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Your Child

Making Sure Public Pools Are Safe

1:30

With temperatures on the rise, it wont be long before families start heading to the nearest public pool to cool down; however, some public pools may pose a serious health hazard.

Each year, thousands of public pools, hot tubs, and water playgrounds are forced to close due to serious health and safety violations, including contamination problems that could make people sick, according to a recently released report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Swimming is one of the best exercises you can participate in and it’s a lot of fun. Health officials say they don’t want to discourage people from swimming, but that individuals should be aware of certain issues with public pools and know what steps they can take to make sure their families are safe.

"No one should get sick or hurt when visiting a public pool, hot tub, or water playground," Dr. Beth Bell, director of CDC's National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, said in a statement. "That's why public health and aquatics professionals work together to improve the operation and maintenance of these public places so people will be healthy and safe when they swim."

For the report, the CDC collected data in the five states with the most public pools and hot tubs -- Arizona, California, Florida, New York, and Texas in 2013. They reviewed over 84,000 routine inspections of nearly 50,000 public pools, hot tubs, and water playgrounds.

The results showed that almost 80 percent of all inspections identified at least one violation, with 1 in 8 inspections resulting in immediate closure because of serious health and safety problems.

The highest proportion of closures were in "kiddie" or wading pools, with 1 in 5 needing to be closed down.

The most common violations were improper pH levels, lack of safety equipment and inadequate disinfectant concentration. The correct pH level is critical for killing germs.

Pools contaminated with fecal matter pose a direct threat to health. This usually occurs when people suffering from diarrhea go in to a pool or when fecal matter washes off of children or leaks from dirty diapers.

Officials suggest that parents check their children’s diapers and take them for regular bathroom breaks. Swim diapers do not prevent feces, urine, or infectious pathogens from contaminating the water, the authors note.

To check the pH level of any pool you enter, you can use a pool water test strip.

The CDC recommends the following levels:

·      Free chlorine concentration of at least 1 ppm in pools and at least 3 ppm in hot tubs/spas.

·      Free bromine concentration of at least 3 ppm in pools and at least 4 ppm in hot tubs/spas.

·      pH of 7.2-7.8.

Another safety hazard is improper drain covers. Make sure that the drain cover appears secure and is not in need of repair.

While some public pools provide lifeguards, not all do. Check to see if your neighborhood pool has a lifeguard trained in CPR. Even if your pool does provide a lifeguard, keep your eyes on your children at all times. The more people watching out for your child, the better.

If you find any problems, avoid getting into the water and tell someone in charge so the problems can be fixed.

"Environmental health practitioners, or public health inspectors, play a very important role in protecting public health. However, almost one third of local health departments do not regulate, inspect, or license public pools, hot tubs, and water playgrounds," said Dr. Michele Hlavsa, chief of CDC's Healthy Swimming Program. "We should all check for inspection results online or on site before using public pools, hot tubs, or water playgrounds and do our own inspection before getting into the water"

Checking the pool you swim in for contamination and other safety issues is good advice for anyone using a pool, whether it’s public or private. Pool test strips are available online or at superstores, such as Walmart, Lowes and Home Depot.

Story source: Ashley Welch, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/alarming-number-of-public-pools-cited-for-health-violations-cdc/

Your Child

Depressed Children Benefit From Music Therapy

1:45

Can music therapy help young children and adolescents suffering from depression? A new study finds that allowing children to create their own music can help them recover from depression and low-self esteem.

In a study published in The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, scientists at Bournemouth University in England and Queen's University Belfast recruited 251 children between the ages of 8 and 16 years old. All the children were being treated for emotional, developmental or behavioral problems. The study included 128 children that received a typical treatment program, and 123 that received music therapy in addition to typical treatment. The research took place between March 2011 and May 2014.

Children assigned to the experimental group received the Alvin model of "free improvisation," which encouraged them to create their own music and sound using their voice, instrument, or movement while receiving encouragement. Instruments included guitars, keyboards, drums, and xylophones.

According to the authors, participants treated with the supplementary music therapy had significantly reduced depression and higher self-esteem than those who were treated with typical methods only. Children treated with music therapy also had improved communicative and interactive skills. Early findings indicate that the benefits are sustained in the long term.

"This study is hugely significant in terms of determining effective treatments for children and young people with behavioral problems and mental health needs," first author Sam Porter said in a press release. "The findings contained in our report should be considered by healthcare providers and commissioners when making decisions about the sort of care for young people that they wish to support."

It’s not surprising that creating music can help lift depression. All music is feeling. Composers, songwriters and instrumentalist use music to express all kinds of emotions from joy and excitement to grief and loneliness. Love, or the lack of it, is the most written about human experience. Rhythm and movement can give expression to deeply held convictions or emotions. Allowing children to express those emotions with music in a safe environment may help break the loop of insecurities and fears in their head.

"Music therapy has often been used with children and young people with particular mental health needs, but this is the first time its effectiveness has been shown by a definitive randomized controlled trail in a clinical setting," music therapy partner Ciara Reilly said. "The findings are dramatic and underscore the need for music therapy to be made available as a mainstream treatment option."

Going forward, researchers plan to evaluate how cost-effective music therapy is compared to more conventional methods.

Story sources: Ryan Maass, http://www.upi.com/Health_News/2016/11/03/Music-therapy-helps-children-with-depression-study-finds/8461478179665/

http://www.psychiatryadvisor.com/mood-disorders/music-therapy-reduces-depression-in-kids/article/379121/

Image courtesy of: https://tcmusicnewsandnotes.wordpress.com/page/22/

Your Child

Kids and Caffeine

2.00 to read

While sipping on a coffee-laced Frappuccino, I’m reading about a current study on caffeine and kids. It made me think about my own dependence on caffeine and when it started. For as long as I can remember, my parents would drink several cups of coffee in the morning before going to work, and even as late as right before they retired for the night.  I suspect my mother had a cup while I was busy being born.

I can’t remember exactly when I joined the family coffee drinking ritual, but I know I was pretty young.  Fall and winter demanded hot steaming cups of coffee and iced coffee helped cool the torturous Texas summers. Spring was a combination of both. Sometimes I think that by now, there’s probably coffee bean residue percolating in my blood stream. 

I kind of wish that I’d never started drinking coffee, because it’s the caffeine I really crave- not necessarily the taste of the brew.  When I’ve tried to quit, my body and mind rebels with headaches and bad attitudes. Which brings me back to the study on kids and caffeine.

Researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that children and teens are now getting less caffeine from soda, but more from caffeine-heavy energy drinks and coffee.

"You might expect that caffeine intake decreased, since so much of the caffeine kids drink comes from soda," said the study's lead author, Amy Branum, a statistician at the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics. "But what we saw is that these decreases in soda were offset by increases in coffee and energy drinks."

Not too long ago, energy drinks were just a fad, something that was more likely to give you the shakes than boost your energy level. That was before they were tweaked and bottled or canned in fruity flavors, sugary beverages and clever advertising. Once kids (and adults) got a taste of the “new and improved” tasty stimulates, the caffeinated beverages began to become a part of every day life – at least Monday through Friday when school and work beckoned.

"In a very short time, they have gone from basically contributing nothing to 6 percent of total caffeine intake," Branum said.

“Energy drinks have more caffeine than soda,. That's their claim to fame," she said. "That's what they're marketed for."

So, what effect does excessive caffeine intake have on our kids? Scientists are not sure yet. There are concerns and a lot of questions about the possible adverse consequences for kids who are still developing.  Caffeine addiction, obesity from sugar heavy beverages, high blood pressure, rapid heart beats and anxiety are some of the side –effects researchers are exploring. 

Using data from the 1999 to 2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, Branum's team estimated that 73 percent of American children consume some level of caffeine each day.

Although much of their caffeine still comes from soda, the proportion has decreased from 62 percent to 38 percent. At the same time, the amount of caffeine kids get from coffee rose from 10 percent in 2000 to 24 percent in 2010, the researchers found.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states that energy drinks are never appropriate for children or adolescents and in general, caffeine-containing beverages, including soda, should be avoided. The AAP suggests that children should drink water or moderate amounts of juice instead.

The genie is probably out of the preverbal bottle as far as some adolescents and college-aged kids are concerned.  Although, if they are more aware of the possible health risks associated with excessive caffeinated beverages, they may decide to look at healthier energy producing sources such as exercise, meditation and more rest.

Where parents can have the most influence is with their younger children.  Refraining from purchasing caffeinated products (there’s even “energy” gum) and keeping them out of the home is a good first step.

And by all means, avoid introducing your kids to coffee at a young age. It might seem kind of cute, but twenty years down the road, they may wish you hadn’t slid that first cup of java their way.

The report was published in the February edition of the online journal Pediatrics.

Sources: Steven Reinberg,  http://www.webmd.com/parenting/news/20140210/energy-drinks-coffee-increasing-sources-of-caffeine-for-kids-cdc-says

www.aap.org

Your Child

Bullying: Kids Helping Kids to Stop

1:45

Being bullied in school can be at the least annoying and at the worse, enough to make someone try to take their own life.

While adults have searched for ways to get the message across that bullying is not acceptable, certain kids who have a high amount of social influence over their peers may be the best resource for reducing the hateful interaction, according to a new study.

Schools with the largest numbers of these "social influencers" had the largest declines in student conflict, the findings showed.

The study included students from 56 New Jersey middle schools who had strong social influence within their peer groups. These kids weren't always the most popular kids in a particular grade, but had influence in their peer group.

The investigators selected the teens using a tool called social network mapping that allowed them to identify the kids who had the most connections, both online and off.

The researchers came up with their own plan and asked the kids to spread messages about the dangers of bullying and more positive ways of handling conflict. These anti-bullying messages were promoted through Instagram, print posters and colorful wristbands.

"We designed our own curriculum because current programs address problems as defined by adults, and they aren't necessarily fitted to each individual school environment," lead author Elizabeth Levy Paluck, an associate professor of psychology and public affairs at Princeton University, said in a university news release.

"We think the best way to change social norms is to have these student influencers speak in their own voices. Encouraging their own messages to bubble up from the bottom using a grassroots approach can be very powerful," she added.

Kids were more likely to choose not to bully or to find other ways of handing stress or anger when their peers made it known that they did not approve.

"When adults choose student leaders, they typically pick the 'good' kids. But the leaders we find through social network mapping are influential among students and are not all the ones who would be selected by adults. Some of the students we find are right smack in the center of student conflicts. But the point is, these are the students whose behavior gets noticed more," she explained.

Source: Robert Preidt, http://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/adolescents-and-teen-health-news-719/influential-students-effective-at-bully-prevention-706695.html

Your Child

Skin Cancer Risk Higher for Redheaded and Fair Skin Children

1:45

Too much exposure to sunlight can damage the skin, particularly for children who have pale skin, red or fair hair, freckles or the type of skin that sunburns easily. 

Researchers found that having the genes that give you red hair, pale skin and freckles increases your risk of developing skin cancer as much as an extra 21 years of sun exposure.

Their study found gene variants that produce red hair and freckly, fair skin were linked to a higher number of mutations that lead to skin cancers. The researchers said even people with one copy of the crucial MC1R gene - who may be fair-skinned but not have red hair - have a higher risk.

"It has been known for a while that a person with red hair has an increased likelihood of developing skin cancer, but this is the first time that the gene has been proven to be associated with skin cancers with more mutations," said David Adams, who co-led the study at Britain's Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.

"Unexpectedly, we also showed that people with only a single copy of the gene variant still have a much higher number of tumor mutations than the rest of the population."

Redheads have two copies of a variant of the MC1R gene which affects the type of melanin pigment they produce, leading to red hair, freckles, pale skin and a strong tendency to burn in the sun.

Exposure to ultraviolet light from either the sun or sunbeds causes damage to DNA and scientists think the type of skin pigment linked to redheads may allow more UV to reach the DNA.

In this latest study, the researchers found that while this may be one factor in the damage, there are also others linked to the crucial MC1R gene.

Although skin cancer is rare in children, the amount of sun exposure during childhood is thought to increase the risk of developing skin cancer in adult life. Children who have had episodes of sunburn are more likely to develop skin cancers in later life.

The skin of children is more delicate and more prone to damage. Therefore, take extra care with children, and keep babies out of the sun completely.

Because infants’ skin is so sensitive, it’s better in the first six months to shield them from the sun rather than use sunscreen. It’s especially important to avoid direct sun exposure and seek the shade during the sun’s hours of greatest intensity, between 10 AM and 4 PM. Keep to the shady side of the street on walks, and use the sun shield on your stroller

Once your baby reaches 6 months of age, it’s time to introduce sunscreens. Choose a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen that offers a minimum sun protection factor (SPF) of 15. Look at the active ingredients; zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are good choices, because these physical filters don’t rely on absorption of chemicals and are less apt to cause a skin reaction. Test your baby’s sensitivity to the sunscreen first, by applying a small amount on the inside of baby’s wrist.

Toddlers should also be kept in the shade between 10 AM-4 PM. Protect young children with sunscreen, hats, sunglasses and lightweight clothing that covers the skin.

The study was published in the journal Nature Communications.

Most kids get much of their lifetime sun exposure before age 18, so it's important for parents to teach them how to enjoy fun in the sun safely. Taking the right precautions can greatly reduce your child's chance of developing skin cancer.

Story sources: http://patient.info/health/preventing-skin-cancer

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2016/07/12/skin-cancer-risk-for-freckly-red-heads-equivalent-to-21-years-in-sun.html

http://www.skincancer.org/prevention/sun-protection/children/oh-baby

 

 

Your Child

Helping Children Cope With Frightening News Events

2:30

Gone are the days when most Americans got their news from 3 or 4 sources around the evening dinner hour. Today, thousands of news reports (some real, some fake) instantly flood our phones, computers, TVs and radios, sometimes with real time graphic images.

While some news events may be difficult for even adults to comprehend (with all our life experience and knowledge about current affairs), children don’t have that advantage when they hear and see things that feel threatening to their safety and family stability.

The Journal of American Medical Association, (JAMA) Pediatrics, has published a free online patient’s page dedicated to How to Talk to Your Children About Tragedies in the News.

The amount of information available on current events is almost instant. Sometimes parents don’t have a chance to screen what their children see and hear, so it’s important to know how to talk with your children about what they are experiencing.

The JAMA article is broken down into different age groups. Your approach should differ depending on your child’s age and ability to understand complicated situations.

A good place to start in discussing a tragic event is by asking what your child has already heard. After you listen carefully, you can ask what questions they have. It is important to be honest about what happened and to focus on the basics. It is not necessary to share every detail, and it is important to avoid speculating about what might happen next. Listen closely to your child for misinformation or underlying fears. Remind your child that you are there for him or her and will keep them safe. A key underlying message for parents to convey is, “It is ok if this bothers you; we are here to support each other.”

For very young children, news events can be frightening because they don’t understand context. Children may wonder; is this going to happen to us? Is this happening in our neighborhood? Are my friends ok? Are we next? News media coverage can include graphic images and sounds. It is best to share information with children by discussing it rather than showing the media coverage. Young children may have more questions about whether they are truly safe and may need help separating fantasy from reality. Some children may become clingy or regress in behavior such as wetting the bed or sucking their thumbs. It is important to be patient and to support your child if he or she reacts in this way. Do not ignore your child’s fears or brush them off. Realize that children see the world from a different perspective.

For older children and teenagers, it may be more difficult to avoid exposure to these events in the news. Kids on social media outlets often see stories and videos on their phones while at school or out with friends.- before you have a chance to preview the news. When there is a concerning news event and you have the opportunity, try to preview it before showing it to them so that you know what to expect and what key points to discuss. Then watch it together. Older children and teenagers may want more information about the tragedy and the recovery efforts. They may have opinions about the causes as well as suggestions to prevent future tragedies or a desire to help those in need. Listen to what they say and validate their concerns. If they’ve already seen something tragic, again, ask them what they think about it and talk about their concerns and what they see as a next step in coping.

Other ways you can help your child manage unsettling news are:

  • Be a calm presence. It is okay for children to see adults be sad or cry, but consider excusing yourself if you experience intense emotions.
  • Reassure your child of his or her safety. Consider reviewing your family’s plans for responding to an emergency.
  • Maintain the routine. To give your child a sense of normalcy, keep up your family’s usual dinner, homework, and bedtime routine.
  • Spend extra time together. This can foster your child’s sense of security. Encourage your child to express his or her feelings.
  • When possible, do something to help. Consider ways that you and your family can help survivors and their families.

Like adults, some children may have difficulty with events for a variety of unexpected reasons. Think back to 9-11. How many of us were prepared to watch the towers collapse and the horror and anguish of the families that were missing relatives and friends in the buildings? How we feared that there was a possibility that our country was under attack. It was one of the most devastating events our country has ever experienced in the modern age of instant media information.

Time has helped us put that day in perspective, but the repeated showing of the planes flying into the towers gave many Americans PSTD symptoms. It was almost too much to comprehend. Remember that when your child is scared or anxious about a current event. Help them realize that tragedies do happen, but we can and most often, do survive.

Some signs that a child is not coping well include sleep problems, physical complaints such as feeling tired, having a headache or stomachache, or just feeling unwell. Changes in behavior may include regressive behavior such as acting more immature or being less patient, and mental health concerns like sadness or heightened depression or anxiety. Sometimes it can be hard to tell if a child is reacting in a typical way to a tragic event or if there is something else going on.

Talk with your child’s pediatrician if you are concerned about your child’s reaction.

These are uncertain times. Everyone seems to be a bit on edge, wondering when the next shoe will drop. Have a plan on how to talk to your youngster about current events. Most of all have patience and be a good example of calmness and reassurance; that no matter what happens, you have their best interests at heart.

Story source: http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/2646851

 

Your Child

Early Treatment For Dyslexia

1.45

If your child has dyslexia, he or she is not alone.  Dyslexia is a reading disorder that happens when the brain doesn’t properly recognize and process certain symbols. Dyslexia is the most common cause of reading, spelling, and writing difficulty and about 70%-80% of all people with poor reading skills are likely to be dyslexic.

The good news is that dyslexia is treatable. Students who receive specialized education often thrive. Most dyslexics are of average or above average intelligence and just need to be taught in a different manner. In fact, many individuals that have dyslexia also show extraordinary skills in other areas to compensate for the difficulties in reading and spelling.

A new study from Italy found that the learning disability might be linked to problems with children’s visual attention. Researchers said their findings could lead to earlier diagnosis and new treatments for those with the condition.

"Visual attention deficits are surprisingly way more predictive of future reading disorders than are language abilities at the pre-reading stage," Andrea Facoetti, of the University of Padua, said in a journal news release.

Researchers followed children in Italy for three years beginning when they were in kindergarten and just starting to learn to read. They continued their study till the children were in second grade. The scientists analyzed the children’s visual spatial attention, or their ability to distinguish between what is relevant and what is irrelevant, by asking them to identify certain symbols while they were being distracted. The children were also given tests on syllable identification, verbal short-term memory and rapid color naming.

The study found that children who had problems with visual attention also had trouble reading, the researchers said.

"This is a radical change to the theoretical framework explaining dyslexia," Facoetti said. "It forces us to rewrite what is known about the disorder and to change rehabilitation treatments in order to reduce its impact."

The study's authors stated that simple visual-attention tasks would help identify children at risk for dyslexia early on. "Because recent studies show that specific pre-reading programs can improve reading abilities, children at risk for dyslexia could be treated with preventive remediation programs of visual spatial attention before they learn to read," the researchers said in the news release.

The study was published online in the journal Current Biology.

Children with dyslexia who are not diagnosed early may grow frustrated and show signs of depression and low self –esteem. MedicineNet.com has an excellent review of dyslexia with causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment options.

Sources: http://news.yahoo.com/study-suggests-treating-dyslexia-kids-learn-read-160311968.html

http://www.medicinenet.com/dyslexia/article.htm

Your Child

Young Baseball Pitchers Playing With Pain

2:00

It’s that glorious time of year when pitchers pitch; batters swing and outfielders reach out to catch a fast and furious white leather-bound ball. Yep, it’s baseball season!

While the pros start their 162 game regular season, school teams and Little Leagues are suiting up and hitting the fields as well.

Although typically in good physical shape, professional players are not immune to injuries – just ask the Texas Rangers.

Kids on the other hand, play long and sometimes double games at tournaments on the weekends. Many of these kids are weekend warriors that love the game, but aren’t always in the best physical condition.

According to a pair of recent studies, young baseball pitchers are playing with arm and shoulder pain because they feel pressured by their parents or coaches. Playing through the pain may lead to injuries that won’t heal.

"Kids are playing harder and longer in more leagues than ever before," said Dr. Paul Saluan, director of pediatric and adolescent sports medicine at the Cleveland Clinic. "Kids also are not getting enough rest in between episodes of pitching, which may lead to insufficient time to heal smaller stress injuries. Over time, these smaller injuries add up."

Kids explained why they kept playing even though they were in pain.  "Players who experience pain often felt their parents and coaches were frustrated with them," said Dr. Christopher Ahmad, professor of orthopedic surgery at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City.

"Throwing with pain is a signal that injury is occurring," added Ahmad, who is the New York Yankees' head team physician.

In Ahmad's study, he and his colleagues surveyed 203 healthy players, aged 8 to 18. Just under one-quarter of them had experienced a prior overuse injury, they found.

Almost half of the players -- 46 percent -- said they had been encouraged to continue playing with arm pain, and 30 percent said their arm pain sometimes made playing less fun.

Those most likely to report being encouraged to play despite pain had a previous overuse injury. They were also more likely to report feeling arm pain while throwing and to experience arm fatigue during games or practice.

The second study looked at whether parents were monitoring their child’s pitch count during a game. Sixty parents of baseball pitchers were surveyed and just over half of the parents were not aware of safe pitching guidelines and did not actively monitor their child's pitch count.

The most important aspects of safe pitching guidelines are a maximum number of recommended throws based on a child's age and the number of days of rest needed between throwing stints, said Saluan.

"The focus has been on creating a better athlete who can throw harder, faster and more accurately than ever before," Saluan said. "Injury prevention has taken a back seat."

One in five parents did not know how many pitches their child threw in a typical game, but 64 percent recalled that their child had experienced pain in the upper extremities because of pitching, the survey found. For one-third of the pitchers, the pain required a medical evaluation.

"Kids who continue to pitch through pain end up with significant injuries that may have lifelong consequences," Saluan said. "Younger pitchers who are still growing are much more vulnerable than adults to sustain an injury to the growth plates around the shoulder and elbow.”

Injuries to the growth plates usually heal with rest, Ahmad said. But he noted that more young pitchers are also damaging their ulnar collateral ligament, an important ligament in the elbow.

"Unfortunately, these injuries do not always heal and often require surgery," he said.

Most of the injuries are caused when kids are playing too many games, specializing in one aspect of the game, using poor pitching mechanics and throwing too hard.

In the pitching study, half the young pitchers threw in at least two leagues at a time, one-quarter pitched more than nine months of the year, and just over half participated in extra showcase situations.

"We have fallen into the trap of 'too much too soon,'" said Saluan. "This has resulted in a rise in injury rates in kids whose bodies are not prepared to handle the stresses that are encountered."

If you’re unsure of how to monitor your child’s pitching, the Major League Baseball website has a “Pitch Smart” guidelines page for young and adolescent pitchers listed at the end of this article.

The studies were presented at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons' annual meeting in Las Vegas. Data and conclusions presented at meetings are usually considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

Sources: Tara Haelle, http://consumer.healthday.com/fitness-information-14/baseball-or-softball-health-news-240/young-pitchers-often-pressured-to-play-despite-pain-study-says-697197.html

http://m.mlb.com/pitchsmart/pitching-guidelines

Your Child

Your Kindergartener’s First Day at School

2:00

Whether it’s your little one’s first time, or your child is a seasoned pro, the first day of school brings both excitement and apprehension. It’s not only kids who are slightly hyperventilating… parents are too. Why? Because school is a big deal!

Let’s start with Kindergarten. It doesn’t get much cuter than to see the excitement on a kindergartner’s face on the first day of school.  Between experiencing a certain amount of separation anxiety and their first taste of independence, these little ones are spinning in multiple directions. That’s one reason mom or dad needs to keep their cool - you can cry in the car on the way home.

Some schools offer parents and children a “get to know your school” pre-school visit. If you and your child have the opportunity to visit the school in advance – take it!

The more familiar your child is with the school, the better at calming his or her anxieties on the first day. It’s also good for mom and dad to be acquainted with the teacher and the lay out of the school before your little one starts class.

On the big day, try and arrive a little early. Introduce yourself and your child to the teacher.

Help your little one get the lay of the land. Show him where the bathroom is and explain that they can go anytime they need to- but they will need to ask the teacher first. Also mention that sometimes accidents happen, and that teachers know this. Some schools will ask parents to bring an extra set of underwear and clothing to be kept in the child’s locker for such occasions.

Lunchtime is going to be an unfamiliar experience for these first-timers. You can ease their fears by taking them to the school cafeteria and letting them know that their teacher will tell them when it’s time for lunch. Explain how some children will bring their lunch from home, and some will get their lunch from the cafeteria line. Let them know that they will get to sit with the other children in their class.

Another tip to help your child understand how lunchtime will work is by taking her to a cafeteria-style restaurant before the school year begins. Explain how once they start school, lunchtime will be kind of like eating at a cafeteria. It can also be a good time to talk about healthy food choices.

If you’re going to pack a lunch for your child, begin a couple of weeks before school starts and practice the routine. You can get their input on what kinds of foods they might like and experiment with some healthy choices to see which ones they like the best.

You can also explain that there may be a naptime during the day. They don’t have to actually go to sleep, but they may get a chance to lie down on a cot and rest.

Let your child know that either you or another caregiver will pick them up from school at a certain time. If your child rides the bus, explain the process and how the adults will make sure they are kept safe.

Also, have a backup plan in case someone is going to be late or cannot pick your child up. Give the school a list of people you will allow to pick up your child when you can’t make it.

When it’s time to say goodbye, smile, wave and encourage your child to have a great day. The more relaxed you are, the less threatened your child will feel. Some children get very clingy and start crying – it’s a natural first-day-at-school- reaction to unfamiliar surroundings and circumstances. This may go on for a week or so. Teachers are pros at helping parents say good-bye. Enlist their help. Also know that some kids head off to class without even looking back. It's not a reflection on you- it's just that some personalities are always excited about a new adventure. 

As the school year progresses there will be lots of conversations about school and all the changes it brings. Remember to stay positive and give easy to understand information that correlates to your child’s age.

Stay informed on how your child is doing at school. You may want to set up a meeting with his or her teacher on a regular basis.

Once you’ve said good-bye and you’re out of the school building -go ahead and fall apart. It’s natural for parents to have some of the same emotions that their child is having. Your little one is growing up and has just passed an important milestone in life. You have too.

Source: Ruth A. Peters, Ph.D.

http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/14244318/ns/today-back_to_school/t/tips-calm-your-childs-first-day-jitters/#.TlPNHHO1lvE

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Count your blessings this Thanksgiving!

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