Missouri State University
The Family Connection

Stress-Less Holiday Plan

The holiday season can be stressful not just for your student, but for you as well. Here are some tips to manage your own stress:

  • Reserve some time to have fun. Make sure you spend some time with a friend or family member whose company you enjoy and that you do something for yourself.winterholiday
  • Adjust your expectations. There will probably be something that you would like to happen but will not. There will probably something that you do not want to happen that will.
  • Manage family interactions. Do you have a positive family member with whom you would like to spend time? How about a family member whose time you need to limit? Is there a dinner conversation that you may need to avoid?
  • Cope with loss or sadness. There may be someone you will miss during the holidays. Find an activity that will help you deal with the loneliness or loss in a healthy way.
  • Be true to yourself. Staying grounded in your values will help you manage your stress. What is one important personal value that you can practice this holiday season?
  • Plan a budget. What is an appropriate spending limit for gifts? What are other ways to express gratitude this holiday season without spending money?
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Ask Priscilla! How can I encourage my student to stay fit during the holidays?

It is tough when students head home for the holidays. They’ve finished finals and have time to relax. One problem with this down time is that students lose their regular routines. This may include interrupting great habits, such as exercising.

Here are some tips for you to share with your student to help them stay focused on health and fitness over the holidays. Ask Priscilla_Avatar_MO

Remember that as little as 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise is all it takes to stay healthy and on track. And you don’t even have to get all 30 minutes in at one time! Sprinkle in 10 minutes 3 times a day.

  • Go for a brisk walk or a jog
  • Ride a bike
  • Go for a hike
  • Dance
  • Play a sport – It is a great time to start an Annual Family Flag Football Game!
  • Help out with some yard work
  • Take the stairs
  • Nintendo Wii or Xbox Kinect
  • Invite friends and family to exercise with you. It is more enjoyable when you can exercise and catch up with old friends at the same time.
  • Not every day you are active needs to be scheduled exercise. It’s the holidays, have fun with it!
  • Stay focused on healthy food choices.
  • REST…(yes, rest!) is a highly valuable component of health and fitness! Take advantage of the time off from classes and studying to get your sleep routine back on track.

Do you have a question for Priscilla?  Ask her at pchildress@missouristate.edu.

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Ask Priscilla! How can I manage my students independence vs. following my rules during the winter break?

Ah, the question most parents ask when it’s time for a break from school.  Your student is returning home after a semester of academic challenges and a whirlwind of activity. While you have been anticipating the wonderful interaction and quality time you will spend together, your student may be worn out after finals, worrying about grades, or contemplating changing majors. Don’t be shocked if he or she wants to hit the couch, turn on the TV and watch endless reruns of Parks & Rec.   Ask Priscilla_Avatar_MO

It doesn’t matter if your student is finishing their first semester of college or their seventh semester,  finding a workable balance for the household is very important.  Here are some tips to help you avoid a holiday clash with your college student:

  • Prepare yourself for surprises. Ask yourself “What if?” What if he wants to stay out all night? What if she spends all her time at her friend’s house? What if his friends hang out here until 4 in the morning?
  • Acknowledge their growing independence and their accomplishments. Acknowledge these changes in your conversations by changing “demands” to “choices” when negotiating new boundaries.
  • Become a good listener. Your student may want to discuss changing majors, new living arrangements, or personal relationships. Try to really understand what you student is saying and ask open-ended questions. Say, for example, “Tell me more about that,” or “How did you feel when that happened?”
  • Address specific topics you need to discuss. Some of these may include:
    Family time and expectations
    Social events
    Updates on majors and academic life
    Time management issues
  • Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff. Students may be drained and running on empty. Give them time to refuel. This may mean biting your tongue if they sleep until 2 p.m. or their rooms look like the aftermath of a cyclone.

With a little preparation, you can avoid conflict and enjoy the holidays with your student.

Do you have a question for Priscilla? Ask her at pchildress@missouristate.edu.

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Managing Your Plate over the Holidays!


Colder weather means it’s time for comfort food and holiday cooking. But what does that mean when it comes to staying on track with eating healthy? Whether you are at a holiday gathering or at mom’s house for a home-cooked meal, try to build each plate like MyPlate.gov.

  •  ½ of your plate should be fruits and veggies, the more color on your plate, the more nutrients included. Choose seasonal fruits such as pears, apples, and cranberries while making sure to have something green on your plate at each meal!
  • ¼ of your plate should be grains, choosing whole grains as often as possible. Whole grain breads and brown rice can be incorporated and try some hot oats for breakfast to warm you up.
  • ¼ of your plate should be lean protein. Make sure to vary your protein sources and choose lean cuts of meat. To help eliminate some fat and calories, take the skin off of your turkey before you eat it.
  • Don’t forget the dairy! Whether you are cooking or baking, incorporate low-fat dairy. Low-fat dairy has the same amount of calcium and Vitamin D as full-fat dairy, just without the fat and calories!

If the food does not fall into one of these categories it is probably full of empty calories (high number of calories, low amount of nutrients) and should be eaten sparingly. Enjoy a piece of pumpkin pie, but stick to one piece to satisfy your sweet tooth.

(reprinted from the November 2014 edition of The Scoop, Missouri State Dining Services monthly newsletter)

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Staying Healthy – Tips for all College Students

Staying healthy at college is important for all students. Health can impact all facets of our lives, from sleep to what we eat all the way to if we are active and how we learn. Making positive choices can be easy as long as we have some guidelines.  cartoon-sleeping

Sleep is important. If we do not get enough sleep, research has shown that it can influence our driving and also our ability to focus and learn. It is recommended that college students need 7-9 hours of sleep every night.

  • How we fuel our bodies can either have a positive or negative effect on our energy levels, our mood and even our focus and ability to learn. Missouri State University has many healthy food options on campus from the dining centers to some of the student union options like Subway.
  • Activity is another important aspect of staying healthy. We all know how exercise delivers more oxygen to the brain, which directly impacts the development of the brain as well as behavior. Foster Recreation Center is a state of the art facility that can help our students move more.

Another great way for students to stay healthy is to get involved with various wellness activities on campus. Each month, student wellness sends out an email with upcoming wellness activities and events. Here are some upcoming wellness events that your student can participate in:

  • Wellness Wednesdays, every Wednesday there is an information table at the Taylor Health and Wellness Center that has information and activities for students.
  • December is busy with helping students relax and get ready for finals with our Stress Relief Week with meditation sessions (12/2 & 12/4), candlelight yoga (12/3) and free massage on study day (12/5).

Engaging with student wellness is an easy and great way for students to be involved and to help them stay healthy while at Missouri State University.

For more information, visit the Taylor Health & Wellness website.

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Ask Priscilla! What is the “sophomore slump” and how can I help my student through it?

Good question. You do hear about the sophomore slump.   She isn’t a a “new” student any more so the amount of attention she gets in their second year is at a different level than their first year in college.  She sometimes feels like no one is interested in her anymore. She isn’t being “courted” to join campus organizations or be involved as much as the year before, when actually there are probably more organizations available to her in her sophomore year. She also might be having second thoughts about her major and what her future is going to look like. We all have those feelings but for a college student, these feelings seem to be very large obstacles.  Ask Priscilla_Avatar_MO

Not every student goes through this “slump” but it does happen to many college students.  How can you help?

  • Be patient with her.  She is probably surprised herself at her feelings and emotions during her second year. Help her understand these feelings are normal for many students.
  • Help her to understand why she might be feeling the lack of energy and motivation.  Is the novelty of college wearing off? Do her goals seem too far down the road? Is having to make decisions causing her stress?
  • Highlight the positives. She knows her way around campus, has made friends and is developing working relationships with her professors. She has access to leadership positions such as a SOAR Leader or  Resident Assistant, study away programs and she is able to take more courses in her chosen major.
  • Encourage her to stay involved on campus outside of the classroom and to try something new each semester.
  • Remind her that she can proactively combat the slumps she might feel.  Encourage her to take care of herself physically, take a class just for fun, visit the career center to start learning about internships and careers in her major, engage in community service opportunities and put into action the skills she learned during her first year.
  • Remind her she is an upperclassman. She is not the new kid on campus anymore. Celebrate her accomplishments from her first year.

The biggest thing you can do for her is to let her know you support her and love her. She always wants to hear you are in her corner.

Do you have a questions for Priscilla? Send questions to pchildress@missouristate.edu.

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Meet Justin Roberts – Family Orientation Coordinator

Take a moment to get to know Justin Roberts, Family Orientation Coordinator for the Parent & Family Program. Justin is a valuable part of the New Student & Family Program office. He assists with the planning and execution of Family Weekend, programming for family members during SOAR, and will be an integral part of The Ursa Experience: Maroon & White Overnight, an engagement camp for new students entering Missouri State in the fall of 2015.  Justin is a great resource for parents.  He offers the student’s perspective in a way that is funny and entertaining.  IMG_2113

1) Tell us about yourself.  I am a junior, double majoring in Philosophy and Organizational Communication.  I’m from Frisco Texas and have one sister. She’s finishing up her Master’s program at Stephen F. Austin University.

2) What organizations are you involved with? For one, I am the Family Orientation Coordination for New Student & Family Programs and SOAR. I was a SOAR Leader for 2014.   I am also the President of Theta Chi Fraternity.  Beginning in the Spring of 2015, I will be the campaign manager for a SGA ticket running for Student Body President and Vice President.

3) What advice do you have for parents to help support their student?  I would advise parents to stay in touch with their student but to let the student control the communication. You do not want to overdo the communication and overwhelm the student. Let them reach out to you and it will be much better. Send care packages too! We love getting free stuff and gifts randomly.

4) What’s your favorite MSU tradition?  My favorite tradition is Bear Bash during Welcome Weekend. Being the weekend before school starts, the students finally meet up for the first time of the school year. Whether it’s  seeing old faces or meeting new ones, it is an amazing atmosphere.

5)  What is your best advice for students that parents can share with them?  I believe parents and families should stress to their students to “build yourself, not your resume.” I strongly believe that the college experience is not only about academics, but that it is also about growing as a person. This can be done through joining groups and organizations, but should be done for the right reasons. It is not about making yourself look good on a piece of paper. Rather, it should be about growing and leaning to make yourself better and more well-rounded.

Look for Justin to be answering questions from parents about the college experience from the student’s point of view. If you have a question for Justin, send it to familyassociation@missouristate.edu.

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Ask Priscilla! When will my student be able to re-apply for on-campus housing for 2015-2016?

That’s a great question.  The semester if flying by and it’s never to early for your student to start thinking about his/her plans for the 2015-16 academic year.  Have a conversation with your student about the advantages he/she experiences living on-campus: Ask Priscilla_Avatar_MO

  • Convenient billing and pay options
  • Easy access to educational resources such as the library, CLAW, and after hours lectures and events
  • FREE laundry included and Laundry Alert in Hammons and Hutchens Houses
  • FREE cable and internet access with FREE computer support from ResNet
  • Meet people and build relationships that lasts a lifetime!
  • Students living on-campus out perform their counterparts off-campus academically

Look for information about re-applying to live on-campus coming to you in January! Read more about Residence Life, Housing and Dining.

Ask Priscilla! a question at pchildress@missouristate.edu.

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Why risk sixteen weeks of study?

Imagine this…

your student has worked hard all semester.  Then, two days before finals, he/she starts to ache, cough, and feel miserably tired. Soon a fever of 101 degrees develops. Their illness lasts 5 days! This is not a formula for a successful finals week.  taylor

Why risk 16 weeks of study and hard work just because your student didn’t take 20 minutes to get a flu shot?

Thanks to the leadership of the Student Government Association at Missouri State University, your student can reduce their chance of getting the flu.   No charge flu shots are available at Taylor Health and Wellness Center.  These shots are prepaid by the student health fee. The flu vaccines at Taylor are the newer four-strain type designed to give your student the best chance of protection against the flu. No appointment is needed.  The student should simply come to Taylor between 8:00-4:30.

Get Vaccinated!


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Ask Priscilla! Besides care packages, what are some tips for sending mail to my student?

Our students love to get mail. Which in this electronic age we live in, is very interesting. One of the first places they go when they return to their residence hall after class is to their mailbox. You see lots of big smiles when there is a letter in the box.   Care packages are great but they can get expensive and sometimes you just want to throw something quick in the mail. Below are some some ideas to consider.  Ask Priscilla_Avatar_MO

  • Greeting cards – Send a cute or funny card for holidays or just because.  Of course, there are the obvious – Halloween, Thanksgiving, Easter, Valentine’s Day.  But think about some unexpected or offbeat occasions as well.  How about the first day of spring, or a half a card for a half birthday, Groundhog day, or St. Patrick’s Day? Even just a “thinking of you” card.  And really, if you find a funny card and its not connected to any holiday or special event, just send it. That will give your student a good laugh. Spend a little time in the greeting card aisle or better yet, create your own greeting card.
  • Postcards –Postcards are great! Quick and easy.  If you go anywhere, send a postcard.  Send a postcard from your hometown, the local museum or local tourist spot.  Find an old postcard from your favorite vacation spot.
  • Magazines – Is there a certain magazine your student likes but they won’t buy for themselves because they are broke college students? Maybe a magazine that is related to their field of study? Send your student a subscription. They get a magazine every month plus they learn something along the way. Win-win!
  • Local newspaper – Order a subscription to the local paper for your student. They keep up-to-date on the local happenings plus, as they read the paper, an  article/photo related to a friend/former teacher/local organization, etc., might jump out at them and they can reconnect with that person. Not to mention, networking! The local paper can be a wealth of information.
  • Photographs – In this age of digital photography, it’s still fun to look at a physical photo.  Find a few old photographs and put one or two in an envelope each month.   Share those great Halloween photos, the family Christmas shots or a photo from a favorite vacation. Also, send a photo of a family member (grandparent/aunt/uncle, etc.) from back in the day and share the family history that goes with the photo. Keeping the family stories and history alive is a plus. These treasures will probably end up on a bulletin board in the student’s room.
  • Sibling notes – Are their still brothers and sisters still at at home?  Ask them to write a note.  If they are younger, send a drawing or one or two school assignments.  What a great way for your student to stay connected and support their siblings. If the siblings are older, encourage them to share with their sibling real life stories…success in college courses, embarrassing stories, success in the work force. This allows the siblings to reconnect as “adults” not just on the sibling level.
  • Giftcards – Slip a giftcard in an envelope.  It doesn’t need to be a major gift.  Just a $5.00 card to a local coffee, movie theater or their favorite place in their college town.
  • Recipes – Does your student do any of their own cooking?  Slip a favorite recipe or two in an envelope each month. Recipes are another great way to share family history.  A favorite recipe with a family story allows your student to learn about many family members and appreciate their family story.
  • Comic strips, jokes or articles – See something fun or interesting in the newspaper?  Cut it out and send it.  Who doesn’t like to open a letter and get a laugh?

Do you have ideas to share or questions? Send them to Ask Priscilla at pchildress@missouristate.edu.

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