How to Talk to Your Kids About…Friendship

Last updated on October 1st, 2012 at 12:40 pm

Although some children naturally handle friendship better than others, all kids need to be taught, and practice friendship skills. Kids grow into these skills and need help from parents and other adults to learn the rules of friendship.

How can we help our children learn these key skills?

Talk to your child about what makes a good friend. Kids don’t always know what it means to be a good friend. Make a friendship list with all the qualities of a good friend. Have them tell you what they think makes a good friend. Keep the list close and talk to your child about trying to be that kind of friend. Some possibilities to consider for your list:

Good friends have much in common. They are…

  • Helpful to others
  • Positive and Kind
  • Have the ability to share
  • Can keep confidences
  • Listen to others’ thoughts and ideas
  • Accept mistakes
  • Are good winners and losers
  • Can hold a conversation
  • Give and receive compliments

Role Play, Role Play, Role Play

Talk through scenarios like:

  • What do you do if you want to play with a group of friends who are already playing together? You observe first and then join in without interrupting or being pushy.
  • What if you ask a friend to play and they say “no”.
  • How would you feel if someone was mean to you?

This prepares your child for situations they are certain to face and teaches them empathy for others.

Talk about “Best Friends”

When we push our children to tell us about their “best friend”, we are subconsciously teaching them to exclude. We are teaching them there is a criteria for friendship. Talk about the need to be friends and accept everyone.

Model Friendship

Our children watch everything we do. Are we modeling good friendships skills?

We can model friendship skills when we play with our children. It is an opportunity to talk to them, and show them how to act. When they beat us at Candy Land, show them how to be a good loser. When we win, model how to be a good winner.

Talk about what to do when they are rejected by a friend.

  1. It is okay to move on. Encourage your child to put effort into friendships with children who reciprocate, and move on.
  2. Don’t say “I told you say.” Avoid talking about all the things your child did wrong. When a friendship goes south, we need to show extra love to our children. The rejection has already made them feel vulnerable; they don’t need us to add salt to the wounds.

Have a conversation about friendship with your child today.

Is it Safe to Wiggle a Loose Tooth?

Last updated on August 29th, 2015 at 03:42 pm

My daughter Katie’s first baby tooth came out in a spoonful of Nutella. And she lost the second one backstage at a play when she bumped a chair against her mouth by accident. She had gauze in her mouth until seconds before she had to perform.

By the time the third tooth got loose, she was pretty brazen about it. She wiggled it. She let kids at school wiggle it. And I worried whether all that twisting and turning would make the tooth come out before it was ready, so I asked her to leave it alone and let nature take its course. The tooth fairy did visit, and she has visited a couple of more times since then.

But since Katie has 12 more of her 20 baby teeth to lose, I knew this issue would come up again. So I called Rhea Haugseth, dentist and president of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, for some advice.

“My daughter is obsessed with wiggling a loose tooth. Is that helpful or harmful?” I asked.

“Most kids can’t resist,” said Haugseth, assuring me that Katie’s behavior is normal. “It’s fine to go after it. It’s actually even good.”

Haugseth explained that even wiggling a baby tooth wouldn’t make it come out before it’s ready. “By the time a child feels that a tooth is loose, the roots of the baby tooth have dissolved and only the gum tissue is holding it in its place,” she said. “In fact, if it’s left in there too long – because some children may be scared to wiggle it – the surrounding gums can get inflamed and irritated. That’s when parents call me.”

“So what do you recommend if a child is scared to wiggle her tooth?”

“I tell moms to accidentally bump into it when they’re helping their child brush their teeth,” she says. “And if that doesn’t work, a conversation about what the tooth fairy might bring works wonders.”

Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 09-17-2012 to 09-23-2012

Last updated on March 2nd, 2018 at 04:54 pm

Welcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world.

Each day we use Twitter to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and other caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we may miss something, but we think overall we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for our friends and colleagues who are not on Twitter (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 20 news-worthy events.

PedSafe Headline of the Week:

FDA expands alert on feeding infants SimplyThick – PLS check article for list of symptoms of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), if using this product

Finally – Safe Transport for Kids in Ambulances…Thanks NHTSA!

Last updated on April 26th, 2018 at 03:48 pm

In 2008 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) convened a working group of representatives from the American Academy of Pediatrics, Emergency Medical Services for Children, the American Ambulance Association, and other key organizations and started a project called “Solutions to Safely Transport Children in Emergency Vehicles”. Finally a long-standing problem was being recognized and addressed: “there are no Federal standards or standard protocols among EMS and child safety professionals in the U.S. for how best to transport children safely in ground ambulances from the scene of a traffic crash or a medical emergency to a hospital or other facility. The absence of consistent national standards and protocols … complicates the work of EMS professionals and may result in the improper and unsafe restraint of highly vulnerable child passengers.”(1)

In fact a 1998 study regarding the use of child restraints in ambulances revealed that 35 States did not require patients of ANY AGE to be restrained in a ground ambulance. Of those States that did require some sort of child restraint system, requirements for an “acceptable restraint” varied significantly.(2)

It is illegal in the US to travel with an unrestrained child in an automobile. However, when a child is already sick or injured, we have been willing to transport them in a vehicle where the passenger compartment is exempt from most safety requirements, they cannot be properly restrained and they have a higher probability of an accident than an automobile. We might not if we knew the following:

  • It is estimated that up to 1,000 ambulance crashes involve pediatric patients each year. It is also estimated that there are approximately 4 child fatalities per year.(3)
  • In a collision at 35mph, an unrestrained 15kg child is exposed to the same forces as in falling from a 4th story window.(4)

This past Wednesday, after an intense 2 year research effort, a public meeting in August 2010 to review the findings and gather input (see Pediatric Safety Post by Sandy Schnee “A Public Meeting on Safe Transport for Kids on Ambulances“), and 2 additional years refining the results, NHTSA has released the official:


 The working group outlined 5 potential child transport “Situations” (see chart below) and for each described their “Ideal” solution – the best practice recommendation for safe a safe transport for each situation. They also presented an “If the Ideal is not Practical or Achievable” alternative – basically an “acceptable” backup plan.

They also came up with guidelines to assist EMS providers in selecting a child restraint system – particularly important because due to the lack of regulation and testing requirements specific to ground ambulances, many of the available child restraint devices were not designed for use in ambulances, some were tested to automotive standards and others were not tested at all.

In the end, the ultimate goal of ALL the recommendations: Prevent forward motion/ejection, secure the torso, and protect the head, neck, and spine of all children transported in emergency ground ambulances.

In short – transport these children safely.

We know that since the adoption of “mandatory use laws” in the U.S. for child safety restraints in automobiles, that thousands of children’s lives have been saved. Yet for years we have continued to allow children to be transported unrestrained on ambulances. With this report, we have finally taken a step in the right direction…

It is hoped that the recommendations provided in this report will address the lack of consistent standards or protocols among EMS and child passenger safety professionals in the United States regarding how to most safely transport children in ground ambulances from the scene of a traffic crash or medical emergency to a hospital or other facility. It should be noted that the expectation is that States, localities, associations, and EMS providers will implement these recommendations to improve the safe transportation of children in emergency ground ambulances when responding to calls encountered in the course of day-to-day operations of EMS providers. In addition, it is hoped that EMS providers will be better prepared to safely transport children in emergency ground ambulances when faced with disaster and mass casualty situations”.

…. Amen to that !!



1. Notice published by NHTSA of Public Meeting on August 5th, 2010 to discuss draft version Recommendations for Safe Transport of Children on Ground Ambulance Vehicles: Federal Register, July 19, 2010,

 2 & 3. Working Group Best-Practice Recommendations for the Safe Transportation of Children in Emergency Ground Ambulances: NHTSA / USDOT, September 2012

4. “EMS to Your Rescue?” Int’l Forum on Traffic Records & Hwy Safety Info. Systems – Levick N, July, 2008

Great News Needle-phobic Parents: New Flu Shot Uses Tiny Needle

Last updated on March 3rd, 2018 at 10:36 am

If you are among the many moms and dads who are scared of needles, this year’s flu shot might be a lot less scary. Ninety percent less scary, that is!

Have you seen the cute Fluzone hedgehog commercial? The new intradermal needle is 90% shorter!

The new intradermal flu vaccine uses a 90% smaller needle to inject the vaccine into the skin, instead of muscle. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the intradermal vaccine not only requires a smaller needle but it has 40% less antigen that the regular flu shot while still being as effective as the traditional vaccine. Antigen is the part of the vaccine that helps your body build protection against flu viruses and since each intradermal vaccine requires less than the traditional shot, more doses can be made from the same amount of antigen.

The intradermal vaccine is designed to protect against the three strains of flu deemed most likely to be the most prevalent this flu season as determined by flu research. It is recommended for adults ages 18 through 64. Unfortunately, it has not yet been approved for children younger than 18, but the traditional flu vaccine shot and nasal spray flu vaccines are still available for those who fall outside the age range for the intradermal shot.  Consult the CDC Seasonal Influenza guidelines to help you decide which form of the vaccine is appropriate for you and your family members, and if you have any concerns, consult your healthcare provider.

Flu season typically peaks in the winter months, but the CDC recommends getting vaccinated as soon as the influenza vaccine is available, since it can take two weeks for your body to develop the necessary antibodies to protect you. With flu shots widely available at doctor’s offices, pharmacies and flu shot clinics, it is more convenient and easier than ever to get vaccinated and protect yourself and your family from the flu this season.

For more information about the intradermal and traditional flu vaccines, please visit the CDC for up to date seasonal flu information.


Editor’s Note: For those of you with little ones whose needle-phobia rivals your own, consider reading the story of Buzzy by Dr Amy Baxter. Not only did she create an innovative way to help reduce the pain of getting a shot but she also has some terrific hints to help overcome your child’s stress before and during their visit to the doctor). 

Now it’s a little easier for all of you to be brave – so go ahead and get your flu shots…and have a safe and healthy winter.  🙂

Sat. Sept 22, AMC Sensory Friendly Films will show Finding Nemo

Last updated on September 24th, 2012 at 11:55 pm

Once a month, AMC Entertainment (AMC) and the Autism Society have teamed up to bring families affected by autism and with other special needs ”Sensory Friendly Movie Screenings“ – a wonderful opportunity to enjoy their favorite “family-friendly” films in a safe and accepting environment.

The movie auditoriums will have their lights turned up and the sound turned down. Families will be able to bring in snacks to match their child’s dietary needs (i.e. gluten-free, casein-free, etc.), there are no advertisements or previews before the movie and it’s totally acceptable to get up and dance, walk, shout, talk to each other…and even sing – in other words, AMC’s “Silence is Golden®” policy will not be enforced during movie screenings unless the safety of the audience is questioned.

Does it make a difference? Absolutely! “It can be challenging enough to bring ANY child to a movie theater” says PedSafe Special Needs Parenting Expert Rosie Reeves. “For a parent with a special needs child attempting an outing like this may seem overwhelming. And yet getting out, being with the community and sharing in an experience with an audience can be invaluable for just such children”.

On Saturday September 22nd at 10am local time, Finding Nemo will be screened as part of the Autism Society “Sensory Friendly Movie Screenings” program (although not in 3D for our Sensory Friendly audiences). Tickets are $4 to $6 depending on the location. To find a theatre near you, here is a list of AMC theatres nationwide participating in this fabulous program (note: to access list, please scroll to the bottom of the page).

Coming October 13th: Frankenweenie


Editor’s note: Although Finding Nemo has been chosen by the Autism Society as this month’s Sensory Friendly screening, and is rated G by the Motion Picture Association of America, we do want parents to know that it does include some mild violence and potentially frightening scenes. As always, please check the IMDB Parent’s Guide for a more detailed description of this film to determine if it is right for you and your child.