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!)


Contributed by Carol Pool, PCAIN Education Specialist