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Archive for 2009

TIPS FOR A SAFE AND HAPPY HALLOWEEN

Halloween is a happy, fun-filled holiday for families and provides inspiration for children to express creativity and manners!  Parents balance this enthusiastic learning opportunity, however, by providing safe and dependable environments – both at home and “on the trick-or-treat road.”

 

Pumpkin Decorating

Encourage your children to participate in pumpkin decorating activities.

  • A child-friendly and safe alternative to pumpkin carving is to provide children with markers or paint to decorate their pumpkins.
  • Use child-drawn outlines to carve the family pumpkins.  This is a ‘parent-only’ activity and should be conducted on a flat, stable surface.
  • Children can help remove the pumpkin insides using their hands or scoops. Clean up the messes as you go – slimy pumpkin insides can cause slipping hazards.
  • Use small, battery-operated lights designed for carved pumpkins in lieu of candles.  
  • Families who choose to illuminate their pumpkins with candles should use votives or tea-light candles. 
  • Candlelit pumpkins should never be left unattended and should be placed on sturdy surfaces, away from flammable objects.

 

Costumes

Children should let their imaginations go – this is the ultimate creative activity!  Resist ‘buying’ a boxed costume for your children (and don’t be afraid that you’ll have to roll out grandma’s sewing machine). In order to make costumes safe, consider the following:

  • Costumes, masks, beards, wigs and other accessories should be flame resistant.
    • Masks may obstruct vision and could restrict breathing. Consider applying face paint or cosmetics instead.
    • Ensure masks fit securely and have eyeholes large enough to allow full vision.
    • Avoid hats that could slide over children’s eyes.
    • Knives, swords or similar costume accessories should not be sharp or rigid; rather they should be made of soft, flexible materials.
  • Avoid loose, baggy or long costumes to prevent tripping.
  • Children should wear sturdy, fitted footwear – oversized shoes and mother’s high heels are not ideal for safe walking.
  • Trim costumes and trick-or-treat bags with reflective tape to make them visible to motorists.

 

Treats!

Before the ‘treats,’ plan an easy and filling dinner.  Pasta with veggies or macaroni and cheese with a salad will fill tummies before the evening takes off. 

 

You’ll remember this one, “Do not eat any candy until you bring it home and we have thoroughly inspected it.”  Times haven’t changed much – same credo for your children! 

  • All treats should be carefully examined by adults for evidence of tampering. Any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items should be discarded.

 

Interested in making the evening more memorable and less scrutinized for the children in your neighborhood?  Be a role model:

  • Avoid distributing treats considered choking hazards (e.g., gum, peanuts, hard candies and small toys).
  • Non-food giveaways such as coloring books, notepads, stickers, crayons and toothbrushes are all good ‘candy’ alternatives.

 

Trick-or-Treating

Trick-or-Treating is a two-way street.  Neighbors are responsible for each others’ children and parents are responsible for their own children.

 

Your Children’s Safety:

  • Young children should always be accompanied by parents or other responsible adults.
  • All children and escorts should carry flashlights with fresh batteries.
  • Only homes with outside lights ‘on’ should be visited.
  • If you allow older children to go trick-or-treating with a group of friends, discuss safety precautions and agree upon a specific time when they should return home.
  • Remind children to stay on sidewalks and not to cross through yards or between parked cars, to only approach well-lit homes and to never enter a home or car for a treat.

 

Your Neighborhood’s Safety:

  • Prepare your home to receive trick-or-treaters.  Clear your lawn, sidewalk, steps and porch of obstacles or potential tripping hazards.
  • Sweep wet leaves away from stairs and walkways to prevent slipping.
  • Candlelit pumpkins should be kept away from areas where costumes could brush against flames.
  • Pets should be restrained to keep children from being jumped upon or bitten.

 

After-Party

Host a post-‘treating’ event at your home.  Invite neighbors (parents and children) and serve hot chocolate and dessert.  This is a wonderful opportunity to socialize and build memories!

 

Additional Resources: The American Academy of Pediatrics (www.aap.org), National Safety Council (www.nsc.org) and U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (www.cpsc.gov).

Child’s Play in a Grown-up World

Child’s Play in a Grown-up World

by Kyle D. Pruett, M.D.

 

Find ways to involve your children in the richness of your ‘grown-up’ life.  Be creative and patient because the results are worth your effort!

 

For young children, play is a lot more than entertainment. It is central to their development.  A wonderful way to play with and teach children is to bring them into your world, where ‘real-life’ happens.  Children love to do ‘grown-up’ things and to imitate you.  And when they contribute, they see themselves as players and get a well-earned self-esteem boost!

 

Children also learn about important values and concepts from watching you.  They see the result of practice and perseverance, and they come to know that learning is a lifelong process. They see that everyone, even a grown-up, can make mistakes and can learn from them.

 

There are two easy and enjoyable ways for your children to play in the grown-up world: you can let them help with your chores and you can include them in your favorite pastimes.

 

Work as play:  Include your children in your household routine.  There are countless safe ways for children to help with meals, laundry, shopping or cleaning.  They can help mix recipe ingredients, pick fruit at the grocery store, water the garden or pack their lunch.  These activities are fun learning experiences, especially if you are teaching informally along the way.  The chores may take a little longer as they learn the ropes, make mistakes, and work at a snail’s pace, but the value for their learning and their self-regard are more than worth the extra time.

 

Hobbies and pastimes:  Share your interests with your children.  This is one of the most intriguing, emotionally rich forms of learning that children can receive.  Teach your children about your avocations, and keep up with your piano, chess, painting, hiking or gardening.   Your enthusiasm for your hobbies will be infectious and offer many ways for your children to learn and develop skills.

 

Kyle D. Pruett, M.D., is an advisor for The Goddard School®.  Dr. Pruett is an authority on child development who has been practicing child and family psychiatry for over twenty-five years.  He is a clinical professor of child psychiatry at Yale University’s Child Study Center.

 

 

Outdoor Activities & Park Play with Your Children

 

A day at the park may seem like ‘just another day,’ but learning and bonding experiences flourish at the park!

 

Pack for Safety

Drinking water, sunscreen, hat, water to wash as well as wipes for hands, sneakers or other closed-toed shoes, a change of clothes or a towel for the seat, small first aid kit for those little scrapes and a small trash bag to keep the earth litter-free are all important.

 

Expect to Get Dirty

Going outside is about the freedom to explore and the only way to explore is to touch it, and yes, it is dirty – it’s outside! Dirty does not mean ‘germy’. Roll in the grass, stomp in the mud, touch the frog and splash in the puddles.

 

Infant to Six Months

  • Pack for safety: A blanket to crawl on and a sturdy pair of pants for crawling on rough surfaces. Be prepared to change diapers on the go.
  • Be prepared to climb and crawl yourself. This is the best way for you to ensure your child’s safety. Watch for items going into your child’s mouth.
  • Hydration: the outside air and activity increases the amount of fluids you both need to consume. And while you’re packing the water, pack a snack.
  • Point, name and describe: As your child explores, point out the details; name objects and talk about your experience.

 

First Steps (12 to 18 months)

  • Pack for safety: Bring a blanket and a sturdy pair of pants for crawling on rough surfaces. This is not the place for skirts or dresses.
  • Plan for breaks and pack snacks, water and a few books.
  • Dig and touch: Collect items to further explore when you get home.
  • Walk the trail with your little one on a riding toy. Don’t forget the helmet.
  • Park Play Etiquette: If your little one finds a playmate, ask the other parent if both of you may join in the play. Your child will learn to ask for your approval before playing with strangers and the parent of the other child will appreciate this overture.

 

Toddler and Get Set (18 to 36 months)

  • Plot the potty path!
  • Bring balls to throw and kick or bean bags and a bucket.
  • Move beyond the park and walk a trail or explore a nursery. Go to the stream, lake or pond and skip rocks. Turn the rocks over to find creepy, crawly things.
  • No breaks required – but pause for a moment to re-hydrate.
  • Look through binoculars – even two toilet paper tubes offer a new view of the world.
  • Tent it! A pop up tent is an instant playhouse.
  • Take an umbrella and put on your galoshes – take a walk in the light rain.

 

Preschool to Pre-K (36 months +)

  • Lie down and look up: Children like to see the world from a different perspective.
  • Picnic: Let your child be a part of packing the necessities and preparing the sandwiches.
  • Play “I Spy” or “I Hear.”
  • Read or draw under the trees.
  • Bring a magnifying cup for bugs and objects to view. Research your bugs and objects when you return home to learn more about each.

 

Go outside all year long – visit http://www.scdconline.org/PDF_files/weatherwatch.pdf to know what is considered safe outdoor weather for children.