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Archive for July, 2009

Happy, Healthy Babies

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As childhood obesity rates climb in the U.S., pediatricians suggest we should encourage kids to get active at a young age. A quick and fairly easy way to get your children active is through yoga.

The practice of yoga is a valid method to condition the body while relieving stress, and has been included in the curriculum for the Goddard Schools nationwide. Yoga also enhances cross-curricular learning for children and is an easy way to incorporate physical fitness into their day.

Yoga has many physical benefits for our children:

  • It enhances their flexibility, strength, coordination, and body awareness
  • Their concentration and sense of calmness and relaxation improves – helping them get a good night’s sleep
  • Yoga improves digestion and eases tummy troubles
  • Children exercise, play, connect with their inner self, and develop a relationship with the natural world that surrounds them

Aside from the physical benefits of Yoga:

  • It actually helps children concentrate better and develop skills essential to reading, writing, math, and coordination because a lot of the poses require gazing off into the distance while concentrating on a specific point
  • Yoga encourages imagination, creativity, ownership, and expression through the many different poses
  • The practice reinforces skills in listening (following directions) and communication

Stress-less Summer Travel with Kids

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I was recently asked about my favorite kid-friendly travel items, and that sparked the idea for this next post about traveling with children.

Traveling with the family is fun, but it can also be overwhelming. Long gone are the days of just tossing a few belongings into a suitcase and heading out on the open road. It’s important to be prepared and to keep kids happy and healthy during family adventures.

Whether traveling via plane, train or car, the following is a guide on creating the ultimate travel survival kit for minimal stress and maximum fun:

JUST IN CASE…

  • Pre-measure formula into bottles and carry a room temperature bottle of water to mix on the go.
  • Be prepared for a mess – snacks, diapers, spit-up, etc. – with a small trash bag, wipes, hand sanitizer (for the adults), spare water, tissues, bib and a blanket.
  • Even if you are traveling by plane, a car seat can double as a feeding chair or nap location. If you’re staying at a hotel, call ahead for a crib for your room.
  • Bring along a spare set of clothes for everyone (parents included)

KEEPING YOUR BABY OR TODDLER ENTERTAINED

  • Bring music, mobiles, bubbles and books, stuffed animal, play mirror and foam shapes that will “stick” to the car seat. In an airplane, purchase headphones for music and rest them on your child’s shoulders instead of over their ears.
  • Use “links” to keep toys within your child’s reach.
  • Play window games – count the signs, trucks or red lights. “I Spy” a blue car, a white truck and other objects you can see while moving.
  • Bring a laptop desk for drawing with paper and crayons.
  • Play “I’m thinking of an animal.” Provide age-appropriate hints to help your child guess a particular animal.

CAR TRAVEL

  • Plan for an active stretch. At a rest-stop break or a playground, let the children walk or toddle for 20 or so minutes before climbing back in the car.
  • Attach a mirror to the front passenger visor so you can see and interact with your toddler without having to spin around.
  • Buckle up a toy bin right next to the children so they can help themselves – books, links, stuffed animals and puppets.
  • Create a car-ride checklist – make a picture itinerary of landmarks you will see along the way.
  • Ask your child to keep score – gas prices, mileage — or count out toll money.

PLANE TRAVEL

  • In an airplane, let children walk down the aisle periodically at their own pace.
  • Airports can be a bustling place. Consider checking your luggage at the curb. This way you can focus on your little one’s needs without the hassle of luggage in tow.
  • A blanket can make a quick play space in any lobby, airport, etc.

Safety First!

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Summer is in full swing — day trips, vacations, BBQs, the works! With all this fun in the sun, it’s important to think safety first.

Sun safety is important all year round, but even more so in the summer when we spend most of our time outdoors. Too much sun can be very harmful to you and your family.

The Skin Cancer Foundation estimates that 80% of lifetime sun exposure occurs during childhood — and that just one blistering sunburn can double the risk of getting melanoma later in life. Protect your family by following these tips from the Skin Cancer Foundation:

Avoid Peak Sun: The sun’s UV rays are most intense between 10am and 4pm. If possible, avoid spending extended periods of time outdoors during the midday sun.

Generously Apply Sunscreen: Apply to all exposed skin using a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 15 that provides broad-spectrum protection from both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Don’t forget nose, ears, hands, feet, shoulders, and behind the neck; lips can also burn, so apply a lip balm with SPF protection. Reapply every two hours, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating.

Wear Protective Clothing: Wearing protective clothing and hats is one of the most important ways of warding off UV damage. When wet, light-colored clothing transmits just as much sunlight as bare skin. Keep your kids covered with dark colors, long sleeves, and pants whenever possible. And don’t forget to pack sunglasses with UV protection to guard against burned corneas, and hats with brims to prevent sunburned scalps and faces.

Seek the Shade, Never a Tan: Bring along a large umbrella to the beach and park. Be aware, however, that sunlight bouncing off reflective surfaces can reach you even beneath an umbrella or a tree. There is no such thing as a healthy tan.

Stay Hydrated: Be sure that your children are drinking lots of water when they’re spending time in the sun. Children often don’t realize how thirsty they are or are too busy playing to stop and take a drink. Offer beverages throughout the day to avoid dehydration which occurs faster in warm weather.

If you find yourself in a situation where your child doesn’t like sunscreen, try using a spray-on sunscreen.. The application is a lot easier and can also be fun for the child.  I also recommend encouraging children to help with the application (if they are interested and old enough).

Don’t forget that healthy habits are best learned young. Because skin damage occurs with each unprotected exposure and accumulates over the course of a lifetime, sun safety for children should be a priority.

Family Gardening

The Goddard School piques children’s curiosity with gardening.Add Media

Children are fascinated with nature and the simple pleasures of smelling flowers, picking vegetables and studying insects. Gardening is a fun outdoor activity that teaches patience and responsibility, environmental awareness and, more importantly, builds self esteem. Whether you live on a farm, in the suburbs, or even in the city, you can introduce your child to gardening.

Children as young as two years old can certainly help with gardening tasks like digging, planting, and watering. With a little help from Mom and Dad, an older child can be involved in planning, planting and taking care of their own garden space or window box.

Here are a few more things to do at home with the kids to pique their curiosity:

  • Plant things children like to eat – such as veggies they like on pizza or in a salad — or create your own salsa using tomatoes you’ve grown.
  • Let your child help you tend to existing plantings.
  • Give them a small spot of their own where they can help plan and create a small garden. Help them decide if they will plant flowers, vegetables or both.
  • Make a scarecrow to deter pests, or plant daisies and petunias to attract butterflies.

Be sure to set aside special time for gardening, but keep sessions brief. Frequent activity changes, such as planting, watering, mulching, weeding and harvesting will help keep children engaged. Allow plenty of time for catching toads, gathering bouquets of dandelions or planting the seeds from yesterday’s snack of fresh watermelon.

Ask the Expert: All About Biting

My husband and I are concerned for our 2-year old child.  He goes in and out of biting stages especially when he is in a new place (for example transitioning from one class to the next).  He is still learning how to communicate his words and I am sure that is a big part in him biting.  We have spoken with his doctors and they all say it’s a normal part of childhood and there should be nothing to worry about.

Could you please help find out what is the Goddard’s Parent Guide from Dr. Pruett on biting?  We have tried time outs, we have tried talking to him and many other things as well.

Many thanks for the help,

Sema

Dear Sema,

I continually receive questions about biting from parents. Not only does biting hurt, but it can also be a frightening part of a child’s development.

Some initial thoughts:

  • Determine what may be triggering the behavior and then try to change the environment.  For example, if your child bites to get a favorite toy from another child, then add similar items to their playtime to lessen the opportunity for the bite.  Also, if the unwanted behavior occurs at the same time everyday…is the child hungry?  Tired?  Do you need to adjust eating and sleeping times?
  • You are right on the mark about his behavior stemming from his inability to express his frustrations.  We recommend using some basic sign language to help the child communicate until he is able to do so verbally.
  • Shadow the child.  Try to stop the biting before it happens.  If you see the child attempting to bite, redirect him to another activity.  Busy, busy, busy is the key with toddlers!
  • Is the behavior driven by a desire for attention?  How an adult reacts to the bite can make or break the habit.  For example, if a parent gives 100% of his/her attention to the biting child, then the child may be getting what he wants (it may be negative attention, but it’s still attention).  Focusing immediately on the child who was bitten, and then later returning to the “biter,” lessens the attention.

Here are some additional thoughts, from Goddard’s Parent Guide, Kyle D. Pruett, M.D., advisor for The Goddard School.

  • Biting often begins as exploration, but may be quickly be associated with out-of-control feelings or feelings of being overwhelmed – with excitement, fear or curiosity.  Parents should manage these feelings by staying as calm as possible and firmly saying:
      • “No one likes biting, especially me.”
      • “You just cannot bite.”
      • “I’ll help you stop until you stop yourself.”
  • Parents often fear biting at school most. Peers, especially close ones, are fascinated by each other’s aggression, and the dramatic reactions it evokes. Adult overreaction just makes things more exciting!

I hope that these suggestions prove helpful for your situation.

Best,

Sue Adair

Director of Education, Goddard Systems, Inc.

*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.

If you have a question for “Ask the Expert” send an email to  AskGoddardSchool@goddardsystems.com.