Archive for the ‘Safety’ Category

The Promise of a New School Year

Sunday, September 14th, 2008

Each new school brings brand new sneakers, book bags and promise. Children start the school year with an A+; they have to keep it. Parents can help in a number of ways.

1. Plan ahead to reduce family stress
Whether it is the weekly meal menu, healthy lunch boxes, or having the school wardrobe ready, it’s always better to plan ahead. Include your children in the planning whenever possible. Rushing through the start of a day can easily spiral out of control.

2. Everything in it’s place
Keys, school papers, book bags, sports equipment, and musical instruments should all have a specific place in the house. Though parents can create the organization, kids need to maintain it. To help kids learn organization, consider purchasing Get Organized Without Losing It written for late elementary through middle grade. It has lots of kid-friendly humor and is written by Parental Wisdom advisor Janet Fox.

3. Set your children up for success
Studies continually show that children that each a good breakfast with lots of protein can concentrate better in school. Get them up a little earlier to start the day right.

4. Provide a study spot
a. Have school supplies in a place that is quiet and free from distractions.
b. Teach them about budgeting their time so projects are ready, not rushed.
c. Review (not do) their homework so you know what is going on at school.
d. Make sure you dig deep into book bags so you can read all school notes.

5. Don’t wait for a red flag or a bad report card before recognizing a struggling student. Contact the teacher before your child gets too far behind.

6. Encourage safety
a. If your child walks to school, make sure he knows how to obey traffic rules.
b. If she rides a bike, be sure she wears a helmet.
c. If he rides the bus, make sure the school district has installed seat belts.
d. Children can only learn if they feel safe. If your child is being bullied, discuss the situation with school officials and insist school programs that teach tolerance and inclusion such as Operation Respect. They offer free programs to schools.

7. Don’t let over-scheduling take away your precious family time. Limit the number of activities you allow your child to participate in.

8. Have dinner together every night. Use this a way for your family to stay connected and to let your children know they belong. Read more about Family Day, which is September 22nd. Pay attention to which subjects and teachers your child talks about. Often those are the teachers that have the most profound impact on your child. Write the teacher a note to let them know their influence.

9. Create an environment for lifelong learning, and teach your children that lessons can easily extend beyond the classroom. Extracurricular and family activities are good ways to help your child learn new things and gain confidence in his or her abilities.

10. Stay involved in your child’s school and participate especially when opportunities arise to meet your child’s classmates such as book fairs or school trips.

11. Keep in touch with your children’s teachers and let them know of any situation that may affect your child in school such as a family illness, recent move, job loss or divorce.

12. When your children challenge your family rules, as compared to their friends’ houses, such as no TV during the week, explain clearly but firmly that things are done differently in your house.

13. Routines are important to children as it helps them feel secure. Consistency is key when it come to bath time, reading and bedtime.

14. Remember you are preparing our next workforce generation. Be sure to instill the importance of showing up and not let your children stay home from school unless it’s absolutely necessary. In the same respect, make sure they understand that being on time is equally important.

15. Make learning real. Show how school skills are needed for such day-to-day activities as cooking from a recipe, balancing a checkbook and writing thank-you notes.

Who’s to say when you should mind your own business

Sunday, May 25th, 2008

While in a PG13 rated movie splattered with gratuitous violence, you witness a parent slapping a toddler knowing full well the toddler is smart enough to know he shouldn’t even be watching the movie.

While parking your car in a Dunkin’ Donuts lot, you see two young children with the window opened just a crack as their mom stands on the long line for coffee.

Selfish parenting, child abuse and neglect is not only about broken bones, bruises and abandonment. With the publicity surrounding the Texas polygamist-sect kids, one has to wonder exactly what does constitute a reason to step in.
The Third Court of Appeals in Austin ruled that the state offered “legally and factually insufficient” grounds for the “extreme” measure of removing all children from the ranch, from babies to teenagers.

The state never provided evidence that the children were in any immediate danger, the only grounds in Texas law for taking children from their parents without court approval, the appeals court said.

Think about the everyday situations you encounter where you aren’t certain if you should say something with the slight chance your response will be met positively; far more likely that you will be told to mind your own business.

The question is when is it our business? If the courts can’t figure it out – how can we?

Your thoughts? Please leave a comment, I’m really interested in what you have to say.

Beating the Bullies

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.

It is estimated that each school day, over 160,000 children stay home because of bullying.
Since many of us have experienced some form of bullying we know that the power of the bully is diminished when there are no followers.

Each day, when your child leaves for school remember to give them a hug to let them know they are loved. In a more subtle way, encourage their own personal power, and as you discuss the kind of a day they had over dinner, listen carefully to what they say and know when to step in when they need you.

Here is a high school student’s college admissions essay that I had to share:

“If I held the thermometer tightly in my hands, I could raise the temperature just enough so that I could stay home from school without my parents being concerned enough to take me to the doctor. This worked in the past, whenever I felt the need to fake an illness to get a break from being teased at school.

I had resigned myself to the fact that the teasing had to be my fault. Perhaps I should have raised my hand less when I had the right answer. Perhaps I should have laughed at the joke, even if I didn’t think it was funny. It was about fitting in. Although it was fairly constant, the teasing was subtle, too subtle to report without making me sound like a wimp.

One day everything changed. It happened as the 5th grade lined up for library. John was short by 3rd grade standards. He wore very thick glasses, and was not able to stand up straight due to some sort of spine curvature. This made him a prime target for the bullies. The teasing inflicted on John was much worse than anything I had experienced. But on that particular day, some of our classmates started knocking on his front and back to laugh at the sound that resulted from the plastic plates he wore under his shirt. It was more than I could take.

I don’t know where it came from, but I became almost ‘Hulk-like’ with anger. To this day, I honestly can’t say if I stood up for John because of the cruel punishment he was getting, or if I was finally dealing with the fact that neither of us, or anyone else for that matter, deserved to be treated that way. I stood in the middle of the cool kids, only a bit taller than John, and let them have it. My voice was loud and cracking, and my cheeks were flushed, but I somehow found the words that had been buried inside me for the entire year. ‘Do you like being mean? How would you feel if you were in his place?’ I was so afraid it would slip that I was really referring to the way they treated me, but fortunately I didn’t. When I finished, one kid made a joke, but the rest were quiet and looked down. The crowd dispersed as the teacher came around, but she never did understand the minor commotion.

We are now in our senior year in high school, yet John and I have never spoken of that day. Sometimes he will give me a little smile as we pass each other in the hall. Perhaps it’s my imagination but I have to believe he stood just a bit taller from that day on. I know I did.”

Tina Nocera
Parental Wisdom

What do you want to protect most in the world?

Monday, April 7th, 2008


Easy answer – your family.

You take great care twice a year in checking the batteries on the smoke detector. You talk to your children about stop, drop and roll, reinforcing what they learned in fire safety. You’ve done all the right things. But there was one thing you didn’t count on – that your children will not wake up to the shrieking sound of a smoke detector.

More than half of young children, who die in home fires, are asleep. One possible reason, as an experiment shows, smoke detectors just didn’t wake children up. As Rebekkah, age 12, sleeps peacefully; she terrorizes her parents; she didn’t wake up even though the smoke detector had been going off for two minutes.

Experts know that in a fire you’ve got to escape quickly. The deadly smoke and flames spread in an instant. After two minutes, your chances of escape and survival are critically diminished.

What was learned in the experiment is that the same sound that immediately wakes adults, doesn’t disturb children. According to Dr. Sanford Auerbach, Boston Medical Center, “[childrens]
brain waves are different, their sleep patterns are different, their stages of sleep are different.”

Fortunately, there are new voice activated smoke alarms that will soon become available that allow a parents voice to be heard instead. The same experiment conducted with the parent’s voice instead of the shrieking sound had the children up on less than 15 seconds.

Stay tuned as we’ll be watching for further news on the new products.

For now, watch this video; I’m sure you won’t forget it.

Teen Drivers

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

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There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics. Benjamin Disraeli – British politician (1804 – 1881)

I’ve noticed considerable attention and concern over teen drivers recently. While visiting various government websites, they recite accident statistics, which causes us to gloss over and not pay attention to the real message.

Instead of citing statistics, try citing rules. Interestingly, the laws that make the most sense were put in place as a result of the accident statistics related to teen drivers. In the words of the great Mel Brooks, “It’s good to be king.” Parents get to be king. Parents get to cite rules over and above the government rules. And no one has to gloss over with while reading statistics.

Feel free to visit Parental Wisdom – Free Reports and print out Teen Safe Driving Contract. There are two versions; one is a PDF, and the other is an editable version so you can personalize it.

Be sure to talk to your children about this important topic. Clearly this is an area where you don’t want to become a statistic.

News at Eleven

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

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My daughter and I were in the parking lot of a Dunkin’ Donuts when we spotted a young child asleep in her car seat. No adults were in the car. I kept thinking how irresponsible this is, and how the parent would be hysterical on the 11pm news if something terrible happened.

As I read the story about the woman arrested for leaving her child in the car only for a few minutes I thought, why would you take that chance, even if for one moment.

There is nothing else to say.

Conversation anyone?

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

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The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University has launched a parenting forum to engage parents in conversation about how to raise drug- and alcohol-free children.

Casa has given parents a method of approaching the important conversation of substance abuse prevention. When I have spoken with my own children about local abuse prevention programs, they didn’t think the programs were very effective. The large number of middle and high school students that are abusing drugs and alcohol would prove that point.

The best prevention is home, where good behavior is modeled and bad behavior, as often illustrated by popular culture and young Hollywood, is a great opportunity for a dialog on what not to do. Since we’re often uncertain how and when to start these conversations, Casa offers some great ideas.

The best times to talk are obvious; well before the problem begins.

Perception is not reality – the safety of our kids

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

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I was speaking with the mom of an eight-year-old girl. Her daughter wanted a friend to come over and the mom thought it would be a good idea to take the girls out to the park to play. The other mom’s response, “No, it isn’t safe.” The irony is that the 2nd girl has a TV in her bedroom with cable, a cell phone and a computer with Internet access. What that mom hasn’t realized is that she has opened the front door of her home to the entire unsupervised outside world.

Under pressure, MySpace.com announced that it will take further steps to protect children from adult content and possible predators on the site. Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children says that MySpace agreed not only to third-party monitoring but also to working on age verification technology.

I was curious about how this works so I downloaded a white paper on this topic to learn more. If you’re interested visit IDologoy.

The bottom line as always parents, the best protection our children have is us in their lives.

Let’s Educate Not Legislate

Saturday, December 8th, 2007

 

The work will teach you how to do it. -Estonian Proverb

Imagine if we taught our children to be good people the same way we are taught to be good parents. If done the same way, we would wait until they did something wrong, criticize, possibly incarcerate and then instruct.

Somewhat counterproductive, right?

That is what I think about the recent attempt to ban spanking in Massachusetts.

When we first become parents, our hope is that parents raise good people. On the surface that seems relatively simple; almost too simple. In reality, it is simple for a very short time; when our children are completely in our care, before the outside world has an influence. The bottom line is that parents are never taught how to be parents, and many of parent the way we were parented. If our parents spanked, we learned to spank and fear it will become out of control because we’re not the parents who go anywhere near abuse.

By doing a little homework on the topic of spanking we would learn that it is harmful. Children that hit are children that hit others; the lesson is that it is ok for the bigger person to hit. Furthermore, if we are spanking, we have probably lost our temper, which teaches our children it is ok to lose our temper, and does put us in the danger zone to become abusive. But still creating laws against spanking is simply wrong.

Consider education before legislation.

Have We Really Evolved?

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

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Parents Say Online Bullies Caused Daughter’s Suicide

When your children are little, and when they fall and hurt themselves it’s easy to kiss the hurt and apply a band-aid.

But as they get older, the world can be cold and cruel, and situations that can’t be fixed with a band-aid and kiss.

The story in recent news is incredible and makes me wonder if we’ve really evolved at all. Parents posing as a teen age boy befriend a 14-year-old girl online. The girl’s parents took all the right precautions regarding Internet safety, but after ‘Josh’ befriended their daughter, he began to say cruel and hurtful things.

The intention of the parents pretending to be Josh was to see if the girl said anything bad about their daughter. That in itself is unreal. But the story gets worse because the teenage girl was on medication for ADD and depression, and hung herself because of the cruelty.

When it was realized that this was a hoax, the girl’s parents confronted the neighborhood family that created Josh and after losing their tempers did some damage to their property, and called the police.

The law cannot do anything to the family that created this hoax, while there is a family that no longer has their little girl. She had a name – it was Megan Miers.

Please remember her name because Megan’s parents are working on legislation to change the law so this doesn’t happen to someone else’s child. When they need support, I’m sure they can count on every parent that wants to protect their children.

My heart goes out to this family, along with my support.