thanksgiving-meal
by Stacey Schifferdecker

"Thanksgiving was never meant to be shut up in a single day"
Robert Caspar Lintner

When people ask me what my favorite holiday is, I always say Thanksgiving. I don’t know that deep down Thanksgiving is really my favorite holiday, but I feel sorry for it. There it is, sandwiched between the candy, costumes, and trick-or-treat of Halloween and the gifts, glitz, and glamour of Christmas. How is a simple, mostly non-commercialized holiday like Thanksgiving supposed to compete?

Sure, there have been a few attempts to make Thanksgiving more exciting. You can buy a few Thanksgiving decorations and there is a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special. There are even a few hymns in church we seem to reserve for Thanksgiving. But all told, sometimes it seems like the only purpose of Thanksgiving is to eat turkey, watch football, and, oh yeah, kick off the Christmas shopping season. Sometimes people even call Thanksgiving “Turkey Day.”

Thanksgiving is so much more than this, though! Thanksgiving is all about God and thanking him for the gifts of life, love, joy, and more. Yes, we get to see family and friends and we get to eat a great meal. But our central purpose should be to give thanks to God. Hmmm, maybe Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday after all.

Thanksgiving remains a hard sell for children, though. No candy, no gifts, no surprises. Sure, you get pumpkin pie and few days off school, but other than that… How can we show our children the importance of both Thanksgiving and giving thanks?

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Dad and special needs son

Tips for Special Needs Parenting

by Joy Burgess

Parenting always comes with challenges, but the normal challenges that come with being a parent are often compounded for the parents of children with special needs. Just a few of the common challenges for parents may include:

  • Coping with the physical and emotional demands that come with caring for a child with a disability
  • Becoming educated about the child’s disability
  • Advocating for essential school accommodations, placements, and/or interventions
  • Researching and finding effective resources and treatments
  • Paying for interventions and treatments that may not be covered by the school system or health insurance
  • Getting to all the appointments with therapists, school personnel, advocates, and medical providers

Of course, these are only a few of the many challenges that special needs parents deal with each day. Some of the biggest challenges that parents face are not the most obvious ones, such as dealing with a special needs child’s challenging behavior, staying organized in the chaos, and nurturing your marriage. Here is a closer look at these specific challenges and some helpful parenting tips that will help special needs parents meet these challenges head on.

Challenge #1 – Dealing with Challenging Behavior

One of the most stressful parts of parenting a special needs child is managing challenging behavior. However, it is important for parents to understand that this behavior is a form of communication from children with special needs, often because these children are not able to communicate in other ways. Parents must realize that this behavior indicates a problem in learning – the problem is NOT in the child.

Managing challenging behavior requires that parents listen to what their child is trying to tell them. It’s important to avoid confrontation when possible while keeping a consistent approach. Special needs children generally do not use challenging behavior to manipulate parents. In most cases, there’s a reason this type of behavior is happening.

Although there’s never one solution for dealing with the child’s challenging behavior, there are tips that you can try. Try using these tips consistently to better deal with the challenging behavior that often comes from children with special needs.

  • Tip #1 – Record Incidents of Challenging Behavior – Start recording incidents of challenging behavior in a journal. Write down as much as you can about the incident. What happened before the incident? How did the problem start? How long did it last? How did you get your child calmed down? This can help you to look back to see if there are any contributing factors or patterns that seem to result in the behavior.
  • Tip #2 – Encourage Exercise as an Emotional Outlet – Kids and teens with special needs need to have a healthy way to let out their emotions. Exercise is an excellent emotional outlet and can help kids get rid of some of their overload of anger or stress. Try to build exercise into every day if possible. Many parents find that this reduces the occurrence of challenging behavior.
  • Tip #3 – Try Using a “Break Card – For older children, try using a “break card” to avoid a meltdown. These cards give the child the ability to communicate that they want to leave a situation that they find unpleasant. These cards can be used at home, while out and about, or even in school. Giving a child this ability to communicate often stops a problem before it begins.
  • Tip #4 – Keep Calm – When challenging behavior occurs, an important parenting tips is to keep calm. Calm, assertive body language and instructions are important when dealing with this type of behavior. Adding more emotion to the situation will only cause confusion and escalate the situation.
  • Tip #5 – Take the Volume Down – If your child is shouting or getting aggressive, take the volume down. Keep a neutral face and lower the pitch and volume of your voice. In most cases, kids will quiet down so they are able to hear what you are saying. Shouting back will only make the problem worse.
  • Tip #6 – Focus on Good Sleeping Habits – Sleep makes a huge difference in the behavior of any child, but especially a special needs child. Make sure your child is getting enough sleep. A meltdown could occur simply because a child is overly tired. Kids with special needs should get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night.

READ More on Special Needs Parenting

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Bernie Sanders

by Angie Schflett

With the primary elections on the horizon, families need to determine who the best candidate for them is. With Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and others making waves, our future president is likely already in the limelight. With that in mind, we need to take a look at the big picture and some of the main issues families face. Today, we’ll look at Bernie Sanders. This includes everything from his take on health care, to gun control, to his stance on abortion.

In general, the voting history of Bernie Sanders has been with families in mind. His stance on families and children we know the following to be true:

  • He has stated we are the only major country in the world that doesn’t currently offer paid family leave. (10/15)
  • We must provide an affordable choice for childcare and for those who are in the early pre-K education group. (9/15)
  • Bernie Sanders believes the Violence Against Women Act should apply to everyone. (9/15)
  • Voted to increase funding for victims of domestic violence. (1/13)
  • Banned lead in children’s toys. (11/05)
  • He was originally against a nationwide Amber alert (4/03), however, the reason he voted against it is that he felt it had unconstitutional riders attached to it. In particular Bernie Sanders felt the sentencing provisions took away from the powers of the judicial branch.
  • Once was an active member of the Missing and Exploited Children Caucus. (1/01)

From this standpoint, Bernie Sanders looks like an individual who has become compassionate and has a pro family attitude in mind. His work for families in the latter years of his career suggests he is pro family.

Next, we need to look at his stance on education. This is a place where things get a little trickier.

  • Voted to replace the current NCLB standardized tests with options that are more holistic. (9/15)
  • Offered vouchers that allowed public education funds to be placed in private schools. (9/15)
  • Charter schools are acceptable as long as they are held to the same standards as public schools. (9/15)
  • Low income preschoolers should be welcomed into the Head Start Program. (9/15)
  • $18B provided to encourage free tuition at state colleges. (4/15)
  • Wants to refinance and forgive old student loans. (4/15)
  • Wants higher education to become affordable. (3/15)
  • Voted to not count combat pay against free school lunch earnings. (3/09)
  • Allowed to make educational assistance for employees a tax deductible solution. (1/1993)

With this, we see that Bernie Sanders has remained a positive force for the education system. His forward thinking approach has proven he values the education of our children.

Drugs are another important area to consider, as it affects the lives of millions. Here is Bernie Sanders approach on drugs.

READ More on How a Bernie Sanders Presidency Could Benefit Families

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motivating kids to excel

by Jennifer Shakeel

This is an issue that I feel most parents struggle with, trying to motivate their kids to “Be all they can be.” As parents we want them to get good grades, be the best athlete around. It’s only natural to want the best for our kids and want the best out of them. For some children there is a natural desire to want to be the best. Some kids want to be Valedictorians, others want to be the best athlete on whatever team they are on. Then there are those kids that will only do as much as they need to do just to get by. There are also children that have no desire to do much of anything.

Taking a look at my two children, we have one who wants to be the best at everything he does and we have our daughter… who… well, let’s just say that she is perfectly content to do next to nothing. She wasn’t always this way, when she was younger she had drive, she played soccer and did awesome in school. Now she doesn’t work to be really good at anything. She runs track and cross country, but she is happy to finish a race and then gets mad when the coach doesn’t pick her for competitions. She is a straight A student who can get B’s with next to no effort, so that is what she does next to nothing. READ More on Motivating Kids to Excel

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FROGS

by Angie Schflett

Recently, we posted Part 1 of our series, “10 Heroes with Inspirational Stories That More4kids Loves”. In that series, you were introduced to five amazing kids that have made a difference in the lives of others. These included Elayna Hasty, Nicholas “Nico” Sierra, Leigh Dittman, Jessica Rees, and Ryan White. These children transformed their compassion and/or their personal virtue into some type of heroic and/or civil virtue. Each of the kids provided some degree of service to humanity and benefited others in need. The children that we will present here, in the second and final installment of this series, also meet the criterion for being considered a hero among many. The five children that you are about to be introduced to have made a true and significance difference in the lives of others, and the world as a whole!

Will Lourcey

Will is an amazing young man. At the age of seven, Will Lourcey observed a man holding a sign that stated, “Need a Meal”. He inquired of his parents why the man was holding the sign that said that he needed a meal. His parents then explained to him the issues of homelessness and hunger. He was immediately saddened by the fact that people suffered in this terrible way and wanted to help. Soon thereafter, he created an organization called, “FROGs”. It stands for “Friends Reaching Our Goals”. It was created so that he and his friends could raise money to help in the fight against hunger.

There were many activities that Will Lourcey and his friends engaged in to raise money. Examples included owning and operating a lemonade stand and then asking various businesses to sponsor children that participated in certain sports in the community. He was able to raise an amazing $20,000 that he gave to a food bank in the State of Texas. This amount was able to provide well over 75,000 meals to those that needed nourishment. His story has been so inspirational to those in and around the nation that Will Lourcey actually got the opportunity to write for the blog of the White House! To learn more about Will Lourcey and his work, click on the following links:

Finding Fun Ways to Fight Hunger:

http://www.cnn.com/videos/bestoftv/2012/12/19/cnnheroes-will-lourcey.cnn

FROGS – Friends Reaching Our Goals:

http://www.willlourceyfrogs.com/

FROGS

Valerie Weisler

READ More on 10 Heroes with Inspirational Stories That More4kids Loves (Part 2)

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Kids and Cell Phones

The debate over if kids should be permitted to have cell phones and at what age is it most appropriate to give kids cell phones continues to rage on throughout the world. Believe it or not, this debate has been in existence for just over a decade now. Despite the pros and cons associated with kids and cell phones, it has been established that most children receive their first phone prior to entering high school. Cell phones are becoming so popular among kids that certain carriers, such as Sprint, are actually marketing their mobile products to kids as young as five! If you are struggling with the decision to provide your kids with cell phones and/or the complication of determining what age is considered old enough for kids to have cell phones, you should bookmark this page and follow this series as we walk through the debate from our point of view.

Why is there a Debate over Giving Kids Cell Phones?

We all know and understand that cell phones are a highly beneficial method to keep in touch with others. These devices may be used at any time, in any location. Why, then, is there such a debate about giving kids cell phones? Is it simply a matter of age, or, is it more? As parents, we must consider all that is involved when a child receives a cell phone. This includes the phone and the overall well-being of your child. Before choosing to allow your kids to have cell phones, you must know and understand the potential consequences of this decision. For the purpose and intent of evaluating the decision, as a whole, we will outline in this series the benefits, as well as the disadvantages that come with a kid having their own cell phone.

The Benefits

In this particular installment of this series, we will start with the benefits associated with cell phones and kids. First and foremost, a cell phone offers a high level of convenience. These mobile devices will allow you to either call or text your kid at any time, in any location to check in with them and to relay important messages. Furthermore, if an emergency arises on your end or in the life of your child, the device may be utilized as a point of contact. For many parents, the decision to give their child a cell phone is based on these advantages, alone. Today, twice as many kids have these devices as they did in the year of 2004. In fact, 85% of all teenagers have a cell phone, according to a survey conducted by the organization known as the “Kaiser Family Foundation”. This survey also concluded that 31% of kids from 8 to 10 and 69% of kids from 11 to 14 have their own cell phones.

A teenager that has a cell phone has a unique sense of security in knowing that a parent, guardian, or other loved one is just a text or a call away. Throughout the history of cell phone usage among kids, many dire situations have been dealt with and/or prevented as a result of possessing a cell phone. For example, many kids have been able to prevent or report serious crimes such as attempted abductions, bullying, rape, school shooting, and other issues because they had a cell phone. Lives have been saved as a result of cell phone usage among kids and many worries have been eliminated because parents are able to check on their children quickly and easily through their cell phones.

Disadvantages

READ More on Parenting, Cell Phones and Kids

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Kids reading a magazine

Teach a child to read at an early age and he or she have a friend for life. Encouraging your child to read the best magazines for kids provides an alternative for computer games and TV. Time spent reading proves more enriching and rewarding.

A kids magazine will make a great gift for a birthday or for the Holiday Season. Here is our list of what we feel are some of the best magazines for children:

#1 Highlights – Ages 6-12

The folks at Highlights pledge "uncompromising excellence". For over 65 years, Highlights magazines have delivered Fun with a Purpose ™. Every issue contains 40 pages of: interactive entertainment, hands-on craft ideas, science and nature articles, stories, puzzles and games.

What's Different: Pediatricians and pediatric dentists, avid supporters of the magazine's platform, commonly make it available for their little patrons in the waiting rooms.

Our View: Here at More4Kids, we praise this classic magazine for providing abundant reading material instead of stuffing it with pictures, like the majority of children's magazines. Color pictures are included, but words arouse curiosity and ignite imagination.

READ more about the award winning Highlights Magazine

#2 American Girl – Ages 8-12

Originally launched in December 1992, American Girl has become the premier provider for promoting self-empowerment of tweens.

No stick-like models or boy celebrity crushes, just creativity boosters, girl-friendly recipes, contests, age-appropriate hairstyles, along with art and stories submitted by readers.

What's Different: American Girl signifies a wholesome lifestyle. Articles foster dealing with real life lessons like toxic friends, school bullies and more.

Our View: In decades past, kids learned values via "every story has a moral". We appreciate American Girl's non-preachy attitude in reviving moral stories.

READ More on Best Magazines for Kids – Top 10 Review