddler will get there. It won’t happen overnight, but with your help he or she can do it.

Do you have potty training tips to share with fellow parents? Please tell us in the comments below!

This article was originally published on April 10, 2014 and has been updated to reflect additional information.

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Do You Want to Build a Snowman?

February 23, 2016

By Jessica Vician

Do You Want to Build a Snowman? | This month's exercise is building a snowman! Bundle up the family, hit the snow, and burn an average of 285 calories an hour. | A family runs around a snowman they just built.

It’s the end of February and winter hasn’t fully released its grip on us just yet. And while we tire of the snow and cold, upcoming March reminds us that spring is near. With that in mind, I challenge you to embrace the winter and take advantage of the next snowfall—which could be your last of the season—for this month’s exercise: build a snowman!

Building a snowman is so much fun. Kids young and old love it and you can burn an average of 285 calories an hour, so bundle up and hit the snow. Toss in a friendly snowball fight to burn an extra 319 calories an hour.

You can even turn this exercise into a learning opportunity by trying to build a mathematically perfect snowman. Teach your kids about the golden ratio and get your ruler out to follow Dr. James Hind’s instructions, found here.

Regardless of whether your family attempts or succeeds at the mathematically perfect snowman, snap a pic and share it on our Facebook page. And most importantly, have fun with this winter exercise challenge!

Check out last month’s exercises here.

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3 Easy Exercises for Kids

January 26, 2016

By Jessica Vician

3 Easy Exercises for Kids | Did you know that kids need at least an hour a day of physical activity]? While they might get some of that at recess, try these three exercises with your kids at home to help strengthen their muscles. | A group of kids stretch on colorful mats.

While many New Year’s resolutions focus on adults losing weight, a health focus is just as important for kids. Did you know that kids need at least an hour a day of physical activity? While they might get some of that at recess, try these three exercises with your kids at home to help strengthen their muscles.

1. Plank for core strength
If you’ve ever taken a yoga or core strength class, you probably know how to do a plank. Have your child lie on his or her stomach and then push up with the forearms and toes on the floor. Keep the body straight, sucking in the belly and tightening the glutes (butt muscles). Start by holding the pose for 30 seconds, resting for 30 seconds, and then holding again. Try it three times.

After practicing for a few weeks, work up to holding the plank for 45 seconds and eventually a minute. Make it a competition for more fun—who can hold it the longest while still keeping their body straight?

2. Push-ups for arm and core strength
If your child is younger or overweight, start these push-ups with knees on the floor. Keep the arms just wider than shoulder-width apart, and keep the knees in line with the hips. Suck in the belly and push up and down, bending the elbows. See if your child can do 12-15 push-ups in a row. Try three sets of these 12-15 reps during each session.

When 15 reps become too easy, have your child do push-ups with toes on the floor (no knees), and eventually increase the number of push-ups he or she does each time.

3. Walking lunges for leg strength 
First, start with a regular lunge. Stand straight with feet together and step forward with your right foot, bending both knees to about 90-degree angles. Your back knee will be closest to the ground but won’t touch, and the front knee should be lined up with your ankle.

To move into the walking lunge, step forward with your left foot, moving into a lunge with the left leg (same as the instructions for the right leg lunge above). Keep moving down the hall for 20 total steps (10 with each leg). Do this exercise of 20 steps three times.

Once this exercise becomes easier for you and your child, add small hand weights of one to three pounds for an additional challenge.

Regular exercise helps your child regulate stress, feel happier, and be healthier. Take the challenge and do these three easy exercises with your child every day for a month and see how much better both of you feel.

Do you have a favorite exercise to do with your child? Tell us in the comments below.

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