Stress, School and Perfectionism – A Kid’s Perspective

Last updated on December 18th, 2015 at 11:15 am

Teenager with booksA child’s desire to get everything just right may be their downfall. Imagine sitting in front of a blank screened computer, trying to think of the perfect way to start an essay. All the pressure put on kids to succeed, especially in competitive honors classes with teachers that ask for work to be “brilliant, timely and impressive,” can make it hard to get anything done. Kids just get stuck…a lot like writer’s block. Students will tend to worry about making every detail perfect rather than just getting the essay done. It seems the concept of the rough draft has been lost. As a student in Honors Language Arts I have had my fair share of experiences like this.

More recently, I was writing an essay about a novel and I couldn’t think of how to start my essay, which typically is the hardest part. I felt lost, frustrated, stressed, anxious, hopeless, sad. The list goes on and on. I wasn’t satisfied by anything that popped into my mind. Many kids like to jump right into their writing without making an outline, but I think in this case an outline would be very helpful. The key, however, is to create an effective outline. In grade school we are taught that outlines are for laying out the structure of your piece, but when you can’t think of what to say, writing random things that pop into your head and then letting your brain naturally improve upon them is good to get the creative juices flowing. That is the key to good outline writing. And if during your writing process you find a bunch of ideas rushing through your mind that you want to implement later in your essay, write them down.

Many kids don’t do a whole lot of editing, either. They try to get it right immediately without taking the time to make many changes. After you have made your outline and you have some rough inspiration written down on paper, sit down and write something very crude. If you try to do it on the first try rather than making edits you are going to spend a long time trying to get a masterpiece out of thin air. As the philosopher Voltaire said, “The enemy of the good is the perfect”. After all, most teachers give sweet little girl bored under stress with a tired face expressionrough draft due dates for a reason. After you are done with your rough draft you should spend a lot of time improving on the essay. This is a safe bet for meeting the requirements and turning everything in on time. In fact, I am using this strategy to write this post right now. I have created a great metaphor for this concept – building on Voltaire’s saying: “It’s easier to polish a turd than it is to poop diamonds.” It basically means that it is easier to polish something bad than it is to poop something as hard and pointy as cut diamonds. Please excuse the terminology, but I am a teenage boy.

Of course, this solution doesn’t apply to all cases and the best place to start is to always make sure you understand the problem. Stress can come from many places: parents, teachers, other students…it can even come from the stressed student. As a parent, if you want to help, make sure your child doesn’t put too much pressure on him/herself. Also, take steps to make sure you are not putting too much pressure on them to excel. As a child, I know that the stress of school can negatively affect kids mentally, physically, and emotionally. Your child may not get enough sleep because they’re staying up late to finish or “perfect” their work which can affect growth and development.

Signs to look for that school and stress have your child down:

  • They may seem sad or depressed.
  • They may not be as confident as usual.
  • They may be avoiding explaining how much homework they have or procrastinating.
  • They might not be participating in many activities or not taking much interest in a subject that they used to love.

They say “all work and no play makes for a dull person” but where kids are concerned, probably one that’s pretty stressed too, so encourage your child to do more than school work. And if your child is in a bad place the best thing for you to do is to be supportive and positive. Help them as much as possible. But, you know your child best, so do what you think suits them best.

AMC has The Good Dinosaur Sensory Friendly on Saturday

Last updated on December 18th, 2015 at 11:12 am

New sensory friendly logoAMC Entertainment (AMC) and the Autism Society have teamed up to bring families affected by autism and other special needs “Sensory Friendly Films” every month – a wonderful opportunity to enjoy fun new 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.

Good-Dinosaur-posterDoes it make a difference? Absolutely! Imagine …no need to shhhhh your child. No angry stares from other movie goers. Many parents think twice before bringing a child to a movie theater. Add to that your child’s special needs and it can easily become cause for parental panic. But on this one day a month, for this one screening, everyone is there to relax and have a good time, everyone expects to be surrounded by kids – with and without special needs – and the movie theater policy becomes “Tolerance is Golden“.

This Saturday, December 12th, at 10am local time, AMC and the Autism Society’s “Sensory Friendly Film” program will be showing The Good Dinosaur. 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 full list, please scroll to the bottom of the page).

Coming later in December: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Tues, 12/22 and Sat, 12/26)

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Editor’s note: Although The Good Dinosaur has been chosen by the AMC and the Autism Society as this month’s Sensory Friendly Film, we do want parents to know that it is rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America for peril, action and thematic elements. As always, please check the IMDB Parents Guide for a more detailed description of this film to determine if it is right for you and your child.

How Eczema can Change as Your Child Ages

Last updated on December 18th, 2015 at 11:12 am

Eczema can affect you differently depending on your age. The best way to treat it can differ too.

Relieving Eczema in Babies
In babies, eczema tends to appear as a red rash on the cheeks, spreading down to the neck and nappy area.

Although it’s natural to be concerned about using steroid creams on your baby, they can be very useful for short periods. Just make sure to consult your GP before using these creams and never use them on a baby’s face.

It can be difficult to get the dose (amount) of steroid cream correct. It’s usually measured in fingertip units (FTU). One FTU can treat an area of skin twice the size of an adult’s full hand and fingers.

Avoid using too little steroid cream as this can prolong flare-ups and means you may require more treatment in the long-term. Once the flare-up has cleared, stop using the steroid.

Use cotton bedding and clothing to reduce the itching, and keep your baby’s nails short and clean to reduce the damage from scratching.

Read more about eczema in babies.

Relieving Eczema in Young Children

Eczema on the kid's handBy the age of two, a child with eczema will probably have the rash on their neck, elbows, arms, ankles and behind the knees.

In children over two, antihistamines may help. Antibacterial ointments may also be useful if the eczema becomes infected. Your GP may also consider prescribing a medicine to control any inflammation of the skin.

Distraction is the best way to help your child during eczema flare-ups. Keep your child as busy as possible with activities to reduce the distress caused by eczema.

Read more about eczema in young children.

Relieving Eczema in Teens and Young Adults

Eczema usually improves as children reach their teens. It’s important that they continue moisturising. Teenage boys, in particular, don’t like using emollients (non-cosmetic moisturisers), and girls starting to use cosmetics and scents may have a reaction.

This is also the age when young adults may start smoking and drinking, both of which can cause eczema flare-ups. The stress of exams, first jobs and new careers can also be a problem. Late nights and lots of coffee are not good for eczema.

Many young people are very active and eczema should not interfere with sporting activities. Sweating can irritate eczema, but this can be reduced by wearing loose cotton clothing and exercising in cool weather.

Teenagers should avoid swimming during a flare-up and always use emollient before getting into the water. They need to shower afterwards and reapply emollient.

Relieving Eczema in the Over-40s

Flare-ups often disappear by this age, but most former eczema sufferers remain prone to dry skin, so you should continue to use emollient.

Having varicose veins can increase your risk of venous eczema. Speak to your GP for advice.

Read more about how to look after your skin.

Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 11-30-2015 to 12-06-2015

Last updated on December 18th, 2015 at 11:12 am

twitter thumbIn this week’s Children’s Safety News: How to Have a Safe iPod Touch, iPhone or iPad https://t.co/Y0mTv92CdY

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 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 12 events & stories.

PedSafe Child Health & Safety Headline of the Week:
What To Do If Someone Posts A Self-Harm Status On Social Media https://t.co/KC874r8TKX

Tomorrow the New Hunger Games Movie is Sensory Friendly

Last updated on December 18th, 2015 at 11:11 am

AMC Entertainment (AMC) has expanded their Sensory Friendly Films program, in partnership with the Autism Society! This Tuesday evening, families affected by autism or other special needs have the opportunity to view a sensory friendly screening of the new Hunger Games movie, Mockingjay – Part 2, a film that may appeal to older audiences on the autism spectrum.

New sensory friendly logoAs always, 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.

HungerGames-Mockingjay-P2-poster-cropDoes it make a difference? Absolutely! Imagine …no need to shhhhh your child. No angry stares from other movie goers. Many parents think twice before bringing a child to a movie theater. Add to that your child’s special needs and it can easily become cause for parental panic. But on this one day a month, for this one screening, everyone is there to relax and have a good time, everyone expects to be surrounded by kids – with and without special needs – and the movie theater policy becomes “Tolerance is Golden“.

AMC and the Autism Society will be showing the Hunger Games movie, Mockingjay – Part 2, tomorrow, Tuesday, December 8th at 7pm (local time). 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 full list, please scroll to the bottom of the page).

Coming later in December: The Good Dinosaur (Sat, 12/12) and Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Tues, 12/22 and Sat, 12/26)

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Editor’s note: Although The Hunger Games – Mockingjay Part 2 has been chosen by the Autism Society as this month’s Sensory Friendly screening, we do want parents to know that it is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for intense sequences of violence and action, and for some thematic material. As always, please check the IMDB Parents Guide for a more detailed description of this film to determine if it is right for you and your child.

Dangerous Situations, Scary Statistics: Be Aware for Safe Holidays

Last updated on December 18th, 2015 at 11:11 am

Frosted window with Christmas decorationWith the Holiday season ramping up into full swing I thought it would be a good idea to share some information we have been going over in the firehouse in preparation for the Holidays. Everything from fires to falls to poisonings. I am very big on statistics and these numbers can be very eye opening but also very helpful if you keep them in mind this holiday season. I am borrowing this from the The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) in the hopes that you have a happy and safe holidays and don’t make Santa visit anyone in the hospital.

While the winter holiday season is traditionally a festive time of year filled with colorful decorations and family gatherings, it is too often a time of tragedy and loss as well. National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) statistics indicate that 30% of all home fires and 38% of home fire deaths occur during the months of December, January, and February. These winter fires result from a variety of sources. According to reports from the United States Fire Administration (USFA), incidence of fires caused by cooking, heating, and open flame all increase during the winter holidays. USFA also notes that winter holiday fires are more severe than the average fire during the year across all loss measures. Holiday decoration and Christmas tree fires, in particular, are substantially more damaging than other fires. These fires result in twice the injuries and five times the fatalities per fire as the average winter holiday home fire. During 2004-2008, an average of 260 home fires each year started with Christmas trees. Another 150 home fires per year were caused by decorative and holiday lights.

Fire is not the only danger facing families during the holiday season. Injuries resulting from falls are a serious concern this time of year as well. About 5,800 individuals are treated annually in hospital emergency rooms for injuries sustained from falls involving holiday decorations. In addition, 4,000 people a year are treated in emergency rooms for injuries associated with extension cords. Half of these injuries involve fractures, lacerations, contusions, or sprains as a result of people tripping over the cords.

The risk of poisonings also increases during the holiday period, resulting not only from common household items, but also carbon monoxide (CO). The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that in 2007 the majority of CO deaths occurred in the colder months of November through February.

Fire-Related Statistics

U.S. Home Structure Fires:

  • During 2005-2009, there was an average of 373,900 home fires each year, resulting in an annual average of 2,650 deaths, 12,890 injuries, and $7.1 billion in property damage.
  • During 2005-2009, roughly one of every 310 households had a reported home fire per year.
  • Almost half of home fires (47%) and more than half (54%) of home fire deaths occur in the cooler months of November through March.

Cooking Fires:

  • girl frying bacon in panCooking equipment is the leading cause of reported home structure fires and injuries. It is also the leading cause of unreported fires.
  • During 2004-2008, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 154,700 home cooking fires each year. These fires caused an annual average of 460 deaths, 4,850 injuries, and $724 million in property damage.
  • Unattended cooking equipment is the leading cause of home cooking fires.
  • The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission found that in 2004-2005, for every household cooking fire reported to the fire department, U.S. households experienced 50 cooking equipment fires that they did not report.
  • Two of every five reported home fires started in the kitchen or cooking area.
  • Home fires involving cooking peak on dates that are major U.S. holidays with traditions of cooking, such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Christmas Eve.

Heating Fires:

  • Heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires and home fire deaths.
  • In 2008, heating equipment was involved in an estimated 66,100 home fires, resulting in 480 deaths, 1,660 injuries and $1.1 billion in property damage.
  • Space heaters result in far more fires and losses than central heating devices and have higher risks relative to usage.
  • 32% of home heating fires (approximately 21,000) and 82% of home heating fire deaths (394) are caused by space heaters.

Electrical Fires:

  • Home electrical distribution and lighting systems are the fourth leading cause of home fires, after cooking equipment, heating equipment, and intentional fires.
  • In the United States, 50,900 fires each year are attributed to electrical failure or malfunction, resulting in 490 deaths and 1,440 injuries. Arcing faults are a major cause of these fires.
  • The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that AFCIs could prevent more than 50 percent of the electrical fires that occur every year.
  • About 3,300 residential fires originate in extension cords each year, killing 50 people and injuring about 270 others.

Home Fire Victims:

  • Almost two-thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.
  • Children under five years old are almost 1-1/2 times more likely to die in a home fire as the average person.
  • The peak months for home fires that cause child casualties are December through February.
  • In 2007, nearly 510 children under the age of 15 died as a result of fires, another estimated 1,900 children were injured by fires.
  • Adults over age 65 are more than twice as likely as the average person to die in a home fire.
  • In one of every five fire deaths, the fire started when something that could catch fire was too close to a heat source.

Household Injuries and Accidents

  • More than 30,000 non-fatal shock accidents occur each year.
  • Each year in the U.S., more than 100,000 people are treated in hospital emergency rooms due to a scalding injury.
  • Hot tap water accounts for nearly 1 in 4 of all scald burns among children and is associated with more deaths and hospitalizations than any other hot liquid burns.
  • Each day, nearly 7 children are treated in hospital emergency rooms for electrical shock or burn injuries caused by tampering with a wall outlet.
  • In 2007, over 98,000 children ages 14 and under were treated for burn injuries in hospital emergency rooms.
  • The most common causes of product-related thermal burn injuries among children ages 14 and under are hair curlers, curling irons, room heaters, ovens/ranges, and irons.
  • In 2009, ranges and ovens were involved in an estimated 17,300 thermal burn injuries seen in U.S. hospital emergency rooms. 36% (5,600) of these burn victims were under the age of 5.
  • Heating equipment accounted for 58,660 injuries reported to hospital emergency rooms in 2009. Space heaters accounted for 19% of the total injuries, but more than two-thirds of the thermal burn injuries.
  • For every 10 poison exposures in children, approximately 9 occur in the home.

Decorating Statistics

  • Christmas lights - watch for overloadsIn 2004-2008, an estimated 1,170 home fires per year began with decorations, excluding Christmas trees. These fires caused an annual average of 8 deaths, 54 injuries, and $19.1 million in property damage.
  • Christmas tree and holiday decoration fires result in twice the injuries and 5 times more fatalities per fire than the average winter holiday fire.
  • On average, 260 home fires begin with Christmas trees each year, resulting in 12 deaths, 24 injuries and $16.4 million in property damage.
  • An additional 150 home fires per year begin with holiday lights and other decorative lighting, causing another 8 deaths, 16 injuries, and $8.9 million in property damage each year.
  • Candles started 45% of home decoration fires.
  • December is the peak time of year for candle fires.
  • Christmas, Christmas Eve, and New Year’s Day are the top 3 days of the year for candle fires.
  • Roughly 5,800 people per year were treated in hospital emergency rooms for falls associated with holiday decorations. More than half of these injuries were caused by falls from ladders or roofs while decorating outdoors.
  • CPSC estimates that each year, about 4,000 injuries associated with electric extension cords are treated in hospital emergency rooms. 50% of these injuries involve fractures, lacerations, contusions, or sprains from people tripping over extension cords. 13% of these injuries involve children less than five years of age; electrical burns to the mouth accounted for 50% of the injuries to young children.

Fatality Statistics:

  • Each year, there is an estimated average of 60 electrocutions associated with consumer products. The three most common product categories associated with electrocutions are small appliance, power tool, and lighting equipment.
  • Every year in the U.S., more than 2,600 people are killed in home fires.
  • In the U.S., injury is the leading cause of death among children and young adults, and nearly half of these accidents occur in the home, according to the National Safety Council.
  • Worldwide, accidental injury kills more than 2,000 children each and every day.
  • According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 70 percent of child-related electrical accidents occur at home, when adult supervision is present.
  • Fires and burns are the third leading cause of unintentional death among children 14 and under.
  • On average, 184 people die each year from non-fire, carbon monoxide poisoning associated with consumer products. The two most common product categories associated with non-fire carbon monoxide deaths are engine-driven tools (38%) and heating systems (38%).

I hope these numbers give you some things to keep in mind this holiday season and keep you and your family safe.

Have a Happy Holidays

Greg.

Editor’s Note: Why share this scary information right before the holidays? Because most of these situations are preventable! Sometimes all it takes is a little awareness to avert a tragedy. Be aware…be safe…and have a happy and healthy holiday!