A couple of weeks ago, I described instances where my son can be a little more outgoing than I would like or feel comfortable with.
He has tried to tone it down for me a bit since then … even reminding me, “Mommy, remember don’t say hi.”
But Shari, a Hiccups reader, offered me some perspective on it. Her daughter, Penelope, was also a chatty one growing up. She tried methods I’m pretty familiar with … no eye contact, directing my responses only my child, trying to hurry in stores. Not only because she didn’t feel like talking (much like me) but also for her daughter’s safety.
Growing up, Penelope continued to be social, meeting interesting people and being able to share interesting stories.
Her advice: Watch my son closely, but allow him the joy of being friendly. She said he’ll go far in life with an outgoing personality.
Thank you, Shari. I sincerely hope I’m not stifling my little boy. Maybe I just need to relax a little and be more willing to sacrifice my own quiet time to let him be himself.
-Erica Smith, Copy Editor
So my 3-year-old son has been getting in a bit of trouble at day care lately … for saying (gasp!) a four-letter word …
Yep, heck. Now at first, I thought maybe he shouldn’t be saying it so I didn’t really respond when his teacher told me (well, spelled out) what he had said and how she handled it (she put him in timeout).
But over the weekend, as we watched the kids’ movies Madagascar and Cars, I realized that they say “heck” in those movies (both of which they’ve actually watched at day care).
So what do you think? Do you think his teachers are overreacting or do you think “heck” should be considered a bad word?
Comment here or email me your thoughts.
~Erica Smith, Copy Editor
At what age should my daughter be allowed to become a mallrat or venture out on her own?
This week, Katie, my 14-year-old, asked if she and a friend could be dropped at the mall on a Friday evening to see a movie. This is not the first time this discussion has occurred at our house. And, once before, my husband did let her see a movie with friends without supervision, but it was during the day.
The first time I let Katie even walk the mall alone with friends was at her 14th birthday party. But I stayed and pushed her little brother around in a stroller while they “did their own thing.”
Skenazy encourages parents to let their children roam and experience new things by themselves, empowering them to be individuals and not live in fear.
I admit this is just the opposite of how I continue to raise my children. I know I’m “too” protective by some standards. Yes. I used to roam all over our 200-acre farm when I was younger. I would go fishing and exploring by myself. And, although it wasn’t my choice, at 14 years old I walked the streets of Washington, D.C., when I was separated from my Close Up tour group. The next day, about five of us (without adults) rode the subway and toured our nation’s well-known monuments and museums.
I loved the experience.
So, why do I try so hard to shelter my children from their own adventures?
I live in fear of ”what if.” I read the newspaper. I watch the news shows. And I’m appalled and scared by what might could happen.
Is there maybe a happy medium? But what would that be?
Share with me your stories of letting your children experience independence. Do you let them walk alone to school, the grocery store or snowcone shack? What are your limits on your children’s independence?
– Linda Lynn
This week is Playground Safety Week (April 19-25). It celebrates the 28th anniversary of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s “Handbook for Public Playground Safety” – a document many states use as the basis for the playground safety laws.
The Safe Kids Coalition (which has a chapter in Oklahoma) gives these reminders about keeping kids safe on playground equipment:
1. Make sure the equipment is inspected frequently and kept in good repair.
2. Be sure surfacing beneath equipment is safe. The ground should be covered 12 inches deep with energy-absorbing material (rubber, sand, wood chips) and not grass or soil.
3. Don’t let kids wear helmets, necklaces, purses or clothing that has drawstrings around the neck, such as hoodies.
4. Don’t allow kids to engage in or play near, those who are pushing, shoving or crowding around the equipment.
5. Keep toddlers younger than age 5 in a separate play area, away from equipment designed for bigger kids.
6. Above all, keep your children in sight and within reach at all times. Give them your undivided attention when they’re playing on or near playground equipment.
Playgrounds are meant to be an enjoyable, fun time for children. Let’s keep them safe.
-Erica Smith, Copy Editor
*Summer can be a time of fun, sun and relaxation but it’s also a season with it’s own dangers. In an effort to bring summer safety awareness to the forefront, I will be writing a weekly series of summer safety topics, starting with last week’s post about the importance of protecting children’s eyes from the sun.
The weather is warming up and that means more children will be playing outside, and at one point or another, that means near or in a pool, pond or lake.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list drowning as the second-leading cause of unintentional death among children age 1 to 14. Children age 1-3 are at the greatest risk. 90% of drownings occur in residential swimming pools and retention ponds near the home. Most were last seen in the home and had been out of sight for less than 5 minutes. The majority were in the care of one or both parents at the time and were not the result of parental negligence.
Startling statistics, but one thing really stands out to me: The majority were not the result of parental negligence. So that means it can happen to you, to me, to our friends and family. Most of us aren’t negligent parents. We want to protect our children and we always have the best intentions. But looking at these statistics, drownings happen under the care of the most responsible parents, in the smallest amount of time, which is why this is such an important topic.
Steps to prevent drownings include:
1. Barriers. Pool fencing can help prevent children from gaining access to the pool area. Back yard ponds can also be fenced in or a mesh cover can be used to cover them. Install a four-sided fence that completely separates the pool or pond from the house and play area of the yard. The fence should be at least 4 feet tall. Use self-latching gates that open outward, with latches out of children’s reach.
2. Life jackets. Whether swimming in a pool or at the lake, life jackets are a must. According to the CDC, in 2006 9 out of 10 who drowned in boating accidents were not wearing a life jacket. DO NOT use air-filled pool toys as a means for floatation or in place of life jackets. These are toys, not life-saving devices.
3. Watch. Designate an adult to watch a child in the bathtub, swimming in or playing near any pool or body of water. Remember, a drowning can happen in less time than it takes to answer the phone. The designated adult should not be involved in any other activity than watching the child(ren). That means no mowing the lawn, reading or talking on the phone while having the child(ren) in your care.
4. Learn CPR. You are the first responder should a child start drowning. In the time it takes for paramedics to arrive, you can have already saved your child’s life. The American Red Cross has classes in the metro area year-round.
5. Learn to swim. Take heed, however, that the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend this as a primary means of drowning prevention for children younger than 4. Classes can be taken at the local YMCA, or check your city’s community centers for class offerings.
6. Swim with a buddy. Make sure older children never swim alone. Using city pools or parks with lifeguards is also a way to enjoy pool activities with an extra layer of safety.
Let’s keep our children from becoming a tragic statistic this summer. It’s worth the extra effort to keep them safe so they can enjoy many summers to come.
-Erica Smith, Copy Editor
My daughter started solid food recently. First rice, then oatmeal, then barley cereal. The first two went well, but not so much with barley. About 30 minutes after her first feeding (about 1 tablespoon) of barley cereal, her face started breaking out in hives. I called the doctor and left a message for a nurse to get back to me. No time to wait. As a person with severe allergies, I know that when a reaction starts problems can escalate quickly. I threw some shoes on, put my daughter in her car seat and headed out the door for the local pharmacist. I figured Benadryl would be the recommendation, but I didn’t have any on hand and I didn’t know the right dosage (2 milliliters for us, but check with your doctor.) A pretty simple fix. The hives went back down within an hour. But here’s a little advice from a collection of books and Web resources:
- Know what to look for — hives, rashes, wheezing, vomiting, diarrhea
- Start with one tablespoon for first feeding
- Start with cereals, then veggies, then fruits
- Try only one new food per week
- Have Benadryl on hand
That’s something I hear almost every morning as I drive eastbound on Kilpatrick Turnpike. My toddler, who is strapped in to his car seat, in the middle of the back row, is in direct exposure to the glaring sun every morning.
I’ll hold up my purse, a sheet of paper, his backpack, anything to keep the sun out of his eyes. He’s even been seen sporting my huge sunglasses.
According to Dr. David Granet, a pediatric ophthalmologist who writes in for BabyCenter.com, sunglasses for babies and toddlers is a great idea. UV rays raise risks for problems later in life, including cataracts or poor vision. Here are a few tips:
1. Wear sunglasses yourself, because toddlers want to copy their parents. I usually wear mine … unless he insists on wearing mine.
2.If your child is very resistant to wearing sunglasses, try a visor or cap. I’m lucky that my son love baseball caps. He’ll occasionally pull it down over his eyes to keep out the sun.
3. If buying sunglasses, make sure the label says it blocks 99 to 100% of UVA and UVB rays. The lens color doesn’t matter when it comes to blocking rays. Of course, your toddler will look cooler with some heavy-tinted shades.
4. Good sunglasses don’t need to cost a fortune. A good pair can be found for $10 to $50. My son has Hot Wheels sunglasses that block 100% of rays and I got them for $7. More importantly, he’ll wear them.
I also used window sunshades when my son was an infant, on the two back windows and rear window of my car as an extra layer of protection.
Like using sunblock to protect children’s skin, protecting their eyes should be equally as important. It’s not something you always hear about or think about, but just remember when you’re out in the sun, to protect those little peepers.
-Erica Smith, Copy Editor
Recently I have had to search for a new day care center because the one I’ve had my toddler in is set to close the beginning of July. Since I didn’t really have to search when I placed him there, I was trying to figure out the best way to approach finding a new center.
Oklahoma Child Care Resource & Referral Association, Inc. and Oklahoma Department of Human Services published pamphlets full of helpful tips on choosing the best possible care for your child. Here are a few of their guidelines:
1. Start early. As soon as you think you may need child care, start the process. Finding a suitable center takes time and some have lengthy waiting lists, especially for infants and young toddlers.
2. Make a call (and go online). The Oklahoma referral service is free and can provide facts and lists of options in your area. The number is 1-888-962-2772 or you can go online: www.oklahomachildcare.org.
Also, you can go to okdhs.org/childcarefind to search for different day cares based on your personal preferences (how may stars the center is accredited with, ages accepted, type of facility, etc.)
You can also call DHS to request reports on the day cares of your choice. They will detail complaints and violations. For Oklahoma County, the number is 767-2650.
3. Visit & ask questions. Look at important factors in deciding on a facility such as:
-Adult to child ratio. The fewer children to caregiver, the better.
-Group size. Smaller groups are safer and more calm.
-Caregiver qualifications. Find out about their training and education. Degrees/special training for taking care of children are key. Look at the turnover – have the caregivers been there a long time? If they are all fairly new, that may be a red flag. Also be sure someone is CPR certified.
-Star ratings. For any center, be sure they are licensed. DHS gives stars to programs for meeting certain criteria. The more stars, the more the center has done above basic licensing requirements.
-Policies. They should give you a detailed description of all their policies, such as meals, behavior, fees, vacations, field trips, medicine, etc.
Drop in unexpectedly to look around the center. Look at the food menus, methods of discipline, activities, playground areas and anywhere else your child will be. See how caregivers interact with the children. See if it’s the environment you would feel most comfortable leaving your child in.
4. Stay involved. Be a part of planning activities for the children (if there are opportunities for this) and attend any parent meetings. Always address concerns with the caregiver and director. That’s what they are there for.
5. Go with your gut instinct. The safety and well-being of your child comes first. I had visited 3-star day cares, day cares closest to my home and centers with good reputations. In the end, I had to go with my instinct. The center I chose is one in which I don’t think I would ever have doubts leaving my son.
If you’d like further information, or a detailed checklist on what to expect from a day care center and specific questions you should ask, call DHS and request a copy of the handbook “The Parents’ Guide to Selecting Quality Child Care.”
As some of you read in Friday’s The Oklahoman, I pleaded with readers to give me advice on how to potty-train a stubborn almost-3-year-old boy. I received many responses – some from moms, dads and even grandparents. I even had a few offer to train him for me. As tempting as that was, I thought it was probably best I tackle it myself.
Here are some good ideas I received from readers:
1. Cheerios. This was an overwhelmingly popular method. Teach the little guy to “aim” and sink the round O’s and it’s almost as fun as Duck Hunt and Battleship.
2. Rewards. Gumball machines, dollar store toys, getting to go with adults on errands because they’re “big kids,” and countless others. Most parents are big on using positive reinforcement – lots of reassurance, compliments and even dancing. Yes, dancing.
3. Timers. Set it for every 20 or 3o minutes minutes and have them sit on the potty. Eventually they’ll get conditioned to go as soon as they hear the timer go off.
4. “Naked and $75.” Let him go around the house without a diaper for a few days to get him to want to use the potty. The $75 is to have your carpets cleaned when he’s done. A few parents really endorsed the “naked” method and putting a portable potty in rooms where the kids are most comfortable (living room, play room, etc.) and maybe using lots of juice to help things move along.
5. Just wait. I got some helpful feedback from parents who were concerned that I was maybe sending the wrong signal to my son by making him use the potty. They suggested waiting until he was ready in his own time and finding a day care who accepted that. One parent said this is his decision, one of the few a toddler has. Another said parents who haven’t had success potty-training their kids shouldn’t feel like failures, that patience is key.
Well, I have big news for my fellow parents. My son is now potty-trained! What seemed like an impossibility Friday afternoon is now a very real accomplishment for my little man. I was all set to get a huge box of Cheerios and kitchen timer after work when my son had a bad “accident” in a public place and I had to rush home with him. We got home, I sat him on the potty once more, gave him some juice and waited for a miracle. It happened. Not just once, but all weekend. I have never been so happy to be woken up at 6:30 a.m. by my son who wants to go potty and stayed dry all night. I never thought this day would come. No more Pull-Ups, no more diapers. What a change.
So I thank our readers for their wonderful responses and ideas. In the end, my son did it in his own time and on his own terms … although the two glassfuls of juice did help him find his own time a bit quicker. It just happened to be the same day as my very public plea (but maybe he planned it that way all along).
I’m at my wit’s end. I am here to solicit advice from anyone and everyone who has had to potty-train a toddler.
My son is near impossible to potty train. I thought I could just back off for a while and he’d get it eventually but his day care center is closing the end of June and for me to place him in a new day care’s 3-year-old class, he needs to be able to use the potty.
Here is what I’ve already tried:
1. Briberies. I’m talking candy, chocolate, cupcakes, Hot Wheels cars and stickers.
2. Big boy pants. He’ll go to the bathroom in them and still want to keep them on. It’s disastrous. Pull-ups don’t help either. He treats them like diapers, even the cold-alert kind.
3. Sitting him on the potty for extended periods of time, hoping he’ll have to go eventually. He’s sat on there for an hour and finally when I take him off, he goes right on the floor.
4. Trying all kinds of ‘equipment.‘ We have the Sesame Street potty seat. The SpongeBob stepstool. The potty chart. We have it all.
5. Making sure he knows all his friends use the potty. He knows, sees them go, and doesn’t care in the least.
6. Giving him things to do on the potty. He’s had books, toys, made a racetrack around the potty rim, had me sit and sing ‘Wheels on the Bus’ on end, played the guitar and eventually unraveled a brand new roll of toilet paper and put it all in the toilet. That was fun to clean up.
What else can I do?
-Erica Smith, Copy Editor