New FDA Standards for Sunscreen Announced

Last updated on July 5th, 2018 at 05:05 pm

This week the Food and Drug Administration announced new, long-deliberated safety standards for sunscreen labels. The new requirements, which will take effect next summer, will help parents better assess the sun protection benefits of a given product, including protection against both types of ultraviolet radiation, UVA and UVB.

New Sun Protection Specifics:

  • Only products with a minimum sunburn protection factor (SPF) of 15 AND equal protection from both UVA and UVB rays will earn the new “broad spectrum” protection claim
  • Products with a lower SPF or which do not equally protect from both types of harmful radiation will have to warn that they do not protect against skin cancer or early skin aging (UVA causes wrinkles, while UVB is the cause of sunburns – but both cause cancer)
  • New labels will also eliminate exaggerated claims such as “sweat-proof” and “waterproof”. Going forward manufacturers will only be able to state the amount of time that testing showed the products to be “water-resistant” – either 40 or 80 minutes.
  • The FDA is continuing to review a proposal to cap SPF at 50 since there appears to be no sun-protection value beyond that level
Dermatologists hailed the changes. Nevertheless, they also stress that consumers need to adequately use sunscreens to benefit from the new regulations. A broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30-50 will still need to be reapplied every 40 to 80 minutes to be effective.
Sources (click for more details):

5 Beach Safety Tips for Family Fun

Last updated on May 23rd, 2018 at 10:32 pm

When temperatures soar, families hit the beach. In 2010, an estimated 300 million Americans spread out their towels and smelled the sea air, according to the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA).

But while beach outings are one of the highlights of summer, they also present serious hazards – from sunburn and jellyfish stings to riptides and lightning. Here’s how to protect your family:

Sun Exposure

Some experts believe that just one blistering sunburn can double your risk for getting skin cancer, which is why the American Cancer Society recommends avoiding prolonged exposure to the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun’s ultraviolet rays are strongest. Make a firm rule that kids sit under a beach umbrella whenever they’re not swimming. Have them wear a hat, sunglasses and a shirt or cover up when they’re walking around or playing in the sand. And of course, slather on the sunscreen and SPF lip balm.

Tip: Choose a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher and use approximately 2 tablespoons of it to cover your entire body. Apply a half hour before heading out, and reapply every two hours or right after swimming or heavy sweating.


When you spend too much time in the sun and heat or have a severe sunburn that gives off heat, it’s easy to become dehydrated. Dehydration occurs when your body loses too much water and essential salts, and the symptoms include dizziness, thirst and fatigue. Children and adults over age 60 are most at risk of developing life-threatening complications if they don’t replace lost fluids. The key to preventing and treating mild dehydration is simple: Drink plenty of fluids, including sports drinks, which restore body fluids, salt and electrolytes.

Tip: In addition to drinks, pack your cooler with fruit, which has a high liquid content. Cold watermelon chunks or frozen grapes are summertime favorites.

Rip Currents

Nearly 80 percent of beach lifeguard rescues are due to riptides – strong currents of water that pull away from the shore – according to the USLA. The worst thing you can do if you’re caught in a riptide is try to fight the currents and swim to shore. Remember to stay calm and swim parallel to the shore until the current relaxes – which usually doesn’t take long – and then swim to shore. Or just float or tread water until you’re out of the current. Teach your kids to do the same if they get caught too.

Tip: Swim near a lifeguard. The chance of drowning is five times higher at a beach that doesn’t have one, according to the USLA.

Jellyfish Stings

Jellyfish are a pain – literally – to swimmers in every ocean of the world. Some are harmless, but others are poisonous, with barbed tentacles that inflict pain and irritation on people who come in contact with them. Mild to moderate stings can produce immediate burning pain, itching, blisters, numbness and tingling. They can also leave painful red marks that may take one or two months to go away. But prevention is easy: Don’t swim, play or sit anywhere near them! (Note: If you feel sick or have trouble breathing after a jellyfish sting or if the stings cover a large area, seek emergency treatment.)

Tip: Soothe the discomfort with ice packs and skin creams.

Lightning Strikes

Lightning kills about 60 Americans a year, according to the National Weather Service, and injures more than 300, often leaving them with debilitating long-term conditions such as memory loss, dizziness, chronic pain and muscle spasms. Lightning can strike as far as 10 miles from where it’s raining. As soon as you hear thunder, leave the beach and take shelter in an enclosed vehicle or building. (Open-sided beach pavilions or snack shacks won’t protect you.) Stay off the beach for 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder.

Tip: When you get to the beach, scope out a safe shelter in case there’s thunder. Make sure your kids know to come out of the water at the first rumble.

5 Simple Steps Teach Your Child Friendship Skills for Life

Last updated on May 1st, 2018 at 04:51 pm

Making and keeping friends is a central part of entering school. Teaching your child pro-social friendship skills is a valuable part of your relationship with your children.

Where do you begin?

  1. A few great books have been written on friendship skills. Ones from the American Girls library include: Friends: Making them and keeping them; The Feelings Book, and Stand Up For Yourself and Your Friends. For middle school children and teens Queen Bees and Wanna Bees is a must-read for parents. Middle School Confidential by Annie Fox is a practical skills based book for middle schoolers. For parents who wish to coach their teens to health and wellness, The Parent as Coach by Diana Sterling is amazing for parents of teens.
  2. Healthy friendship skills begin with confidence and self-respect. Children who have self-esteem are able to be kind, share, and include others in their friendship circles.
  3. Knowing your own social style and what is unique about your child is another fine starting point. Emphasizing that everyone is different and we are all special in our own ways enhances acceptance and tolerance among children.

Here are a few, little discussed, tips on helping your children develop their friendship skills.

  1. As young as age four you can begin to help your child discover his or her personal style. What kind of child is yours? Help her see that she is bright, funny, articulate, caring or thoughtful. Teach her how to recognize positive social skills in others so she chooses skillful friends who are likely to share her values.
  2. In order to help your child see when she is using pro-social friendship skills, comment specifically on what your child does in her friendships that shows she cares. “When Jose hurt his arm and you offered to sit with when he could not play, that was a kind thing to do.” “Offering your sister your sweater at the skating rink when she was cold was a thoughtful thing to do.”
  3. Teach your child to observe the behavior of others non-judgmentally in a manner that helps her to see how other people behave. Talk with her about how other people respond to that behavior.
  4. As your child gets older help her develop the ability to observe the impact of her behavior on others.
  5. Giving your children the words and actions to: a. enter into and exit social groups, b. include other people in their group and c. recognize what characteristics your child wants in his or her friends is invaluable.

Talk with your children about what makes a good friend. Write a short story or a book on what one does to show respect, integrity and honesty. If there is a school-mate who criticizes others or mocks others, that is not a friend you wish for your child to choose as a close mate. Draw distinctions between kids who are willing to lift one another up and those who desire to feel powerful by cutting others down.

Here are some sample social skills you might wish to introduce to your children one skill as a time. Role-play with your children, create positive conversations with your children and teach them the importance of learning these skills.

Sample List of Skills

• Accepting “No”

• Accepting Consequences

• Apologizing

• Arguing Respectfully

• Asking a Favor

• Asking Questions

• Being a Good Listener

• Being in a Group Discussion

• Conversational Skills

• Declining an Invitation

• Expressing Empathy

• Following Rules

• Good Sportsmanship

Developing friendship skills can be fun. So practice, play and enjoy with your children. Friendship will follow.


This post reflects Dr Kenney’s “The Family Coach Method” used in practice for a number of years, and released for publication just this past September. The Family Coach Method is ‘rug-level,’ friendly and centered on the concept of families as a winning team – with dozens of age-appropriate sample conversations and problem solving scenarios to guide a family to the desired place of mutual respect, shared values and strengths. The goal is to help children to develop the life skills, judgment and independence that can help them navigate the challenges of an increasingly complex world. The Family Coach Method is also being taught as an Educational Series where parents can join with other moms and dads in live calls with Dr Kenney.

A Mother’s Love – The Instinct to Protect

Last updated on June 12th, 2011 at 10:26 pm

I recently had a traumatic experience that brought home the universal power of a mother’s love and the overwhelming instinct to protect her child.

The departure point for this story is our dog, Nelson. Nelson, a German shepherd mix who we rescued as a 6-week old puppy weighing 7lbs, is now an extremely sweet, loveable and not-so-bright 100lb lap-dog (or so he thinks). As our babysitter says, Nelson is “all about the food.” Constantly on a diet because of his tendency to put on weight – he follows me around in the kitchen for anything that might fall on the floor and is always looking for an opportunity to steal food, though he will settle for napkins, tissues or wrappers if nothing else is available. Although his size is intimidating, his nature is not. He is gentle and long-suffering as, over the years, my son has laid on him, pulled his tail, tried to ride him, grabbed his face, and pulled up on his ears saying “Look Mom…Batdog!”

But Nelson is actually a dog. A fact I couldn’t escape last week when I walked into the backyard and saw, or rather heard, a bird swooping and screeching incessantly above Nelson. I was dumbfounded for a moment until I noticed that Nelson was entranced by something on the ground – something moving. At that point I yelled out “NO” and started to run….but Nelson and his instincts were too fast. As the baby bird flapped, he pounced – large jaws snapping – while the mother continued her plaintive screeching.

I didn’t make it in time. As I realized this, I stopped halfway and felt the pain of the mother bird pierce me to my core. I admit that I doubled over and fell to my knees, sobbing uncontrollably. I couldn’t stop crying for several minutes. I had seen dead birds before, but what made this experience so traumatic were the mother’s frantic, and ultimately futile, efforts. I swear I felt every moment of the past nine years when my son was injured or sick or upset: when as a newborn he spent 3 days in the NICU hooked up to tubes and monitors; when he was two and needed stitches for a gash in his forehead; when he was three and was so ill he threw up all over me twice while on holiday in Germany; second grade when he fell out of a tree and broke his arm; at his old school when bullies teased him and he cried every morning on the way to school.

I think my husband thought I was nuts when I told him about my reaction. Maybe I am. But before having my son, I didn’t believe…would never have believed…the power of a mother’s love and instinct to protect her child from harm. I guess this power transcends all – culture, race, language…even species.

By the way, it took me a while but I eventually forgave Nelson. After all, he’s one of my babies too.

Is Your Tween (Illegally) on Facebook?

Last updated on June 10th, 2018 at 12:22 am

You have to be at least 13 years old to legally use Facebook, and there’s a reason for that: According to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), websites that collect information from a general-audience population must receive guardian permission to gather data from children 12 years old and younger. Often, sites like Facebook choose to make the legal age of usage 13 and up to bypass the litigious headaches that parental consent incurs.

But, as I’m sure you know, rules are made to be broken. Even if you help your child set strong privacy settings on Facebook, the service frequently changes its privacy policies. This makes it difficult to continuously adjust the settings to create a “bubble shield” around your tween.

And of course, many unsuspecting parents out there have tweens who are sailing on Facebook, playing games and socializing. Many parents aren’t aware of relationships their children are building on the social network.

The Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project found that 46 percent of 12-year-olds surveyed in the United States use social networks. That sounds like a high percentage, but the number makes sense when you consider that today’s children meet and connect emotionally through their digital devices.

You can imagine how difficult it is to find those tweens who are feverishly posting pictures, taking quizzes and making friends through the service. However, the website says it does take measures to find those young ones and remove them from the system. Recently, Mozelle Thompson, Facebook’s chief privacy officer, told the Australian Federal Parliament’s cyber-safety committee that the social networking giant deletes 20,000 accounts each day for age violations. Although an impressive number, he went on to say that the tools employed to find underage users are not foolproof.

What You Can Do

Just because Facebook is intended for 13-year-olds and older kids, it doesn’t mean that you as a parent should wait to introduce their kids to the concept of digital citizenship. Instead, you should carefully choose online environments that are specifically created with tweens in mind.

Currently, there are plenty of fun social networks for children on the Web. The level of control, permission and oversight needed to play in these realms makes them more secure than other spaces. More importantly, getting your children set up on age-appropriate sites is a great way to start talking about the boons and burdens of social media.

Remember: Don’t close doors — just guide your children through the ones that lead to safer and healthier relationships online. Statistics show that kids want to use social media. It only makes sense that they learn how through you.


Pediatric Safety Editor Addendum

Additional References for Concerned Parents:

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What’s the Message You’re Sending Your Child Today?

Last updated on March 3rd, 2018 at 11:46 am

Last weekend- Memorial Day weekend- was the kick off of this year’s ‘Ticket or Click It” campaign.

A few days ago I was walking down the end of my driveway- walking my dogs. We were behind a large bush in our neighbor’s yard. My son pulled into our driveway. For some reason my eyes went to his shoulder to see if his seatbelt was on.

My son is soon to be 25. What had I done to instill in him the value of seatbelts? Well, ever since he can remember, I have worn mine. He (and his sister) was always in an age or size appropriate child car seat. Everyone who rode with me wore seatbelts. When he started driving I always told him if ever I saw him or anyone in any car of mine without a seatbelt- he would lose his driving PRIVILEGE and he would have to pay his own insurance.

My kids have never seen me drive drunk or even under the influence. Never saw me use drugs.

They never saw me indulge in food as a crutch or release.

They did see me struggle to kick cigarettes- heard me curse them, curse their addictiveness. Did see me finally win the battle.

They have always seen me work hard and put in long hours.

So what does all this mean?

My kids work hard and have a great work ethic. I have never seen them drink- never seen their friends drink. Neither of my kids smoke nor do their friends. And yes when he pulled into our driveway, my son was wearing his seatbelt.

One company I used to work for had a CEO. He had a one page list of things that were the guiding principles he used to run our multi-billion dollar company. At the top of his list, of every important thing that could have topped the list, was one word, repeated three times: “Communicate, communicate, communicate.”

In his mind and estimation nothing counted as much or led to success as much as communication, open and honest. He went on to say that he held this same belief in his personal life as well. That communication was at the top of his list in his marriage and in the way that he and his wife raised their children.

While communication is very much about the words we speak, it is about how we speak them and it is also about what we do- the examples we are each and every day. Had I only asked my kids to wear their seatbelts and did not lead by example- I truly doubt my kids would wear theirs today. Had I ever been seen driving while drunk- could I later chastise them for doing the same? Communication is also what their peers say or teachers or other adults. It’s what we see on TV and in movies. Sometimes our communication is in competition with others- especially as our kids enter the teenage years.

Don’t get me wrong- I/we made plenty of mistakes raising our children. Everything we did was seen and evaluated. Everything we said was heard and tested. Everything we did- how we lived- shaped who our kids would become- who they did become.

To the best of your ability- live the life you want for your kids. Wear your seatbelt, exercise, don’t drink and drive or text and drive. Don’t pour lighter fluid on a lit fire and practice acceptance and not prejudice. And remember that communication is everything- influences everything- is not just talking- it’s also watching and listening. It’s good business and good for any relationship- great for our kids.

Communicate, communicate, communicate.