Celebrating This Season

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

For many people, alcohol has been synonymous with celebrating, especially around the holidays! Wine is often given as a gift, and bubbly is toasted at midnight on New Year’s Eve. It’s almost an expected “tradition.” But when children are present, concerns abound.

How do party-goers act around the children? Are children able to access the alcoholic drinks while adults may not be around? Are there designated drivers for everyone leaving? Are there children in the car, or about to be picked up from the sitters?

My family has chosen to omit alcohol from the holidays at our home. That way we don’t have to worry about who might drink too much, or ever give our teens the opportunity to “sneak” some. If we’re celebrating with friends or family, we are cognizant to only have one drink. We make certain the celebration is about being with our friends and family, and not about the alcohol.

Here are a few other quick tips you might want to consider:

■Check with the host/hostess before you bring alcohol to their home.
■Ask yourself if giving wine (or whatever beverage) is appropriate for this family. Could someone there be a recovering alcoholic, or have inquisitive pre-teens?
■Never give alcohol, even a sip, to someone else’s child. (Happened to us; family member who wanted to demonstrate that “a sip” was permissible by THEIR standards.)
■Arrange for a Designated Driver for yourselves…or arrange for a taxi. If necessary, make plans to stay overnight there at the host/hostess’s home.
■Lastly, don’t let others drive drunk (especially if they’ve got to pick up the kids from the sitter’s.)

Remember, celebrating doesn’t have to be about drinking; YOU are what people want more of! Spending time with each other is the real gift of the holidays. Make yours a Happy One!

Tips to Prevent Holiday Stress and Depression

Monday, December 20, 2010

When stress is at its peak, it’s hard to stop and regroup. Try to prevent stress and depression in the first place, especially if the holidays have taken an emotional toll on you in the past.

1.Acknowledge your feelings. If someone close to you has recently died or you can’t be with loved ones, realize that it’s normal to feel sadness and grief. It’s OK to take time to cry or express your feelings. You can’t force yourself to be happy just because it’s time holiday season.

2.Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events. They can offer support and companionship. Volunteering your time to help others also is a good way to life your spirits and broadens your friendships.

3.Be realistic. The holidays don’t have to be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones. For example, if your adult children can’t come to your house, find new ways to celebrate together, such as sharing pictures, emails or videotapes.

4.Set aside differences. Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don’t live up to all your expectations. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion. And be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry. Chances are they’re feeling the effects of holiday stress and depression, too.

5.Stick to a budget. Before you go gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Don’t try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts. They there alternatives: Donate to a charity in someone’s name, give homemade gifts or start a family gift exchange.

6.Plan ahead. Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities. Plan your menus and then make your shopping list. That’ll help prevent last-minute scrambling to buy forgotten ingredients. And make sure to line up help for party prep and cleanup.

7.Learn to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can’t participate every project or activity. If it’s not possible to say no when your boss asks you to work overtime, try to remove something else from your agenda to make up for the lost time.

8.Don’t abandon healthy habits. Don’t let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt. Have a healthy snack before holidays parties so that you don’t go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks. Continue to get plenty of sleep and physical activity.

9.Take a breather. Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Take a walk at night and stargaze. Listen to soothing music. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, showing your breathing and restoring inner calm.

10.Seek professional help if you need it. Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor or mental health professional.

Take Control of the Holidays – Don’t let the holidays become something you dread. Instead, take steps to prevent the stress and depression that can descend during the holidays. With a little planning and some positive thinking, you may find that you enjoy the holidays this year more than you thought you could.

Babysitting Tips

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Babysitters have been a part of our culture since the advent of babies. The stereotype of the teenage girl coming over to sit with the little ones while the parents enjoy a night out has been in our mind’s eye since “Leave it to Beaver” (okay…I’m dating myself). Today’s world is no different: Parents still need a night out once in a while to “get away”. It’s healthy for them, and it’s healthy for the kids. As parents however, you need to be certain about whom you are leaving your children with. As the season for Holiday parties gets into full swing, here are some basic things to consider before ever leaving your children with anyone:

1. Unless you know everything about this person, get references.
2.Ask for recommendations from other parents who have used this person
3.Interview the person before ever leaving your child with him\her…even if they are a licensed childcare provider. You should still interview them to get their philosophy on child rearing, discipline, and whether or not they have a clear and up-to-date understanding about what to expect from young children
4.Have they ever attended a “Safe Sitter” program (or something similar)
5.Do they know CPR?
6.How much experience do they have sitting for the age group in which your children fall?
7.Have you ever noticed ANY impatient or violent tendencies toward anyone or anything?
8.Make sure and leave all emergency numbers, and reinforce that it is fine if the sitter has to use them.
9.Tell your sitter that it is not okay to have guests over while they are sitting. You do not want strangers around your child whom you have never met or interviewed.

***!!!***Let’s Talk TOYS***!!!***

Monday, December 6, 2010

You know it’s one of the best parts of “the season”…buying toys and fun gifts! You are thinking about that child and trying to figure out what would make him or her squeal with delight! That’s one of the holiday’s best gifts to give YOURSELF! So, OK, we have to think about a few issues to make certain it is not only one of the best gifts they’ll get this year, but also one of the safest.

First, if you are buying for a child other than your own, ask yourself if you need to talk to the parent to see if the kid/s already “has one.” This is especially true if it is a video game or movie. Maybe the parent is going to give it to them already. You don’t want to be THAT guy! Another issue might be that the parent/guardian may not approve of the game/movie. Which reminds us, always make certain how the game/video is rated; G, PG, PG13, etc. No child should be viewing a movie or playing with games that are meant for adults.

Next you need to review how SAFE the gift is. (Safety tips are provided by the nonprofit group Safe Kids Worldwide.)

*Choose toys appropriate for a child’s age and development.

*Avoid toys with small, removable parts, which may pose a possible choking hazard.

*Look for high-quality design and construction.

*Keep kids’ hearing safe: Avoid toys that produce loud noises.

*For kids younger than 8, skip toys with heating elements or sharp points and edges. Even if a child is older, they should ALWAYS be supervised with those types of toys.

*Avoid toys with strings and straps longer than 7 inches, as they may pose a strangulation risk.


SO, with these tips in mind, these gifts might be great for your gift-giving!


1-3 -- Books, blocks, “fit-together” toys, push and pull toys, and pounding toys.

3-5 --Active toys like swings, slides and tricycles, or maybe art supplies and books

Balls are great for all ages, especially if you add a net, hoop or racquets!
Books about something they like, is always good too.

Kitchen Gadgets What new chef wouldn’t like a personalized apron or his or her own kitchen tools (or gardening tools).

9 and Older -- may like team games. Quality sports equipment: jump ropes, basket balls, soccer balls, bicycles and skateboards. Remember the safety gear for each!

Gift cards to the movies, a musical, a childrens museum, zoo, bowling or skating is always good. (You might want to make certain the gift card pays for at least 2 people, so the child can have an adult go with them!)

Inspirational Role Models for Children

Monday, November 29, 2010

When we are out doing our prevention activities, we often have the opportunity to speak to different groups, e.g. parents, youth, professionals, community members...anyone who will listen. While talking with groups, we always make a point to mention that it is a myth that all abused children become abusive adults. It makes us crazy to hear “children will parent as they are parented”. That’s not necessarily true at all. In fact most children, who are abused, do not grow up and become abusive later in life. Why? Well, it’s hard to know all of the factors associated with this statement, but we do know that one of the primary reasons is that many children who are growing up in less than ideal circumstances usually have at least one adult in their lives who is making a difference. Role models do not have to be sports stars or celebrities, even though that is who we primarily think of when we hear the term “role model”. Often the most important person in a child’s life is someone who knows the child, cares about them, and supports them in a nurturing and loving way. It’s someone to whom the child can look for guidance and appropriate responses to life’s problems. It can be a parent, teacher, neighbor, friend, uncle, grandparent…anyone who can offer that child a positive example of adult behavior. Children thrive on love and attention, and they look to us to teach them about making good choices and responding to adversity. Any of us can make that kind of impact on a child; we don’t have to be a celebrity…just a caring person who is willing to get involved and become that role model.

National Family Week

Monday, November 22, 2010

The family. We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another's desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together. ~Erma Bombeck

Families come in many forms. Some work very well, and others not so well. We carry our history with us in our hearts. Whatever our history may be, it’s good to stop and consider the strength we have gained from our families.

National Family Week is an annual celebration observed during the week of Thanksgiving. It is a component of the Alliance for Children and Families’ civic engagement program.

National Family Week is designed to encourage Americans to celebrate strong families and advocate for policies that foster community connections.

To observe National Family Week, Alliance members host local events involving families, residents, area leaders, and policymakers. Typical observances include community forums, resource fairs, volunteer projects, seminars, and awards programs. Many members also use National Family Week as an opportunity to highlight their year-round civic engagement efforts. Others use the occasion to mobilize residents and community leaders in enacting changes that bolster the chances of success for children, families, and communities.

National Family Week was founded in 1968 by Sam Wiley, a former teacher and administrator from Indianapolis. The Alliance continues this tradition with support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Today, National Family Week is celebrated throughout the country, not only by Alliance members, but also by numerous community organizations, schools, and universities.

This week, even in the rush of Thanksgiving gatherings, stop for a moment and appreciate your family. Gather your children around you and tell them how much they mean to you. Take time to do fun activities together.

Our most basic instinct is not for survival but for family. Most of us would give our own life for the survival of a family member, yet we lead our daily life too often as if we take our family for granted. ~Paul Pearshall

Celebrate National Adoption Month With Us!

Monday, November 15, 2010


On any given day, hundreds of children are waiting for a “Forever Family”. Children are available for adoption for a variety of reasons; many have suffered from abuse and/or neglect. No matter their age or their background, they all deserve a loving and safe environment.


Loving people from all walks of life and vocations can become adoptive parents. You must be at least 21 years of age and meet all applicable state and federal requirements, including providing positive references, passing local, state and national criminal history and child sex abuse registry checks and passing a physical exam. The first step toward adoption through The Villages is to contact us at 1.800.874.8660 or visit their website at www.villageskids.org.

Foster Care Adoption Quick Facts

Foster care adoption is the adoption of a child from the U.S. foster care system who is legally available for adoption and whose birthparents’ rights have been permanently terminated by the court.

Children enter the public foster care system through no fault of their own, as a result of abuse (physical, sexually, emotional), neglect (physical, emotional, educational) or abandonment.

Today there are an estimated 423,773 children in foster care in the United States, and 114,556 of these children are legally and permanently separated from their birth family and waiting to be adopted.

Of the 114,556 children waiting for adoption, 30 percent are Black Non-Hispanic, 38 percent are White Non-Hispanic, 22 percent are Hispanic, 2 percent are American Indian/Alaskan Native, 6 percent two or more Races Non-Hispanic and 2 percent unable to determine. 53% are male and 47% female.

Although children waiting to be adopted from foster care range in age from birth to 18 years old, the average age of children waiting for an adoptive family is 8.

On average, these children have been in foster care more than three years, and wait another 14 months after parental rights are terminated to be adopted.

Last year, 69,947 children in foster care were legally freed for adoption; 57,466 were adopted.

Last year, 29,471 children turned age 18 and left the foster care system without an adoptive family.

State of Indiana data indicates that there are 1,279 waiting children. 41% or 524 children have an identified placement while the remaining 754 children (59%) are in need of a permanent home. For many of these children, foster care adoption is a viable route to a “Forever Family”.


Myth: It is too expensive to adopt from foster care.

Reality: While private domestic infant adoption and international adoption may vary in costs from thousands to tens of thousands of dollars, there is little or no cost to adopt from foster care.

Myth: The parents of the children adopted will resurface to claim their children.

Reality: Once parental rights have been terminated by the court, the parents have no further recourse for gaining custody of the children. The adoption is final.

Myth: The children in foster care are juvenile delinquents.

Reality: Children enter the foster care system through no fault of their own as a result of abuse, neglect or abandonment, and deserve every effort to find them a permanent loving family.

Myth: Single parents cannot adopt.

Reality: Single parents can, and do, adopt. Last year, of the children adopted from foster care, 31% were adopted by single parents

Foster Care Adoption Quick Facts statistics: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children’s Bureau; Preliminary FY 2009 estimates, as of July 2010.

Foster Care Adoption Myths/Misperceptions: National Foster Care Adoption Attitudes Survey, commissioned by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and conducted by Harris Interactive, November 2007.


Premature Babies

Monday, November 8, 2010

We know that the sooner we can provide care to our children, the better. We also know that it can’t happen too soon…in fact as soon as we know we are expecting! Moms, dads, and babies need extra care during that important time between conception and birth to insure that the health of everyone involved is maintained. Taking extra care is always advised, but it may also help in preventing premature births, which are a grave health risk to babies.

Prematurity is defined as any pregnancy lasting less than 37 weeks, and unfortunately the rates of premature births has increased in the United States since the early 1980’s (although there has been a small decrease since 2008). Due to brain, lung, and neurological development, it is critical that as much as possible be done to insure a baby comes to full term. It may be critical for the health of the mother as well.

There can be several reasons as to why a baby is born prematurely, but we would like to mention some which may not be as commonly known, and which can be somewhat under the control of the parents-to-be.

1.Be certain to receive prenatal care. If there is a concern about how to pay for care, there are several clinics that provide very low cost prenatal exams.
2.Don’t smoke while you are pregnant, and beware of persistent second-hand smoke as well.
3.Eat nutritionally balanced meals
4.Reduce stress as much as possible
5.Being in a domestic violence situation also increases the risk of premature births
6.The use of alcohol or drugs
8.Working long hours while standing
9.If there is a short time period in between pregnancies (under 18 months).
10.Youth under 17 or women over 35 may also be more at risk

There are also many medical conditions which may contribute to premature births, and many times, it is due to something that is beyond the control of anyone. We urge you to research this issue further, and just understand the importance of self-care, for that surely will help you and your baby!

Some of the information in this blog was gleaned from the March of Dimes at www.marchofdimes.com

"The Myth of the Bad Kid"

Monday, November 1, 2010

Six-year-old Jimmy is having trouble in school. As a first grader, he already has a reputation among the teachers as a "bad kid." He spends most of his school day sitting in the corner or the principal's office. With 30 other children in his class, the teacher has little time for Jimmy. He isn't learning anything in the classroom, and he has trouble making friends.

We all have memories of the "bad kid" in our class - the child who was always in trouble and often alone. We tend to blame this kind of behavior on a lack of discipline or a bad home. We say the child was spoiled, abused, or "just trying to get attention." But these labels are often misguided. Many of these children suffer from serious emotional problems that are not the fault of their caregivers or themselves.

Myths about children's behavior make it easy to play the "blame game" instead of trying to help children like Jimmy. Often, in making assumptions, we "write off" some children. However, with understanding, attention and appropriate mental health services, many children can succeed- they can have friends, join in activities and grow up to lead productive lives. To help children with emotional problems realize their potential, we must first learn the facts about the "bad kid."

• Children do not misbehave or fail in school just to get attention. Behavior problems can be symptoms of emotional, behavioral or mental disorders, rather than merely attention-seeking devices. These children can succeed in school with understanding, attention and appropriate mental health services.
• Behavioral problems in children can be due to a combination of factors. Research shows that many factors contribute to children's emotional problems including genetics, trauma and stress. While these problems are sometimes due to poor parenting or abuse, parents and family are more often a child's greatest source of emotional support.
• Children's emotional, behavioral and mental disorders affect millions of American families. An estimated 14-20 percent of all children have some type of mental health problem. Jimmy and the many others mislabeled as "bad kids" can use the support of their communities.

For more information on children's emotional and behavioral problems, call the Center for
Mental Health Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, one of the Public Health Service agencies in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at 1-800-789-2647.

Have a Safe Halloween

Monday, October 25, 2010

A few safety tips from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission can protect children who plan to go trick-or-treating this Halloween.

Treats: Warn children not to eat any treats before an adult has carefully examined them for evidence of tampering.

Flame Resistant Costumes: When purchasing a costume, masks, beards, and wigs, look for the label Flame Resistant. Although this label does not mean these items won't catch fire, it does indicate the items will resist burning and should extinguish quickly once removed from the ignition source. To minimize the risk of contact with candles or other sources of ignition, avoid costumes made with flimsy materials and outfits with big, baggy sleeves or billowing skirts.

Costume Designs: Purchase or make costumes that are light and bright enough to be clearly visible to motorists.

■For greater visibility during dusk and darkness, decorate or trim costumes with reflective tape that will glow in the beam of a car's headlights. Bags or sacks should also be light colored or decorated with reflective tape. Reflective tape is usually available in hardware, bicycle, and sporting goods stores.
■To easily see and be seen, children should also carry flashlights.
■Costumes should be short enough to prevent children from tripping and falling.
■Children should wear well-fitting, sturdy shoes. Mother's high heels are not a good idea for safe walking.
■Hats and scarves should be tied securely to prevent them from slipping over children's eyes.
■Apply a natural mask of cosmetics rather than have a child wear a loose-fitting mask that might restrict breathing or obscure vision. If a mask is used, however, make sure it fits securely and has eyeholes large enough to allow full vision.
■Swords, knives, and similar costume accessories should be of soft and flexible material.
Pedestrian Safety: Young children should always be accompanied by an adult or an older, responsible child. All children should WALK, not run from house to house and use the sidewalk if available, rather than walk in the street. Children should be cautioned against running out from between parked cars, or across lawns and yards where ornaments, furniture, or clotheslines present dangers.

Choosing Safe Houses: Children should go only to homes where the residents are known and have outside lights on as a sign of welcome.

■Children should not enter homes or apartments unless they are accompanied by an adult.
■People expecting trick-or-treaters should remove anything that could be an obstacle from lawns, steps and porches. Candlelit jack-o'-lanterns should be kept away from landings and doorsteps where costumes could brush against the flame. Indoor jack-o'-lanterns should be kept away from curtains, decorations, and other furnishings that could be ignited.
From the Consumer Product Safety Commission


Monday, October 18, 2010

Unfortunately, bullying has been a part of children’s lives probably since the beginning of time. However, what was once thought of as “just a part of childhood” is now seen as a very serious, and sometimes deadly, form of abuse. Adults, as well as peers, need to stand up to bullying, and intervene immediately when it is believed that bullying is occurring. More importantly, let’s find ways to prevent bullying from ever happening in the first place. Here are just a few tips to prevent, and respond, to bullying (including cyberbullying)
1. Understand that it is not a “rite of passage” for children to be bullied. It can have very long-term, even deadly, consequences

2.Pay attention to what is going on both at school and at home. If a child starts fearing going to school or to an activity, ask questions.

3.Have clear discipline policies at school or in sports activities, and make it understood that bullying will not be tolerated, and that there will be consequences, including for Cyberbullying.

4.Have in-services for teachers and parents about what to look for in terms of bullying, and how to prevent it

5.Encourage youth to talk to an adult if they are being bullied, or if they know that bullying is occurring to a friend or classmate

6.Supervise children when they are on-line, and tell them to never pass along harmful information about others

7.Tell children to never give out personal information on-line.

8.Start teaching empathy at an early age (even from birth!) so that children will grow understanding how hurtful it is to harm or tease others.

9.Teach interpersonal skills (again, from an early age). Many children who bully lack the skills to make or keep friendships

10.Create opportunities for children to “do good”, especially children you know or suspect may be engaging in bullying behaviors.

Join us on November 5, 2010 at the PCAIN Luncheon/Workshop on Bullying presented by Bill Voors, ACSW, LCSW, from the National Bullying Prevention Project. Visit our website to get the full details (www.pcain.org) and FAX in your registration form by November 1st.

National Children's Month

Friday, October 8, 2010

October is National Children’s Health Month. We all need to be concerned about the health and safety of our children, and we need to insure that they are protected. These safety steps can range from child-proofing our homes to securely placing children in car seats. In the same way, vaccines work to protect infants, children, and adults from illnesses and death caused by infectious diseases. Even though the U.S. has record low cases of vaccine-preventable diseases, the germs that cause them still exist. Even diseases that have primarily been eliminated in this country, such as polio, are only a plane ride away. It is important to remember that infectious diseases can be passed on to people who are not protected by vaccines, and preventable diseases have a costly impact, resulting in doctor's visits, hospitalizations, and death. Sick children can also cause parents to lose time from work. It's true that newborns are immune to many diseases because they have antibodies they got from their mothers. However, this immunity may last from only a month to about one year. Further, young children do not have maternal immunity against some vaccine-preventable diseases, such as whooping cough.

So now that we’ve vaccinated them, what else can we do? Well, as early as possible teach children about washing their hands. Research shows that hand-washing is near the top of the list when it comes to preventing the spread of communicable diseases. Children are going to be exposed to germs; it’s part of growing up. Teaching them about hygiene and hand-washing however, will hopefully assist in not spreading those germs. The other piece of that is teaching them to cover their mouths when sneezing and\or coughing.

Caution your children about sharing their personal items, such as drinking glasses, hair brushes, combs, etc. Although it goes against our grain to teach our children NOT to share, in those situations it may reduce the spread of germs and head lice.

So, even though October is National Children’s Health Month, let’s keep our kids healthy the other 11 months of the year as well!

Domestic Violence and Children

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Domestic violence is a devastating social problem that impacts every segment of the population. While system responses are primarily targeted toward adult victims of abuse, increased attention is now being focused on the children who witness domestic violence. Studies estimate that 10 to 20 percent of children are at risk for exposure to domestic violence (Carlson, 2000). These findings translate into approximately 3.3 to 10 million children who witness the abuse of a parent or adult caregiver each year (Carlson, 1984; Straus and Gelles, 1990). Research also indicates children exposed to domestic violence are at an increased risk of being abused or neglected. A majority of studies reveal there are adult and child victims in 30 to 60 percent of families experiencing domestic violence (Appel and Holden, 1998; Edleson, 1999; Jaffe and Wolfe, 1990).

Children who live with domestic violence face increased risks: the risk of exposure to traumatic events, the risk of neglect, the risk of being directly abused, and the risk of losing one or both of their parents. All of these may lead to negative outcomes for children and may affect their well-being, safety, and stability (Carlson, 2000; Edleson, 1999; Rossman, 2001).

Childhood problems associated with exposure to domestic violence fall into three primary categories:
• Behavioral, social, and emotional problems. Higher levels of aggression, anger, hostility, oppositional behavior, and disobedience; fear, anxiety, withdrawal, and depression; poor peer, sibling, and social relationships; and low self-esteem.
• Cognitive and attitudinal problems. Lower cognitive functioning, poor school performance, lack of conflict resolution skills, limited problem solving skills, pro-violence attitudes, and belief in rigid gender stereotypes and male privilege.
• Long-term problems. Higher levels of adult depression and trauma symptoms and increased tolerance for and use of violence in adult relationships.

Children's risk levels and reactions to domestic violence exist on a continuum where some children demonstrate enormous resiliency while others show signs of significant maladaptive adjustment (Carlson, 2000; Edleson, 1999; Hughes, Graham-Bermann & Gruber, 2001).

Protective factors, such as social competence, intelligence, high self-esteem, outgoing temperament, strong sibling and peer relationships, and a supportive relationship with an adult, can help protect children from the adverse affects of exposure to domestic violence.

From: Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2009

Comb First! A Call to Action for September's 2010 National Head Lice Prevention Month

Monday, September 27, 2010

NPA's Comb First! campaign focuses on helping parents understand the importance of lice and nit removal and teaching them how to comb. Children deserve thoughtful attention and protection from these blood-obligate human parasites. The most serious health risks of head lice come with how we respond to them.

Newton Highlands, MA (PRWEB) September 2, 2010 --- Combing accomplishes what chemicals cannot. It enables families to be self-reliant, proactive, and preventive.

Spread the word!!

Communities can provide NPA's tried and true educational tool known as the Critter Card. Over a million of these cards have been sent home to help parents.

This informational card can pay large dividends by showing parents what to look for with actual-sized realistic depictions of lice and nits. The cards also provide images to help differentiate between dandruff, fat cells and normal hair debris. A Critter Card also comes with the LiceMeister® comb.

The National Pediculosis Association (NPA), 25th annual sponsor of National Head Lice Prevention Month, says Comb First! Comb out the lice and nits (lice eggs) when there are fewer of them and before the task becomes unnecessarily challenging.

NPA's Comb First! campaign is focused on helping parents understand the importance of lice and nit removal and teaching them how to comb. http://headlice.org/video.

Comb First! emphasizes education and early intervention to protect children from unnecessary exposure to pesticides. Parents can avoid the difficulties of head lice by knowing what to look for, checking their children regularly, making an accurate determination of lice and nits and getting them out of the hair safely and effectively.

Checking children after school, childcare or camp is important, but nothing compares to parents checking the family regularly at home so kids can arrive to the group setting lice and nit free.

Pediculosis is an endemic communicable disease affecting children across the nation. Many of the treatments for lice contain potentially harmful chemicals and pesticides. NPA reports that parents are getting mixed messages on this health issue.

Head lice can be an undeniable crisis for a family. Too often parents receive advice that's counterintuitive to parenting. They are told they needn't be concerned about bugs in their child's hair because head lice are just a nuisance. Some health officials have abandoned even the most basic rules of healthy hygiene and grooming. And management procedures can vary greatly from school to school. It is worrisome when a policy is only about sending children home to be treated with a pesticidal product. Too often parents get letters without education, without warnings about risks from treatments and without notice that safer choices are available...

With an effective combing tool in hand, NPA reports that early detection with thorough manual removal of lice and nits is still the best response, especially since there is no totally safe and effective chemical treatment available.

According to NPA president Deborah Altschuler, "Head lice are more than a nuisance for the people who have them." Pediculosis often leads to panic and the use of pesticides. This makes head lice a serious health issue for children and entire families. Children deserve thoughtful attention and protection from this blood-obligate human parasite. Too often the health risks of lice come with how we respond to them.

Reports to NPA http://www.headlice.org/report/index.htm indicate that risky misuse and abuse of pesticides for lice is not only common but predictable. The Comb First! campaign wants parents to have a good understanding of the issues before they rush to treat. Children have unique vulnerabilities and parents need help understanding exactly what they can expect in effectiveness from treatments for lice along with the potential health risks. http://www.headlice.org/downloads/whynonchem.htm.

NPA's "No Nit Policy" recommendation, unlike what's often described as "No Nit Policies" in the media, is about prevention rather than treatment. It puts education, prevention and safety first and before outbreaks occur. NPA's recommendation is written to help avoid dismissals by giving parents every opportunity to send children to school lice and nit free. You can read it here: http://www.headlice.org/downloads/nonitpolicy.htm

NPA hopes health professionals, schools, child care centers and parents will participate in CombFirst! and visit www.headlice.org. Here they will find educational materials and the Comb First! Logon to share, download and post on local websites and social networks. http://headlice.org/downloads/download.html.

NPA also offers a public service announcement formatted for sharing along with teaching videos (English and Spanish) for step by step instruction on how to screen and comb. http://headlice.org/video

This September kicks off the Comb First! campaign to last the whole year long. Parents enabled with reasonable expectations, knowledge and effective tools will be the first to comb and the first to know when their child is infested.

About the National Pediculosis Association

Founded in 1983, the National Pediculosis Association, Inc. (NPA) is a non-profit volunteer organization dedicated to protecting children from the misuse and abuse of potentially harmful lice and scabies pesticide treatments. The NPA encourages proactive standardized head lice management programs in an effort to keep children in school lice and nit free. As part of its mission, the NPA developed the LiceMeister® comb and makes it available on its website www.headlice.org. Proceeds from the comb allow the NPA to maintain independence from product manufacturers and stay loyal to its goal to protect children. For additional information, please visit http://www.headlice.org/.

September is Baby Safety Awareness Month

Monday, September 20, 2010

Babies need us for almost everything. A big need is to protect them. There are many safety issues to consider when caring for an infant. This month we wanted to focus on safe sleep, poison safety, and water safety. Here in Indiana, we have unfortunately had a significant rise in infant deaths due to unsafe sleep habits or lack of supervision around water. Let’s review a few steps for making our children safer:

1.Place babies on their backs to sleep. Deaths due to positional asphyxiation and SIDS has decreased by 30-35% just by sharing this message. Babies should have “belly time” during the daytime when you and they are very awake, and when they are practicing their crawling skills.

2.NEVER sleep with a baby. Infants can suffocate due to caregivers accidently rolling over them, or babies may get caught between the wall and bed. There are any number of scenarios that make this practice dangerous. Room sharing is wonderful, but please reconsider co-sleeping. It’s just too dangerous to risk.

3.Many “slings” for babies have been banned due to their risk of suffocation. So beware of slings that are wrapped around the caregiver with baby in tow.

4.ALWAYS supervise young children around ANY water. Children should never be left in a tub, near a pool or pond, or out where there are uncovered wells or cisterns. There should always be adult supervision.

5.Insure that all medicines, cleaning supplies, or household plants are securely out of reach from your children

6.Don’t allow children to get into peoples’ purses or luggage.

7.Never store antifreeze or any poisonous liquid in a container that it is not intended to be it, e.g. a juice container or water bottle.

Protecting babies is a big job, but one that has HUGE and WONDERFUL returns. They’re worth our time and effort!

General Parenting Tips Series #3

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

25) Read affirming stories about parental love. A child who fears abandonment will benefit greatly from the steadfast messages of parental love in books like Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown, Love You Forever by Robert Munsch, or On the Day You Were Born by Debra Frasier. Read them frequently with your active alert child. http://www.parentingpress.com/t_060923.html

26) Build confidence in your child by helping him to practice small portions of tasks. http://www.parentingpress.com/t_050115.html

27) Make interruptions less of a problem by preventing them and teaching your child how to wait his turn. Set a timer. Tell your preschooler that you will help him when the bell rings. Set the timer for three minutes. When the timer goes off, stop what you are doing immediately and pay the child some attention.

28) Prevent interruptions. If you have important calls to make, a deadline on a project, or just really need to get dinner on the table on time one night, plan ahead. Make the calls during naptime. Put a well-loved video on the TV. Get a sitter to watch the children while you work in another room.

29) Teach waiting your turn. Instead of waiting for her turn with a toy, she's waiting for a turn to speak. Practice this with her at home. When she interrupts, raise your hand in the "stop" position and say gently, "I'm not finished talking. Please wait your turn." Then make an effort to quickly finish what you were saying and turn your attention to your child. "Now it's your turn to talk." http://www.parentingpress.com/t_040522.html

30) Choose to see the quality of stubbornness as it really is: persistence in training. Help your child learn to govern and control this valuable trait by setting reasonable limits and then enforcing them. Set reasonable rules and limits for this child and then sticking to them, consistently and firmly. http://www.parentingpress.com/t_020511.html

31) It is futile to try to control or change a child's thoughts, emotions, or temperament. Instead, use guidance tools to help set limits on behavior or teach new skills, if needed. Don't give a negative attitude a lot of attention or you'll see it more often. Although you can't control your child's attitude, you can set limits on behavior. For example, "Setting the table is your job. You don't have to be happy about it, but you do have to do it."

32) If you take it upon yourself to change your child's innate personality, the likelihood is great you'll magnify, rather than diminish, those personality characteristics. Pushed to change, the persistent child becomes more persistent, the intense child more intense, the active child, more active. Only through acceptance and working with the child's true personality can some of the more difficult traits smooth out. http://www.parentingpress.com/t_010714.html

33) High energy parent + Low energy child. To you, your child seems lazy. She tires quickly and doesn't like sports. First of all, don't expect her to excel at athletics. Respect her slower pace. Find ways to be together that accommodate both your styles--you could jog around the sandbox she's playing in, or push her in a jogger's stroller.

34) Low energy parent + High energy child. Think of a time when you really needed to get to the bathroom. That's the kind of "demand to move" your child feels. Remind yourself that your child needs to move and be active as much as you need to rest and do quiet activities. Designate a place in your house for active play: bouncy horse, cushions to jump on, ride-on toys. Find safe, fenced playgrounds for your child to play in.

35) Cautious parent + High-approach child. This is a hard combination. You feel frightened by your child's adventurous initiative, and he feels imprisoned by your caution. Talk with experienced parents about your child's adventurous activities and develop a realistic gauge of what's appropriate. When you feel anxious, practice imagining your child surrounded by a circle of protective golden light. This self-talk will keep you calmer.

36) High-approach parent + Cautious child. When you are naturally adventuresome, it's hard to be sensitive with a cautious child. Put yourself in his shoes--going to the beach for the first time feels to him like going to Mars would to you. Let him proceed at his own pace. He's more likely to be courageous if he knows you are sympathetic and supportive. http://www.parentingpress.com/t_991009.html

General Parenting Tips Series

Monday, August 9, 2010

1) Create a bedroom environment that is conducive to sleep, i.e. remove electronics from her bedroom, keep the bedroom cool and dark, make the toys inaccessible at bedtime, and keep it simple: bedding and one security item (a stuffed animal or favorite blanket).

2) Develop a bedtime routine that involves quiet activities that occur in the same order every night. For example, have a snack, put pajamas on, brush teeth, go to the bathroom, say prayers, and read one book.

3) Put your child to bed when she is still awake. Children learn how to fall asleep through practice. If you always rock your child to sleep, she will rely on rocking whenever she wakes during the night and needs to go back to sleep

4) If your child gets out of bed, transform into a robot-like version of mom or dad and immediately return her to bed.

5) When your child gets out of bed, return your escapee to her own bed every single time that she attempts an escape.

6) Reward your child for going to and remaining in bed. http://www.parenting.org/parenting-tips/behavior/getting-kids-sleep-using-bedtime-routine

7) When your kids use social skills appropriately or make an attempt to use them, you can reward and reinforce their efforts through Effective Praise. In other words, you pick the teaching technique that best fits the situation you’re in with your kids. This enables you to teach children how, why, and where they should use these skills.

8) Take time to explain to your children when they can use social skills and give positive child-oriented reasons for how and why these social skills will help them in life.

9) Praise your children or reward them with something special for taking the time to learn appropriate social skills, such as saying “excuse me”.

10) After your children learn a new skill, it may take awhile before they are comfortable using it and before it really becomes a part of them, so be patient, patient, patient! http://www.parenting.org/parenting-tips/social-skills

11) The better your overall relationship with your child, the more influence you will have in his or her life and the easier it will be to teach new skills. Developing this relationship is about expressing your love in various ways beneficial to the child.

12) Tell your child you love her. It's simple to do, but many of us forget. Say, "I love you," or "I'm glad you're my son/daughter." Do it routinely in certain parts of the day, at bedtime, when he sits on the potty chair, or when she does her homework.

13) Communicate love through gentle touch. Hold your child on your lap as you read to him. Cuddle her when she's sad. Rub his back. Stroke her hair. Touch communicates love without a word.

14) Let your child overhear you express pride in her achievements and activities to others. If someone else compliments your child, repeat it to him.

15) Participate in your child's interests or hobbies. Go to their dance recitals, spelling bees, and sports games. If he's passionate about dinosaurs, take him to the local museum and look at fossils together. When you support your children's interests, you're telling them they are important to you.

16) Respond when your child initiates a conversation. Make eye contact and ask questions that will elicit further communication. Your reply ought to communicate, "I heard what you said, I'm interested, and I want to know more." http://www.parentingpress.com/t_000318.html

17) Consistent routines bring predictability and comfort to your child’s world. Rely on routines. When a child knows the sequence of a daily routine, he or she will cope better with the regular transitions and occasional changes. http://www.parentingpress.com/t_091010.html

18) Increasing a child’s verbal skills almost always helps with curbing hitting. Sometimes young children with intense temperaments are very bothered when others crowd in on them. A child age three or older can learn to hold her arms out straight and say, “Stop. This is my space right now.”

19) When your child hits another, it’s important to firmly and calmly separate the two children. Have your child sit close by while you tend to the hurt friend. When they are both calmer, have your child figure out something to do to help his friend feel better.

20) Practice using words with your child in a role-playing way. Pretend to be mad, but instead of hitting, say, “I’m mad!” or “Stop! You’re too close.” Then have your child practice this skill. When you hear your child using these words in a conflict situation notice and praise him (even if he did follow it up with a kick).

21) Teach your child something she can do with her body when she is angry. She can’t hit, kick, or bite—but perhaps she can go to her room and stamp her feet. http://www.parentingpress.com/t_070811.html

22) Understanding your child’s temperament enhances your efforts to ease fearfulness.

23) Prepare your child for change. Tell your child about changes you know are forthcoming. Describe for her as much as you can. Help her anticipate the next day by discussing it the night before and allow her a chance to verbally role play the new situation.

24) Be clear about what choices your child has. When your child goes to the dentist, he doesn’t have a choice about whether or not he’s going to get his teeth cleaned. He may be able to choose, however, whether or not he has a parent in the room with him. Having some sort of control in the new situation will help your child cope with his fear.


Monday, July 26, 2010

My sister always reminds me about my first week of kindergarten…how I innocently brought home a boy from school who had no idea which bus he was to ride! It was not so different from bringing home a lost puppy or kitty, which I was VERY familiar with doing. I suppose this was my first attempt at Social Work!

There are steps to take to prepare both you and your child (not to mention the entire family) for your kindergartener’s first day of school.
1. Make sure your child knows his\her full name, address, phone number, as well as your names.
2. Literally walk him/her through getting on the bus, or out at the school, and then go through the end of the day routine too.
3. Make sure they know their bus number.
4. Visiting the school building, classrooms, restrooms, playground, etc. is a great idea too.
5. Take time to meet the teachers, assistants, bus drivers, cooks…anyone who might be someone they have to approach at school for help.

Doing these tasks may also help your child to act more independently and feel more confident.

Try to get your child into the “school routine” as quickly as possible, e.g. getting up at the same time, having a set bedtime (one where the child gets 8+ hours of sleep), etc.

On my eldest son’s first day of kindergarten, I guess I had prepared him well. He leaped out of the car never looking back, running in as fast as he could, happy as the HUGE Pooh backpack that grinned back at me. I wished I’d felt that happy! I guess I was just being a bit sentimental.

Here’s to a safe, happy, healthy start to many firsts!

Contributed by Carol Pool, PCAIN Prevention Education Specialist

Purposeful Parenting Month

Friday, July 16, 2010

Did you know that July was “Purposeful Parenting” Month? Of course our hope is that people parent with purpose during the other 11 months, but sometimes it helps to receive reminders about areas that we are inclined to take for granted. So what does it mean to “parent with purpose”? For some, it may have a spiritual or abstract meaning. For others, there may be a more concrete interpretation, such as vowing to attend more music recitals or sporting events. Actually, parenting with purpose is probably having a balance between the tangibles, and the less tangibles.

No one said that parenting was easy. It is, without question, the most difficult job anyone will undertake. Where do we get training for such a difficult job? Even Nuclear Physicists receive training for whatever it is that Nuclear Physicists are supposed to learn! There aren’t any “parenting schools” however. We learn to parent from a variety of sources…our own parents, teachers, grandparents, books, friends, the media, etc. We do the best we can in an ever changing environment, and with an ever changing subject…the child. Just when we think we have it down pat in terms of how to parent a two year old, they go and turn three. So, we can’t pretend to know everything there is to know about parenting with purpose…no one can make that claim, but we can offer some little reminders and some “things to think about”.

1. Providing for your children is important. They need to be fed, clothed, and sheltered. We all have different ways of providing those necessities, but don’t forget the old saying that includes the adages about “making a living” as opposed to “making a life”. You will want to make a life, and one that includes a great deal of time spent with your children. Despite the fact that they sometimes say they hate you, or request that you walk twenty paces behind them, it has been shown that children really do want more time with their parents.

2. In the same vein as tip number one, don’t over-extend your children. Activities are important, but there needs to be a balance among school, time with family and friends, time for themselves, and activities. Model this behavior by not over-extending yourself, either.

3. Always find the strengths in your child, and remind them often about those strengths. We sometimes tend to tell a child everything they’re doing wrong, rather than telling them what they are doing right.

4. Model the behavior you wish to instill in your child. Show affection, show real human emotion in an appropriate fashion, demonstrate respect for yourself and for others. Treat your spouse or partner in an affectionate and respectful manner.

5. Remind the child that you love them, even when it is not always easy! Tell them you love them, and make sure they know that it is unconditional.

6. If you have more than one child, spend time with them individually. Rejoice in each one’s uniqueness.

We hope you have found these tips helpful, and it would be great if you wanted to add to the list!

Leaving Kids Alone in the Car

Monday, July 12, 2010

One summer day after my lunch break, I returned from work to find 3 small children in a car. They were obviously scared and overheated. One was vomiting and crying. I was working at a service organization and assumed their folks were inside the building. I knew I had to get them out of that car, as soon as possible and I did. And their folks were inside. Good ending, I think. I have no idea if the kids were permanently damaged, emotionally or physically. Point is: I didn’t know how to handle the situation, and I could’ve been putting myself at risk for “abduction charges, “or had I called 911, the guardians could’ve been in a lot of trouble too! It might have taken the 911 responder’s precious time to come and get the children out, when I could’ve done it sooner. All points that raced through my head, as my body, grabbed the kids out of the hot car.

Biggest Point: It is dangerous to leave kids alone in a vehicle unattended. And, law enforcement is cracking down on this issue, more and more.

Every year, 30+ children die, unnecessarily, due to being left alone in a vehicle. (*This stat refers to deaths from overheating. It does not include the much higher statistic of deaths from other accidents associated with cars and kids.) No telling how many thousands more are emotionally harmed. Being left is scary. Being in a hot vehicle is scary and dangerous. A child’s body heats up 3 to 5 times quicker than an adult’s body. The thermostat in a car, can heat up 40 degrees higher than outside temperatures, on average.

Older Kids And Other Risks
There are recorded deaths of children even 13 years old, who were overcome by heat in a car. Older kids love playing with the gearshifts and electric buttons of windows/sunroofs too, which multiplies the dangers to themselves and others in the car. All children would be vulnerable to other hazards of being left alone, abductions, carjacking, entangled in seatbelts, strangulations from windows, burns from hot buckles, and even intended or unintended harm by other siblings.

Here are some quick tips, but feel free to go to these sites for more facts:
*Call 911 immediately if you see an unattended child in a car. If the child looks ill or is pale, try to get them out asap, then call 911.
*Make it a habit to always check the back seat for children, when you exit. Make “triggers” to help remember you have a small child in your car. Leave your purse/wallet/work briefcase in the backseat by them. Or, set your cell phone and/or computer at work to remind you if you stopped at daycare that day.
*Teach children, and remind them as they age, NOT to play with the car or trunk.
*Lock all vehicle doors and trunk – especially at home. Keep keys away from children.
*Check cars and trunks if children go missing.

(***Remember many of these tips apply to pets as well!)

Sites: www.safekids.org/safety-basics


Contributed by Carol Pool, PCAIN Education Specialist

Happy (Safe) July 4th!!

Monday, June 28, 2010

To help you celebrate safely this Fourth of July, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the National Council on Fireworks Safety offer the following safety tips:

1. Always read and follow label directions.
2. Have an adult present.
3. Buy from reliable sellers.
4. Use outdoors only.
5. Always have water handy (a garden hose and a bucket).
6. Never experiment or make your own fireworks.
7. Light only one firework at a time.
8. Never re-light a "dud" firework (wait 15 to 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water).
9. Never give fireworks to small children.
10.If necessary, store fireworks in a cool, dry place.
11.Dispose of fireworks properly by soaking them in water and then disposing of them in your trashcan.
12.Never throw or point fireworks at other people.
13.Never carry fireworks in your pocket.
14.Never shoot fireworks in metal or glass containers.
15.The shooter should always wear eye protection and never have any part of the body over the firework.
16.Stay away from illegal explosives.

Have a Safe July 4th!


Monday, June 21, 2010

There is a fine line between, “Hooray, school’s out!!” and “Mom and Dad, we’re bored!” Far too often, the TV, video games, and the computer become the “default” time abuser for our kids! With just a little pre-planning, their summer can become full of good times and memories!

First, parents might want to review a list of chores for your kids to complete before the fun stuff begins. This makes certain the “work” is done before the good times roll! Next, you might encourage everyone to write down 5 things each person in the family would like to do over the summer months. A concrete list helps goals become reality. Ask everyone to be realistic on most of the goals. Examples of this could be: Have a neighborhood sprinkler party; have more than one friend spend the night; or go canoeing. It should be explained that all MAY NOT be achievable for one summer, but at least everyone knows what the goals are. It’ll be nice to know everyone’s goals, and you might be surprised on how the lists overlap, so the family might hit “2 for the price of 1”.

There could be another list created called a “Hope for… “This list might be outside the normal day-to-day achievable goals. Some examples might be to see Mickey Mouse, or to get a new bike. The “Hope for’s” are nice to know, and can be saved for special events like vacations (or whenever possible, e.g. if you hit the lottery; get a raise, etc!) Perhaps the kids could raise their own cash for these during the summer by selling lemonade, pet sitting, yard sales, and yard work. ***Be sure to get the kids a cheap camera to document their summer and capture memories!

Here is my “on-growing” list of things to do: Join 4-H, Boys and Girls Clubs, YMCA’s or YWCA’s. Check in with your local parks department to see what activities they have going. The library has summer programs. There are camps of all types. Take them to the zoo; play flashlight tag; capture (and release!) lightning bugs; go on bike rides*; make an easy list of items to find on a scavenger hunt; there can be lake or beach days. There’s also camping, tennis, basketball, soccer, softball and baseball*, skating, (in-line and regular)*; skateboard parks*; state and national parks; water parks; theme parks; horseback riding*; boating*.

*Remember helmets, life vests, sunscreen and bug repellant! AND REMEMBER TO HAVE FUN WITH YOUR CHILDREN

Submitted by: Carol Pool, PCAIN Prevention Education Specialist

Happy Father's Day - June 20th

Monday, June 14, 2010

Did you know that the United States is only one of a handful of countries in the world that has an official day on which fathers are honored by their children? On the third Sunday in June, fathers all across the United States are given presents, treated to dinner or otherwise made to feel special. Those of us men that are blessed enough to be able to be honored this day owe our gratitude, not surprisingly, to a woman - Mrs. Sonora Dodd of Spokane, Washington. She thought of the idea for Father's Day while listening to a Mother's Day sermon in 1909. Sonora wanted a special day to honor her father, William Smart. Smart, who was a Civil War veteran, was widowed when his wife died while giving birth to their sixth child. Mr. Smart was left to raise the newborn and his other five children by himself on a rural farm in eastern Washington State.

After Sonora became an adult she realized the selflessness her father had shown in raising his children as a single parent. It was her father that made all the parental sacrifices and was, in the eyes of his daughter, a courageous, selfless, and loving man. In 1909, Sonora approached her own minister and others in Spokane about having a church service dedicated to fathers on June 5, her father's birthday. That date was too soon for her minister to prepare the service, so he spoke a few weeks later on June 19th. From then on, the state of Washington celebrated the third Sunday in June as Father's Day.

States and organizations began lobbying Congress to declare an annual Father's Day. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson approved of this idea, but it was not until 1924 when President Calvin Coolidge made it a national event to "establish more intimate relations between fathers and their children and to impress upon fathers the full measure of their obligations." Since then, fathers had been honored and recognized by their families throughout the country on the third Sunday in June. In 1966 President Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential proclamation declaring the 3rd Sunday of June as Father's, and then six years later, in 1972, President Richard Nixon signed into law a permanent U.S. Father's Day.

As any dad will tell you, there is no Father’s Day that is ever more special for a man than his very first one as a dad. I celebrated my first in 2006, and I still have that very first Father’s Day card displayed in my office. And it was made all the more special by being able to share it with my own father (really my step-father, but he’s the dad I never had). For the first time, I understood what the day meant to him, too. It’s hard to put into words the pride and joy that I held in my heart as I looked out over the dinner table with my dad to the right of me and my new baby son to the left. It is a day of such happiness!

As has become an annual tradition for the media, however, in the days leading up to Father’s Day, you will begin to be bombarded with stories and images of deadbeats, abusers, abandoners and other so-called “men” that give the whole lot of us a bad reputation. It’s almost as if Father’s Day has now become a day not to honor fathers, but rather to admonish them and look down on them with a despicable glare.

I am the media’s greatest hallelujah choir in taking these “men” to task for their irresponsibility and bad decisions. But Father’s Day is NOT the time to do it. Father’s Day is a day that we honor good men who own up to their responsibilities and, while they’re not perfect, are good dads. We should be using this day to raise up and praise fatherhood, sending a positive message about why engaged dads are so important to their children and communities, and highlighting those dads that are worthy of having this day named for them, just as Sonora Dodd did 101 years ago.

What message are we otherwise sending to the next generation of fathers - and mothers – if this day is just to talk about all of the bad things that some “fathers” are and do? If all they hear about on this day that is all about dads is how fatherhood is bad, what prize are we giving them to aspire to? What 4 year-old wants to grow up to be a “bad guy” or marry a “super villain”? Wouldn’t being a good father be more attractive if it means being a “real man” or a “superhero”? As I always say, any member of the male species who has the ability to reproduce can be a father; it takes man to be a daddy. Let’s use June 20th to celebrate daddies!

Contributed by Christopher D. Maples, Dad & Director, Dads Inc. - A Division of The Villages

Teaching Kids to Wash Their Hands

Thursday, June 10, 2010

It's hard enough to get grownups to wash up. Only two-thirds of adults wash their hands after they use the restroom, studies show.

How do we get our kids into the hand-washing habit, then? The obvious first step is to practice what you preach: Wash your hands before eating or cooking a meal, after using the bathroom and after working or playing with your hands.

More than half of food-related illness outbreaks are caused by unwashed or poorly washed hands, says the American Society for Microbiology. For example, outbreaks hepatitis A in children in day-care centers have been directly connected to lack of hand-washing after changing diapers or using the bathroom.

Other pathogens such as E. coli, Shigella and Norwalk virus have also been spread by lack of hand washing. Spread of other conditions such as respiratory infections, impetigo and conjunctivitis (pinkeye) also can be prevented by washing hands with soap and water.

Tell your children to wash their hands before a meal, after using the bathroom and after playing. Show them how to do it, over and over. Don't get frustrated: It takes a while for the habit to become second nature, says the Association of Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC).
Children know when and why and how to wash their hands, but they forget to, the APIC says. They will wash their hands if the dirt is the obvious kind like mud or finger paints. Less obvious dirt and germs tend to be ignored.

Tips for washing, Try these techniques:
• Wash in warm or hot running water, which is more effective at dissolving oils.
• Keep water running throughout the washing to ensure greatest removal of bacteria.
• Use soap.
• Wash all hand surfaces: palms, back of hands, fingers and fingernails.
• Rub lathered hands together for at least 15 seconds, and up to 30 seconds (about as long as it takes you to recite the ABCs).

If a child is too small to reach the sink and can be safely cradled in one arm, hold the child to help him or her wash hands. A child who can stand should either use a child-sized sink or stand on a safety step at a height that allows the child's hands reach the running water. An alternative method for children who can’t reach the running water and are too heavy to hold is to wipe the child’s hands with a damp and soapy paper towel. Use another clean, wet paper towel to rinse soap off the hands. Dry the hands with a third clean paper towel. Wash your own hands after helping the child.

Printed from Brigham and Women's Hospital


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

"Regular seat belt use is the single best way to protect yourself and your family in motor vehicle crashes," said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. "Wearing your seat belt costs you nothing. But the cost for not wearing one certainly will. Don't risk your life, or getting a ticket. Please remember to buckle up day and night – every trip, every time."

The "Click It or Ticket" campaign is set to run from May 24 through June 6, 2010. The mobilization, expected to involve more than 10,000 police agencies, is supported by $8 million in national advertising funded through Congress and coordinated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Thousands of people die each day as a result of vehicle accidents because they were not wearing seat belts. According to the laws of physics, if a vehicle is traveling at 30 miles per hour, its contents and passengers are also moving at 30 miles per hour. The vehicles sudden stop at 30 miles per hour can mean the difference of life or death to the passengers wearing seatbelts.

The top 5 things you should know about buckling up:

1. Buckling up is the single most effective thing you can do to protect yourself in a crash. In 2008, seat belts saved more than 13,000 lives nationwide. During a crash, being buckled up helps keep you safe and secure inside your vehicle, whereas being completely thrown out of a vehicle is almost always deadly. Seat belts are the best defense against impaired, aggressive, and distracted drivers.
2. Air bags are designed to work with seat belts, not replace them. In fact, if you don’t wear your seat belt, you could be thrown into rapidly opening frontal air bag; a movement of such force could injure or even kill you. See www.safercar.gov for more on air bag safety.
3. How to buckle up safely:
a. Place the shoulder belt across the middle of your chest and away from your neck.
b. Adjust the lap belt across your hlps below your stomach.
c. NEVER put the shoulder belt behind your back or under your arm.
4. Fit matters
a. Before you buy a new car, check to see that its seat belts are a good fit for you.
b. Ask your dealer about seat belt adjusters, which can help you get the best fit.
c. If you need a roomier belt, contact your vehicle manufacturer to obtain seat belt extenders.
d. If you drive an older or classic car with lap belts only, check with your vehicle manufacturer about how to retrofit your car with today’s safer lap/shoulder belts.
5. Occupant protection is for everyone.
a. Visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website at www.nhtsa.gov and click on 4 Steps for Kids to find out how to secure your littlest passengers.
b. If you’re expecting a little one check out NHTSA’s “Should pregnant women wear seat belts?” brochure online to learn how important it is for you – and your unborn child – to buckle up the right way every trip, every time.

This information was gathered from the www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov and www.nhtsa.gov websites. For more information about seat belts, child safety seats, air bags and adapting motor vehicles for drivers with special needs, call the DOT Auto Safety Hotline at 888-327-4236 or visit www.nhtsa.gov


Monday, May 24, 2010

OK, it’s finally warm! Let’s go out and play! It’s all out there for us to enjoy, state and city parks, amusement parks, and water parks! Canoeing, swimming, hiking, biking, camping, flying kites, horseback riding are all there for the doing! But hold on…how can we be ready for all this without worrying about bees, sunburn and dehydration??? Ta..da… Get your pen ready for the summertime survival kit! (I just keep mine in a bag in the car, ready at a moment’s notice!)

-Bottles of H2O – Even if they’re warm, they’re at least wet!

-Bug spray

-Sunscreen- SPF 15 or higher, and “water resistant” if possible. Apply every 2-3 hours or more often if swimming, sweating a lot. Avoid the “10-4” times, but seek shade/air conditioning frequently, if not.

-Hats, sunglasses and lip balm with SPF are also recommended.

-Antibiotic Ointment – For scrapes and bites

-Antihistamine – (Like Benadryl) for allergic reactions

Wheelin’ Safely into Summer

Monday, May 17, 2010

Time to be outside, finally! For kids this means, feeling the mud squish between your toes, feeling the warm sun alight on your face, playing outside with your best buddies, and riding your bike through the neighborhood! For Moms and Dads, it’s time to get kids ready to ride their bikes safely!

There are several issues when kids are old enough to ride, like: helmets, where your kids are allowed to go, stranger/acquaintance safety, wearing light colors to be seen, etc. (See the NHTSA website for really good tips!) It’s also a fabulous way to get exercise!

4-H has a Bike Safety Project that’s hands-on practice, which is so important for how kids learn practical skills like bicycle safety! Check it out by contacting your local 4-H/Extension office.

For tips at home, check out this website from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for more specific details to helping our kids be safe on their bikes: www.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/pedbimot/bike/kidsandbikesafetyweb/index.htm

Submitted by: Carol Pool, PCAIN Prevention Education Specialist

Summer Supervision of Your Children

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Despite what the weather indicates, summer is just around the corner! This time of year can be very challenging for parents in terms of what kind of care and supervision will be available for their children once school is not in session. Many childcare facilities take children only to the age of 12 or 13. Other options may not be available due to cost or capacity. It is a good idea then, to start thinking about the end of school care as soon as possible.

1. Determine what appropriate childcare options are available. What ages do they take? What is their child to staff ratio (this question is important even if your child is older)? What are their discipline philosophies? Have there been any complaints against them? Do they do background checks? What is their playground equipment like (if applicable). What trainings are the staff required to attend…CPR, Child Abuse training, etc?

2. Camps are another option for families…both day and overnight. Similar questions should be asked of any camp as well…trainings, background checks, staff to child ratio, etc. What kinds of activities will be available, and what are the age groups for each activity? For instance, you may not feel comfortable with your child being involved in a specific activity due to their age or development.

3. Relative\friend care is another option for families during the summer. Although it may feel awkward, it is just as important to ask questions of relatives and friends about their plans and skills. Be very clear with them about your expectations for care. Perhaps you don’t want your child sitting in front of the TV all day. Perhaps you don’t want them going to other friend’s homes whose parents you have not met. What is around their home that could pose a hazard…pool, lake, no fenced yard, wooded areas, etc. Again, even if you have an older child, supervision is imperative.

4. If you are in a situation where an older sibling is watching a younger sibling, be extra vigilant. How old, and more importantly how mature, is the older child? Will it be all day, every day for the entire summer (something that’s not recommended)? How well do they get along? How many children will the sibling be watching? Who is in the area (friends\relatives) that can assist if needed? Do they know what to do in an emergency? Insure they have taken a formal babysitting class. What hazards do you have around your own home?

5. Prior to summer’s coming, have your child spend time with whomever will be providing care. Leave them with your provider (if possible) for short amounts of time prior to having to leave them for an entire day.

For more information for both caregivers and parents, go to:
www.campsafetyguide.com www.acacamps.org

Children's Pet SafetyTips

Monday, May 3, 2010

May 2-8 is Be Kind to Animals Week -- Teaching your children basic safety tips around pets can protect them in many ways. A child that is growled at, or bit at a young age will usually develop and retain a fear of animals. Without the proper basic instruction, children may become injured and afraid of pets for the rest of their lives. The first step in helping protect your children is to get obedience training for your dog, which will help you control your pet around children. Then teach your children the tips below that experts suggest all children be taught at a young age. These tips will help your child enjoy, respect, and understand your pet's behavior.

1. Let your dog or cat eat without being disturbed. Explain to your children that cats and especially dogs can become defensive around the food dish. Do not sneak up on, or put your hand near the bowl when the pet is eating.

2. Some dogs are very attached to their balls and toys. Never take a toy or bone from a dog's mouth unless the dog is willing to drop it. If the dog is unwilling to drop the toy tell your children to have an adult get the toy.

3. Show your children how to pet an animal nicely. Do not pull the animal's tail, ears, poke their eyes or throw things at them. Teach them animals are not toys.

4. Never sneak up on a pet. If frightened, dogs and cats can become defensive, and pet birds can injure themselves. Approach the cat, dog, or pet from the front with your hands visible and speak in a low soothing voice. Don't allow children to play any "hide and seek" or "sneak up on the pet" games.

5. Show your children how to observe body language. Tell your children that since dogs and cats can't talk, they communicate by using body language. Dogs that have their tail up, ears back, hair standing, are barking, growling, or showing teeth, are all signs that the dog is being bothered and should not be confronted. Cats that have their hair standing, tail stiff, ears back, are hissing, and have dilated eyes are signs that they are being bothered, and should not be confronted. Tell your children if they are ever face to face with a dog showing these signs to not scream, run or stare into the animal's eyes. Tell them if they run, the dog will usually chase and may attack. Always walk away slowly with no fast movements while avoiding any eye contact with the dog. Be sure your children know to immediately tell an adult if a dog, cat or other type of animal ever bites them.

6. Do not invade a dog's space. Tell your children to never stick their hand in a car window, pickup truck bed, or dog pen. The dog might bite to defend his territory or snap at your child after being awakened suddenly.

7. Do not get near or try to stop two dogs from fighting. They might become more excited if they are yelled at or separated. Tell them to get an adult to help.

8. Teach your children to wash their hands after playing with any animal or pet. Children may come in contact with all types of bacteria after playing with and touching a dog or cat. Turtles and reptiles are also carriers of salmonella and other bacteria.

9. Try to discourage your children from letting pets lick their face. While children are more likely to become infected with some type of bacteria by putting their hands in their mouth, it is still wise to tell your children to not let animals lick their face.

10. Tell your children to always ask for the owner's permission to pet an unknown dog or cat. Some dogs and cats are afraid of children, some might be sick or injured, and some dogs might be working dogs for the handicapped. There may be a number of reasons the pet should not be approached. Once they have permission from the dog's owner, they should then approach the pet slowly, allowing the dog or cat to smell their scent, and then pet the animal.

From www.thenewparentsguide.com

National Infant Immunization Week

Monday, April 26, 2010

This week is National Infant Immunization Week. We need to remember the importance of vaccinating children in order to give them the best chance of growing up in good health, as well as doing what we can to keep our communities healthy. According to the Center for Disease Control, immunizations have decreased, and in some cases completely eliminated, many infectious diseases. These same diseases were at one time responsible for killing many individuals…more often than not, young children. These diseases include diphtheria, measles, mumps, polio, rubella, smallpox, Whooping Cough, and tetanus.

While it is true that infants are immune from many diseases due to their mothers’ antibodies, this immunity does not last forever…typically only from one month to a year. Further, there may be no immunity from the mother in certain cases (such as Whooping Cough). While it is also true that the diseases we worried about fifty years ago have almost all been eradicated in the US, it only takes one case to develop into hundreds of thousands if we stop immunizing.

There has been a great deal of misinformation about vaccines in recent years. No one is claiming that immunizations come risk free, but experts, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, agree that not immunizing poses a greater risk. If you would like more information, these resources may be helpful.

• Do Vaccines Cause That?! - A Guide for Evaluating Vaccine Safety Concerns http://pediatrics.about.com/od/vaccinesafety/gr/0708_dovacustht.htm

• American Academy of Pediatrics - Childhood Immunization Support Program http://www.aap.org/immunization

• Responding to Concerns About Vaccines http://www.immunize.org/concerns

• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines or 800-CDC-INFO (232-4636)

• American Academy of Pediatrics http://www.aap.org

Protecting Children From Sexual AbuseShare

Monday, April 19, 2010

Sexual abuse is one of those topics we’d rather not talk about, but is so necessary, especially to our children. Just informing your kids about their bodies, and being open to any sexuality topic, is a good way to start. Don’t expect your kids to be the first ones to approach the topic. YOU BE THE ADULT AND APPROACH THESE TOPICS. This allows kids to know that they can talk to you about this and ANY OTHER TOPIC!

All people need good, healthy touches. These may include, pats on the back, hugs, holding hands, etc. Talk to children about appropriate and inappropriate touches. Explain that a person’s body is private and each person has the right to say “NO” to unwanted touches. For instance, doctors and nurses may need to touch our bodies, but even they can ask beforehand. (Generally, they will ask for another person to be in the room, at the time of the touches, and very often, that other person will be the parent or caregiver.)

This is a good practice for all of us. It is our responsibility, to make certain our children are rarely ALONE with another adult, to lower the risk of inappropriate touches from happening. This might be true in after school activities, tutoring, religious trainings, or rehearsals of any kind. These should take place in very open areas, or with another person present. If your child is staying at a friend’s home, you should speak to the parent. Ask what other adults or older children will be around your child during their stay. Tell children, young or old, that they are ALWAYS safer in a group. (Again, this is true for ANYONE!)

Remind children often that they can talk to you about ANYTHING, and that there should not be secrets about touches.

Lastly, be aware of signs of sexual abuse (see below) and call Child Protective Services (1-800-800-5556) if you do suspect there has been abuse. Be calm and supportive to the child. Remind them it was NOT their fault, and that you will be there for them.

(SIGNS of Sexual Abuse: nightmares, extreme mood or appetite changes, physical discomfort, fear of certain people or places, withdrawal or aggressive behaviors, sexual play with dolls, toys or other children.)

Kids and Humor: Beyond Booger JokesShare

Monday, April 12, 2010

By Mary Armstrong-Smith, Community Partners Director

Charlie is my great-nephew. He’s four years old and is one of the funniest kids I know. He often spends weekends with my sister Pat, his grandmother. Recently Pat told me, “After Charlie's bath I told him to hurry and get his pajamas on before he got cold, and he bowed down, rubbed his hands together and said in a deep voice, ‘Whatever you say, Pat!’"

Charlie cracks me up. He exhibits a charming combination of both adult and child-like humor abilities, moving at lightning speed between poop jokes and eyebrow-raising sarcasm.

For years we’ve heard about the benefits of humor for adults. The physical benefits include increased dopamine and endorphins, better relaxation response, reduced pain and lower stress. Humor has cognitive benefits as well, assisting with creativity and problem-solving. Appropriate use of humor can elevate your mood, lift depression, increase self-esteem and help you be more resilient in the face of adversity.

The same benefits apply to kids. Humor is a powerful tool for success in life. The old idea that a sense of humor is something people are born with (or not born with) just isn’t true. In fact, kids develop a sense of humor from their interactions with the adults around them, and it begins in those early days when parents try to coax a smile from a newborn!

Louis R. Franzini, PhD, is the author of “Kids Who Laugh: How to Develop Your Child’s Sense of Humor.” Franzini says, “Why should you make a conscious effort to develop this quality in your child? Because a well-developed sense of humor is a genuine asset to any child and helps ensure a strong, positive self-image. A child who enjoys and remembers a joke or riddle and passes it on to others feels an enormous personal accomplishment and establishes friendships at the same time.”

So how can parents and caregivers help kids develop a sense of humor? It’s not like they have “Kids’ Night” at the local comedy club! First, it helps to remember that humor is, at its core, a creative act. It’s not all about jokes. In fact, jokes are just one tool to use in developing humor.
Here are a few suggestions for helping kids develop humor skills:

Game night: Have a family game night once a week. Playing board games like Monopoly or Candyland helps kids learn to strategize and work together. You can make it even more fun by changing the rules or by playing in teams. Kids take their social cues from the adults around them, so use this as an opportunity to model being able to have fun even if you lose the game.

What Happens Next: Play a portion of a funny movie or video. Stop it at some point and ask everyone what they think will happen next (make sure it’s one that no one has seen yet!). Kids can use their imaginations to create amazing—and sometimes hilarious--outcomes!

Backwards Meal: Just for kicks, serve a meal in backwards order. Start with dessert, then the main course, then salad or soup. Involve the kids in the menu planning.

Harmful versus Helpful Humor: Talk with your children about how some kinds of humor can hurt people. Jokes or comments that attack a person’s appearance, ethnic background, religion or other personal attributes can make people laugh at someone else’s expense. While much humor has a target, it’s best to stick with targets that don’t cause individuals harm. Jokes about football teams or cafeteria food are a safer bet than jokes about someone’s weight or age.

Greeting Cards: Look at some funny greeting cards with your kids and try to come up with your own funny lines for the cards. (Just remember, if you’re on a roll and falling down laughing in the aisles, they might ask you to leave Walgreen’s. )

License Plate Game: Many license plates in Indiana have two or three letters along with the numbers. Ask your kids to come up with a funny phrase to match the letters. For instance, BDC might stand for “Baby Driving Car” or TNW could be “Truck Needs Washed.”

Dr. Franzini shares some online resources for humor in his book. Here are a few that might be helpful to you:

• Halife: www.halife.com/kids/kids.html This site includes jokes, riddles, and other fun activities for kids, as well as humor for adults that is nonetheless appropriate for family consumption.
• Humor Matters: www.humormatters.com/kidsjoke Part of a larger site “dedicated to the power and practice of positive therapeutic humor,” this site presents a slew of kid-safe riddles.
• PBS Kids: www.pbskids.org Created by the Public Broadcasting Service, PBS Kids provides a joke site, games, silly stories, and many more fun—and funny—activities for kids.