First Aid Basics Every Parent Should Know

Last updated on August 30th, 2018 at 01:00 am

No matter how protective you are as a parent, kids are just accident magnets. They scrape knees, bump heads and bust lips in their endless pursuit of exploration and fun. In fact, according to the National Safe Kids Campaign, one out of four children per year sustains an injury serious enough to require medical attention. While you can’t always keep your kids from getting hurt, you can be prepared to provide first aid when they are. Here are some common emergencies and guidelines on how to react:

Emergency Your kids are running barefoot in the backyard, when one of them cuts her foot on a sharp rock.

What to do “The first thing you should do is clean the cut and stop the bleeding,” says Dr. Richard E. Miller, a pediatrician at Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles. Wash it thoroughly with soap and water and then apply firm pressure using gauze or a clean washcloth. “If the cut is superficial, apply an antiseptic ointment and close the wound with a butterfly band-aid,” says Dr. Miller. “But if it’s a deep, open wound that won’t stop bleeding, or if any tissue or muscle is exposed, basic first aid may not be enough – go to the emergency room for stitches.”

Be prepared Always make sure that kids wear shoes when playing outside. And keep adhesive bandages, gauze and antiseptic ointment on hand at all times.

Emergency Your toddler sneaks up to the stove while you’re cooking and burns her hand on the pot.

What to do First aid is needed to quickly to reduce the temperature of the burn and limit the damage to skin. For first-degree burns (red skin, minor swelling and pain but no blisters), remove clothes from the burned area, run cool – not cold – water over the burn for 3 to 5 minutes. Or press a wet, cold compress. If the burn is small, loosely cover it in gauze or bandage. For second-degree burns (blisters, severe pain and redness) or third-degree burns (the surface looks dry and is waxy white, leathery, brown or charred, although there may be no pain or numbness), call 911. Keep your child lying down and elevate the burned area. Remove clothing from the burned area, unless it is stuck to the skin. Don’t break any blisters. Apply cool water over the burn area for 3 to 5 minutes and then cover it with a clean white cloth or sheet until help arrives.

Be prepared In the kitchen, turn pot handles toward the back of the stove while you cook. Never hold your baby while you cook. In the bathroom, always turn the cold water on first and off last, and test bath water with your elbow.

Emergency Your energetic son just knocked his tooth out on the bedpost while jumping on the bed.

What to do To stop the bleeding, firmly apply a piece of wet gauze to the gums until the bleeding stops. If he lost a baby tooth, there’s no need for concern: A permanent tooth will eventually grow in its place. But you should visit a dentist regardless just to make sure none of his underlying teeth were damaged. If the tooth he lost was a permanent one, time is of essence. The faster you act, the higher your odds of saving the tooth. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentists recommends holding the tooth by its crown and reinserting it into the socket, pressing it firmly in place with clean gauze. (If that’s not possible, place the tooth in a cup of milk, which will preserve the tooth’s roots.) Then visit a pediatric dentist immediately.

Be prepared Keep a pediatric dentist’s number on your refrigerator and in your cell phone.

Emergency You’re making breakfast when your toddler walks over to show you his new toy: an open bottle of prescription pills.

What to do Any time a child has potentially swallowed a hazardous substance, call your local poison control center immediately. If your child has collapsed or stopped breathing, call 911 first. Each case of poisoning is unique, and treatment varies greatly depending on what hazardous substance your child has ingested. Never take a wait-and-see attitude when it comes to poison emergencies. Seek immediate treatment.

Be prepared Poison-proof your home by storing all medication in childproof containers kept out of children’s reach. Post the number of your local poison control center somewhere highly visible, like your refrigerator.

My Child is Sick: New Book Tells Parents When to Call the Doctor

Last updated on October 5th, 2015 at 11:20 pm

Have you ever debated about whether your child’s symptoms warranted a call to the doctor or not? Wondered if your kid was sick enough to go to the emergency room in the middle of the night or if it was okay to wait until the morning to go to the doctor’s office instead? Worried whether you were doing the right things to treat your child’s symptoms at home? Then a new book from Dr. Barton D. Schmitt may be just what the doctor ordered.

My Child is Sick!: Expert Advice for Managing Common Illnesses and Injuries is a new reference guide designed to help parents find answers fast to questions about treating the illnesses and injuries they are most likely to encounter while raising kids. This easy to use guide offers the same expert advice and guidance given by doctors and nurses in 10,000 practices and 400 nurse call centers in the United States and Canada and using the Pediatric Telephone Protocols which have been tested for 15 years on over 150 million phone calls. Now all of that advice is yours in one practical reference guide.

The author, Dr. Barton D. Schmitt is a professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine medical director of the After-Hours Call Center at The Children’s Hospital in Aurora, Colorado. Dr. Schmitt is also the author of Pediatric Telephone Protocols: Office-Hours version (12th edition, 2009), published by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and Your Child’s Health (Bantam Books). Dr. Schmitt’s purpose in writing the book was to assist parents in determining when it is necessary to call a doctor about their child’s symptoms and how to treat the child at home if a doctor’s care is not required.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “inside this practical guide, parents will find:

  • Straightforward information on the most common illnesses and injuries of childhood
  • Decision charts to help care givers determine when to call the doctor and when it’s safe to treat symptoms at home, as well as descriptions of which symptoms are normal during the course of an illness or recovery from an injury and which are cause for concern.
  • Specific time-frame guidelines as to when to call the doctor or 911.
  • In-depth advice for treating symptoms at home, taking the guesswork out of how to make little ones feel better.
  • Drug dosage charts for the most commonly used non-prescription medicines.

With My Child is Sick at their fingertips, parents will never again have to worry about whether they’ve made the right decision about their child’s illness or injury.”

The 50 most common illnesses and injuries children are likely to face are outlined in order of areas of the body, and offer specific instructions on when to call the child’s doctor, when to call 911 or emergency services, and how to treat the illness or injury at home and offers information for children of all ages, from newborns to teenagers.

Parents may be tempted to think a book is unnecessary in this digital age where answers are abundant on the internet but if you’ve ever searched an illness or injury online before, you may already know that there is an overwhelming amount of information and advice to wade through and in some cases, not all of the information or advice is accurate or from an expert source. This book has accurate, expert guidance in a quick, easy to use format that can save parents time, money (if it saves you from making a trip to the doctor that wasn’t necessary), and a lot of worry.

After reviewing Part 1: Head or Brain Symptoms, which covers crying, head injuries, and headaches, I was glad to find that it is not written in “medical jargon” or “doctor speak” but easy to understand with clear instructions on what to do. I highly recommend parents have this book on hand in an handy location where it is easy to find in an emergency. It would even make a great baby shower gift for new parents. The book can be purchased online at the major online book retailer’s websites and may be available in your local bookstore.

Quality Afterschool Programs Benefit Children and Families

Last updated on October 6th, 2015 at 12:21 am

You can’t miss that it’s back to school season: school buses once again on the roads, displays of school supplies in all the stores, and a myriad of hints and tips on offer to help you have a great start to the school-year. Most focus is on the school day, but there’s another dimension to the season – especially for working parents: afterschool programs. And it can be an important element for a happy and successful school year. I know this from personal experience.

There are significant differences in the quality and organization of afterschool programs. At our son’s first school we really didn’t know what to expect from an afterschool program. We liked the leader, who had solid experience and was very good with the kids. And she organized great enrichment classes (though at significant additional expense!). Nevertheless, our son didn’t like the afterschool program and frequently asked to be picked up early – which just wasn’t possible with our work schedules.

When we moved to a new school….we discovered a whole new reality in after-care. Structured physical activity (okay, in the form of dodgeball – but our son really LIKED it!) and creative projects. A consistent daily schedule. A tangible reward program. And – most importantly for us – supervised homework time. When we got home in the evening our son ACTUALLY HAD ALL HIS HOMEWORK DONE! You just can’t imagine how significant an impact this made. At the previous school he NEVER had his homework done. We would get home about 6:30pm, have a quick dinner, and then struggle with our tired son for over an hour to get his homework completed before we had to deliver the bad news that it was already time for bed. Weekday evenings were a misery. But we were too naïve to realize that it wasn’t supposed to be that way.

These differences got me thinking. There’s lots of focus on the importance of a good school and related standards, requirements and assessments. But what about afterschool programs? How important are they really? And what does good look like?

What Should You Look For In an Afterschool Program?

The Afterschool Alliance, a non-profit organization advocating for more wide-spread access to afterschool programs, cites numerous studies showing that afterschool programs yield significant benefits for children and adolescents who participate regularly – both in improving academics and reducing the behavior issues and experimentation that characterize the 3pm-6pm time period. But it’s not enough to HAVE a program; you need to have a quality program that engages your children, especially since families are often restricted to whichever program is available in their school or community. So what does a good afterschool program look like?

It turns out that’s not such an easy question to answer. There is no fully-established and recognized accreditation for programs, (which are licensed in the US at state level as child care centers) and no universally-accepted and proven standards. Many programs follow the guidelines of the National Afterschool Association, a set of 144 standards which are offered for sale to practitioners. The Afterschool Alliance produced an issue brief this year on program quality (one of many good references/resources on their site) that identified eight broad characteristics of quality programs, including “intentional programming” and “promotion of varied youth engagement”. The Afterschool Corporation (TASC) in New York (which supports more than 250 programs and 40,000 children state-wide) highlights seven components of a quality program, including a diverse staff and low student-to-staff ratio.

Valeska Simmonds, a site coordinator within the Carmel Clay Extended School Enrichment program in Indiana, says that their program strives to help participants build a strong foundation in basic life skills. “We aim for each of our staff to be a role model for the children in our program. We also hold Awareness time each day – a group discussion on topics such as bullying, self-esteem, and nutrition that gives the kids a chance to share their knowledge and experiences with others.”

In reviewing these different sources, I identified the following key elements to look for:

  • Strong staff: Is there an effective, full-time coordinator for the site? Does the staff have varied and child-relevant backgrounds? Do they have applicable and on-going training? Is there a low student-to-staff ratio (most guidelines recommend ratios of  10:1 or 11:1 for elementary/middle school students)
  • Safe, welcoming and healthy environment: Are the facilities in good condition and big enough for the number of participants? Does the program have documented emergency procedures and behavior expectations? Are healthy snacks/meals provided as appropriate?
  • Access and availability: Does the program operate each school day – at least for 3 hours, but ideally before and after school? Is there an opportunity for families to apply for tuition aid? Does the program have a website and other channels of communication? (Carmel Clay has the daily schedule and profiles of each staff member on their site – and even has Twitter updates!)
  • Program mission and activities: Does the program have goals for participants beyond just safe childcare? Is there a variety of diverse and activities that are connected to, but go beyond, the school day? Do they have an established process for handling homework and does it work for you?
  • Student engagement: Does the program offer students a choice of activities and involve them in planning and organizing of the sessions? Do children get rewarded for involvement and good behavior? Does the schedule have time for kids to move and a variety of activities your child would enjoy?
  • Program assessment: Does the program seek out and, ideally, publish parent feedback? Is there a formal program assessment and improvement process? Carmel Clay follows the well-known Youth Program Quality Assessment, with all 11 sites reviewed in the fall of 2010.

What Can Parents Do?

According to Simmonds, parents looking at an afterschool program should have questions: “Are children in the program having fun?” “What types of activities are offered?” “Is the staff attentive to the needs of my child?” Simmonds recommends talking to the site coordinator for answers – and arranging a visit to observe the program. “Parents are a key part of the success of any after school program”, says Simmonds. “Ask staff how your child’s day went and attend any parent meetings you’re invited to. The more informed a parent is about the program, the better.”

What has your experience been with after-school programs? Do they work for your family?

Should You Let Your Teens Blog?

Last updated on March 3rd, 2018 at 11:34 am

Millions of blogs already exist, and thousands more appear each day. So if your teens are interested in joining the blogosphere, don’t be surprised.

While you don’t want to stifle their creative freedom, it’s perfectly natural to be a bit concerned about what they’re going to be writing about — especially if they have a tendency to overshare. And having been in media for a long time, I can tell you there’s a fine line between recounting the innocent details of your day to posting the kind of information that can compromise their privacy — and yours.

If your teens decide they want to start a blog, here’s my advice:

1. Set up some ground rules. Do this before they write their first post. Start off by asking them what their theme is going to be. Do they love to cook and want to share recipes? Will it be more of a diary of random thoughts and feelings? Will they be blogging about trying to reach a specific goal?

2. Agree on what won’t be written about. Once you know what their angle is, you can help them decide which topics and details are off-limits.

3. Safeguard contact info. Also, be sure to caution them against giving away any personal biographical information, like their date of birth, address and phone number.

4. Find out how they’ll be publicizing the blog. Will they post it on Facebook? Email it to a handful of friends? With this information, you’ll be setting up ground rules with their audience in mind.

Once you have a better understanding of their intentions, you’ll feel better about their decision to become bloggers. And you might even become their biggest follower.

Teenage Acne: As a Parent, What You Need to Know – Part II

Last updated on March 3rd, 2018 at 11:34 am

In my last post I discussed the pathophysiology of acne and how a pimple is formed. From the initial plugging of the duct going from the small gland in the skin to the outside to the colonization of the thick material stuck in the duct with bacteria. The growth of bacteria and the eventual formation of a pimple was the final common pathway to the process.

All of the forms of treatment are aimed at relieving one of the above factors. The simplest form of treatment is the use of keratolytic agents which cause the top layers of skin to peal faster than they ordinarily do. You must remember that our skin is constantly pealing and replacing itself. In an effort to prevent plugging of the ducts an effort is made to try to keep the skin pealing frequently.

The two most common keratolytic agents are benzoyl peroxide, and retinoic acid. When used too rapidly these can cause flushing and irritation of the skin, so we usually start using it less frequently than we use it eventually. The other process involves bacteria getting into the pores from the skin (we all have bacteria on our skin) and growing to produce a painful pimple. For this there are a variety of antibiotics that can be used both topically (placed right on the skin) or systemically (taken by mouth). The problem is that the process of formation of a pimple takes quite a long time, and the stimulus for teenage acne (hormones) does not stop while treatment begins. So, it is usually a prolonged process to clear the acne (months versus weeks or days).

There are all types of combinations of medications to use for acne and if one does not work it is reasonable to change products. A few of these are found over the counter such as proactive, but most are prescription medications.

Of course, regular soap and water washes help also and avoidance of picking or squeezing the pimple is very important because it can change simple acne in the skin to a much larger cyst or abscess under the skin that can then scar the skin.

Most kids get some degree of acne at one point or another, but keep reminding your children that there are ways to deal with acne, because is can be an emotionally upsetting time for adolescents.

Bullying: 10 Things We Can Do to Keep Them Safer at School

Last updated on October 6th, 2015 at 12:18 am

We know our kids will have the new school supplies they need to start school, but have we given them the tools they need to deal with more than the reading, writing and arithmetic?

With the new school year quickly approaching, now is the perfect time to sit down with our children and talk about bullying.

Studies estimate that 1 out of 3 children are bullied, and over 150,000 children a day, skip school because they fear being bullied by another student.

As parents, there is much we can do to help our children avoid, prepare for, and deal with bullying. This will ease our children’s minds, and ours.

What do we do…

1.  We realize, that no matter what we do, OUR KIDS WILL FACE CONFRONTATION in their lives. In school, in college, in the work place, in their neighborhoods, in marriage, as parents. Confrontation is part of life. We have to prepare them for it.

2.  We need to help our children understand that it is never okay to fight. For the most part, nothing good comes of fighting. Fighting is not the answer. When our children are 40 and they have a disagreement with a coworker, they can’t use their fists to solve the problem then. Why would we teach them that that is how to deal with conflict now. It is not a skill that will serve them through their lives. That said, we need to teach our children to stand up for themselves in self-defense. They should know that if they need to defend themselves because they are being, or going to be physically attacked, then they defend themselves. And, that if they do have to fight in self-defense, that we will not be angry, but understand. They need to know that they always defend themselves if/when things turn physical.

Then, we need to…

3.  Talk to our children when they are young. Waiting until our kids are bullied is not a good time to start addressing the issue. Use situations and find ways to bring up the subject and discuss it when they are young. Children who feel embarrassed or humiliated about being bullied are very unlikely to come home and share how they feel. Make it clear to your children that you are always there to listen, and that you can relate. If it is hard to talk to them, round up some children’s books on the subject, or ask your spouse to help. Don’t scare your children, but inform them.

4.  Role-Play: Give your children different scenarios and teach them how to handle them. “What do you do if…?” (someone calls you a name, makes fun of you, someone takes your lunch, someone hits you). Go through each situation and teach them what to say and do. It will empower them, and when they are faced with the bully they wont be as intimidated because they will have had experience and practiced ways to handle the situation.

Role play simple words and actions…

  • Stand up straight and tall – Shoulders back
  • Don’t show emotion
  • Use a firm voice

5.  Teach Conflict Resolution. We have to teach our children how to deal with conflict and confrontation. Teach them to manage their anger, communicate, and listen. Teach them how to compromise and be patient. This is done through everyday life situations and role-play. As conflict happens in your home, between siblings, use it to teach. We also must be good examples of conflict resolution in our own adult lives.

6. Let children work things out themselves. As parents we can be very quick to step in and stop the arguing and disagreements between our children. We decide who we think is the winner, and then go about our business. We feel good because the conflict and contention has stopped. We need to let our children work out their own disagreements. If we will sit back and watch, they will almost always be able to solve their own problems. Family situations are the perfect place for them to practice working through conflict when dealing with others. There is no better schoolroom than our home.

7.  Keep our Ears Open. When our kids try and talk to us, we have to listen. They will drop little hints when there are bullying problems. It is easy to miss the cues when we are not really listening to what is being said. When our kids’ talk to us, we need to put everything else aside and really be in the moment to listen. Kids will tell us there is a problem long before bullying turns physical, listen to them.

8. Acknowledge Verbal Abuse. Just because it isn’t physical, doesn’t mean it is okay. Verbal bullying causes children to feel the same things as physical bullying: fear, loneliness, depression, anxiety, emotional distress, and lower self-esteem. Don’t blow off your child’s concerns.

9.  Give them a hobby, interest, sport, talent, where they can excel. Build their self-confidence. We should involve our children in healthy activities where they find success. Something they like, that challenges them and where they can excel. Whether it is sports, a hobby or an interest. These activities will boost their self-confidence and belief in themselves, teach them how to deal with success and failure, solve problems, deal with others and speak their minds. A strong self-esteem is our child’s best defense against bullying.

10.  Model/Teach Empathy As parents, we need to model kind, gentle behavior for our children. They learn by watching us. Be sure that the other adults and kids that are around our children demonstrate empathy as well. We need to teach our kids to try to understand other’s points of view and to feel compassion towards others. If we are always raising our voices, showing impatience, and arguing, they will do the same. Empathetic children are also less likely to become bullies themselves.

As parents, we can do a lot to help our children deal with bullying. Send your children to school with more than just new pencils. Send them with confidence and strength to deal with conflict and stand up for themselves.