Child Health & Safety News 7/30: Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Recall!

Last updated on August 22nd, 2018 at 03:37 pm

twitter thumbIn this week’s Child Safety News: Using Zika virus to treat neuroblastoma in children bit.ly/2uUeAPV

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 social media to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we overlook something, but overall we think we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. Still, quite a bit happens every day – so to make sure you don’t miss anything, we offer you a recap of this week’s top 20 events & stories.

  • Children’s Health: How to Tell When Your Child’s Appendix Is Acting Up http://bit.ly/2LMOmIE 2018-7-29
  • Your child has been diagnosed with cancer. Don’t panic. Smart treatments abound. https://hrld.us/2AjHjTl 2018-7-29
  • Healthy kids with sick sibling may hide emotions https://reut.rs/2mPtrXp 2018-7-29
  • What Is a ‘Safe’ Sleepover, & When Is Your Kid Ready? bit.ly/2LTbaTV  2018-7-28
  • Paternal depression almost as common as maternal postpartum depression bit.ly/2LOuSUk 2018-7-28

PedSafe Child Health & Safety News Headline of the Week
Pepperidge Farm Recalls Varieties of Goldfish Crackers bit.ly/2JSb39u

  • How Should You React When Your Child Makes a Mistake? bit.ly/2K4Rdbi 2018-7-27
  • Learn what being a champion of compassion looks like with our latest issue of our Kids Who Care newsletter  getrevue.co/profile/pediat… (via @revue) 2018-7-27
  • DeVos Proposes to Curtail Debt Relief for Defrauded Students nyti.ms/2LK5jn0 -7-26
  • Saturday morning, Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation is Sensory Friendly bit.ly/2Lepz0V 2018-7-26
  • 15 Things You Should Not Say to Your Teenage Daughter bit.ly/2JPdzxe 2018-7-25
  • Talking to Your Three-Year-Old to.pbs.org/2JRgIN7 2018-7-25
  • Video: How to Recognize and Deal with Child Sexual Abuse bit.ly/2LfPjd9 2018-7-25
  • This Disney Princess Changed My Daughter’s Life bit.ly/2LIYQpi – thank you Disney for Moana – a princess my daughter could relate to! 2018-7-24
  • ‘Shocking’ Rise in Severely Obese Primary School Children in their final year of school in England https://wb.md/2LYlaeI 2018-7-24
  • Pediatric Sepsis Care Within an Hour Decreases Chance of Death, Largest Ever Analysis Finds http://bit.ly/2uVk0u8 2018-7-24
  • American Academy of Pediatrics calls for “urgently needed reforms” to fix broken food additive regulatory system http://bit.ly/2AmnzP2 2018-7-23
  • Mom is Sick. How to Avoid Kids & Dog Taking Charge bit.ly/2LCfSoY 2018-7-23
  • Tomorrow night at AMC, Mama Mia! Here We Go Again is Sensory Friendly bit.ly/2LgJ5df 2018-7-23

Child Sports Injuries: How to Prevent and Treat The Most Common

Last updated on August 13th, 2018 at 08:11 pm

The school year will soon be upon us and with the return of homework and uniforms means the sports injuriesreturn of sports. 38 million children and adolescents participate in organized sports in the United States each year. Still more participate in informal recreational activities. Although sports participation provides numerous physical and social benefits, it also has a downside: the risk of sports-related injuries. In fact, according to a 2002 report by the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 1.9 million children under 15 were treated in emergency departments the year before for sports-related injuries.

These injuries are by far the most common cause of musculoskeletal injuries in children treated in emergency departments. They are also the single most common cause of injury-related primary care office visits.

I.  The Most Common Sports-Related Injuries in Kids

Although sports injuries can range from scrapes and bruises to serious brain and spinal cord injuries, most fall somewhere between the two extremes. Here are some of the more common types of injuries.

Sprains and Strains

A sprain is an injury to a ligament, one of the bands of tough, fibrous tissue that connects two or more bones at a joint and prevents excessive movement of the joint. An ankle sprain is the most common athletic injury.

A strain is an injury to either a muscle or a tendon. A muscle is a tissue composed of bundles of specialized cells that, when stimulated by nerve messages, contract and produce movement. A tendon is a tough, fibrous cord of tissue that connects muscle to bone. Muscles in any part of the body can be injured.

Growth Plate Injuries

In some sports accidents and injuries, the growth plate may be injured. The growth plate is the area of developing tissues at the end of the long bones in growing children and adolescents. When growth is complete, sometime during adolescence, the growth plate is replaced by solid bone. The long bones in the body include:

  • the long bones of the hand and fingers (metacarpals and phalanges)
  • both bones of the forearm (radius and ulna)
  • the bone of the upper leg (femur)
  • the lower leg bones (tibia and fibula)
  • the foot bones (metatarsals and phalanges).

If any of these areas become injured, it’s important to seek professional help from an orthopaedic surgeon, a doctor who specializes in bone injuries.

Repetitive Motion Injuries

Painful injuries such as stress fractures (a hairline fracture of the bone that has been subjected to repeated stress) and tendinitis (inflammation of a tendon) can occur from overuse of muscles and tendons. Some of these injuries don’t always show up on x rays, but they do cause pain and discomfort. The injured area usually responds to rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE). Other treatments can include crutches, cast immobilization, and physical therapy.

Heat-Related Illnesses

Heat-related illnesses include:

  • dehydration (deficit in body fluids)
  • heat exhaustion (nausea, dizziness, weakness, headache, pale and moist skin, heavy perspiration, normal or low body temperature, weak pulse, dilated pupils, disorientation, and fainting spells)
  • heat stroke (headache, dizziness, confusion, and hot dry skin, possibly leading to vascular collapse, coma, and death).

Heat injuries are always dangerous and can be fatal. Heat-related injuries are a particular problem for children because children perspire less than adults and require a higher core body temperature to trigger sweating. Playing rigorous sports in the heat requires close monitoring of both body and weather conditions. Fortunately, heat-related illnesses can be prevented.

II.  Preventing and Treating Injuries

Injuries can happen to any child who plays sports, but there are some things that can help prevent and treat injuries.

Prevention Basics

  • Enroll your child in organized sports through schools, community clubs, and recreation areas that are properly maintained. Any organized team activity should demonstrate a commitment to injury prevention. Coaches should be trained in first aid and CPR, and should have a plan for responding to emergencies. Coaches should be well versed in the proper use of equipment, and should enforce rules on equipment use.
  • Organized sports programs may have adults on staff who are Certified Athletic Trainers. These individuals are trained to prevent, recognize, and provide immediate care for athletic injuries.
  • Make sure your child has—and consistently uses—proper gear for a particular sport. This may reduce the chances of being injured.
  • Make warm-ups and cool downs part of your child’s routine before and after sports participation. Warm-up exercises, such as stretching and light jogging, can help minimize the chance of muscle strain or other soft tissue injury during sports. Warm-up exercises make the body’s tissues warmer and more flexible. Cool down exercises loosen muscles that have tightened during exercise.
  • Make sure your child has access to water or a sports drink while playing. Encourage him or her to drink frequently and stay properly hydrated. Remember to include sunscreen and a hat (when possible) to reduce the chance of sunburn, which is a type of injury to the skin. Sun protection may also decrease the chances of malignant melanoma—a potentially deadly skin cancer—or other skin cancers that can occur later in life.
  • Learn and follow safety rules and suggestions for your child’s particular sport. You’ll find some more sport-specific safety suggestions below.

Primary Treatment

Treatment for sports-related injuries will vary by injury. But if your child suffers a soft tissue injury (such as a sprain or strain) or a bone injury, the best immediate treatment is easy to remember: RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) the injury (see below). Get professional treatment if any injury is severe. A severe injury means having an obvious fracture or dislocation of a joint, prolonged swelling, or prolonged or severe pain.

Treat Injuries with “RICE”

  • Rest: Reduce or stop using the injured area for at least 48 hours. If you have a leg injury, you may need to stay off of it completely.
  • Ice: Put an ice pack on the injured area for 20 minutes at a time, four to eight times per day. Use a cold pack, ice bag, or a plastic bag filled with crushed ice that has been wrapped in a towel.
  • Compression: Ask your child’s doctor about elastics wraps, air casts, special boots, or splints that can be used to compress an injured ankle, knee, or wrist to reduce swelling.
  • Elevation: Keep the injured area elevated above the level of the heart to help decrease swelling. Use a pillow to help elevate an injured limb.

For Basketball…

  • Common injuries and locations: sprains; strains; bruises; fractures; scrapes; dislocations; cuts; injuries to teeth, ankles and knees. (Injury rates are higher in girls, especially for the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), the wide ligament that limits rotation and forward movement of the shin bone.)
  • Safest playing with: eye protection, elbow and knee pads, mouth guard, athletic supporters for males, proper shoes, water. If playing outdoors, wear sunscreen and, when possible, a hat.
  • Injury prevention: strength training (particularly knees and shoulders), aerobics (exercises that develop the strength and endurance of heart and lungs), warmup exercises, proper coaching, and use of safety equipment.

For Track and Field…School-sports

  • Common injuries: strains, sprains, scrapes from falls.
  • Safest playing with: proper shoes, athletic supporters for males, sunscreen, water.
  • Injury prevention: proper conditioning and coaching.

For Football…

  • Common injuries and locations: bruises; sprains; strains; pulled muscles; tears to soft tissues such as ligaments; broken bones; internal injures (bruised or damaged organs); concussions; back injuries; sunburn. Knees and ankles are the most common injury sites.
  • Safest playing with: helmet; mouth guard; shoulder pads; athletic supporters for males; chest/rib pads; forearm, elbow, and thigh pads; shin guards; proper shoes; sunscreen; water.
  • Injury prevention: proper use of safety equipment, warmup exercises, proper coaching techniques and conditioning.

For Baseball and Softball…

  • Common injuries: soft tissue strains; impact injuries that include fractures caused by sliding and being hit by a ball; sunburn.
  • Safest playing with: batting helmet; shin guards; elbow guards; athletic supporters for males; mouth guard; sunscreen; cleats; hat; detachable,“breakaway bases” rather than traditional, stationary ones.
  • Injury prevention: proper conditioning and warmups.

For Soccer…

  • Staying safe in sportsCommon injuries: bruises, cuts and scrapes, headaches, sunburn.
  • Safest playing with: shin guards, athletic supporters for males, cleats, sunscreen, water.
  • Injury prevention: aerobic conditioning and warmups, and proper training in “heading” (that is, using the head to strike or make a play with the ball).

For Gymnastics…

  • Common injuries: sprains and strains of soft tissues.
  • Safest playing with: athletic supporters for males, safety harness, joint supports (such as neoprene wraps), water.
  • Injury prevention: proper conditioning and warmups.

III.  Safety Tips for ALL Sports

  • Be in proper physical condition to play the sport.
  • Follow the rules of the sport.
  • Wear appropriate protective gear (for example, shin guards for soccer, a hard-shell helmet when facing a baseball or softball pitcher, a helmet and body padding for ice hockey).
  • Know how to use athletic equipment.
  • Always warm up before playing.
  • Avoid playing when very tired or in pain.
  • Get a preseason physical examination.
  • Make sure adequate water or other liquids are available to maintain proper hydration.

Adapted from Play It Safe, a Guide to Safety for Young Athletes, with permission of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Play It Safe in the Heat

  • Schedule regular fluid breaks during practice and games. Kids need to drink 8 ounces of fluid—preferably water—every 20 minutes, and more after playing.
  • Have your child wear light-colored,“breathable” clothing.
  • Make player substitutions more frequently in the heat.
  • Use misting sprays on the body to keep cool.
  • Know the signs of heat-related problems, including confusion; dilated pupils; dizziness; fainting; headache; heavy perspiration; nausea; pale and moist or hot, dry skin; weak pulse; and weakness. If your child experiences any combination of these symptoms or doesn’t seem quite right, seek medical attention immediately.

Adapted with permission from Patient Care magazine, copyrighted by Medical Economics.

Please keep your children active and safe and have a great school year.

 

Sat. Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation is Sensory Friendly

Last updated on August 13th, 2018 at 08:10 pm

New sensory friendly logoSince 2007, AMC 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. Tomorrow, Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation is Sensory Friendly at AMC.

Sensory Friendly Films was born when Marianne Ross, of Elkridge Maryland took her seven year old daughter, Meaghan, to a matinee to see a movie starring one of her favorite actors. She intentionally picked an early showing figuring there would be fewer people there, but when Meaghan saw her favorite guy on the big screen she began to flap her hands, dance, twirl and jump up and down. Unfortunately a few other movie-goers complained to staff, and the manager asked the Ross’ to leave.

It occurred to Marianne there were probably a lot of people who found themselves in similar situations – or worse yet, didn’t even try to go see a movie for fear of the possible outcome.  The next day, she called her local AMC Theatre and asked if Dan Harris, the manager, would be willing to set up a special screening for children on the autism spectrum.  Dan not only took her suggestions, but made it even more sensory friendly.

The movie auditoriums would have their lights turned up and the sound turned down. Families would be able to bring in snacks to match their child’s dietary needs (i.e. gluten-free, casein-free, etc.), there would be no advertisements or previews before the movie and it would be totally acceptable to get up and dance, walk, shout, talk to each other…and even sing.  It was a huge success! 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“.

Families affected by autism or other special needs can view a sensory friendly screening of Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation on Saturday, July 28th at 10am (local time). Tickets are typically $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 in August: TBD

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Editor’s note: Although Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation 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 some action and rude humor.  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 family.

Video: How to Recognize and Deal with Child Sexual Abuse

Last updated on August 13th, 2018 at 08:11 pm

It can be difficult to know whether a child is being abused, as the abuser may be secretive about their actions. In this video, aimed at parents and carers, a child sex abuse consultant from the Marie Collins Foundation explains what to do if you think a child is being harmed, and how to discuss the subject of abuse with a child.

Editor’s Note: Video Highlights 

Child sexual abuse is any sexual behaviour directed towards children…by adults, male and female, and by young people themselves.

Child Sexual Abuse Involves Activities Ranging from:

  • Voyeurism
  • to rape of children
  • and now involves sexual behavior online

What Do We Need to Know

  • 1 in 6 young adults reported being sexually abused before age 16 (results of recent UK study)
  • Very few (~25%) tell anyone due to extensive guilt
  • Impact can be extensive

Signs to look for

  • Acting out in an inappropriate sexual way with toys/objects
  • Nightmares/sleeping problems
  • Withdrawing or becoming clingy
  • Personality changes or regressing to younger behaviors
  • Unaccountable fear of particular places or people
  • Outbursts of anger
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Physical signs
  • Becoming secretive

How Do We Handle This

  • If someone makes you uncomfortable around your child, and you suspect someone is abusing your child – call a helpline and talk to someone
    • UK: 0808 1000 900
    • US & Canada: 800-422-4453
    • Australia: 1 800 55 1800
  • Talk to your child
    • adjust the conversation to their age
    • try not to act shocked – be reassuring
    • try not to interrupt other than to check that the child is alright
    • let them know you will keep them safe, but you will need to bring in help – the police or children’s services – to do that.

It’s a big step to make that call and accuse someone and we often hesitate – but if you don’t – know that the abuse will continue and the child or children could be affected for the rest of their life.

Additional UK Resources:

  • Childline: 0800 1111
  • NSPCC National Child Protection Helpline: 0800 8005000
  • Child Exploitation and Online Protection: www.ceop.police.uk/report-abuse
NHS Choices logo


From www.nhs.uk

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Child Health & Safety News 7/23: Belts on School Buses?

Last updated on July 30th, 2018 at 02:28 pm

twitter thumbIn this week’s Child Safety News: An undercover reporter was trained as a Facebook moderator not to delete certain racist memes and images of child abuse read.bi/2LsxROu

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 social media to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we overlook something, but overall we think we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. Still, quite a bit happens every day – so to make sure you don’t miss anything, we offer you a recap of this week’s top 20 events & stories.

  • Parents Behaving Badly: A Youth Sports Crisis Caught on Video and shamed on Facebook nyti.ms/2uDzVgw 2018-7-22
  • Empowering Kids with Play In An Anxious World n.pr/2uDEO9o  2018-7-22
  • Tips to Stay Sane on a Vacation With Your Toddler bit.ly/2LGCh4o 2018-7-22
  • These Math Learning Apps for Kids Are Anything but Dull bit.ly/2uFenjA 2018-7-21
  • Chilling impact of poverty on NZ child health bit.ly/2Lx94ch 2018-7-21
  • The Negative Effects of Social Media and Screen Time for Kids (Free Course) bit.ly/2LAIBL7 2018-7-20

PedSafe Child Health & Safety News Headline of the Week
Belts or no belts on school buses? bit.ly/2LEwLzD

  • Pediatric sports injuries bit.ly/2LclM40 Every year, 1.5 million children go down with a serious sports injury 2018-7-20
  • How to Help Adopted Children Face Their Unique Challenges bit.ly/2L0sXMJ 2018-7-20
  • Working Moms – 5 Tips for Balancing the Pressures of Work & Family bit.ly/2O0PxCx 2018-7-19
  • Leading Tennessee Hospital Lends a Helping Paw to Patients and Their Families prn.to/2Nsq1oO 2018-7-19
  • Greater Manchester schools warning over Tellonym – ‘most honest app on internet’ – is fueling cyberbullying bit.ly/2LqN6aR  2018-7-19
  • 5 Strategies to Conquer Your Kid’s Doctor Phobia Thurs Time Capsule – 07/12 bit.ly/2zQ1iJ0 2018-7-19
  • Study: HPV Vaccine, Safe and Effective Against Cervical Pre-Cancer bit.ly/2mn3UVk 2018-7-18
  • How Does Sensory Play Help With a Child’s Development? bit.ly/2JtGff1  2018-7-17
  • Cyber bullies target girl, 10, in ‘ugly or not’ Instagram poll bit.ly/2JtI23u This little girl put up an instagram acct and within hours became an “insta-target”….she is now on suicide watch. 2018-7-17
  • Keep Kids Safe Around Water at Summer Parties bit.ly/2L3aaA8 2018-7-17
  • School Bullying Must Be Taken Seriously | Roots of Action bit.ly/2zI4UNl 2018-7-16
  • Raising green babies: Teaching our children to love and respect the environment bit.ly/2NfTXo6 2018-7-16
  • With the supreme court confirmations focusing on abortion, some highly critical child health statistics are going unnoticed bit.ly/2Lhemse 2018-7-16
  • 8 Ways to Boost Our Kids’ Social-Emotional Skills bit.ly/2mj7Lm8 2018-7-16

Mom is Sick. How to Avoid Kids & Dog Taking Charge

Last updated on July 30th, 2018 at 02:24 pm

Professional dog trainers talk a lot about being the ‘pack leader’ and setting solid rules, boundaries and guidelines for our animals as well as our kids. We discuss the importance of being consistent so that our kids and animals know what to expect and what is expected of them. But what happens when we are not at our best due to illness or injury? What sort of dangers or difficulties may we encounter during these times? Especially when we are the primary rule makers and enforcers?

The number one ‘reaction’ I have repeatedly encountered with both children and animals is Insecurity. The ‘unknown’ can be scary for all of us and can make us worried, fearful, apprehensive, and a host of other feelings we might go through. And as parents, it’s instinctual to want to shield your children from these unpleasant feelings. We try to smile and act like everything is okay, and for a little while, it may work. But no one can hide these feelings forever. You suddenly find yourself short tempered, frustrated, weepy, etc. And often, it is over silly insignificant little things. So, you started out trying to ‘protect’ your kids, and now you are snapping at them and everyone is walking on eggshells.

Now let’s look at the family dog: You can ‘paste’ that smile on your face and tell them that everything is okay, but they can see right through the facade. Or more accurately, they can see, hear, smell and feel right through it. Words have little to no value to dogs. If you said to your dog, “Rex, I’ll let you out in a few minutes, then we’ll go to the park and practice “SIT” and “STAY”, what they heard was…“REX, blah blah OUT blah blah PARK blah blah SIT blah STAY.

Why? Because they don’t understand words like we do (except for the ones they have heard repeatedly.) They communicate through scent, body language, voice inflections, and gestures. A good example is the sentence “What did you do?” If you smile and say it in a happy excited voice, the tail will wag furiously, and they will circle you for pats and love. However, those same four words said with your arms across your chest, a scowl on your face, and in an angry tone will have them running to hide! When your entire demeanor shifts involuntarily, they feel it!! They know when something is wrong.

So, how can this inconsistency affect your household?

I can best answer this question by sharing with you a recent experience I encountered:

I got my dog Reilley at 3.5 months old. He had a few negative behaviors even as a puppy, such as resource guarding his toys and food around other dogs (see my article Recognizing a dog’s body language before your child gets bitten’ to understand what resource guarding is.) I had to work hard to help him overcome this. I run a dog boarding and training business… it simply would NOT do if MY dog had issues that could potentially put a client’s dogs at risk! So we worked on socializing Reilley with kids and with other dogs.

All was going well and according to my plan, until I needed surgery on my leg. And although I did my best to act like the surgery was no big deal, I was scared and nervous. I saw a few subtle changes in my dog’s behavior, but nothing that overly concerned me. When I came home from surgery, I was lying in bed recuperating and I enjoyed having Reilley lying on the bed next to me keeping me company and cuddling with me. My mom had come to town to help and Reilley’s care was taken over by her and my husband. Everything seemed relaxed and my recovery was going well.

It did not take me long to realize that something big had changed for my dog. This dog who had been social and outgoing with every dog and person who arrived here was suddenly standing back, guarded, and growling at dogs and people! I had seen dogs react negatively to change before, but it had always seemed to affect their behaviors (actions)… a previously housebroken dog starts having accidents, or they are not listening to commands they know very well…. But this was a huge change in his personality, and I did not understand it. So I asked for help. I described what I was seeing to my dog trainer friends through the International Association of Canine Professionals (IACP) and sought their guidance. Although their advice made total sense to me after the fact, I must admit I was a bit surprised at first with what they all had to say.

  • Prior to my surgery I was the primary rule maker as well as the rule enforcer. Not that Reilley grew up in a prison, but there were a number of rules we had set that we lived by every day, and they worked for us (e.g. I poured his food and he sat and waited for permission to eat). My husband on the other hand, was a “dump the food in the bowl and walk away” kind of guy.  And Reilley, like a lot of kids who hate rules but in reality, NEED them, didn’t do well when the rules actually went away. My inability to enforce the rules he was used to living by had left my dog feeling insecure and unsure
  • Because I was the ‘pack leader’ in my house, I was the person in charge of welcoming guests into our home – I maintained order. With others caring for me, I was no longer the “leader” enforcing calm and overseeing who had permission to be there. I was no longer the protector. In the absence of my leadership, he became confused and began to question our roles…I was the sick and injured member of the ‘pack’, maybe it was HIS job to protect me and not the other way around.
  • Finally, because dogs can be so child-like in their actions and reactions, seeing his leader so scared and vulnerable made him very nervous and insecure. (Not so dissimilar to a child realizing for the first time that a parent is fallible or does not always have the answers.)

You may be thinking, ‘what’s the big deal, your dog growled at some other dogs.’ But consider this… what if there were children that he was growling at? An insecure or fearful dog can be an unpredictable one.

So what if you, as the primary care-giver suddenly became ill or injured?

How do you help your family (including the family dog) acclimate to this time of crisis?  How do you help them through it when you are in pain or feeling miserable and are temporarily unable to be the ‘enforcer’?

The two most important answers I can give you are preparation and communication.

I. Preparation:  Obviously this applies more so when you have to go for surgery or something similar that you know about in advance. But even though injuries and illness are often unexpected events, there is still some planning you can do ahead of time, so you are ready if the need should arise.

  • Spend time talking with your significant other, or, if you are a single parent, chose one or two family members or friends you trust with the health and well being of your kids and pets.
  • Make a full list of schedules and routines that include……
    • what time the kids get up, head out for school or the bus, get home from school, and when homework is typically done,
    • what time and day each child has an extracurricular activity, what time they eat supper, approved and not-approved snacks, and what time they need to be in bed. You can also include how much screen time they can have, and approved ‘viewing’ items.
    • Make sure you include things in your list like how you personally reward your child for a job well done or correct or discipline your child for not doing what they are supposed to. (e.g. do they earn stickers on a wall chart or cookies with milk?)
  • While it is a child’s job to push boundaries and try to get away with stuff, even though they think they want these ‘perks’, in the end, it can be quite unsettling for them to suddenly get their way because it varies from the normal routine which can again make them insecure and fearful.
  • Remember to update this list frequently, as schedules and routines may change or vary.

Now, as for the dog:

  • Do not assume just because the family pet is like another child to you, that everyone else will feel the same way. Make sure the person who agreed to stay and help with the kids is also okay with taking care of the dog.
  • Create a similar list for the dogs that you did for the kids, with the dog’s regular routine.
  • Include in the list behaviors that you approve of and do not approve of so that they can follow through (ie: allowed on furniture, allowed to jump up on people when greeting people, etc)
  • Do some research on local boarding facilities just in case it is too much for the person caring for the children to care for the dog as well. This way it is a comfortable choice and not a last-minute decision that keeps you up worried.

II. Communication is vital for all parties involved… whether it is being honest with your kids about what is going on (within reason and age appropriate of course) or talking very openly with the person you have entrusted your kids care to. This reduces so much stress for everyone involved…. Including you! The last thing you want if you become sick or injured is to worry about your household becoming an unruly chaotic place. This can cause the kids to act out, and this is especially important if you happen to have a special needs child whose life is all about the schedules and routines they have come to depend on. And since the family dog tends to feed off the emotions of the family, why risk him being on edge and nervous or fearful…. Which can lead to behavior changes ranging from accidents in the house, to all out aggression.

So I will wrap this up with one last piece of advice: If you are on the other end of this, meaning you did not see this list prior to this scenario happening, and you find yourself now dealing with a chaotic household, heed the advice of Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music when she says,  “Let’s start at the very beginning. A very good place to start”…

Don’t be afraid to go back to basics with both the kids and the dog. 

For the dog, it might be going back to some crate training and basic commands to remind them you are in charge; for the kids, same thing.  😛  Just kidding…for the kids, it may be being very strict about routines. Whatever you did when they were young to have your house chaos-free and running smooth, repeat until you are back there again. It will not be a lengthy process to back-track a bit, but it may be very useful to help get everyone back on track. The ‘basics’ bring with it a familiarity that everyone may need for now.