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Online Safety Tips for Your Kids

Online Safety Tips for Your Kids: Why They are Important Now More than Ever
Parents have been getting advice about safety and the internet since it first entered homes in the early 90s. But with the surge of social media, and school becoming virtual all over the country, knowing how to protect your child and their identity online is more important than it ever has been before. Want to, but do not know where to start? Here are a few tips to help ease your mind.

  1. Know What Features Apps, Websites, and Social Media already have in place: Several large social platforms have parental restrictions already built into their settings. This can very from restricting screen time, disabling direct messengers, and even the content your child is able to access. An array of platforms like TikTok, Instagram, Netflix, Facebook, all have pages set up for you to go through and click on the boundaries you want to set for safety.
  2. Don’t Assume Something is Safe: For most people, resources like Zoom and Google Classroom are assumed to be ok. As we have recently seen in the media, Zoom and similar digital conference calls can be hacked. Learn what you can about your child’s new virtual classroom from Google community and other resources, so that you will be better prepared if something looks fishy.
  3. Try to Be Involved…or at Least Around: Being around your children 24/7 is pretty much impossible. And with demanding work schedules, spending time all the time you want to with your child is not always a possibility, either. However, if and when you can, consider trying to be involved when they are starting a new activity, even if you think it is something silly, like TikTok dance routines or playing Fortnite. Not only will you be supporting your child’s habits, but by being around them when they are using the internet, you can learn, reshape, and create safe computer habits with and for them.
  4. Keep Lines of Communication Open: Most of us know that our children are not perfect, but if you can recall your childhood: it was not so easy to fess up to doing things you knew were wrong. Sometimes, if a child does not know if something is wrong, unethical, unsafe, etc., they will err on the side of it being wrong to avoid any form of discipline. With that being said, it is pivotal that your child understands that they can approach you with any questions or concerns about behaviors or problems they may have encountered on the computer.

The average age a child gets their first private social media account is 12. Over 60% of preteens and over 80% of teenagers have at least two or more social media accounts. The average American child between eight and eighteen spends more than seven hours or more in front of a screen (without schoolwork). In summary: it is highly unlikely that you can 100% protect your child from screens and screen time, but making the necessary steps to watch out for their safety can make all the difference in their digital and physical reality.

Ways to Help Your Child with Anxiety

One of the hardest things as of late for families around the world is how they have been able to adapt to the perimeters put upon them from the Coronavirus. Things seem to be changing on a daily, if not—an hourly—basis. As adults, we have tried our best to put on a brave face and go with the flow as best as we can; changing how we work, how we shop, how we communicate, how we stayed entertained, and even how we greet (or talk to) loved ones. Here are as some ways to help an anxious child through these times.

Adults are not the only folks being affected by all of these changes. The Coronavirus has made children change the routines and lifestyle they are accustomed to. Some children (just like some adults) amaze us at their ability to roll with the punches. But this is not all children, and as caretakers and parents, we have to acknowledge our youth’s struggles to help with it.

  1. Acknowledge what is Happening: Validating the recent changes to your child’s life can make all the difference. It can help to make a list of things that have stayed the same (dinner every night at the table, still getting tucked in, being able to play in the backyard, being able to talk to their teachers) and making a list of things that have changed (attending festivities digitally instead of in person, going to school virtually, how close or far we have to stay away from people). By acknowledging their feelings, it will make them feel less alone, because they will know that they are not the only one that is noticing that things are not how they were, even just a few weeks ago.
  • Deal with your Own Anxiety before Tackling your Children’s: Children pick up on much more than we give them credit for. Because they learned to read emotions before verbal communication, they are incredible at picking up on their parents’ emotions. Process how you feel about things and try to figure out how you are coping with those feelings, before talking to your child about them. It is ok to tell your children that you do not know the answers to certain things or that sometimes, you feel scared too. But try to go in calmly to discuss how you are doing in the situation. Think about it like riding on an airplane, they always tell you to put on your own air mask before helping others with theirs. This is not a selfish or self-serving tip, but rather, it is pertinent advice: if you are breathing properly, you can save a lot more individuals.
  • Teach children Mindfulness Techniques: Teaching your child how to be mindful of their tension, and what to do about it, can be extraordinarily helpful during these times. For mindfulness tips, there are several resources online. The University of Washington made a template for you to read to your children to help them practice muscle relaxation. There are also several free online videos to aid you on Youtube or on other sources like GoZen.
  • Create a Visual Schedule: Having a predictable environment can make all the difference for a child, especially if that child is prone to anxiety. One way to help your children feel less anxious is to create a visual routine for them to see depicting the routine of the day to day. It doesn’t need to be complex or elaborate. It can be as simple as four-six things you do on a daily basis, such as eating meals, story time, bedtime, etc. Having the visual will remind your child that there is still a schedule, and therefore, some consistency, throughout their days and weeks. 

 Times can be tough, but having a plan in place can make things easier on both you and your little ones. Make sure you are taking care of yourself as well, and remember that there are several resources online and in person if you need help or guidance with this and other issues brought on the Coronavirus. Please always feel free to contact us if you are in need of assistance or need help looking for resources.


Start Simple with MyPlate Food Planning during the Coronavirus Pandemic

During a pandemic, you may be taking extra precautions to keep you and your family safe and prepared, including making sure you have everything you need at home. This guide contains information on food planning, including what to buy, how much to buy, and preparation tips.

Check what you have at home first

Take a look at the foods you already have in your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry before you make a list; make sure to look at expiration dates and best by dates. This can help you plan meals around what you already have, and will help you limit the number of trips to the grocery store and avoid spending money on items you don’t need.

Make a shopping list

Shopping may feel more stressful at this time. Make a list ahead of time to stay focused, get the items you need, and keep your shopping trip short. Since stores may not have some specific items, create a list with general items like “fruit” or “bread.”

Explore your shopping options

Many grocery stores offer in-store pickup, curbside pickup, or delivery. Third party options also exist for grocery store delivery. You may find these services helpful during times of social distancing. If you are older, check if your store delivers or has early shopping hours for older Americans only.

How much should I buy?

Buy what you and your family need at this time, and resist the urge to buy in much larger quantities.

Prepare a shopping list that will cover you and everyone in your household for 2 weeks.

Include fresh, frozen, and non-perishable items

Plan for a mix of fresh, frozen, and shelf-stable foods. Eat your fresh food first. Stock your freezer and pantry with items you can eat in the second week and beyond.

What foods should I buy?

Choose a mix of shelf-stable, frozen, and fresh foods. Examples of shelf-stable include pastas, rice, legumes, nut butters, and dried and canned goods. Frozen options to think about might be breads, meats, vegetables, fruits, and even milk. With fresh foods, buy a variety in quantities that you would normally buy. Remember to include the special needs of all family members, including pets, infants, or those with dietary restrictions.

What should I make?

While everyone is home together, you may feel inclined to try a new recipe or experiment with new flavors to keep things interesting. For others, sticking to simple items or familiar foods and tastes provides comfort. Plan what works for you and your family.

Access to food while school is closed

Many school districts across the country are continuing to provide meals to students in need during school closures. Check for local programs in your area, such as Meals to You. Contact your local school to learn about meals that may be available through pop-up food systems, grab-and-go meal pickups, or school bus routes.

Additional Food Planning Resources:

Tips for Every Aisle

Use these tips to fill your cart with budget-friendly and healthy options from each food group.

Sample 2-Week Menus

These sample 2-week menus can be used by any person or family wanting to follow a healthy diet at a modest price.

MyPlate Plan

To learn about your food group targets, use the personalized MyPlate Plan tool.

Activities for Families at Home:

MyPlate: Activities to do with Kids

Activities and printables to get the whole family on board with making healthier choices.

Team Nutrition Cooks!

Cooking-based nutrition activities for children ages 8-12 years old.

Team Nutrition Games & Activities

Make your way through all the food groups with these fun games and activities.

Contact information:

For solutions to feeding children impacted by COVID-19, email FeedingKids@usda.gov.

For more information about Coronavirus:

Coronavirus.gov

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

What the U.S. Government is Doing

Spanish: https://www.usa.gov/espanol/coronavirus Ready.gov


In the Face of a Crisis: How to Talk to the Children in Your Life About the Coronavirus

Adults have had to find ways to talk to children about large, and often, scary events in the past. And it can often be hard to talk to another adult—nonetheless—a young person about  distressful topics. So, how does one go about talking to a child about problems as large as the Coronavirus? According to the CDC, there are several steps one can take to be honest with children without alarming them:

  1. Remain Calm and Reassuring: We tend to forget that one of the things we are teaching children on a constant basis is how to have and act during conversations. However, you must remember that children tend to excel at picking up on emotional cues from you, other adults, and even by watching how you communicate with the adults around you. So, before you go and talk to your child about the facts of the Coronavirus, remember that they will react to both what you say and how you say it. How you talk to your child about this can set the tone for how they feel about it moving forward.
  •  Make Yourself Available to Listen and to Talk: Think back to something scary that happened when you were growing up. More often than not, fear provides people with more questions than answers, and this—in turn—can lead a person to becoming more fearful of something happening. So, make sure you leave time in your day and in your discussions for your child to have the microphone. Make sure they know that they can come to you with your questions. It is also ok if you do not have all the answers. In order to maintain trust, it is imperative to follow through on getting those answers. If they have a question that you do not have an answer for, validate the importance of their question, and promise them that if there is an answer, you will find it for them.
  • Limit Screen Time that Relates to the Pandemic: Children are always listening to what adults have to say. This does not just include what you have to say, but what adults maybe saying on the radio, television, Youtube, and other mediums. Too much information about any topic can lead to a form of anxiety. If and when possible, reduce the amount of screen time in your home that is focused on the Coronavirus.
  • Avoid Language that May Lead to Stigma and Blames Others: Remember that viruses can make anyone sick, regardless of a person’s: age, sex, race, or ethnicity. Avoid making assumptions about who might have the Coronavirus because of stereotypes.
  • Teach, Practice, and Model Everyday Actions to Reduce the Spread of Germs: Hand washing and reducing the spread of germs are always en vogue. Make sure to review with your children simple practices like how to properly was their hands and how often, remind them to cough into a tissue or into their elbow, and make sure they know how to properly use products like hand sanitizer. Prevention is a far easier step than treatment. You could even make a game out of things like being good about washing hands! Set up a stamp chart to get them in the habit of washing their hands, and reward them with something small, like a five minute dance party, or an extra story before bedtime for completing their cleanliness goals.
  • Make Sure to Practice Self Care: It is innate for most people to prioritize their loved ones, especially their children, over their own needs and desires. It is essential (and healthy) for you to be taking some time for self care during the pandemic. This is new and scary for you too, and as cliche as it is, a team is only as strong as its weakest individual.

Talking to your children about anything that may lead to heartache or stress can be hard for you and for them. You are not alone in having to do this, and do not be afraid to reach out to community resources, social media, and the people you know for support. Having the right tools can be the difference between trauma and obtaining coping mechanisms

Get Active Indoors!

Sometimes it rains, sometimes plans fall through, and sometimes, we just do not want to go out. But being stuck in the house all the time can drive you crazy! Need something to get you away from your indoor blues? Try doing something active indoors. Not only will it pass the time, but it will boost your oxytocin (those good feeling hormones). Need an idea? Here are a few to get you started:

  1. Have a pillow fight
  2. Play musical chairs
  3. Throw a family dance party
  4. Put together a scavenger hunt (works the body and the brain!)
  5. Build a fort
  6. Make an indoor obstacle course
  7. Play hide and seek
  8. Have a hallway race
  9. Blow off the dust off and play a game of Twister
  10. Play Charades
  11. Learn a Dance Routine: put on Thriller, Single Ladies, or Uptown Funk and learn some moves.
  12. Have the family put on a show
  13. Make a human pyramid
  14. Play Simon Says
  15. Do some chores
  16. Do a work out video
  17. Play balloon volleyball
  18. Act out story time
  19. Hula Hoop
  20. Jump on the bed

Remember be safe and have fun! Find your inner kid, and turn your bleh day into a hooray day.

Safe and Sound: Child Safety At Home

According to the Center for Disease Control, the number one cause of death in America for children under the 18 are unintentional injuries; commonly known as accidents. Accidents are just that—accidents—they do not happen because of calculated or purposeful steps. We cannot prevent them all from happening, but we can take small steps to make them less likely.

  1. Look for the Risks: Houses are usually adult-friendly. But even if something is safe for adults, there can still be a lot of potential hazards for a child. Take time to go through your house, room-by-room, and determine if something is safe or not. A great place to start it is the kitchen. Can your children reach the oven? Is there something heavy on the counter that could fall off and hit someone on the head? Make sure that you are aware of where you are storing things. While a big blue bottle of soap may not look enticing to you, a child does not know the difference between that and some of the bright-colored drinks they love.
  • Make Spaces that are Safe to Explore: As your child begins to grow and learns to climb and open all sorts of things, you need to be alert for new hazards. You’ll probably need to change the environment to make sure your home is still a safe and creative place to play and explore. In turn, try to make spaces that are safe for them to explore. This can be done in their bedrooms, the living room, or even a playroom if you have one.
  • Teach Your Child What is Safe and What is Not: Children learn to do many things through watching and repetition. For example, if they see you using the oven, maybe they will want to use it to. Instead of just telling them “no” and leaving it at that, explain to them WHAT is dangerous and WHY it is dangerous. Often, accidents happen because children do not have the information needed to understand why they shouldn’t do something. If you spend the time to talk to them about it, you are reducing the likelihood of them doing as such.
  • Be an Example of Safety: As adults, we do not always make the safest choices. Sometimes, we may go for a swim alone, or perhaps we walk away from the oven (for just a moment) to take a phone call. Your children are watching these habits, and they themselves may make them to feel more grown-up. So, how do we prevent children from picking up these dangerous, and sometimes lethal, habits? By trying to model safe behavior as often as possible. You may not always be perfect at it, but in times when you forget, make sure to take the time and explain to your child why the choice you just made was not a safe one.
  • Practice Makes Perfect: We never want bad things to happen to those we love, but sadly, life does not always go as we plan. Because of this, you should have plans set for you and your entire family. Do not just create plans, but make sure to practice them as well. For example, you may want to practice your family’s evacuation from a fire, practical skills like first aid, and even pretend calls to local emergency numbers (like 911 or the police). Your child knowing the difference between not knowing what to do and knowing what to do in case of an emergency may save someone’s life. Even your own.

Once every seventeen minutes, a person in the United States dies in a home related accident. Several of these accidents are preventable. Make sure you are doing what you can to make your home safe, to teach your children about safety, and to be an example of what safe choices look like.

Nutrition for Kids: 5 Things We Need to Know About Creating Healthy Eaters

Nutrition for children comes from the same concepts that we use for an adult’s nutrition. Everyone needs the same types of nutrients. However, children have different needs. So, how do you know what the best formula is for your child? Check out these quick tips for your kiddos.

1. Choose Nutrient-Dense Foods First: Whether it is proteins, fruits, vegetables, or grains, it is best to choose foods that are dense in nutrients. When it comes protein, the leaner the better. Fruits, vegetables, and grains go by a simple rule: the less steps between the farm and the table, the better. When feeding your children try and feed them fresh fruit and vegetables, instead of juices. Try to serve whole grains, quinoa, and limit any refined grains (i.e., white bread). Remember, the fewer steps a food took to get to the grocery store, the better it is for your body.

2.  Limit Added Sugars: Your kids are sweet enough! Natural sugar can be found in all sorts    of products from fruits to milk. Make sure to limit the amount of added sugars your children are getting. Brown sugar, honey, and especially, corn syrup, can be found in lots of products.

3. Not all Children are the Same: Depending on your child’s age, activity level, and even their gender, the amount of calories they consume may differ. For example, you are not going to be feeding your high schooler the same amount that you would feed your preschooler. The types of foods should be the same, but the amount will vary.

4. Practice What You Preach: You teach your children all sorts of things, from tying their shoes to riding a bicycle. But you also teach them what types of relationships to have with food. Whether it is habitually talking about dieting, or binge eating while watching television, you are paving the path for their eating habits as well. Try and stray away from talking about how bad or good a food is, and instead, limit these foods yourself, and your children will be less likely to eat them as well. Make yourself an example of what one should and should not eat by showing them.

5. Do not Use Food as a Reward or Punishment: Eating has many functions. Being a punishment or reward should not be one of them. Deciding that certain foods are a reward or a punishment may lead to unhealthy habits. Healthy variety is key.

As a parent, you get the pivotal role of shaping your children’s habits. By keeping foods simple and healthy, and showing them how to have a healthy relationship with it, you can have a positive impact on their present and their future.