Sunday, February 15, 2015

Car safety tips

We all know that children 18 years of age and younger must, by law, wear a seat belt but it can be confusing figuring out if your school age child still needs a booster seat or not.  The following excerpt is from the Department of Motor Vehicles website.  
Children who are under 7 years old AND are 57 inches tall or shorter must ride in a federally approved car seat or booster. The only time this is not the case is if the child is over 57 inches tall; in which case they can use a seat belt. It is important to use a child restraint system for as long as possible, and to do so based on the manufacturers age, weight and height specifications.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) offers the following data to show parents the importance of using proper safety measures in the car; 
  • In 2012, restraint use saved the lives of 284 children ages 4 years and younger. 
  • Car seats reduce the risk of death in car crashes by 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers ages 1 to 4.
  • Booster seats reduce the risk for serious injury by 45% for children ages 4 to 8 years.
  • Between 1975 and 2012, child restraints saved an estimated 10,157 lives of children ages 4 and younger.
Although New Hampshire doesn't make it a law to have children sit in the back seat the CDC recommends that all children aged 12 and under should ride properly buckled in the back seat. Airbags can kill young children riding in the front seat. Never place a rear-facing car seat in the front seat or in front of an airbag.  Always set a good example for your children and use your seat belt regardless of how short the trip is.  

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Random Acts of Kindness Week

The week of February 9th has been coined Random Acts of Kindness Week.  It is a week 
dedicated to raising awareness for kind acts towards others.  We all know, and research has shown, that one act of kindness leads to another.  Being kind to others also causes a "helpers high".  Helpers' high is a term coined by psychologists to describe a euphoric feeling, followed by a longer period of calmness, experienced after performing a kind act.  The physical sensation results from the release of endorphins, and is followed by a longer-lasting period of improved emotional well-being and sense of self-worth, feelings that in turn reduce stress and improve the health of the helper.  When we engage in good deeds, we reduce our own stress -- including the physiological changes that occur when we're stressed.  Ultimately, the process of cultivating a positive emotional state through pro-social behaviors -- being generous -- may lengthen your life.   All of the above reasons give us even more reasons to be kind to others this week and every week after.  Kind acts can be as simple as giving someone a smile or a helping hand. 

So this week take a minute to do a kind act for others - the list is endless but here's a place to start. 

*Leave a complimentary note for a loved one or colleague
*Put that lonely grocery cart away
*Hold the door open for the person behind you 
*Help someone
*Beautify your surroundings by picking up trash in your yard or on your street
*Speak kindly
*Be on time
*Thank someone
*Renew a friendship
*Share a snack
*Shovel for your neighbor
*Forgive someone
*Talk to the sales clerk

See if these acts of kindness leave you feeling just a little bit happier!


Sunday, February 1, 2015

AAP guidelines for screen time

The struggle for limiting screen time is something that all parents struggle with.  The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and have policy statements on their websites that offer recommendations for parents including the following:
  • Parents can model effective “media diets” to help their children learn to be selective and healthy in what they consume. Parents need to take an active role in children’s media education by co-viewing programs with them and discussing values.
  • Make a media use plan, including mealtime and bedtime curfews for media devices. Screens should be kept out of kids’ bedrooms.
  • Limit entertainment screen time to less than one or two hours per day; in children under 2, discourage screen media exposure. For children under 2, substitute unstructured play and human interaction for screen time. The opportunity to think creatively, problem solve and develop reasoning and motor skills is more valuable for the developing brain than passive media intake.
  • Discuss with your children that every place they go on the Internet may be “remembered,” and comments they make will stay there indefinitely. Impress upon them that they are leaving behind a “digital footprint.” They should not take actions online that they would not want to be on the record for a very long time.
  • Become familiar with popular social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You may consider having your own profile on the social media sites your children use. By “friending” your kids, you can monitor their online presence. Pre-teens should not have accounts on social media sites. If you have young children, you can create accounts on sites that are designed specifically for kids their age.
  • Be firm about not viewing content that is not age appropriate: sex, drugs, violence, etc. Movie and TV ratings exist for a reason, and online movie reviews also can help parents to stick to their rules.

  • The Internet can be a wonderful place for learning. But it also is a place where kids can run into trouble. Keep the computer in a public part of your home, so you can check on what your kids are doing online and how much time they are spending there.
Excessive media use has been associated with obesity, lack of sleep, school problems, aggression and other behavior issues. A recent study shows that the average 8- to 10-year-old spends nearly 8 hours a day with different media, and older children and teens spend more than 11 hours per day. Kids who have a TV in their bedroom spend more time with media. About 75 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds own cell phones, and nearly all teenagers use text messaging.
The amount of time spent with screens is one issue, and content is another. On the positive side, pro-social media not only can help children and teens learn facts, but it can also help teach empathy, racial and ethnic tolerance, and a whole range of interpersonal skills. Look for media choices that are educational, or teach good values -- choose programming that models good interpersonal skills for children to emulate.

As adults it is our job to teach children healthy media choices and to monitor what our children are watching to ensure that it is age appropriate.