Stop, Look & Paws: Teaching Kids How to Be Safe Around Dogs

We’ve all seen or heard about horrific instances of dog bites to children.  I think most of us believe it will never happen to us.  Until I became a dog trainer and was doing research on children and dogs, I didn’t realize the alarming statistics of dog bites to children.

According to the Humane Society of the United States:

  • Annually there are 4.7 million dogs bites in the U.S., with over half to children
  • 77% of the bites are from dogs that are familiar to the child
  • Children ages 5-9 have the highest rate of dog bites

In my role as a dog trainer, I work with families that have children and dogs.  When I meet with families, I often discover they are unaware of the potential risks when interacting with dogs, and, what dogs are trying to communicate. Specifically, almost without exception, the children really had no idea how to read their dog’s body language or the situations in which the dogs were engaged.  Depending on the child’s interpretation of the dog’s actions, they could easily put themselves in harm’s way. For example, let’s say a child sees a dog, and assumes that the dog looks “lonely”.  Many times people confuse cautiousness/fear with loneliness.  If the child tries to approach and pet the dog to comfort her, the dog may react with a nip to communicate “stay away.”  This is especially true when a dog is hiding under an object or piece of furniture.

To fill this critical gap, I searched for tools and activities that would help teach children about dog body language and safety.  As a former elementary school teacher, I knew the best way to help children learn is to use an interactive activity that is fun and simple to use. Unfortunately, after months of looking, I couldn’t find anything that had these elements for learning.  So, I decided to create my own learning activity called Stop, Look & Paws.

Stop, Look & Paws is a dog safety activity that children play by sorting stickers. Children look at images of dog stickers which either show a common situation (e.g., eating from a dog bowl), or exhibiting specific body language (e.g., tail tucked down between legs). The goal is to ask children to sort the stickers onto an activity board into either the “safe to pet” or “not safe to pet” categories.   Children love the hands on part and stickers.  A “Dog Sticker Guide” is included to assist parents with background knowledge on each dog sticker. There is productive dialogue between the child and adult while playing the activity.  This allows for understanding why the child chose the category they did, and how to correct their decision if needed.  Given the stickers are reusable, they can change their mind, and play the game more than once to benefit from repetitive learning.

Since 2017, when Stop, Look & Paws was introduced to the public, hundreds of parents have used this with overwhelmingly positive feedback.  In addition, veterinarians and educators have been extremely supportive of Stop, Look & Paws™ to effectively teach dog safety to children between the ages of 4 – 10.  While each comment I receive is slightly different, the message is the same: If kids can have fun while learning the all-important lessons about dog behavior and safety, there is a better chance of preventing future dog bites.

My hope is that families use Stop, Look & Paws to educate their children before a dog bite occurs.  Help your child understand that every dog is unique, and that it’s best to be thoughtful when interacting with them. I believe it’s very important to begin reducing the 4.7 million dog bites that happen each year.

HEALTHFUL HINTS:

Educate yourself about dog body language and how dogs communicate so you can share this information with your child.

Here are the Top 6 Dog Safety Tips that every child should know:

  1. Ask permission of the owner before petting a dog, and pet calmly. Model this for your child.
  2. Try the 3 second rule. If you pet a dog, stop after 3 seconds and pull your hand away. If the dog then moves closer to you, you can continue to pet!
  3. Don’t approach an unfamiliar dog.
  4. No hugging. Hugging is a sign of love in the human world, but not in the dog world.
  5. Don’t pursue a dog that is trying to move away.
  6. If a dog is pursuing your child, have your child stand still, tuck their arms and hands and look away until the dog moves away. Then they can walk away slowly.

Child Health & Safety News 9/17: 8 Easy-To-Miss Car Seat Hazards

twitter thumbIn this week’s Child Health News: Horrific New Playground ‘Stunt’  – Roundabout of Death – Left 11 Year Old Boy with Serious Head Injuries bit.ly/2Mx4IS3 

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.

  • The Art and Science of Raising a Sensitive Boy (Without Crushing his Spirit) bit.ly/2pbcPuv 2018-9-16
  • This One Trick Can Save Parents $2,000 a Year On Day Care bit.ly/2D0BhbI parents – check on Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts (DCFSA)2018-9-16
  • Virtual reality app could lessen anxiety for pediatric patients during MRI bit.ly/2CYpfzG 2018-9-16
  • Parents, take note: Kids, teen, college student mental health problems on the rise abcn.ws/2D0nr9d 2018-9-15
  • Brief psychotherapy benefits women caring for children with severe health issues bit.ly/2CZRsWG 2018-9-15

PedSafe Child Health & Safety News Headline of the Week
8 Easy-To-Miss Car Seat Hazards That a Child Safety Tech Wants You to Be Aware Of and Keep In Mind http://bit.ly/2pi3RM4 

  • This Girl Was Hospitalized After Getting Her Ears Pierced, & Parents Are Freaked bit.ly/2pd0plz 2018-9-15
  • When Parents Are In Jail, Their Kids’ Health Suffers bit.ly/2NJRCFT here’s a pilot program to change that 2018-9-15
  • How To Teach Kids Storytelling To Improve Their Friendships bit.ly/2xcJmnv 2018-9-14
  • The Problem With Parents and Social Media bit.ly/2x2dEKr 2018-9-13
  • But Mom, what if it’s not just a sprain? Thurs Time Capsule 09/11 bit.ly/2N7B1Mv 2018-9-13
  • There’s A Reason Babies Stop Crying When You Stand Up bit.ly/2x6TJt6 there is a science behind this 2018-9-12
  • How To Prepare When You Are Expecting Healthy Twins bit.ly/2OdOZJd 2018-9-12
  • EMS Providers Recall 9/11 bit.ly/2CNaXlj A day of remembrance and gratitude. We honor those who bravely gave their lives coming to rescue all who had fallen. 2018-9-11
  • Do your children know what you do? Eat dinner together and tell them. bit.ly/2xb6naz 2018-9-11
  • Parenting Tips for Raising Happy, Healthy Preschoolers bit.ly/2x1O2gB 2018-9-11
  • American Academy of Pediatrics: Children 6 years and older should have at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day. Active play is the best exercise for younger children. Learn more here: ow.ly/4ic430lJpkC 2018-9-10
  • Social Media, Social Life: Teens Reveal Their Experiences (2018) | Common Sense Media bit.ly/2wZF6sa 2018-9-10
  • The nation’s ‘first safety-demonstration home’ will break ground in KC http://bit.ly/2pgGket 2018-9-10
  • How to Keep Kids From Getting Bit Helping with Dog Training bit.ly/2QfMYOq 2018-9-10

How to Make Back to School Feel Safe? a Pediatrician Perspective

It is certainly understandable, given the amount of press and official and unofficial commentary through law enforcement, social media discussions, and easily seen news programs, that fear should arise in the minds of both children attending school and parents of those children about their safety in what has traditionally been a bastion of safety, their schools.

This publicly available information, easily seen by children, has always been centered around the person responsible for the shootings occurring in schools and other public places. The information made available in the news media is repeated ad infinitum after the event occurs and only later is there information about the victims.

This public, news-related, policy needs to be changed to include minimal information, if any, about the perpetrator and immediate coverage about the victims and their families.

The American Academy of Pediatrics refers to the situation surrounding school shootings as “a public health threat to children” and has shared their perspective on the general health of the Pediatric population with such statements as: “We can start by working to advance meaningful legislation that keeps children safe….We also call for stronger background checks, solutions addressing firearm trafficking, and encourage safe firearm storage….children and their families (should) have access to appropriate mental health services.”

As a Pediatrician, I absolutely agree with their statements.

This is an issue that should be taken up by the public as a whole, through local involvement in both federal and local government. This is only one method by which fear is spread. The fact that domestic terrorism has occurred at all promotes the initial terror also seen repeatedly on television and written forms of news media in all its gory details. Your child is exposed to this every couple of months in our society. It’s no wonder there is some fear of the school environment.

To balance my professional opinion with my personal experience, I have three grandchildren who live in Connecticut, not far from Newtown where the Sandy Hook killings took place. I am probably biased, but I consider them to be stable, “normal” children, with good, close ties to their parents compared to the general population.

Although there has been no clinical PTSD, they have certainly become more aware and somewhat fearful of their surroundings. I consider the awareness to be a positive result of this episode, as every person in America has become more aware of their surroundings since 9/11. A fact that has possibly contributed to the absence of further attacks of this magnitude having taken place. They have also become much more tolerant and even thankful for the occasional practice drills in their school.

What can be done to decrease and hopefully eliminate such events and fearsome coverage of those events?

  • The ultimate answer to this is involvement by you and your children in local, civic activities. The Federal government can only do so much and every time it tries there is resistance from many sides. The real power lies in local and state governments who can exert a lot of power if supported by their constituency, something that changed in this respect after 9/11.
  • Get involved. There is much improvement possible at the local and state levels, but it must arise from the grassroots. To start, sale and ownership of assault rifles and large magazines capable of carrying large volumes of ammunition should be limited. There is always pushback on this and officials are slow to act as a result. We must push such acts, as statistics do not necessarily show either side to be correct on this issue.
  • You must answer your children’s questions honestly in an age-appropriate format and up-play the quality and determination of those people in their schools who are there to protect them from harm: from teachers to any law enforcement officers in place. If your child can grasp the concept of statistics, you might point out to them that 56 million students attend US elementary and secondary schools, and only a relative handful (159, less than 3/1000 of one percent) have been affected by such school tragedies, and many of these involved single episodes. Try to relate those numbers to things in their personal lives that at that statistical rate they clearly would not be involved.

  • In the extreme, especially if such events have occurred near to your home and school districts, your child might require a short period of counseling. Although child psychiatry services are not readily available in many smaller communities, a parent can ask his/her Pediatrician, the local medical society or the nearest large children’s medical center for such references.

Understand their fear and as parents there will be no trouble empathizing 

The bottom line is, as always, good communication with your children is of paramount importance! Never stop talking to your children, keep all the channels open, and you will be greatly rewarded as your children grow to maturity.

How To Teach Kids Storytelling To Improve Their Friendships

Thinking, speaking or acting impulsively without planning or thinking things out poses social challenges for children. We can help children better manage their impulsive thoughts, words, and actions by using a storytelling activity we call The Thought Bubble Technique. In this visual conversation activity, we help children think, write, draw, and talk about what characters in a story might be thinking, feeling, saying or doing. The Thought Bubble Technique encourages children to use their imaginations while building their thinking skills.

Here is how you do it…

Open a book with vivid imagery such as a Dr. Seuss book. Let your child or student turn the pages until he discovers a page he finds interesting. Tell your child, “We’re going to use our imaginations. We’re going to imagine a thought bubble is over the head of each of the characters on the page. Then we’re going to imagine what they might be thinking.”

By looking at the images on the page ask your child to make up a story about what’s happening on the page. What are the characters thinking? What are the characters saying? What are the characters doing? How are the characters feeling?

Help the child “THINK OUT” how is the thought, feeling or action helpful or not helpful? How might the other characters respond? How can the characters shift their thoughts, words, feeling or actions so that each story has a happier ending?

The key is to use the creative exploration of images to help the child thoughtfully reflect on how words, thoughts, feelings, and actions are prosocial, facilitating relationships or challenging causing others to feel uncomfortable, unhappy or withdrawn. Use your own creative license, adapt the “Cognitive Conversation” with the child to help him or her see things in a new way. Thoughtful exploration leads to the mindful development of new thinking skills.

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70-play-hi-res-150x197Written for teachers, educators, and clinicians whose work involves playing, talking or teaching children who would benefit from better executive function and social-emotional learning skills, 70 Play Activities incorporates over 100 research studies into printable worksheets, handouts, and guided scripts with step-by-step directions, to empower children to learn and behave better. “With 70 Play Activities we aim to improve the trajectory of children’s learning by integrating the newest neuroscience with activities children love!” With over 70 activities designed to improve thinking, self-regulation, learning and behavior, your tool-kit will be full and your creative brain will be inspired to craft your own meaningful exercises. 70 Play Activities is available at amazon.com

How To Prepare When You Are Expecting Healthy Twins

If you’re pregnant with more than one baby, a healthy diet and lifestyle will help you cope with your pregnancy and give your babies the best start in life.

The advice for keeping healthy in pregnancy is similar whether you’re expecting twins, triplets or just one baby. Eat well, take gentle exercise, drink lots of fluid and, if you feel stressed, get support from friends and family, or talk to your midwife. It’s also important to attend all your antenatal (*prenatal) appointments so your maternity team can keep a close eye on you and your babies.

Healthy eating with a twin pregnancy

Expecting two babies doesn’t mean you have to eat significantly more than during a single pregnancy. However, it’s normal to put on more weight than a woman who is only carrying one baby.

Aim to eat a healthy, balanced diet that includes plenty of fruit, vegetables and wholegrains. These will help you avoid constipation and provide a range of vitamins and minerals.

You also need some protein foods, such as lean red meat, well-cooked eggs, and nuts and seeds. Dairy foods such as milk, cheese and yoghurt are important for calcium.

If you feel peckish, it’s best to fill up on healthy snacks, such as fresh fruit, low-fat yoghurt or sandwiches filled with grated cheese, lean ham or mashed tuna. Try to avoid foods with empty calories, such as sugary snacks, crisps and fizzy drinks.

You’re more at risk from anaemia during a twin pregnancy. You’ll be offered extra blood tests and may be offered iron supplements. Good sources of iron include lean red meat, leafy green vegetables, beans and fortified breakfast cereals.

Read more about healthy eating in pregnancy and foods to avoid in pregnancy.

Staying active with a twin pregnancy

Gentle exercise will help you tone your muscles and protect you from aches and pains. Exercises that won’t overstress your joints are recommended, such as swimming, walking, antenatal yoga, pilates and tai chi.

Doing pelvic floor exercises regularly will help your pelvic floor get back to normal after your babies are born. Even if you’ve had a caesarean birth, you pelvic muscles can still be weak from your pregnancy.

Read more on how to keep active in pregnancy.

Common pregnancy health worries with twins

  • It’s not necessarily true that you will have more morning sickness if you’re expecting twins.
    • Although some women expecting twins or more report lots of morning sickness, others don’t experience any.
    • If you do experience morning sickness, you may find it helps to eat little and often, and to avoid getting hungry.
  • You’re more likely to experience piles and varicose veins during a multiple pregnancy, because of the weight of your babies pressing on the blood vessels of the pelvic area.
  • Pressure from your womb (uterus) pushing on your stomach may make you more prone to heartburn and indigestion as well.
  • You may also find you have backache and pelvic pain, particularly later in your pregnancy. Speak to your midwife, who may refer you to an obstetric physiotherapist.
  • If you register with Tamba** on their website, you can download their Healthy Multiple Pregnancy Guide for free.

For more information on how to have a healthy pregnancy, feel free to read:

Editor’s Note:  * Clarification Provided for our U.S. Readers

**Resources Available Outside the UK

  • Marvelous Multiples: provides links to support organizations throughout the world for expecting parents and families of multiple births.

NHS Choices logo


From www.nhs.uk

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Child Health & Safety News 9/10: New AAP Child Seat Guidelines

twitter thumbIn this week’s Child Health News: New study recommends against brain scans for kids with concussion http://bit.ly/2N3ZtP4 

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.

  • Here’s How Many Immigrant Kids Are Still Separated From Their Parents bit.ly/2wY5lz3 2018-9-09
  • A teen who spent his free time speaking out against gun violence was shot and killed in Chicago cnn.it/2wY5dj3 2018-9-09
  • AAP Raises Concerns That Food Colors May Damage Children’s Health bit.ly/2wUhB32 2018-9-09
  • Children’s Health: Backpack Safety bit.ly/2wRRtXa 2018-9-09
  • How to Keep Your Kids Safe on the Playground bit.ly/2MafFJa  2018-9-08

PedSafe Child Health & Safety News Headline of the Week
What You Need to Know About the New American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Child Seat Guidelines   bit.ly/2wDPDIJ

  • We Must Stop Destroying our Children – Children’s Defense Fund bit.ly/2CwsUEs 2018-9-08
  • Strategies Parents Can Use for Handling Out-of-Control Kids bit.ly/2wUkBx7  2018-9-08
  • Health Matters: What to do when your child bullies other kids nbcnews.to/2wVoGkq 2018-9-08
  • 3 Tips to Raise a Drug-Free Child bit.ly/2wPNaLi 2018-9-07
  • How Can My Allergic Kid Join In When It’s All About the Food bit.ly/2wPvS0F 2018-9-07
  • How to Talk to Your Kids About…Strangers: Thurs Time Capsule 08/12 – bit.ly/2M18vXL  2018-9-06
  • Four million UK children too poor to have a healthy diet, study finds bit.ly/2wL2LLY 2018-9-06
  • Advocacy Group Urges Testing Water for Lead at Child-Care Centers bit.ly/2MPEcs1 Despite the health risks, only 7 states and New York City require licensed child-care facilities to conduct testing for lead in drinking water 2018-9-05
  • What being held at the Mexican border is really like bit.ly/2CrBcNI a doctor describes visiting the South Texas Family Residential Center 2018-9-05
  • Should Special Kids Take Standardized Tests? Intelligent Lives bit.ly/2Ni4suO 2018-9-05
  • Google using AI to help organizations detect and report child sexual abuse material online bit.ly/2wCDVi3 2018-9-04
  • Homelessness Takes Toll on Kids’ Health Even Before They’re Born http://bit.ly/2N77mDu  2018-9-03
  • Growth in first 3 years of life affects respiratory health in children bit.ly/2wAbJfU excessive weight gain in the first years of life can be associated with lower lung function and a higher risk of childhood asthma 2018-9-03
  • Children may care about their reputations earlier than thought: Study abcn.ws/2wrKW5p 2018-9-03