Category Archives: Health & Wellness

Getting Active at Home

Getting Active at Home

Written by: Jennifer VanEtten

With holiday goodies in the past and 2021 resolutions in full swing, you may be searching for new ways to increase your kid’s activity level! While a sunny summer and warm autumn allowed for easy access to outdoor activities during the ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’ order, the damp winter weather may feel like a barrier. But with a bit of creativity, enthusiasm, and lots of free online videos, apps, and tutorials, kids can break out in sweat and giggles in no time!

The CDC recommends that children age 3-5 should get at least 3 hours of active play per day while children ages 6-17 should engage in at least one hour of moderate to vigorous exercise per day. While these guidelines may seem a bit daunting, even a short intense movements and long durations of small movements add up! 

Everyday Movement Around the Home (all ages)
Have any old balloons at home? If no, you can find them at any dollar store! An ongoing game of “don’t let the balloon touch the ground” can be a family favorite and easy entertainment for younger kiddos. During dull moments, pick up the balloon and start tapping it around!
Turn chores and everyday tasks into a race. Whoever can clean their room the fastest gets to pick a movie to watch later. Record the time it takes to get dressed in the morning, can your child beat their own record? Making these daily tasks a fun competition can increase time efficiency and heart rate!
Has binge watching Netflix become a new hobby? Turn the time between shows into an activity break! Some fun activities during this time could be a race to the other side of the home, a quick game of tag, or partner sit-ups and jumping jacks!

Sworkit Kid Workouts (options for all ages)
Sworkit is a fitness app for adults that recently released free workouts, warm-ups, strength training, and wiggle-eliminating video tutorials for all ages! Their content is accessible through the app store and free online.

Cosmic Kids Yoga (ages 3-6)
This YouTube channel provides a fantastical adventure through various themes of yoga instruction. They offer a range of 2 to 30 minute videos exploring various poses, mantras, and fun yoga practices that will have kids feeling refreshed and rejuvenated!

NFL Play 60″ 
This app, created by The American Heart Association, is a fun way for young football fans to engage in a game that gives points for physical activity! Children have to get up and move to get their players in the game and train them for action.

Learn How to Dance (ages 12-17)
Your kids may be seeing all of the latest dance moves on Tik Tok and Fortnite– with these tutorials from Bao, they can learn them! In his clips, Bao breaks down various dance moves and teaches them in easy-to-follow tutorials on Youtube, Tik Tok, and Instagram. 

When planning activites and setting expectations for exercise, it is important to remember that children will model what they see. If caregivers make exercise a fun activity that is a part of their everyday routine, kids are more likely to pick up on these habits. The benefits of exercising and prioritizing movement with children include an endless list of improved health outcomes for the entire family!



Talking with Children About Current Events

Talking with Children About Current Events

Written by: Emalise Mitchell 

Right now, children and youth have ongoing exposure to emotional national news, COVID-19 information, and acts of racial injustice and unrest. Even if children are not actively engaged with the news, they pick up information through adult conversations and background television and radio. Stressful current events are abundant.

What are some tips for talking about the news and current events?
Avoid the temptation to downplay.
As caregivers, we are often tempted to downplay seriousness when children are exposed to traumatic news. This is often because we want to protect children from worry and burden. However, caregivers can share simplified and honest information with children. Doing this helps your child to make sense of what they see and hear.

Reinforce safety
When children hear about chaotic current events, their first response is to think about whether they are safe, even if the event is not happening near to them. In times like these, remind your child that you will always protect them.

Stick to the facts
As much as possible, stay neutral when presenting the facts about what is happening in the news or in your community. It is best to focus on the facts of a situation rather than opinions and myths. Check in regularly with your child to get a sense of what they already know and their exposure to the situation.

Be open and available for questions
A caregiver’s willingness and readiness to listen sends a very powerful message to children of any age. As best as you can, listen to their questions and concerns without minimizing them. If you don’t know the answer to a question that your child asks, it is okay to let them know that you don’t know and you will find an answer for them.

Model desired behaviors
Adult attitudes, beliefs, and actions affect children. It is very important to help your child identify their range of emotions and responses, as well as how to express them in appropriate ways. When you talk to your child, you can show positive ways of emotional expression, problem solving, and using words to describe your feelings.

How can I support my child’s sense of safety?
Limit news exposure
Decide how much news is appropriate for your child and set clear expectations in your household.

Provide a reliable routine
Whenever possible, keep predictable routines and structure in your child’s day. Consistency helps your child to have a sense of safety and predictability.

Encourage discussion
Male sure there is enough time for serious conversations about emotions. Encourage your child to talk about their thoughts and feelings. Allow them to ask questions and remind them of the facts – not perceptions – throughout your conversations. For example, if your child asks “Why did those bad guys hurt the good people?” you can respond with, “The people used violence to hurt other people because they did not like them or agree with them. Hurting others is never the right choice.”

Additional Resources
More resources for caregivers
• KidsHealth: https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/news.html
• ConnectSafely: https://www.connectsafely.org/fakenews/
• CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/talking-with-children.html
• Healthy Children: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/Media/Pages/Talking-To-Children-About-Tragedies-and-Other-News-Events.aspx
• Scholastic: https://www.scholastic.com/parents/family-life/social-emotional-learning/social-skills-for-kids/how-to-explain-scary-news-to-kids.html
• SAMHSA: https://store.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/d7/priv/sma12-4732.pdf

Children’s Books
“The Breaking News” by Sarah Lynne Reul
YouTube has the author Read-Aloud available here

“I Can Write the World” by Joshunda Sanders
YouTube has the author Read-Aloud available here

“On the News: Our First Talk About Tragedy” by Dr. Jillian Roberts
YouTube has a Read-Aloud option available here



Staying Strong Against Cyberbullying

Staying Strong Against Cyberbullying

Written by: Joshua Blazen

What does bullying look like during the age of online school? Today, many children have access to social media accounts, cell phones, and the internet. These online platforms have created a new type of bully: the cyber-bully.            

What is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is any teasing, intimidation, or harassment that occurs outside of school hours via social media or other technology. Roughly 10-40% of school-age students will experience cyberbullying at some point. The experience of cyberbullying is different for each student. Some cyberbullied children may be flooded with “spam” messages from bullies, some may have embarrassing rumors or photos spread by bullies through social media, and some may receive threatening or intimidating messages from bullies. Since cyberbullies can set up anonymous online accounts, cyberbullying victims do not always know who their bullies are. For this reason, cyberbullying can be more frequent and more difficult to avoid than traditional bullying. More time online with digital learning may increase both opportunities and impacts of cyberbullying. 

What are some warning signs of cyberbullying?
Here are some warning signs that your child may be experiencing cyberbullying:
• They become upset, sad, or angry after spending time online or on their phone. This may be a reaction to experiencing some kind of digital harassment. It may lead to decreased interest in digital activity. Current requirements for increased online learning and online homework completion can unintentionally enhance a student’s discomfort. 
They become socially withdrawn. Cyberbullying can make a child more self-conscious, and this can make them avoid social situations where they might be judged. 
They go to great lengths to hide their screens when you enter the room. Children often feel shame about experiencing bullying and may try to hide it from their family members. 
They appear more down or sad than usual. This may include losing interest in activities they once enjoyed. If your child experiences a sudden downturn in mood without a clear cause, you may want to get some more information to see if cyberbullying could be the cause.
They suddenly want to avoid school. If a child who normally loves school suddenly starts dreading going to school, this could be a cause for concern. It may be that the child wants to avoid seeing their cyberbullies as much as possible. Some children may even use feeling sick as a reason to stay home or stay offline. They may refuse to turn on their camera during online learning. If this is the case, you may want to gather more information to see if your child is experiencing cyberbullying. 

How can I protect my child from cyberbullying?
• Make sure your child knows that you are ready to listen. If your child talks to you about being a victim of cyberbullying, be supportive and non-judgmental. Some children feel like it is their fault for experiencing bullying and they can feel ashamed to tell their parents for this reason. Make sure your child knows that they are loved and appreciated no matter what.  
Talk to your child’s teacher if you believe your child is experiencing cyberbullying. Teachers don’t always know when cyberbullying is happening, so it may be helpful to bring it to their attention. Ask if the teacher would consider talking to the class about cyberbullying in a way that doesn’t specifically identify or target your child as a victim. Your child’s teacher may even have a specific anti-bullying curriculum in mind! 
Help your child come up with some strategies to avoid cyberbullies. You may want to help your child limit their technology and social media time by agreeing on a technology-use schedule. An online schedule can reduce the amount of time they are exposed to cyberbullying. You could create a tech space in the house that is more public so your child feels as though you are part of the online experience and can intervene on their behalf. Additionally, you may want to show your child how to block cyberbullies’ phone numbers and social media accounts.

What should I do if my child is cyberbullying others?
• Help your child come up with more acceptable ways to solve conflicts. Children often resort to teasing or bullying to get revenge. Make sure that your child knows they can come to you for advice when they have disputes with others. 
Gather more information. Your child’s teacher may be able to shed some light on any conflicts your child has with other children. Talk to your child to learn more about why they are bullying others. Some children may bully others to cope with stress or other negative feelings. 
Talk with your child about feelings. Help your child understand the way that bullying makes others feel. Help your child come up with acceptable ways to express their feelings. 

Resources
For more resources for caregivers, visit the Cyberbullying Research Center website: https://cyberbullying.org/resources/parents

More recommendations for caregivers from ConnectSafely:https://www.connectsafely.org/cyberbullying/

To report chronic or severe instances of cyberbullying and harassment:https://www.cybersmile.org/advice-help/category/who-to-call