Tag Archives: children

Check Your Child’s Car Seat!

23 Sep

Parents and caregivers are urged to have their children’s car seats checked on National Seat Check Saturday, September 24.  As part of Child Passenger Safety Week (September 18-24), certified child passenger safety technicians will be available to inspect car seats and provide hands-on advice free of charge.

For more information, click the link below:

http://www.nhtsa.gov/Safety/CPS

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Hitting the Books: Homework 101

6 Sep

To my great delight, my Kindergartner has homework this year!  So far, he has embraced the novelty of doing the teacher-assigned worksheets and projects during the evening, but I expect one of these days to hear him say, “Not now, Mommy. I want to play!”

When that inevitable reaction comes, I want to respond in a way that further motivates him and doesn’t, say, beat him down at the notion that, depending on his educational path and pursuits, he might just have homework for the next 20 years!

I found this piece from professional organizer and mother-of-four Mandi Ehman very helpful.  Check out these tips to keep your kids on task and on target this academic year.

1. Set up a homework area.

Have a dedicated space for homework time so that your kids can focus on their homework without being distracted by clutter or chaos.  For older kids and teens, this might be a corner of their bedroom with a desk and computer.  For younger kids, it may just be the kitchen table or a corner of the counter.

2. Gather all the supplies they might need.

Fill a basket with extra lined paper and pencils as well as a ruler and any other supplies they need on a regular basis, or use a drawer in your kitchen or coffee table to hold their supplies.  The key is that they won’t be able to use looking for supplies as an excuse to procrastinate!

3. Set up a daily routine for homework.

Kids like routines (even the routines they don’t like), and having a routine in place that includes an afternoon snack, a time to rest and then tackling homework is a great way to set the expectation for homework time so that there’s less arguing and whining.

4. Use natural consequences.

Rather than having to fight with your kids each day to get their homework completed, try using natural consequences to motivate them to do it quickly and without argument.  For example, they may miss out on playing with the other kids in the neighborhood or watching TV with the family if their homework isn’t done first.  It may take a few times to see that you’ll really follow through with the consequence, but it really puts it in their hands to get it done.

5. Use a daily planner.

Give older elementary students a daily planner where they can keep track of homework assignments and projects.  Show them how to use the planner for the homework that is due each night as well as long-term projects that they should be thinking about ahead of time.  Or help them enter these projects into your Cozi family calendar so you’re aware of them as well!

As parents, we still need to be involved with younger kids to make sure their homework is done on time and well, but giving them more responsibility over completing it will create good habits now that will help throughout their time in high school and college.

For more tips, check out Mandi’s website at http://life.yourway.net/about/.

That Bites! Pet Safety

20 Jul

A good friend’s son recently got a nasty bite on the hand from his Nana’s pooch, a typically well-behaved creature that weighs all of 9 lbs.  The bite required four stitches—and the nurse practitioner who stitched the kid up said he was lucky.

It makes you think.  My 5-year-old likes dogs.  We have a 16-lb. Shiba Inu (a puny relative of the Husky and Akita) who’s had her tail pulled, her ears tugged and been teased.  She’s nipped Chip a couple of times—and I can hardly say I blame her for it!  None of the bites has occurred in a vacuum; each can be traced to something my son’s done.

Then I read this story from UT Southwestern Medical Center, which includes Children’s Medical Center in Dallas.  And now I’m worried:

Dog bites occur more often than pet owners might realize.  An estimated 4.7 million people are bitten each year.  Children are the most common victims, and summer is the most common season for these incidents.

“It’s surprising how many times it occurs, and the majority of dog bites aren’t from strays,” says Dr. Ron Hoxworth, a plastic surgeon at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

He said dogs by nature remain territorial, especially when eating, and young children are both unpredictable in their actions and less able to protect themselves.

Children are often bitten on the face, which can result in severe lacerations, infection and permanent scarring.  In 2010, most of the nearly 33,000 reconstructive procedures from dog bites were performed on children.

Dr. Hoxworth recommends the following precautions:

• Watch your children carefully around dogs, even family pets.

• Make sure kids avoid getting close to a pet when it is eating.

• Keep children’s immunizations and pet vaccinations up to date.

• Don’t delay treatment if a bite occurs.  If severe bleeding results, take your child to a hospital emergency room immediately.

I am open to suggestions on how to approach pet safety—at home and out in the community!  It’s a discussion our household needs to have asap!

52 FEATS – NUMBER 21 (Reading to My Kids)

26 May

For the original 52 FEATS blog entry, click here.

UPDATE – DAY 4 (Thursday):

What a great Feat.  Few joys equal laying in bed with my kids and hearing them say, “Let’s read another one!”

I hope this has inspired some of you to stop your busy lives and read to your kids.  And Lisa made a great comment – reading is a modeled behavior, too.  Take some time for yourself and crack open a book!  You’ll be glad you did.

ABOUT FEAT NUMBER 21:

Reading is one of my favorite pastimes.  I was an avid reader as a child, and my love of books has continued into adulthood.  In addition to reading for fun (Harry Potter and Twilight, anyone?), I belong to a book club, which has given me the immense pleasure of discovering new books while discussing interesting ideas with some really smart women.

When I became a parent, reading to my kids was very important to me.  It makes children smarter, it stimulates their imaginations, and it provides some great bonding time.  I started reading to both my children when they were too young to even see the books clearly.  Even as infants, I brought them to story time at the library on a regular basis.

I’ve heard that parents should read to their kids at least 20 minutes every day.  I used to scoff at that – we could easily do 20 minutes in one sitting!  In a whole day we always topped that.  At any given time, we usually have about 30 books checked out from the library!

But lately, we’ve become so busy with other responsibilities (or rather, I’ve become so busy) that on most days, we don’t make even that 20-minute mark.  I remember a couple days last week when we got into bed after endless activities, without having cracked a single book all day.  While I don’t want to beat myself up over that, I know I can do better.

This week, I’m going to make reading to my children a top priority.  My son can read, so I’m going to make sure that he’s getting daily reading practice as well.  Neither one of my kids is in school, so that gives us plenty of time each day for reading.  And, as usual, we’re well-stocked with a huge stack of library books.

Happy reading week, everyone – sit down with your kids (or just yourself) and read!!

Keeping Our Kids Safe: National Missing Children’s Day and More

24 May

Etan Patz

My stomach stayed clenched the entire time was researching and writing a magazine piece last week on after-school safety.  One child is abducted every 40 seconds in the United States.  The nationwide Amber Alert program was named after Amber Hagerman, a 9-year-old Arlington resident who was abducted off her bicycle in broad daylight in 1996 and murdered.  It’s the stuff of parental nightmares, causing the kind of imagined pain that actually hurts.

Fortunately, law enforcement officers, social workers, child advocates and teachers around the Metroplex continue doing heroic work in educating kids and their parents about the dangers.  Tomorrow—May 25—is National Missing Children’s Day.  Here is some crucial info for you and your family:

What Parents Can Do To Keep Children Safe

Every year in America an estimated 800,000 children are reported missing, more than 2,000 children each day.  Of that number, 58,000 are abducted by non-family members.  The primary motive for non-family abductions is sexual.  Each year 115 children are the victims of the most serious abductions, taken by non-family members and either murdered, held for ransom, or taken with the intent to keep.

“We know teaching children about safety works,” said Ernie Allen, president and CEO of NCMEC.  “It is important that parents take the time to talk to their children about safety.”

An analysis of attempted abduction cases by NCMEC found that in 82% of the cases, children escaped would-be abductors through their own actions, by yelling, kicking, pulling away, running away or attracting attention.

May 25th is the anniversary of the day in 1979 when 6-year-old Etan Patz disappeared from a New York street corner on his way to school and has been observed as National Missing Children’s Day since 1983 when it was first proclaimed by President Ronald Reagan.  Etan’s story captivated the nation.  His photo, taken by his father, a professional photographer was circulated nationwide and appeared in media across the country and around the world.  The powerful image of Etan has come to symbolize the anguish and trauma of thousands of searching families.  The search for Etan continues.  He is still missing.

Safety Tips for Your Kids

At Home

1.      Teach your children their full names, address, and home telephone number. Make sure they know your full name.

2.      Make sure your children know how to reach you at work or on your cell phone.

3.      Teach your children how and when to use 911 and make sure your children have a trusted adult to call if they’re scared or have an emergency.

4.      Instruct children to keep the door locked and not to open the door to talk to anyone when they are home alone. Set rules with your children about having visitors over when you’re not home and how to answer the telephone.

5.      Choose babysitters with care. Obtain references from family, friends, and neighbors. Once you have chosen the caregiver, drop in unexpectedly to see how your children are doing. Ask children how the experience with the caregiver was and listen carefully to their responses.

On the Net

6.      Learn about the Internet. The more you know about how the Web works, the better prepared you are to teach your children about potential risks. Visit http://www.NetSmartz.org for more information about Internet safety.

7.      Place the family computer in a common area, rather than a child’s bedroom. Also, monitor their time spent online and the websites they’ve visited and establish rules for Internet use.

8.      Know what other access your child may have to the Internet at school, libraries, or friends’ homes.

9.      Use privacy settings on social networking sites to limit contact with unknown users and make sure screen names don’t reveal too much about your children.

10.  Encourage your children to tell you if anything they encounter online makes them feel sad, scared, or confused.

11.  Caution children not to post revealing information or inappropriate photos of themselves or their friends online.

At School

12.  Walk the route to and from school with your children, pointing out landmarks and safe places to go if they’re being followed or need help. If your children ride a bus, visit the bus stop with them to make sure they know which bus to take.

13.  Remind kids to take a friend whenever they walk or bike to school. Remind them to stay with a group if they’re waiting at the bus stop.

14.  Caution children never to accept a ride from anyone unless you have told them it is OK to do so in each instance.

Out and About

15.  Take your children on a walking tour of the neighborhood and tell them whose homes they may visit without you.

16.  Remind your children it’s OK to say NO to anything that makes them feel scared, uncomfortable, or confused and teach your children to tell you if anything or anyone makes them feel this way.

17.  Teach your children to ask permission before leaving home.

18.  Remind your children not to walk or play alone outside.

19.  Teach your children to never approach a vehicle, occupied or not, unless they know the owner and are accompanied by a parent, guardian, or other trusted adult.

20.  Practice “what if” situations and ask your children how they would respond. “What if you fell off your bike and you needed help? Who would you ask?”

21.  Teach your children to check in with you if there is a change of plans.

22.  During family outings, establish a central, easy-to-locate spot to meet for check-ins or should you get separated.

23.  Teach your children how to locate help at theme parks, sports stadiums, shopping malls, and other public places. Also, identify those people who they can ask for help, such as uniformed law enforcement, security guards and store clerks with nametags.

24.  Help your children learn to recognize and avoid potential risks, so that they can deal with them if they happen.

25.  Teach your children that if anyone tries to grab them, they should make a scene and make every effort to get away by kicking, screaming, and resisting.

For more info, visit www.missingkids.com.

Healthy Kids Day at the YMCA

14 Apr

Come to any of the Arlington YMCA branches on Saturday, April 16 from 10 am to 1 pm for Healthy Kids Day!  It’s a day for parents to share the gift of good health with their children – have fun with games, activities, demonstrations, and more.  You don’t have to be a member of the YMCA to attend – it’s open to the public and it’s FREE!

In Arlington, the YMCA has 3 locations:

Central – 2200 S. Davis Street

Cooper – 7120 S. Cooper Street

North – 100 Skyline Drive

For more information, visit their website by clicking here.

Autism Awareness Month: Upcoming Event!

12 Apr

One of the most challenging aspects of having a child with autism is the isolation. Before and many years after my now-teenage daughter was diagnosed with PDD (Pervasive Developmental Disorder, the medical term for autism), I would feel uncomfortable around other parents and their children, excruciatingly aware of the differences between Paige and typical kids.  I am not the most social chick at the outset; anxiety over my daughter only amplified my introverted tendencies.

But that was then.  Five years ago, I started writing columns about Paige for The Dallas Morning News.  The overwhelming response (a lady in Germany emailed me to thank me after one piece hit the web!) gradually lured me out of my shell.  And the support of friends, teachers, colleagues, and even strangers has helped me immeasurably, too.  Which in turn helps Paige.

In that spirit, I would encourage any parents with children on the spectrum to check out an event my friend and More than Mothers contributor Leigh Attaway Wilcox is co-chairing.  Her son, Ethan, has Asperger’s, and Leigh is a tireless advocate on his behalf.  She inspires me in countless ways.

Here are the details:

In honor of Autism Awareness Month – April 2011
The Autism Trust USA
Warrior Parents of Dallas
& the National Autism Association of North Texas
Warmly Welcome:
Dr. Andrew Wakefield
&
Rupert Isaacson & Kristin Neff
For a FREE Presentation and Book Signing on
April 28th, 2011 at 7pm
Angelika Film Center
7205 Bishop Road, Suite E6, Plano, TX, 75024

Learn more about the ongoing outreach and offerings of the National Autism Association of North Texas (NAA-NT) & Warrior Parents of Dallas & discover how Pay It Forward will work as a catalyst to forward progress for The Autism Trust USA.

Dr. Wakefield will discuss the Primate Project and Rupert Isaacson and Kristin Neff will share about life with their son, Rowan, who lives with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

For more visit theautismtrust.com or naa-nt.org. For updates, look for our event page on Facebook by clicking here.

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