For many years, conventional wisdom has held that blacks can not swim. (I use the term ‘black’ to apply to anyone of African descent. The term is meant with respect to encompass the broad range of cultures descending from the African continent) A widely discredited academic report years ago stated that the physiology of a black person leads to their sinking which explained why blacks couldn’t swim. Prejudice dressed up with academic credentials to support entrenched beliefs, accepted as fact, all real evidence to the contrary. Such is the insidious nature of prejudice.
I had the great pleasure of meeting with Bruce Wigo, President of the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We discussed how cultural norms have kept African-Americans out of swimming lessons. The ISHOF, well worth a visit, has an excellent exhibit which explains how history really worked. The exhibit begins as: “In 1451, Europeans began their explorations of the west coast of sub-Saharan Africa and discovered that African people were by all accounts expert watermen and “the best swimmers in the world”. The Europeans attributed these extraordinary swimming skills to constant exercise and “from being brought up, both men and women from infancy, to swim like fishes.” The exhibit goes on to explain how valued Africans were in the Navy and on fishing fleets. During the period of slavery in the U.S., in the 18th century it was estimated that 80% of blacks could swim and only 20% of whites could swim, until it was determined that swimming allowed slaves to escape and was banned, relegating an entire cultural group to a higher risk of drowning deaths for many generations. If you’d like the full text, just e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Indigenous people and minorities consistently drown at higher rates than whites in virtually every country, and yet many of these groups come from a rich heritage that understood and respected water. Native Americans. Maori. Aboriginals. Inuits. And Africans. There is no rational reason. Please tell your kids this…and then teach them to swim.
Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it – and die.Pin It
A while ago a friend asked me for ideas to help motivate her child to brush her teeth. I know many people struggle with issues of motivation, whether dealing with special needs children or typical kids, so let’s look at some ways to get your child to cooperate with your requests – or the teacher’s requests, or the coach’s requests….you get the idea..
Key in to what the child wants. Kids (and most adults) don’t believe in “something for nothing” but the simple “if, then” equation makes sense to them. The “then” part is up to you, but it will be more effective if the child is working toward earning something they value. Extra video game time seems to be a hot commodity in my house, but it could also be a certain item, a trip to a movie or a later bedtime. Make sure the task and the reward are equal – setting the table one night may earn an extra 5 minutes of bedtime, while an entire week of doing it can be rewarded with a bigger privilege like a trip to a movie.
By now you probably have the word bribery floating around in your mind, but remember that bribery is illegal and usually involves getting someone to do something that is also illegal. This is the very scientific method of behavioral conditioning. Basically you can increase a desired behavior (doing homework, brushing teeth) by positively reinforcing the act whenever it occurs. You can use a chore chart or marbles in jar or any other method of tracking behavior. You can also use these methods to reduce an undesired behavior, like nose picking or swearing or whatever else you find to be an issue in your house.
You can get pre-made behavior charts all over the internet, like here from Chuck e. Cheese, or you can make them yourself. They don’t need to be fancy, but they do need to be true to your child. And you need to be true to your word – don’t promise something you are not willing to actually provide (like a puppy) because if properly motivated your kids will shock you with their earning power. And don’t feel that the rewards need to be something that will break the bank – sometimes just a “mommy and me” afternoon is enough.Pin It
Vacation is a fun and exciting time. For a family with children who are finally old enough to travel, it could be the first vacation that the parents have had in years. Unfortunately, vacations have unique pitfalls that must be avoided to have a safe and fun holiday.
Follow these tips to keep your getaway from getting out of hand.
Hydrated and shaded
When going on vacation to a sunny beach or a scenic hiking trail, we often get caught up in the beauty of nature and forget the inherent hazards that it can pose to its admirers. Those dangers include sun damage and dehydration.
In warmer climates, dehydration becomes a serious threat, especially to small children. Get a water bottle for everyone in the family and make sure that everyone drinks their fill several times a day.
Not only can the heat dry us out, but sunburns can develop quickly, especially on a child’s delicate skin. When outdoors, wear sunscreen. Plan your outdoor excursions for the morning and the evenings, and try to spend the hottest hours of the day inside. If you can’t avoid being out in the sun, find wide-brimmed hats for you and your children.
A secure arrival
Vacations are a lot of fun when you arrive safely and on time. When on a long road trip, sometimes you can get lost. Not only does getting lost cut into your leisure time, but it can pose a hazard when you begin to travel in unfamiliar territory.
Always bring a map when travelling. If possible, bring a GPS unit or a smartphone that is capable of GPS tracking. Try to avoid letting your gas tank slip below half-full, just in case.
If you’re vacationing in a large city, bring along a copy of bus schedules and use them when possible. Not only does it cut your greenhouse gas emissions, but buses hardly ever get lost.
First aid within reach
Young children are particularly prone to bumps, bruises and all sorts of small injuries. Being on vacation doesn’t exempt them from that fact.
Always travel with a first aid kit in your car. If you’re flying, taking the train or going by boat, carry a small first aid kit with you. Before you leave for your destination, find the locations of nearby hospitals just in case something more serious occurs.
If you pick a vacation spot that is teeming with people, you should speak with your child about crowd safety to ensure that you don’t get separated. Preparation is the key to addressing this kind of serious travel mishap.
Teach them to hold your hand when in a crowd and stay close to you at all times. If possible, avoid the crowds all together by moving around them, or by visiting the attractions during off-peak hours. If avoiding the crowd isn’t possible, you can pick your child up and carry them if necessary.
Sometimes the worst happens even when you do all that you can to prevent it. Before you leave the hotel room in the morning, talk with your children about what to do if they get lost. Tell them to seek help from a responsible adult immediately. Make sure they carry contact information. It can be a card that you slip into their shoe, a wristband with your phone number on it, or even a phone number written in Sharpie on their inner arm. If possible, include a current photograph of the family so your child can quickly get assistance in finding you.
If your child is lost, get help quickly. Find someone in charge and give them a description of your child, including what they are wearing.
Prepare for enjoyment
By taking the time to prepare before going on vacation, you can prevent many of the potential security problems that you may face. Vacation is a time for fun and relaxation, and with proper preparation you can set your mind at ease.Pin It
Getting your kids back to school doesn’t have to be stressful. These great apps will make your life easier now — and all year long.
Works with: iPhone, iPod touch, and iPadThis easy-to-use app will make sure you don’t forget any supplies this year. It lets you create separate lists for the students in your family and then combine them to make shopping easier — and take advantage of any sales. You can also sort the lists by items or stores.
This app’s motto is “Family Life. Simplified.” And boy, does it live up to it. Cozi does it all — allows you to share a family calendar, create to-do and grocery lists, and more, keeping everything and everyone synced. Plus, it sends out automatic texts or emails to family members so no one misses an event or appointment, saving you the time and mental effort of reminding everyone.
Works with: iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and Android
No more forgotten math tests or last-minute realizations that a miniature replica of the Taj Mahal is due tomorrow. This app will help you and your kids keep track of assignments, tests and more with a simple color-coded calendar and reminders on your devices.
Works with: iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and Android
Trying to motivate your child to clean his room (without all the yelling and threatening)? Skip those old-school sticker reward charts and use this app instead. Simply snap a photo of a reward your child wants (say, a new toy) and this app breaks it into up to 60 puzzle pieces. Your kid can then earn the reward one puzzle piece at a time — no stickers required.
Works with: iPhone, iPod touch and iPad
Should you keep your child home from school because he (or his schoolmates) have an illness other kids could catch? This app, created by the folks at KidsHealth.org and reviewed by pediatricians, answers that dire question about dozens of common childhood conditions from pinkeye to ear infections and more. (Of course, you should always check with your doc too.) In addition, you get essential info on prevention, symptoms, treatment and when to seek immediate care.
Works with: iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and Android
What are your favorite back to school apps?
For animal lover families, life without pets is just unthinkable. Still, there are days when hair-covered couches, stained carpeting and the constant scent of Eau de Woof get to even the most tender-hearted, causing a domestic meltdown: “Why am I the only one cleaning up after this dog?!” Clever moms, however, know it doesn’t have to be this way.
Having children care for pets fosters both responsibility and compassion. Here are seven ways to make keeping your home pet-clean a family affair:
1. Simplify cleaning.
“The important thing is to make it as easy as possible for kids to clean up messes as they happen,” says Tracie Hotchner, host of both Dog Talk and Cat Chat radio shows. “Feed animals on plastic place mats and keep a chamois cloth close by water bowls.”
2. Exercise pets.
Well-exercised dogs tend to be more relaxed — and that translates into a cleaner house. Mellow pooches are less likely to shred that box of tissues or unstuff the couch cushions. (They’re also less likely to have an accident on the floor.) Plus, when kids walk them, kids stay fit too!
Brushing your pet is an easy chore for kids and a boon for housekeeping. Frequent brushing allows you to limit where the fur flies, which means less hair all over the place. Find a nice spot where kids can sit comfortably, and store the brushes there for daily use. “Just like kids, dogs like a routine — it’s comforting. If you brush your animals outside, the kids can see how birds and mice use hair for their nests. Plus, you don’t have to vacuum,” says Hotchner.
4. Wipe out stains.
When your pet urinates on the carpet, speed is your best weapon against staining. The Humane Society recommends these steps for cleaning up the mess: Place a thick layer of paper towels on the wet spot, covered by a thick layer of newspaper. If you can, place newspaper underneath the soiled area as well. Stand on the padding for about a minute. Remove and repeat until the area is nearly dry.
Put the wet paper towel in the area where it belongs — the litter box or typical outdoor spot where your pet goes — to reinforce the right behavior. Rinse the accident area thoroughly with clean, cool water. Then remove as much water as possible by blotting with paper towel or using a wet vac.
5. Wash your pet.
Giving your dog a footbath right after returning from the outdoors can dramatically reduce the amount of dirt your pet tracks into your home. “Use one of those plastic under-bed storage bins, fill it with 1 inch of water and put a towel down on the floor for the dog to step on,” says Hotchner.
6. Scoop cat litter.
Neglected cat boxes are the main reason kitties go where they shouldn’t. Boxes should be cleaned daily (after all, people flush every single time) and topped up with fresh litter. Monica Leighton, president of the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters recommends putting out an extra box so there’s plenty of room. (Note: Not all kids can handle cleaning a cat box, and cat feces can carry disease. So be careful when delegating this chore.)
7. Open the windows.
Many clean-air experts advocate airing your home for 10 or 15 minutes per day to let a variety of household toxins out. Dander, dust and odor can all be managed by daily airings, except during the most extreme weather.