Kids and Animal Bites

Last updated on March 2nd, 2018 at 02:02 pm

little boy and catAnimal bites are very common in children due to their inquisitive nature.  The smaller the child is the more likely are the bites liable to be on the head and or neck – the most common place is however on the hands and arms.  The most common bites are from our domesticated animals, cats and dogs. While a family pet is a good thing for teaching responsibility, a healthy dose of respect for other families’ pets should also be taught as not all pets are as friendly as yours, especially with strangers.

Children should be taught to approach other pets carefully and always from the front, offering a hand for the animal to smell first before touching.  Wild animals are another issue entirely and it is best to be very conservative and teach your child to never go near a wild animal, no matter how “cute and cuddly” it looks.  If your child comes in proximity with a wild animal that has been “domesticated” by ownership, the same should apply. More and more now there are increasing limits on the type of wild animals allowed to be kept as pets.

Let’s get back to cats and dogs.  A dog bite can be quite severe as dogs will grab and hold on to an arm or leg and toss their heads back and forth in an effort to subdue an “enemy”.  If a dog unknown to you bites your child, and after seeking the care for the injury, you should contact your local health department as that animal will need to be investigated and sometimes placed under surveillance for several weeks.  Your own pets should be vaccinated by your vet as recommended by authorities.  Some dog bites, if severe enough, can be sutured closed but this must be done carefully and sometimes left open to avoid infection.

Cat bites while usually not as severe as dog bites, stand a greater chance of becoming infected as these are usually more of a puncture wound quality making infection a higher risk.

Contact your Doctor immediately should any bite occur for further information, but please teach your children the does and don’ts of approaching animals of all kinds.

Developing Empathy in Kids for a Parent’s Illness

Last updated on September 13th, 2015 at 01:25 am

sick woman with cold on sofaFor reasons unknown to me, my family and various doctors consulted over the years, I get sick a lot. Sometimes for extended periods. My husband says I will catch any bug that comes within a hundred feet of me! So I’ve had various colds, strep throat, mono, shingles, and – most recently – vertigo, caused by a head cold I caught at the end of May. With all these illness, and especially ones where I don’t “look” sick, I’ve noticed my son isn’t  showing much empathy for my situation, which has become both aggravating and concerning.

Why does it matter? Empathy – the ability to understand and relate to another person’s experience – is an important “emotional intelligence” skill, and emotional intelligence (often noted as EQ) has been shown to be as or more important than intelligence for future academic and professional success, as well as personal happiness. In this vein, empathy for bouts of illness could help children throughout their lives, both personally and professionally. At work it could help them be better coworkers and managers (as I remember a boss who told me over the phone, “You don’t sound sick,” when I was suffering from mononucleosis due to overwork). Personally, it could help them in their relationships with their spouse and family – to be more supportive during illness. Additionally, a healthy respect for illness and the impact it has on people might also help in caring for and supporting themselves, giving themselves space and time to recover and looking after themselves in the first place in order to avoid illness.
And, of course, empathy from the kids really helps make things easier on the parent who is sick!

My recent issue with vertigo started out with severe and scary symptoms of the whole world spinning and me falling and flailing within it. While these symptoms only lasted about a week – the condition persisted to a lesser degree for a couple more months, causing mild dizzy spells, difficulty concentrating, severe fatigue and occasional headaches. It really prevented me from doing my usual activities, including a full work schedule, driving, home chores, and social activities.

Initially my son was not very empathetic about the vertigo, probably partly because it is such a rare/odd condition – and I didn’t LOOK sick. He suggested I was being overly “dramatic” as I was falling and flailing and occasionally made some slightly rude comments of the “drama queen” “always sick” variety. Plus he kept demanding my time and attention when I really just couldn’t give it.

This started to make be both concerned and angry, as I was going through enough without having to deal with a 12-year-old’s world-view, so I started a concerted “empathy-development” program with Elliott – with some success. Here’s what worked for me:

  • I highlighted the negative behavior and his specific comments (and tone) – and how they made me feel
  • I explained what was happening to me (simply), including how my brain was affected by getting different signals about where my body was – I tried to give him an explanation of why I was acting and feeling this way
  • I talked about how it felt to have this condition and to be ill “again” – and what I felt I was missing out on – and answered his questions about the condition / situation
  • I also described what good would look like (e.g. “Asking how I’m feeling, checking on my symptoms” or “making me tea when I’m tired”)
  • Asking for help from my husband (could also be a friend / family member) to reinforce the message about my illness and what support I need
  • Although these steps had some positive results, I still had to remind him regularly that I still had this issue – as he would forget or just assume I was better at some point

After trying these approaches, Elliott’s comments became a lot more positive – and he even made me a nice tea tray in bed. The situation’s not perfect – but it’s better. At least he is now aware of his behavior and making an effort: the other day I made a comment about his earlier negative actions and he said, “That was then, I’m not doing that anymore, right?” Even if he’s not perfect, I’m just pleased that he recognizes his earlier behavior wasn’t ideal.

Erin’s Law: Teaching Kids to Recognize & Avoid Sexual Abuse

Last updated on March 2nd, 2018 at 02:04 pm

Editor’s Note: In June of 2014, South Carolina became the 16th State to pass Erin Merryn’s law – a law that requires school districts to teach children to tell on anyone who tries to touch their private parts. Speaking as a survivor, it is difficult for me to understand why any state would not endorse this.  

In honor of Pediatric Safety’s 5 Year Bloggiversary, we are publishing 5 of our favorite posts – one from each year since the day we started. This is our third “look back” post.  It was written by Jill Starishevsky, a NY Assistant District Attorney who has dedicated her career to helping victims of child abuse and sex crimes. Our thanks to her for reminding us that, as horrifying as it is to think about – child sexual abuse DOES happen – and it is up to us to educate our children so that we can prevent it from happening to them. More information on Erin’s law can be found here.


In October 2011, New York State announced it would join the ranks of those states that have introduced a bill Kids in Classentitled Erin Merryn’s Law. The measure would require schools to make a change to their existing curriculum for child abduction to include child sexual abuse prevention. This alteration would give critically important information to victims – many of whom do not know there is a way out of their horrific situation. As a child, Merryn was abused by both a neighbor and a family member. She says she stayed silent due to a combination of threats from her abusers, and the lack of knowledge about available help.  If passed, New York would become the third state to enact Erin Merryn’s law, following Missouri and Merryn’s home state of Illinois.

In light of recent events at our nation’s universities, parents should continue to be vigilant about teaching child sexual abuse prevention in the home. By age three, children should be taught that their bodies have private parts and no one is to touch those parts (with the necessary medical and hygiene exceptions). Of course children should be taught the correct terminology for their body as nicknames can be confusing and delay a disclosure.

The following are some tips that are often overlooked:

  1. When someone tickles a child, if the child says No, all tickling should cease. Children need to know that their words have power and No means No.
  2. Teach children that it is OK to say No to an adult. Without permission from you, many children may be reluctant to do so even if the adult is doing something that makes them feel uncomfortable.
  3. Teach children that all of these lessons apply to other children as well. If another child is touching your child in a way that makes him or her uncomfortable, teach your child to say No, get away and tell someone.
  4. Be careful with the language you use when speaking with children. Avoid saying things such as “Have a good day and do everything your teacher tells you to do.” Children are very literal and need to be told that they should not listen to someone who is telling them to do something that might be harmful to them or to someone else.
  5. Let your child decide how they want to express affection. If they do not want to hug or kiss Grandpa goodbye or sit on Santa’s lap, do not force them. You take away their power over their own body if you force them to be demonstrative in their affection. Children need to be taught their body belongs to them.
  6. Teach children to respect the privacy of others. They should learn to knock on doors that are shut before opening them and close the door to the bathroom when they are using it. If they learn to respect the privacy of others, they may be more likely to recognize that an invasion of their privacy could be a red flag meaning danger.
  7. Use your poker face. Encourage your child to come you if they have questions about anything. Avoid looking shocked or embarrassed by the question. Children who sense their parents’ discomfort will be less inclined to approach the parent next time he or she has a question.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys is sexually abused by age 18 in the United States. 93% of the abuse happens at the hands of those entrusted with the care and protection of the child. With the passage of Erin Merryn’s Law, critical information will reach every child in New York State.

Is your state advocating for the welfare of children?

Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 07-28-2014 to 08-03-2014

Last updated on August 12th, 2014 at 10:29 am

twitter thumbWelcome 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 and Facebook 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 not on Twitter or FB (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 25 events & stories.

PedSafe Child Health & Safety Headline of the Week:
A comprehensive guide to YouTube’s dumbest and most dangerous teen trends  ridiculous & scary!

What to Do if Your Child Loses a Baby Tooth Too Soon

Last updated on November 3rd, 2018 at 05:17 pm

Missing-baby-teethWhile baby teeth are not permanent and only last in a child’s mouth for a few years, they have an important role in the development of the jaw, muscles, and adult teeth. It is natural for baby teeth to fall out as the permanent teeth grow in to take their place. However, if a baby tooth is lost too soon, it can sometimes prevent proper development in the mouth. It may be necessary for your child to have a space maintainer put in to keep the space open until the permanent tooth comes in. This can save your child from extensive orthodontic work in the future.

Baby teeth can fall out early for a number of reasons. The most common causes are accidents resulting in tooth loss, or having to extract a baby tooth due to severe decay. Sometimes a baby tooth doesn’t even grow in at all. Whichever the case, an empty space in your child’s mouth can cause problems if the permanent tooth doesn’t grow in soon after. The teeth around the space can start to tilt and shift, resulting in insufficient space for the adult tooth to grow it.

A space maintainer can prevent improper development by keeping the space open until the permanent tooth grows in. There are several different types of space maintainers that can be used for treatment. Older children who are responsible in the care of their teeth might use a removable space maintainer. This appliance looks much like a retainer and is usually plastic. Other methods involve a fixed space maintainer, which is banded or cemented in place and is usually made of metal. Your dentist will help determine which type of space maintainer will work best for your child’s needs, and will make a custom appliance using impressions of your child’s teeth. The space maintainer is removed once the permanent tooth is ready to erupt.

If your child loses a tooth early, make an appointment with your dentist to discuss whether or not a space maintainer is necessary for development. While losing a baby tooth early does not always lead to complications, it is safe to have a professional’s opinion before letting it go too long. A space maintainer is a fairly simple solution to guiding teeth into place, and can prevent your child from having to endure a year or more of complicated orthodontic treatment.

Build Kitchen Skills, Memories with a Kids’ At-Home Cooking Camp

Last updated on September 12th, 2015 at 10:24 pm

We all want to raise our kids to be healthy eaters. Right? We also want meal times to be pleasant. Don’t we? And, we surely want to raise our kids to be competent, able adults. Of course we do.

An in-home cooking camp does all of those things and builds lasting memories together as a family.

cook figure holding sign

Not much of a cook yourself? No problem. Explore with your kids. And if you love cooking, relinquish control. This is not about perfection, and there should be no high expectations for the finished product. It’s about exploring as a family – in the kitchen – and hopefully having your kids learn at least one skill each time you do an in-home cooking camp.

For this adventure, you will need:

1. Kids (Exhibit A):

two children eating cheese

My silly children, Hannah age 9, and Evan, age 6.

2. At least one parent, but both parents are best. If you do this as a family, it will have maximum impact. Good emotion (fun times with family) surrounding a learning experience will be sure to solidify in their minds for years to come.

text on green background

3. A recipe or task to create.

Follow along with our family as we do a Dinner Helpers Camp by making Vitamix’s bacon cheddar potato soup (linked!) with a mixed green salad. We also started making some homemade ice cream that we finished making the next evening.

You will soon learn that this is less about the recipe that you are creating than it is the experience together. Let’s practice some kitchen skills and have some fun!

Before you get started with anything in the kitchen, reinforce your hand washing rule in your home.

Make it fun. Have them sing the Happy Birthday song while washing their hands with warm soapy water.


boy washing hands at sink

After Hannah washed her hands, she started helping my husband Jeff start the ice cream preparation.


girl mixing food in bowl


girl pouring liquid

While we have Hannah working on the ice cream, we start Evan on the chopping of onions for the potato bacon soup. A veggie chopper like this one from Pampered Chef is a wonderful tool that allows kids to chop food without the risk of getting cut. And it’s fun for them!


boy using food chopper

Hannah is managing the bacon on the stove. Since she is now 9 years old and has been helping me since toddlerhood, we allowed her to cook the bacon with close supervision.


girl frying bacon in pan

text on green background

After the bacon was cooked, we had Hannah break the bacon up into small piece before it went into the Vitamix.


girl preparing food at a counter

The soup calls for shredded cheddar cheese. Evan practiced his measuring skills by measuring out some cheese.


boy measuring cheese

Now it’s time to put all the components of the bacon cheddar soup into the Vitamix. Hannah’s turn is up! In these photos – what you don’t see – is that Hannah spilled the milk all over the place when she was pouring it into the blender. She was pretty upset with herself, but we said that it was part of cooking. Messes happen!


putting ingredients in mixer

We got the Vitamix on the soup setting, and we’re ready to get the table set!

Kids love to be helpful and part of the team! And our team is Family Lemond.


children setting table

Family Lemond was thrilled at the finished product, and the kids loved the fact that they helped make the soup.

place setting with soup

Challenge: Tell your kids that the family is doing a cooking camp together and do it. Make being in the kitchen an event that they see as fun. Even if you are just making dinner, each experience is something they will cherish for years to come. Family memories + kitchen skills = divine.

From our home to yours.