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Archive for the ‘Safety’ Category

5 Real Moms (and 1 Dad) on Their Social Media Strategies for Their Kids

 

Twenty20

You want your kids to be current, but you also want to protect them from the big bad digital world, which makes navigating whether or not to give them social media access a tricky decision. The pros of social media access, in particular for pre-teens and teens? It can strengthen friendships, provide a sense of belonging when they’re grappling with something tough, and help them learn how to express themselves, according to studies. The cons? They’re mostly the ones we’re familiar with (sleep deprivation, anxiety and depression), plus a new biggie: Social media use for teens can become addictive and cause them to live in a world that’s activated by likes, says a recent study out of UCLA. We checked in with five moms—and one dad—to hear more about their approach. 

Element 1

Nope, Not Even a Little

“My daughter is nine years old and we don’t allow social media at all. She has a Kindle with a couple of game apps on it and the only online game she has access to is Prodigy, a math game she plays in class at school. Apparently, my husband and I are really old-school. ‘Social’ anything for her right now is face to face or on the phone, period. She does, however, have an email account that she uses to keep in touch with out of state family and friends. She hops on one day a week to check it and return emails. (I monitor her incoming and outgoing messages.) We told her that when she turns 13, we’ll revisit our decision on her social media use.” — Katie, MA

Yes, But Only Snapchat

“I have two boys, ages 8 and 12. My eight-year-old is too young and doesn’t care about social media at this point, but my 12-year-old is in the seventh grade and wants to interact with his peers. I agreed to let him have Snapchat, which I also have access to, but he’s never on it. That said, he’s a gamer and loves YouTube. This will probably become a heated debate when he turns 13. He’s a good kid—respectful and trustworthy—but I know what’s out there. I’ll likely give in and allow him to start his own channel…and then monitor it like a madwoman.” — Ayana, MI

We’re All About Monitoring Access

“My son will be 12 just before Christmas and has a Facebook account and an email address. He is *only* allowed to use Facebook to message me, his dad and his nana and papa—not for posting. And the email is for logging into certain games and YouTube, all of which we monitor his activity on. He uses pretty good judgment about what’s appropriate and what’s not, but I check his web history once a week and log into his email account and YouTube accounts weekly as well. In my opinion, communicating with him daily about what he’s doing is most important, but also trying to keep up with all the new apps and trends kids use to hide their app use is helpful, too. The only thing I struggle with: Minecraft, where they can basically be talking with anyone.” — Kate, SC

It’s Not Even Up for Discussion

“My daughter is 11 and is not allowed on social media, but many of her friends have Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. She has asked to join several times, but she knows the rules are set. I have had consistent rules with social media and restrictions on internet usage her whole life, so there aren’t too many arguments. She does have an email account, but only for school work. Her cell phone screen time is restricted to three hours and I need to authorize downloading any apps.” — Matt, MA

Snapchat is Allowed…But Only On Our Phone

“My 11-year-old daughter is not allowed to have any social media accounts. She is allowed to Snapchat with her teammates from my phone under my account. She understands the rules and regularly informs me that ‘only old people use Facebook.’ So I am old.” — Lara, CA

Yes, Every Single Platform

“My 15-year-old son is on Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram. He’s been on social media for a while. I don’t believe it’s realistic to keep teens away from social media. Plus, in high school, they’re using Facebook groups and chats as virtual study accounts, where one is for the parents to see and the other is for their friends. What I do instead of monitoring is make sure he knows that anything he posts could wind up public at any point. There’s no such thing as privacy on social media. Also, since he was in elementary school, I’ve talked to him about how things can come across differently on text or social media than in a personal interaction. I took this approach to help him understand that if you’re joking with someone on text or social media, it might be offensive and it’s much harder to register that—and offer a sincere apology—when you’re missing a personal dynamic.

Though I know a lot of parents who have their kids’ passwords for social accounts, I don’t. I’ve always worked on a trusting relationship and allowing some personal space. If I sensed he was in trouble or participating in something upsetting, I’d pursue that route, but as long as his grades are good, he’s engaged with school and activities, and he’s not showing any signs of emotional problems, I’m OK with giving him some privacy online.” — Sam, NY

 

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Summertime Essentials

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetThe weather is getting warmer, and summer is rapidly approaching. Since summer is the season for fun in the sun, a few essential items can help your children through the hot summer months.

  • Sunscreen is necessary because protecting your child’s skin from the sun is extremely important;
  • Children may also need sunglasses to shield their eyes from the UVA and UVB rays in sunlight. This awesome accessory allows a child to protect her eyes while looking fashionably cute doing it! Be sure to consider a hat as well;
  • Once your children are protected from the sun, it is time to get outside and play. Consider:
    • Using chalk for creative drawings and games like hopscotch with friends and family members;
    • Using spray bottles for watering plants and for cooling off with exciting water games;
    • Capturing and examining bugs with a net and an insect container. Children love venturing outside to look for butterflies and other insects. When your child captures an insect, talk with him about what he has caught, and then release the creature back into its natural surroundings.

How does your family enjoy playtime outdoors?

Summer Sun and Heat Safety Tips

Keeping cool throughout hot summer months can be a challenge, especially in hotter and more humid climates. Tune in to the weather reports on exceptionally hot and humid days and share the tips below with your family.

Apply Sunscreen before Leaving the House

Whether you are headed to the pool, the beach or your back yard, make sure you apply sunscreen to yourself and your children. Don’t miss the tops of the ears and the hands. When applying sunscreen to the skin around the eyes, try using a tear-free sunscreen specially formulated for the face. Sunburns can occur in fifteen minutes of sun exposure and can even occur on cloudy days, so applying sunscreen before heading out and reapplying sunscreen throughout the day is important.

Keep Activity Levels Low When the Humidity Is High

Stay safe on extremely hot and humid days by keeping an eye on weather advisories and the Heat Index graph the National Weather Service publishes. If your children play outside in humid weather, have them come inside and drink water every fifteen minutes.

Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate.

Children should typically drink five to eight cups of water every day, depending on how active they are.  On extremely hot and humid days, offer your children more than the recommended daily amount, especially before, during and after physical activity. Since children model their behavior on ours, we need to make sure we’re getting enough water every day, too.

Know the Signs of Heat Exhaustion

Normal reactions to hot weather include heavy sweating, a red face, heavy breathing, thirst and muscle cramps. However, if your child exhibits these reactions along with dizziness, fainting, clamminess, extreme fatigue, nausea, vomiting and/or a lack of sweat, your child might have heat exhaustion. If your child shows any of these symptoms, take your child indoors or to a shady spot and give your child plenty of water or an electrolyte drink. If the symptoms do not subside in an hour, seek the help of a doctor.  Keep your child indoors until all the symptoms clear up and your child is feeling better.

Play Indoors

If it is too hot and humid for outside play, try one of these simple indoor activities.

  • Create an indoor beach day. Unpack your beach towels, sunglasses and hats. Fill a large plastic bin with sand from your sand box or from a home improvement store. Put the bin on a blanket or sheet to catch any sand that may spill. Toss some beach toys in the bin and let your children play in the sand while enjoying your air conditioning.  Grab some favorite beach treats like ice cream sandwiches or popsicles.  Better yet, make your own ice cream sandwiches with chocolate chip cookies and your favorite flavor of ice cream.
  • Go fishing. Craft your own indoor fishing game by cutting a big piece of blue felt into a round shape, like a pond or lake. Lay the blue felt flat on the floor. Cut felt or cardstock into fish shapes and punch a small hole in the mouth area of each. Tie a lightweight washer to the mouth of each fish with yarn or twine.  Create a fishing rod with a stick from your yard or a dowel from a craft store. Tie one end of a long strand of yarn or twine to the end of the stick or dowel and tie a ring magnet to the other end of the yarn. Toss the fish in the pond and have your little ones take turns fishing. (You can also buy indoor fishing games online.)
  • Build a “sand” castle. Use blocks to build a castle with your children. Try different configurations and take pictures of each to capture your indoor beach day memories.

What do you do with your children when it is too hot to play outside?

The Importance of Limits

 

Dr. Kyle Pruett ALimits define where a child’s world, safety, and autonomy begin and end.  When these limits are clear, a child is free to go on to more interesting and valuable activities – like discovery and learning.  Children will continually retest boundaries, just to make sure they’re in good working order.  But if the limits stay firm, retesting will become less frequent and more manageable.

As your child seeks to win your approval and to find the boundaries in her world, the easier you make her search, the better for both of you because of the wonderful results:

  • Acceptable behavior:  A winsome child is mile ahead of the perpetually demanding whiner.  It’s fun being around pleasant kids for children and adults alike.
  • Learning:  Children who continually test or search for boundaries (either because those boundaries keep shifting or don’t exist) have less time and energy for the really important work – exploration, discovery, and learning.
  • Intellectual development:  To think through a planned action and its consequences – Will something break?  Will Mommy be unhappy? – is an important achievement for toddlers.  It builds cognitive capacities just as surely as thinking through and resolving any other problem.  Children need this formative experience, and without consistent limits, they won’t get it.

Summer Car Safety Tips

According to kidsandcars.org, “On average, 38 children die in hot cars each year from heat-related deaths.” This fast-paced world is full of distractions and even the greatest parents have been known to forget that their little one is sleeping the back seat. Use the tips below from kidsandcars.org to ensure this never happens to you.

  • Put something you will need, like your cell phone, handbag, employee ID, briefcase, etc., on the floor in the back of the car.
  • Get in the habit of always opening the back door of your vehicle every time you reach your destination to make sure your child is not in the car. This will soon become a habit. We call this the “Look Before You Lock” campaign.
  • Keep a large stuffed animal in the child’s car seat when it is not occupied. When the child is in the seat, put the stuffed animal in the front passenger seat. Anytime the stuffed animal is up front you know your child is in the child safety seat in the back.
  • Tell your child’s daycare center or babysitter that you will always call if your child will not be coming on a normally scheduled day.
  • When a child is missing, check your vehicles and car trunks immediately.
  • If you see a child alone in a vehicle, get involved. If they are hot or seem sick, get them out as quickly as possible. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.

Common Preschool Halloween Mistakes

As a child psychiatrist, school consultant, father and grandfather, I’ve seen a lot of All Hallows’ Eve’s involving preschool children – more unsuccessful than not. I’ve come to the conclusion that successful Halloween experiences contain the same traits: the children are old enough, the celebration is short, too much candy is avoided and it isn’t scary.

Parents intend to delight – and delight in – their preschool child’s playful participation in this fall ritual. But less is more when it comes to keeping a preschooler comfortable and entertained. Here are some guidelines:

Age

Halloween is really meant for school-age kids and adults who have no trouble telling fantasy from reality and whom are way past being afraid of the dark and of scary masks. The preschooler is less likely to laugh and more likely to anxiously ask the mask-wearer a question – cute, but neither funny nor entertaining.

Length

Tying Halloween into dinner plans often stretches the evening out beyond your preschooler’s stamina, making all the other strange stuff inherent to the event harder to manage and understand. Plan to stick to your routine, and celebrate well before bedtime so your preschooler has a chance to settle down.

Sweets

Candy is the antithesis of your normal bedtime snack, giving your child a sugar rush. So, keep them away from the candy bowl. You may want to reconsider having them stay home to ‘help hand out the treats,’ tempting though it may be to have them ‘safe’ with you at your own front door.

Scariness

Because the preschool mind is just mastering the difference between reality and fantasy, things that slip back and forth over the edge of that distinction – like Halloween itself – aren’t very comfortable training grounds for this kind of learning. Older children can see the joy in being scared because they understand the difference. A preschooler is not quite ready for this kind of ‘fun.’

For your young ones, then, I suggest you make it a dress-up party without the gore, leave the trick or treating to the grade school professionals, check your favorite parents magazine/Web site for some simple games to play with peers and get them to bed at a reasonable time. Giving them and yourself a few more years to get ready for the delightful weirdness will be deeply appreciated by them and you.

Playing it Cool During the Summer Heat

Infants & Teacher with Bubbles CWhen the summer sun blazes bright, children often spend more time outdoors—running, jumping, climbing, biking and being active. It is important to remember that physical activity in excessive heat can cause a variety of health issues including sunburn, heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps and heat rash. Below are a few tips that can help prevent your child from experiencing any of these heat-related illnesses. (Please note: If you feel that your child is experiencing symptoms of a heat-related illness, dial 911 and seek medical attention immediately.)

  • If you are aware that the day is going to be excessively hot, try to limit outdoor play time to the morning and evening hours (before 10 am and after 4 pm).
  • Sunglasses and hats with brims help protect against the sun’s harmful rays. Always apply a sunscreen with SPF 15 or above that protects against UVA and UVB rays before your child heads outdoors. Apply liberally and reapply every two hours and after swimming or sweating.
  • Lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing should be worn in a single layer to help absorb and facilitate sweat evaporation. If your child should sweat through their clothing, have them change into a dry outfit before continuing their activity.
  • Fluids, fluids, fluids! Children should be well hydrated before they go out to play and have access to drinking water while participating in outdoor activities.
  • During prolonged outdoor activity, like a sports game or practice, children should be given frequent breaks (in 20-minute increments) to recover (in the shade) and rehydrate.

Getting Ready to Fly: Airline Safety for Young Children

These days, many airlines still allow children under the age of two to travel on their parent’s lap. But, did you know that the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) recommends otherwise?

The FAA says that “the safest place for your little one during turbulence or an emergency is in an approved child restraint system (CRS) or device, not on your lap” and “strongly urges parents and guardians to secure children in an appropriate restraint based on weight and size. Keeping a child in a CRS or device during the flight is the smart and right thing to do.”

Learning to Play Together: A Parents’ Guide to Bully Prevention in Preschool and Beyond

In addition to their ABCs and 123s, preschool children are learning and developing life skills that will shape who they grow into as adults.  One of these building blocks is learning to play well with others and accept each other¹s differences.  Learning this at such a young age is critical, especially since, according to some research, bullying has become more common among two to six year olds.

Preschool-age children will often engage in unfriendly interactions with other children.  It’s the nature of growing up and it’s important to be able to identify the difference between this type of exchange and bullying.

According to Sue Adair, Director of Education at The Goddard School, “Usually, in a bullying situation, the child doing the bullying is intentionally trying to hurt or upset the other child.  A minor social spat is a normal occurrence in childhood play – ­one child grabs a toy from another and the other child cries.  This behavior is not intentional and situations like this actually help children learn to forgive and share.”

“At The Goddard School, we use The Goddard Guide to Getting Along to help instill the importance of courtesy and respect in our Preschoolers through activities, songs and guided dramatic play,” states Adair. “Since children at this age are still learning how to play together, is it an important time to teach them about friendship, compassion, cooperation and kindness.  Along with these traits, we believe the best way to prevent bullying is to build children¹s confidence.  Confident children tend to avoid being bullied and also avoid becoming bullies themselves.”

Tips for Developing Healthy Confidence in Children

  • Set the example. Ron Shuali, Founder of Shua Life Skills and author of Building the 21st Century Child: An Instruction Manual, stresses, “Teachers, parents and childcare providers should be aware of their own behavior all of the time.  Adults serve as ‘models’ for children who respect them and may wish to emulate them.”  Your child will pick up on whatever feelings you convey about yourself ­ whether good or bad.  Try to always speak positively about yourself and your child will follow.
  • Praise and encourage. No matter what your little one does, whether it’s a scribbled mess or a perfect reproduction of the Mona Lisa, be sure to praise them for their effort.  Every bit of praise and encouragement you can give is another boost to their self-confidence.
  • Develop a skill. If your child expresses interest in a particular hobby, help them master it by signing them up for classes or lessons.  As they develop this skill on their own, they will become more enthusiastic about learning and trying new things and feel better about themselves overall.
  • Trust. As your child grows, try entrusting them with age-appropriate responsibilities around the house.  Allowing your child to take on their own responsibilities will help foster their independence and allow your child to feel more confident in making their own choices and decisions.
  • Listen. What your child has to say is just as important to them as what you have to say is to you.  Remember this when your little one is trying to express their thoughts, dreams and fears.  Listen attentively and offer your own advice or guidance should they need it.

Child Proofing Your Home

Blocks - Infant GirlAs a parent, you probably never stop worrying about your child. Is he or she happy? Healthy? Safe? While you can’t control everything, there are steps that you can take in your home to help improve your child’s safety and well-being.

Childproofing your home can be an overwhelming task. The most effective way to start is to evaluate your home, room by room, from your child’s perspective. If your child is crawling, get down on your hands and knees. Is your child toddling or walking? Get down to his or her level and check out the view. If you were crawling, toddling or walking where would you go? What looks tempting or interesting? What is within reach? Where could you climb? While not all accidents can be avoided, below are some general childproofing tips to help you get started. Remember to evaluate every area in your home for potential dangers.

Also keep in mind that childproofing is an ongoing process. As your child grows and develops (e.g., crawling, toddling, walking), you will need to reevaluate your childproofing efforts upon each milestone.

Furniture & Appliances

  • Secure heavy furniture and appliances to walls wherever possible.
  • Store heavy items on the bottoms of furniture such as bookshelves and cabinets so they are not top heavy.
  • Keep furniture and/or office drawers closed when not in use – climbing children tend to use these as ladders.
  • Make sure heavy appliances, such as televisions and computers, are pushed back from the edges of furniture – bolt them to the wall if possible.
  • Cover pointed edges of furniture with guards or bumpers
  • In the kitchen, use a stove guard to prevent your child from touching the burners or pulling at hot pots.
  • Use plastic covers if the stove’s knobs are within your child’s reach.
  • Always lock your oven or invest in a lock to prevent your child from opening the oven door.

Doors & Windows

  • Keep windows and doors closed and locked when not in use.
  • Use door knob covers. Be sure that these covers are sturdy enough not to break, but also allow doors to open quickly by and adult in case of emergency.
  • Use door stops or door holders on doors and hinges to keep little fingers safe.
  • Place marks or stickers on glass and sliding doors to make them visible.
  • Keep furniture away from windows.
  • If you have double hung windows, open them from the top.
  • Never open low windows more than four inches.
  • Use window stops, to prevent windows from opening more than four inches.

Blinds, Curtains & Draperies

  • Keep your child’s crib or bed away from blinds, curtains or draperies.
  • Keep blind, curtain and drapery pull cords out of your child’s reach.
    • Cut or remove pull cords.
    • Replace pull cords with safety tassels.
    • Use inner cord stops.
  • Make sure that older blinds and drapery cords have tie-down devices to hold the cords tight.
  • When purchasing new window coverings ask for those with child safety features.

Bathroom

  • Keep the toilet seat down when not in use.
  • Install a toilet lid lock to prevent your child from lifting the lid.
  • Always unplug appliances such as curling irons and hair dryers, after each use (and never keep anything plugged‑in near water).
  • Keep all medications and vitamins in a locked cabinet.
  • Keep razors, scissors, tweezers and other sharp bathroom objects in a high or locked cabinet.
  • Set your water heater temperature to 120 degrees or lower to help prevent burns from hot water.
  • Install anti-scald devices on faucets and showerheads.
  • Use a non-slip mat in the bathtub and on the floor next to the bathtub to prevent slips.

Cabinets, Closets & Drawers

  • Secure cabinets, closets and/or drawers with locks or child-proof latches.
  • Store sharp, potentially harmful objects and dangerous products in high cabinets, out of your child’s reach.

Stairways & Other Areas

  • At the top and bottom of stairs, use safety gates that screw in place; they are more secure than those that stay in place with pressure.
  • Use safety gates that children cannot dislodge, but that you can easily open and close so you will be less likely to leave them open.
  • Use safety gates to prevent your child’s curious exploration into dangerous areas around your home such as the kitchen, bathroom, pool and hot tub.

Electrical Outlets

  • Cover or replace all electrical outlets.
    • Plastic Outlet Protectors –These devices fit directly into the outlet holes to prevent the insertion of foreign objects. If using these protectors; make sure they are large enough not to be a choking hazard.
    • Tamper Resistant Outlet Covers – These outlets look just like regular outlets, but use a plastic shutter to prevent the insertion of foreign objects.
    • Tamper Resistant Outlet Face Covers – These receptacle covers have plates that slide over the outlet holes when not in use. Some require replacing the entire outlet cover, others install over the existing outlet face cover.
  • Use a power strip safety cover on all in-use power strips.

Sources: www.cpsc.gov, www.babycenter.com, www.kidshealth.org