How Can a Cookie Teach My Child to be Calm?

Last updated on November 2nd, 2018 at 11:11 pm

All children benefit from learning relaxation skills.

One of the most commonly used and effective relaxation skills is deep breathing. Deep breathing (also known as diaphragmatic breathing) involves slow, deep breaths through the diaphragm to initiate the body’s relaxation response. Relaxation skills are important to master because they can help children better manage anger, stress, fear, and anxiety.

Children may be resistant to learning and implementing relaxation skills. Teaching children to relax using a playful technique is an effective way to break through the resistive barrier.

An engaging intervention to teach diaphragmatic breathing is the Cookie Breathing Game (Lowenstein, 2016).

The child is directed to follow these steps:

  • Put your hand on your tummy, where your belly button is.
  • Slowly breathe in through your nose for three seconds and feel your tummy move out.
  • Slowly breathe out through your mouth for four seconds, and feel your tummy move in. 
  • Make sure your shoulders and chest are relaxed and still.
  • Only your tummy should be moving in and out. 
  • To help you learn this special way of breathing, imagine a yummy batch of cookies that just came out of the oven.
  • As you breathe in, smell those yummy cookies!
  • But they’re hot, so you have to blow on them to cool them down.
  • As you breathe out, blow on the cookies to cool them down.

A game is then played to help the child practice. The child rolls the dice and does Cookie Breathing slowly and properly two times when an even number is rolled. The child gets a point if an odd number is rolled. The child gets a cookie once four points are earned.

Repeated practice is required when building relaxation skills; thus, home-based practice exercises are strongly encouraged. Parents should learn the Cookie Breathing technique as well so they can coach the child to practice the strategy at home. Practicing at bedtime is recommended as this helps the child relax in preparation for sleep.

Reference: Lowenstein, L. (2016). Creative CBT interventions for children with anxiety.  Toronto, ON: Champion Press.

 

Child Health & Safety News 10/15: 6 Safety Apps for Halloween

Last updated on October 24th, 2018 at 12:02 am

twitter thumbIn this week’s Child Health News: Starbucks offers backup child care to all employees http://bit.ly/2CKGoMd 

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 15 events & stories.

  • Motorcycle-riding firefighters give special ride to child battling rare health condition bit.ly/2IUmXRj 2018-10-14
  • WHY it is So Important for Kids to Know WHY – Today’s Mama bit.ly/2OpwUMI 2018-10-14
  • Should Your Child Stay Home Sick? A Close look at five symptoms by the Cleveland Clinic can Help you to Decide cle.clinic/2IVZDT4 2018-10-14
  • Tucson woman wants to make sure kids don’t lose their deported parents http://bit.ly/2CNGsLf 2018-10-14

PedSafe Child Health & Safety News Headline of the Week
6 of the best child-safety apps to keep kids safer this Halloween http://bit.ly/2Oqwu8F 

  • Small or small, boy? Pizzas targeted in war on childhood obesity bit.ly/2OkDpQG 2018-10-13
  • Goosebumps 2: is Sensory Friendly Tomorrow Morning at AMC bit.ly/2E44q6d 2018-10-12
  • Halloween Costumes for Special Needs Kids – Thurs Time Capsule 10/12 – bit.ly/2OeVxvj 2018-10-11
  • Targeting abnormal signals suggests novel method to treat a rare childhood blood disease Fanconi anemia http://bit.ly/2ClNfeb 2018-10-10
  • 41 kids sickened in Colorado’s enterovirus outbreak, health officials say http://bit.ly/2EngNdR 2018-10-10
  • How to talk to your kids about sexual abuse bit.ly/2pFs13g 2018-10-09
  • 8 Things You Should Tell Your Teenage Son About Sex bit.ly/2C3k9Qg  2018-10-08
  • How to Raise Kids With Manners in An Uncivilized World bit.ly/2OdfN0e 2018-10-08
  • Tomorrow Night at AMC, Venom is Sensory Friendly bit.ly/2E2hKIp 2018-10-08

When Should I Get My Child a Dog…and What Should We Get?

Last updated on November 2nd, 2018 at 11:11 pm

A few years back I wrote an article about what was the best age to get your child s dog and what breed you should get. Apparently over the last few years, this article has been viewed numerous times, so our editor asked me to go over it, update it a bit and maybe add a few more ideas along the way. For those of you who read the original article, I hope you find the add-ons helpful; for those of you reading it for the first time, I hope you also find it helpful and informative.

sad puppies shelterOver the many years I have been working with dogs and their people, I have heard so many different responses to this same question: “I promised my son a dog when he was old enough to take care of it” and “I told my daughter if she does well on her report card, we would get her a dog” and I have also seen the after-effects of this; the child reached the age the parent thought was necessary for them to get the dog, now the dog is used as a threat… “It’s your dog…. You wanted him and promised to take care of him. If you don’t clean up after him, we’re getting rid of him.” I have even had multiple customers call, asking me to take the dog to my house as a way to ‘show the child we mean business.”

So, let me explain a few things to help you make an informed decision on when it is right for your family to have a dog, and what dog might best suit your family. First, notice I said ‘for your family to have a dog.’ It is not realistic to think any child can be completely responsible for the care and well-being of a dog. While a child can help with many responsibilities, always remember… you will be the primary care taker. Ultimately, the right age for your family to get a dog is when it is something you want and you are ready for the commitment.

Similarly, I have also been asked many times over the years about getting a second dog… usually the typical time I am asked about this is when the kids are old enough to go to school full time and the stay-at-home parent is going back to work, and they think Fido needs a companion. We dog trainers have a saying about this, “Never get your dog a dog.” If you want a second dog and are ready for the commitment of a second dog, that is fine. But there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • There is no guarantee that your current dog will be as excited about another dog living in their home as you expected him to be.
  • If you think Fido is going to train the second dog, you are going to be very disappointed. If they do get along, and all is fine, while there are certain things the new dog will learn from Fido, they still need to be taught by you how to behave and follow commands.
  • Seriously reflect on the training you did with your first dog… If your reason for getting another dog is because you do not have as much time for the first dog as you would like, and therefore think they may be lonely, ask yourself realistically if you are going to have the time to do the necessary training for dog number two!

If you have made the decision that you want (and are ready for) a dog (or a second dog), the next step is research. Learn what you can about the different dog breeds. It is not enough to Google something like “Best Dogs For Kids.” It is not a bad place to start… and may list some breeds that are generally not good with kids, like a Chow Chow or a Lhasa Apso, but it is way too general. Just like every child is different, so is every dog. You want to do this prior to walking into a shelter or finding a breeder because these places have a way of tugging at your heart-strings, and the majority of the time, you will end up getting a dog on impulse. Whether it is because you couldn’t bear to leave the dog there, or because it is just so adorable… Remember, all puppies are adorable, but just like your kids, they grow up. So having a basic knowledge of dog breeds will help in your decision. Also, you don’t want to choose one for an individual family member (yourself included) but decide on what is going to be best for the entire family.

I had a friend that had decided to get a puppy, only she insisted it had to be very tiny… what they call a ‘teacup’ Yorkshire Terrier. She had a two year old and a four year old. I told her I did not think this was a great breed for her specific family. When she insisted she had always wanted one, I told her, “If you had always wanted a two seat convertible, and you were pregnant, would this be an ideal car for you?” Sometimes you can get away with saying things to a friend to get your point across that you just couldn’t say to a customer!

So how do you choose?

I have compiled a list of some important questions that may aid you in your decision making process.

  • What are your children’s ages? This is an important question because if you have a small or young child, a tiny dog might not be the best choice for you, as it wasn’t for my friend. Why not? Because little kids’ hands are often unsteady, or move very quickly… two things that can frighten a small dog, or make them feel like their safety is threatened. This is when they tend to go into the ‘fight or flight’ mode we talked about in other articles. And a very large breed dog can easily knock over a toddler or young child. So for these reasons, a medium sized dog might be your best option. One that is big enough to feel secure with small hands, but small enough to not topple over a little child.
  • Are there any allergies? For those of you that do not know what it is that makes people allergic to dogs, there are three things that most commonly make people react: The fur, the dander, and the saliva. Many people mistakenly think that a dog with a short coat will shed less than a dog with a long coat, but it is actually the opposite. Dogs with a short coat usually have fur, while most dogs with long coats have hair. Dog hair, just like our hair, grows, which is why they need to be groomed every 4 – 6 weeks (depending on how short you like to keep the coat.)
  • Are you a cleaning fanatic? Dogs with short coats, especially ones that may have feathering by the ears, paws, and tail need to be brushed so they do not become matted and tangled. The shedding is worse in the summer and the spring (what people call the shedding season). Dogs with long coats need to be brushed daily and be groomed to keep the hair short. And find out which dogs are droolers! If you are a neat-freak, a mastiff is not for you!
  • What are the finances like? Another important question. Big dogs come with higher expenses…. vaccinations and medicines, they eat more, have much bigger poops, etc.  Also, some boarding facilities charge more for larger dogs, so if your family vacations a lot, you might want to consider this a factor as well. And if you prefer to vacation with your dog, many hotels (even pet friendly ones) have weight restrictions on dogs you can have. As for grooming needs, a non-shedding dog needs to be groomed regularly. (Some people buy the clippers and learn to do it themselves to save money.) You also want to consider the genetic dispositions of a breed if finances are tight. i.e. many people get bulldog pups because they are cute, fat and wrinkled… but most do not know that in general, it is a very unhealthy breed that requires quite a bit of money to properly take care of. They suffer from hip, skin, breathing and eye problems, have allergies, and have a short life-span.
  • Is your family a very active one or more sedate? Again, an important thing to consider. Many places are pet friendly nowadays, and allow you to take the dog with you. If you all enjoy camping, hiking and swimming, a dog like a bulldog who has difficulty breathing and a very low stamina is not the ideal pet for you. A Retriever or a Beagle might be a better choice. Same holds true in the opposite end of the spectrum. If you are a laid back family that prefers reading or TV, then a dog like a Weimeraner, who is in constant motion, will be more of a source of frustration for you than an enjoyable pet, and a dog like a Border Collie will not be content just lying around all day doing nothing… they are happiest with a job or task to focus on and their boredom can lead to serious destruction of your precious things!
  • Dog Taking Happy Handsome Black Boy Child for WalkAre your kids outgoing or shy? A shy quiet child may not do well with a bossy herding dog, like the Australian Shepherd or a dog that needs a firm upper hand such as a German Shepherd or a terrier. Or even a Golden Retriever puppy that calms down quite a bit when they are older, but are definitely a handful and a ball of energy when they are babies! They may do better with something like a Havanese, who is content to hang out with humans of any age and rarely challenges authority. But the flip side of that is that if you have a very loud and boisterous family, that may frighten or intimidate a small dog like the Havanese. You might be better off going with a dog more secure with itself, like a West Highland White Terrier (Westie) or a Bearded Collie.
  • How helpful, in general, are the kids when it comes to chores? If every chore your child is asked to do turns into an argument, do not think the dog is going to be any different. They will enjoy all of the fun things with the dog, but it will become a battle when it is time to do the ‘not-so-fun’ boring everyday things, like feeding, brushing, walking and cleaning up after him. It is this reason I stress please do not use getting a dog as a reward for good behavior.  I have heard all of the promises kids make beforehand to get a dog, but rarely are they followed through with, especially when they have something else much more interesting on their minds than letting the dog out and waiting until he is done to let him back in.
  • How obedient do you want your dog to be, and what steps are you willing to take to ensure this happens? Remember, just like kids, dogs are not born with good or bad manners, they must learn them. But unlike children, what is instinctual and acceptable in a dog’s world is very different from what is acceptable in ours. Another potential issue is, if you decide on getting a rescue dog that is a little older, it has been raised in another person’s house… and what was acceptable to his original owner may be very different in your house. For example, getting up on the furniture may have been perfectly OK where he came from, but not in your house. So you have to remember that some training will be necessary. And although the kids can help with many of the dog’s needs, like feeding him, remember, it is very important that you always supervise their interactions.
    • You can’t just tell a child to ‘feed the dog’ without first teaching the dog to sit and stay and wait until their food is placed on the floor. An over-excited dog or pup is likely to jump up on the child, and may accidently hurt them.
    • Do not allow your small child to walk the dog on the leash outside until you have taught the dog not to pull. Otherwise, a nervous or excited dog can run into the street, pulling your child with them.
    • Finally, a small child will not know how to be very careful with a wire dog brush around sensitive areas like the eyes and ears, so they must be taught how to do it properly.

I will end this by giving you a link that may help you on your journey in finding the right dog for you and your family. It’s a questionnaire that you can fill out and it will give you several options of dogs that might be a good match for you and your family, and also recommend my favorite book Choosing a Dog For Dummies to help you chose the right breed for your family.  The reason I personally like this book is because when I want a quick synopsis on a breed, I do not want to have to search twenty pages to find the one thing I am looking for. In this book, each page focuses on the highlights of one breed: Temperament, size full grown, good with kids, protection level, grooming needs and genetic issues to look out for.

Still not sure…call a professional and ask their opinion – the IACP always has folks willing to help.

Happy dog hunting!

Goosebumps 2: is Sensory Friendly Twice at AMC (10/13 & 10/27)

Last updated on October 24th, 2018 at 12:04 am

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, Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween is Sensory Friendly at AMC.

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

Does it make a difference? Absolutely! 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. Goosebumps 2 movie posterBut 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  Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween on Saturday, October 13th or Saturday October 27th 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).

Still to come in October:  Halloween (Tues. 10/23)

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Editor’s note: Although Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween 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 frightening & intense scenes.  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.

Child Health & Safety News 10/8: US Breaking Hot-Car-Death Record

Last updated on October 14th, 2018 at 08:23 pm

twitter thumbIn this week’s Child Safety News: If Florence damaged your car seat, Safe Kids NC will be handing out new car seats to storm victims bit.ly/2OORndj  

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.

  • Demand for campus child care in MN spurs outcry from parents strib.mn/2pDeXvb 2018-10-07
  • “What might a child-friendly airport look like?” bit.ly/2E53QVW  2018-10-07
  • Govt of Canada investing in maternal and child health bit.ly/2pIoBMV Funding will expand reach of the Baby-Friendly Initiative and help improve breastfeeding rates across Canada 2018-10-07
  • Of the four parental ‘feeding styles,’ only one is good for kids’ health, experts say cnn.it/2ykhcrm 2018-10-07

PedSafe Child Health & Safety News Headline of the Week
US on verge of breaking its own record for kids who’ve died in hot cars within a year.
Despite increased public awareness, 48 children have died this year 
https://abc11.tv/2RwAH8N 

  • How to Limit Screen Time Without Conflict – 5 experts weigh in bit.ly/2O6KJQ2 2018-10-06
  • Backpacks and laptops are required for most students, but together they contribute to back pain and long-term joint problems. bit.ly/2DWi6A4  2018-10-05
  • Change your child’s diet, decrease their need for an organ transplant bit.ly/2DW1AjS  2018-10-05
  • Join Pediatric Safety in Supporting Vulnerable Children bit.ly/2NZPrPv 2018-10-05
  • Sextortion Among Adolescents – Cyberbullying Research Center bit.ly/2Rt1enf  2018-10-05
  • Senators Call for Federal Investigation of Children’s Apps nyti.ms/2RqOYDK 2018-10-04
  • Sibling Warfare? Stay Neutral!! Thurs Time Capsule 10/12: bit.ly/2RofJsH 2018-10-04
  • Nemours doctors perform first pediatric liver transplant in Jamaica bit.ly/2P9K24M 2018-10-03
  • Uber Numb Pain Medication Recalled for Child Safety Risk http://bit.ly/2E6Lfsx 2018-10-03
  • Fun removes fear: Autistic teens, children meet first responders  bit.ly/2P4R2Qe 2018-10-02
  • Fire safety: 4 simple changes that can save lives http://bit.ly/2QHC9UL  2018-10-01
  • Being your child’s cyber-mentor on.today.com/2y1Elyx 2018-10-01
  • Atypical Representation: Special Needs Is Out of the Closet bit.ly/2zHvhB2 2018-10-01

Tomorrow Night at AMC, Venom is Sensory Friendly

Last updated on October 14th, 2018 at 08:22 pm

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 Venom, a film that may appeal to older audiences on the autism spectrum.

As 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.

Does it make a difference? Absolutely! Imagine …no need to shhhhh your kid. No angry stares from Venom movie posterother 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 Venom as a sensory friendly feature film tomorrow, Tuesday, October 9th at 7pm (local time). Tickets can be as low as $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).

Still to come in October: Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween (Sat. 10/13 & 10/27); Halloween (Tues. 10/23)

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Editor’s note: Venom has been chosen by AMC and the Autism Society for a Tuesday Sensory Friendly “Mature Audience” screening. Parents should be advised that it is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for language.  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.