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6 Great Ways to Help Your Kids Eat Healthy

Getting kids to eat healthy in general can sometimes be pretty tricky. It can be even trickier, though, to get children who might not be used to your home to eat healthy. When you foster a child, helping them feel comfortable in your home is the first step. A new living situation is strange for anyone, so keep this in mind when feeding your kids. Ask them what they enjoy and go from there. This is a great opportunity for you to get to know your foster kids. Check out these 6 ways to help your kids eat healthy.

  1. Positivity is Key

Stay positive and upbeat about the good foods your kids are about to eat. A bright outlook on what’s healthy can rub off on your kids. While some may disagree with bribing, it could definitely work for some. Try making it into a game. The more fun your kid is having, the better for everyone!

  1. Be a Good Role Model

Your kids will definitely look toward you for ideas on what to eat. The more you’re choosing vegetables and fruits for yourself, the more likely it is that your children will go for the same. Recognizing that it’s also okay for everyone to have a little dessert once in awhile can help keep things balanced.

  1. Introduce New Foods Slowly

You don’t want to hit them with too much at once. Kids typically aren’t too excited on trying new foods, so it’s important to bring them in slowly. You might even try not to mention that an unfamiliar food is in the mix and see whether or not they like it.

  1. Let Your Kids Cook

Cooking can be a really awesome thing to do together – quality time with your child is so important. When fostering a child, cooking together is a great way to get to know them a little better. Not only is it fantastic for you to do as a team, but getting them involved in the process is such a great way to get them excited for what they’re about to eat.

  1. Allow Treats

Don’t let it get too serious in the kitchen. Healthy foods are awesome as a whole, but occasionally allowing your kids to have treats or less healthy options can help keep them from feeling as though those unhealthy treats are more appealing.

  1. Sneak in Some Healthy Goodness

Throw in veggies wherever you can. If you make quesadillas for instance, while the dairy from the cheese might not be great, you can still incorporate lots of different vegetable options. You might even try Greek yogurt and fruit for dessert. It looks and tastes great, but it’s also good for you!

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5 Ways to Help Your Foster Children Feel at Home

If you were a never a foster kid yourself, it can be difficult to fully understand what they go through. The comfort felt from simply being in your own home is something they may have never experienced. As a foster parent, it’s so important to create a safe, warm and welcoming environment for your foster children. A new living situation with people you’ve never met before can be a difficult thing to get acclimated to, but with the right environment, it will happen over time. Consider these 5 ways to help your foster children feel comfortable and at home.

  1. Smile and Show Them Around

Welcome them with a warm smile. Though every child is different, it’s likely he or she will be slightly shy to start, so don’t be too intense. Keep a calm, grounded attitude while also expressing how happy you are to have them there. For smaller children, you may take their hand to guide them on the tour, while with older kids you may just place a hand on their shoulder for reassurance.

  1. Have a Snack Ready

He or she is probably hungry but afraid to say anything, so there’s nothing more welcoming than having a snack ready for them when they arrive. Have a plate of chocolate chip cookies or some other treat to show them that they are at home. They may not eat right away, so don’t push it. Whether they eat or not, they’ll still know it’s there for them when they’re ready.

  1. Get to Know Them

Start off by simply asking what they like to do. What kind of activities do they enjoy? Plan for some fun weekend activities that will help them feel integrated into your family. You might take them to a museum or to the park. Maybe they’ve always wanted to try a sport but have never had the opportunity. They might like art or drawing, so you could get them some supplies.

  1. Be Clear, Not Demanding When it Comes to Rules

Though there are boundaries that need to be set, do so in a gentle way. Be clear about your expectations while not being aggressive or demanding. Treat your foster children with the respect you would like to receive from them in return. Give them no reason – based on your actions or attitude toward them – to make them feel like they need to act out or feel distrust toward you.

  1. Give Them Time and Space

This transition will probably be a challenge for him or her, so give them plenty of time to get acclimated. Try to understand why they may feel uncomfortable in the situation – put yourself in their shoes. The best thing you can do is keep a positive outlook and create a welcoming home where they can blossom and succeed.

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Summertime Safety for Your Kids

Once that school is out for summer, your child will have a lot of free time. Fortunately, summertime is the perfect time of year for your children to be enrolled in extracurricular activities and to get out and enjoy the great outdoors. Whether your child is in your care, in the care of someone else, or is unsupervised, it’s important to be aware of safety in a variety of summertime activities:

Water Safety

Water fun is a quintessential part of summer weather. Whether you fill up the kiddie pool in your backyard, go to the local pool, or partake in some water sports at the lake or ocean, children of all ages should know how to be safe in the water. Young children should always be supervised to prevent a drowning incident and every child should learn how to swim. Although many parents enroll their children in swimming lessons as early as six months old, most swimmers are not proficient until the age of 6 or 7 and even after that, they should be supervised by an adult.

Children of all ages should wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket when riding on any type of watercraft and be taught how to safely enter the water. To reduce the risk of brain, head, or spinal injuries, individuals of all ages should enter the water feet first rather than diving, as it’s often difficult to tell how deep the water is or what obstructions may be beneath the water’s surface.

Helmet Safety Use

Some kids rely on bicycles, scooters, in-line skates, and skateboards to get around during the summer. While these wheeled modes of transportation are a fun and healthy way to get around, they can be dangerous and to avoid a life changing head or brain injury, helmet use should be strictly enforced. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, safety helmets can reduce the risk of severe brain injuries by 88%. It’s important to remember that even the most careful and skilled of children are at risk for falling or getting struck by a vehicle and by wearing a helmet, his or her chances of suffering a serious injury is less likely.

Hydration and Sun Protection

As you and your children get busy during the day, it may be easy to forget to stay hydrated or to apply another coat of sunscreen after a morning at the pool, however, drinking enough water and wearing sunscreen is important for your child’s health, particularly on hot days. Although water is your child’s best option for staying hydrated, there are also healthy summer foods, like melon, that can help keep your child hydrated. Encourage your child to drink water throughout the day, not only when he or she is extremely thirsty.

In addition to applying a broad spectrum sunscreen on your child throughout the day, pay attention to the heat index and avoid having your child play outside during the hottest times of the day, instead, take those moments to have some quiet time indoors (such as reading or some earned screen time) where it’s cooler.

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Outdoor Play for Your Kids

Between spending most of their day in school and a significant amount of time in front of a “screen” (such as television, computers, and video games), kids are simply spending too much time indoors. Think back to when you were a kid, while you may have watched your fair share of television, more often than not, you spent a majority of your playtime outdoors with friends. Your child doesn’t have to have free reign of the neighborhood to enjoy the outdoors, but simply sending your child out to the backyard can do wonders.

If your child is missing out on outside time, here are some reasons to get your child outside now:

Health

Spending some time outdoors can make anyone healthier. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 6 children and teens are obese. While childhood obesity may be a result of various factors, such as diet, inactivity is also a culprit. By sending your child outside and encouraging play, he or she may be less likely to have issues with weight.

Children, who play outdoors, are more likely to have a better immune system and have the ability to fight off illnesses during the cold and flu season. Outside play can help children get exposed to dirt and bacteria, which can actually build a stronger immune system. So, let your kids get a little dirty. Remember, it’s good for their health (and dirt is easy to wash away).

Other health benefits include natural exposure to Vitamin D, which can help protect your child from future bone problems, heart disease, and diabetes. Just 10 to 15 minutes in the sun can boost your child’s Vitamin D.

Creativity

Think of how your imagination thrived when you played outdoors. Outside play can encourage and enhance your child’s imagination. Whether he or she is playing in a tree house, playing pretend with sticks and flowers, or simply gazing at the clouds in the sky, your child’s imagination and creativity is hard at work. There’s something about the creativity of playing outdoors that cannot be duplicated in a videogame or on an iPad.

Improving Values

The more time your son or daughter spends outside, the more likely he or she is to respect and value nature and the community around them. Maybe there’s a bird nest in the backyard or a spider web forming on the apple tree. With gentle daily observations, your child is learning important lessons about life and the cycles within nature. By learning to appreciate nature, he or she may be more likely to encourage others to respect nature (i.e. picking up litter or leaving nature alone).

By allowing and encouraging your child to play outside, you are showing them that you value some free time and their well-being. Even 30 minutes a day, can reduce your child’s stress or worry and give them a chance to take a “break” during the day. If you want to your child to appreciate time outside, take the time to enjoy the great outdoors, too.

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How To Help Foster Children Feel Safe In A New Environment

If you’ve ever brought a pet home for the first time, you know that acclimating an animal to a new environment takes time. You have to help the new animal feel safe and comfortable by buying them a new toy, a bed to help them feel comfortable, and a blanket for comfort. Children aren’t any different when it comes to living in a new situation. Foster children have a history that they bring with them that should be considered. It is important to help them feel comfortable and safe in their new home.

Ways To Help Foster Children.

Ask them what they enjoy. Learning what a foster child is interested in is helpful when helping them feel comfortable. Help them feel integrated. If the child enjoys playing with Legos, set up a playroom that includes a variety of Legos that they can choose from.

Learn their history. Find out about the child or children you’re bringing into your home. Take them to places they enjoy. Planning fun outdoor activities to will help your foster child feel comfortable. It is important to help them feel as welcome as possible. Take them to the museum, local park to socialize them. Don’t pressure the child to forge new friendships. Remember that each children has their own personality. Some are shy and not as outgoing. Give the children space to get to know each other.

Have healthy and open communication. Sit with your foster child and speak with them at their level. Don’t pressure them to speak. You may want to speak to them while they are engaged in an activity and ask them questions. Let them answer at their speed and don’t take it person if they don’t respond immediately. Remember that you are also new to them and it takes time to nurture any new friendship and relationship. Give it time.

Create a safe environment. Offer them space and time. Don’t pressure the child to do what he or she may not be ready to do. Remember that being in your home is new to them. Be patient with them. Offer them a comfort toy. Children love having a special blanket or toy. It is their safety blanket and comfort. Allow your foster child to have a special comfort to help them as they assimilate to their new environment.

Discuss boundaries with everyone in the house. When a foster child enters a new home it is important to be sensitive to their history. If the child came from an abuse situation, talk to the other children in the household in a kind and gentle way. Help them understand the importance of having patience and sensitivity. Help them feel comfortable. If the foster child is having conflict with integration, give them space and time. Don’t force them to participate in activities that might them feel alienated or pressured. They need to feel as safe as possible in their new environment.

Finding comfort in new environments is a challenge for everyone. Feeling pressure or judgement from others can hinder our ability to find acceptance and safety. You may want to read literature to help you understand your foster child. Study their personal history and observe. Your foster child needs your respect and gentle loving care as they transition. Be source of comfort to them and create a safe place for them to grow and thrive. Enjoy the new adventure and stay positive!

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Pets to Avoid

Pets are great. Everyone loves them. And everyone loves their kids. In most cases, pets are a great idea for kids, and provide an opportunity for them to learn many life lessons.

 

Some pets, though, are inappropriate for some children. And some children should not be around vulnerable creatures. Here are 5 of the worst pets you can get if you have difficult, unpredictable children.

Spiders

Spiders and kids shouldn’t mix. This is for two big reasons. One, spiders could pose dangers to kids. Some spiders are venomous. Children may not have the impulse control and cool heads necessary to keep a spider relaxed. Sudden movements and loud noise might frighten a spider and cause it lash out and hurt someone. Additionally, the sight of a spider might frighten local kids and leave them with psychological damage.  

 

The other problem is that the kids could pose dangers to the spiders. Spiders are small, delicate creatures. Children are still learning how to behave in the world, and there is a good chance that they might not understand how to treat such an alien and vulnerable creature as a spider.

Snakes

Children and snakes are probably not a great mix, either. Like spiders, snakes are very alien creatures—they’re not mammals and do not behave in ways that humans always understand. And like spiders, snakes may get stressed around loud and excitable kids. An stressed snake is an unhappy snake, and its owners will likely be unhappy as well.  

 

Snake lovers are fiercely dedicated to their animal of choice. That’s understandable. Snakes are fascinating creatures. But snakes might not be a good choice of pet for kids with behavioral issues.

Dogs With Histories of Abuse

Dogs who have not been treated well are needy animals. They need loving homes and lots of peace and quiet. Dogs who have been abused need to be the prime focus of their owners.

 

If you have children who are prone to violent outbursts, please reconsider when talking about getting a rescue dog. Loud noises and aggressive—even playfully aggressive—behavior can trigger past traumas in vulnerable dogs. A frightened dog may hurt itself or your kids, and neither occurrence is beneficial to your family. If you want to get a dog and have children with behavioral problems, consider getting a young, resilient dog.

Other Exotic Pets

Exotic pets should mostly be left alone by everyone aside from trained zoologists. They should especially be kept away from kids. The term “exotic pets” get used differently by many people, but for the purposes of this post simply refers to animals that do not commonly live as pets and will not enjoy life with humans. Examples of exotic pets include chimpanzees, slow lorises, kangaroos, and komodo dragons.
These animals, simply put, do not feel comfortable living with people. Many of them are captured by poachers against their will and go through terrifying (often illegal) ordeals. Living in a house will be bizarre to them, and they will certainly not enjoy being around your children. Your children, likewise, will probably be scared of the panic stricken beasts living in their homes.   

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Teenage Parents

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, there were 26.5 births for every 1,000 adolescent females ages 15-19 in 2013. Although this rate has declined over the last few years, statistics reveal that the teenage pregnancy and birth rate in the US is still higher than that of other developed countries. This has been linked to various causes such as school progress, ethnic background of the teen, history of teenage pregnancies in the family, financial standards of the neighborhood of the teen, and other socio-economic factors.

Reprogramming the Mind to think like a Parent

There are several programs available to help teenagers who have become pregnant as teens or are young mothers. These programs are designed to promote a sense of community living for pregnant teenagers by providing assistance in terms of housing, in given case that the teenager is financially unsupported. Alternative means of assistance include counseling and medical care. According to a publication by American Academy of Pediatrics, there are several school based and non-school based programs that can provide psychological support, medical assistance, and a life skills approach to coach teenagers on how to become parents and provide care to an infant. In essence, the purpose of such groups also includes provision of peer support to an adolescent parent so that they can pick up on parenting skills, learn of the consequences of child neglect, and simultaneously develop their own profile through continuing to grow at school. These programs also stress on the importance of a parent caring for their child regardless of the whether an adult is involved in the childcare or not. The purpose is twofold; identifying and catering to the needs of a child as a parent, while also recognizing the fact that the parent also requires care in order to achieve self-actualization.

Identifying a case of neglect

There are reported cases where adolescent parents are unable to care for their child adequately. The neglect can be of various forms; hence identification of neglect involves a comprehensive look at all aspects of a child’s life. For example, children may be neglected physically by being provided insufficient nutrition or shelter. Alternatively, some children may be educated emotionally by being isolated or bullied. Neglect can encompass lack of sufficient health care or education which is the basic right of any human child. Identification of such neglect includes looking for signs such as poor hygiene, poor cognitive development, sudden weight loss, unhygienic skin conditions, irregular behavior, lack of proper medical attention, along with other visible and invisible symptoms. It is crucial that child neglect is reported immediately. It can be a federal offense not to do so.

Does consultancy have to be professional?

Regardless of whether the adolescent parent has access to expert level consultancy and counseling, the ideal solution would be to have similar guidance and care provided by relatives and adults nearby. This could include immediate family, neighbors, friends, or parents of friends. The idea is to have a well-rounded support system available to the teenager where issues can easily be discussed and identified.

Foster Children and Holidays

Foster Children and Holidays

When the holidays roll around, regardless of what you celebrate, it’s easy to take them for granted and assume that everyone shares the same feelings of comfort and joy. If you are a foster parent, you know that the holidays can be difficult for foster children of all ages. While it’s important to make your foster child feel special during the holidays, don’t avoid “touchy” subjects that may become intensified during the holiday season. Remember, your foster child may struggle with conflicting feelings of loyalty, general stress, and maybe hopelessness. Here are some ways to make the holidays a little easier for your foster child:

Prepare Ahead of Time

 

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Kwanzaa, or Hanukkah, you and your family probably has annual traditions. When including your foster child, tell him or her about your traditions. Additionally, ask him or her if there are any traditions that he or she would like to introduce to you and your family. Definitely inform and include your foster child in any and all activities, but don’t expect him or her to jump right on board. For example, if your foster child never celebrated holidays, Christmas may be exciting yet overwhelming. He or she may have many questions and a few anxieties. Don’t overlook them and answer as best as you can. It’s always a good idea to talk about holiday plans as early as you can for better preparation.

Talk with Others about Your Foster Child

 

In addition to informing your foster child of holiday plans, don’t forget to include your family or friends. While your family and friends are most likely well-intentioned, they may have questions themselves, not knowing how to proceed with the holidays or how to include your foster child in holiday traditions. Encourage them to withhold from asking too many personal questions that may hit an already sensitive nerve. Your foster child just wants to be seen as normal during the holidays.

Be Patient with Your Foster Child 

 

As a foster parent, your patience is probably tested frequently, but don’t forget to be extra patient and understanding during the holidays. Think about how the holidays make or have made you feel; chances are you’ve felt stressed, overwhelmed, and a little sad from time to time. Your foster child may exhibit behaviors that reflect depression, anxiety, and anger. Even if the holidays are supposed to be a “happy time of year”, allow your foster child to have feelings. Don’t give up on him or her just because you want to feel in the spirit of the Happy Holidays.

Include Biological Parents if Possible

 

No foster child’s life story is the same and before you decide to include or not include biological parents in your holidays, you need to consider your foster child’s background, safety, and overall well-being. If your foster child is really struggling with the holidays, you may be able to ease anxiety and sadness by having him or her buy a small gift or make a card for a biological parent. If your child shows no interest or desire to acknowledge his or her biological parent, let it go; never pressure him or her to be part of something that makes him or her uncomfortable or sad.

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Childhood Myths You Shouldn’t Worry About

So many things are out there that can hurt your kid. Parents have a rough time identifying and dealing with the seemingly unlimited hazards that the everyday world poses to children. Vehicles, sports, playground bullies, diets, etc. It seems as if the world is made up of nothing but dangers to young people, but consider a few of these childhood myths.

 

But there’s some good news! Not all of these supposed dangers are all that bad, and many aren’t even real. Superstitions, urban legends, and simple mistakes have all made their way into parenting lore and causes generations of adults to worry about little nothings. Here are a few big ones.

Sitting too Close to the TV

Everyone one heard this one as a kid, and pretty much every parent has contributed to it: “don’t sit too close to the tv—it will ruin your vision.” Well guess what? It’s not true! According to kidshealth.org, no evidence has ever arisen that showed a connection between a front seat at the TV and bad vision. Whether or not TV (or the computer) rots your brain is still up in the air, so maybe limiting your kids’ TV time remains a pretty a good idea, but if you’re worried about their eyes, you don’t need to worry about that big, bright screen.

Normal Body Temperature and Childhood Myths

Here’s another one everyone has heard, and most people still think: “98.6 degrees is the normal, healthy body temperature, and anything else is a sign of bad health.”

 

Now this one is definitely based in reality. 98.6 degrees tends be an average body temperature. What’s mythical about it is that it assumes all bodies are the same. According to the Cleveland Clinic, human bodies have a big variety of normal temperatures. People’s body temperature fluctuates constantly. Additionally, different parts of the body will give different temperatures; don’t apply the 98.6 number to any temperature other than under the tongue. (Keep in mind that fever range officially begins at over 100.4 degrees; seek medical attention if your child’s temperature gets this high.)

Childhood Myths and Mental Health

Many people think that mental health problems only affect adults, and that treating children for mental health issues is overzealous parenting. Not so, says an article in the Huffington Post. Kids suffer from mental health problems just like anyone, and getting children the treatment they need is just responsible parenting. Don’t worry about your neighbors’ opinions; trust medical professionals when advise you to treat your kid.

Childhood Myths vs. Vaccines

Many parents get spooked at the names of the chemicals in their vaccines. But that’s just what scientific names sound like; the long technical terms are usually based in Latin or old Greek words, and often describe chemical compounds already found in your blood.

 

And the amount of vaccines doctors recommend is safe. Medics do suggest a pretty busy vaccination schedule for kids, but children’s bodies are incredibly resilient. They can use vaccines to develop homegrown defenses against terrible diseases if they stick to the medically-recommended schedule.

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Keeping Kids Free From the Flu

Flu season is here again. Yes, it’s that nasty time that comes with the cold each year and leaves us all weak and sneezing. Every year, too many people skip their flu vaccines—which are cheap, accessible, and mostly effective—and spread the virus around to more and more people. Flu shots are an important method for maintain the public’s health around the world.

But what about your kids? How can you prevent them from getting sick? Do they need flu shots? Are the shots safe for their immature immune systems? What age is old enough? And what are the risks that every parent should know?

Young People and Flu Shots

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that everyone from age 6 months and up—not counting people with certain allergies and other medical condition that render it unsafe—get their flu vaccine each year. Flu shots are recognized as safe and effective, even for children so young. Children’s bodies are strong, energetic, and resistant to infection. Vaccine manufacturers have a lot of experience with the flu, and even though they can’t predict with precision the right flus to vaccinate against every year, they do frequently stop the chain of infection and prevent lots of infection every year.

The Dangers of Influenza on Kids

The flu is not simply a cold. The flu is a serious viral infection, and it kills and seriously harms children. In fact, CDC reports that around 20,000 kids end up in the hospital yearly due to the flu. And children under the age of two get the worst of it the most often.

A flu shot will prevent your children, as well as the playmates of your children, from contracting this all-too-often ignored hazard. Many parents underrate the dangers of the flu and think that getting a vaccine is too much of a hassle. Some parents even think that vaccines are unsafe, despite a complete lack of evidence for their stance.

Kids and Hygiene

Kids like to get messy. They play around in dirt, don’t like to wash their hands, and don’t understand the finer points of microbiology. In short, parents need to look after kids and help make health decisions for them. As a parent, you can set an important example for your kids by making sure the whole family gets vaccinated this fall.

But there’s more to keeping influenza at bay than a flu shot. As a parent, you need to make sure your kids learn proper hand-washing techniques. This will have the added bonus of preventing all kinds of other illnesses.

The Flu and the Community

Don’t just do it for your kids. The flu hurts older people, pregnant women, young kids, and people with compromised immune systems. Preventing the flu from passing into your community is an easy and important thing you can do to help make the world a safer place. Remember also that viruses evolve quickly, and more opportunities that the influenza has to evolve, the sooner humanity may need to face a version that medicine can’t handle. Stop the flu. Start with you kids.