Sunday, July 31, 2011

Back Pack! Back Pack! Looks like Dora's might be the right size and weight for her..what about your child? Here are some tips from the AOTA!


It’s almost time! Do you hear the school bell? Can you smell those freshly sharpened number two pencils coming out of that stylish new pencil bag? Some of us as parents are teary while others are counting the days till the start of the school year. Either way, I hope you are savoring these sweet last few days of summer. I know I’m trying to be conscious of scheduling in some purposeful quality time with my girls as we prepare for both of them to spend all day in school (translation: part time stay at home gig is now over for this Mommy!). If your children aren’t school aged yet, I know you’ve heard it a million times, but it is so true – it goes faster than you blink! So enjoy those precious moments every day.

Our youngest sort of got the typical “2nd child” introduction to elementary school. My husband and I were away for Kindergarten orientation, and she’s well aware of anything that might be perceived as new. She’s already plotting her seat on the bus, wondering which day she’ll have art class, and trying to figure out which other “2nd kids” will join her in class. One small right of passage that excited her was the process of choosing the new backpack. We looked at 4 different websites and I entertained discussions about color, pattern, and how her name would look (note to those pregnant readers out there…you are limited to 9ish characters on the back pack. We call her by her first and second names and she only got the first on the new bag! If you care about this sort of thing – keep in mind when naming your bundle of joy). We patiently looked over all our options until she felt confident to pick the perfect one and leaped for joy the day it finally arrived. Apparently the excitement I’ve always had over new school supplies has been passed on! (I spent an hour carefully filling out my new and adorable day planner! I know – pretty nerdy).

Anyway – as you search out that treasured backpack for your school aged child I thought some information might be helpful. Our friends at the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) launch awareness events through the country about backpack safety (you didn’t know a back pack could be yet another point of danger for your child, did you? I know…seems silly but very true.) I pulled the information below from the Association’s website: (http://www.aota.org/Practitioners/Awareness/School-Backpack-Awareness/Handouts.aspx


According to the website, “More than 23,000 backpack-related injuries were treated at hospital emergency rooms, doctor’s offices, and clinics in 2007. About 55% of students carry a backpack that is heavier than the recommended guideline of 15% of the student’s total body weight.
It is recommended that a loaded backpack should never weigh more than 15% of the student’s total body weight (for a student weighing 100 pounds, this means that the backpack should weigh no more than 15 pounds).”

But don’t despair and kids don’t try using this as an excuse for no homework! “In a study on the effect of backpack education on student behavior and health, nearly 8 out of 10 middle school students who changed how they loaded and wore their backpacks reported less pain and strain in their backs, necks, and shoulders.  The way backpacks are worn affects your health. The height of the backpack should extend from approximately 2 inches below the shoulder blades to waist level or slightly above the waist. It is recommended that individuals always wear the backpack on both shoulders so the weight is evenly distributed.

It doesn’t only matter what is IN the backpack but HOW it is packed. So take a minute to look over these recommendations and review them with your child. The simple changes will not only make using their backpack more comfortable but can actually ward off injury. Many Occupational Therapists facilitating these events actually weigh the child and the backpack. Try this at home to see if your child is meeting the recommendations with his/her bag. And feel free to visit the AOTA’s site for more information and helpful handouts. Feel free to share with friends or your child’s school or pediatrician as well.


TIPS FOR LOADING A BACKPACK
* A child’s backpack should weigh no more than about 15% of his or her body weight. This means a student weighing 100 pounds shouldn’t wear a loaded school backpack heavier than about 15 pounds.
* Load heaviest items closest to the child’s back (the back of the pack).  Arrange books and materials so they won’t slide around in the backpack.
* Check what your child carries to school and brings home. Make sure
the items are necessary for the day’s activities.
* If the backpack is too heavy or tightly packed, your child can hand
carry a book or other item outside the pack.
*If the backpack is too heavy on a regular basis, consider using a book bag on wheels if your child’s school allows it.

BEST WAY TO WEAR YOUR BACK PACK
* Distribute weight evenly by using both straps. Wearing a pack slung over one shoulder can cause a child to lean to one side, curving the spine and causing pain or discomfort.
* Select a pack with well-padded shoulder straps. Shoulders and necks have many blood vessels and nerves that can cause pain and tingling in the neck, arms, and hands when too much pressure is applied.
* Adjust the shoulder straps so that the pack fits snugly on the child’s back. A pack that hangs loosely from the back can pull the child backwards and strain muscles.
* Wear the waist belt if the backpack has one. This helps distribute the pack’s weight more evenly.
* The bottom of the pack should rest in the curve of the lower back. It should never rest more than four inches below the child’s waistline.
* School backpacks come in different sizes for different ages. Choose the right size pack for your child as well as one with enough room for necessary school items.

                                            Ready for bed, school, or anything that comes their way!
Friday, July 22, 2011

Losing the Lovie

Most children have one; a treasured blankie, stuffed animal, binkie or bottle that is their go-to comfort item. Their lovie often is the only thing that calms and comforts them in times of crisis and helps them fall asleep.  So what do you do when it's time to take their lovie away?  How do you know when it's time?

I think the answers to these questions are individual to every child.  You should consider the age of your child and if they have a physiological need for their lovie.  For example, up until a certain age, some children have a physiological NEED to suckle.  Ask your pediatrician for clarification on this.  Consider the circumstances in your child's life.  It is certainly not a good time to take away their comfort item if a big change is about to happen; like the birth of a new baby, moving, starting preschool, etc.  Also consider how often your child uses their lovie.  If they have the binkie in their mouth all day long, you may want to reduce their use of it during the day before taking it away completely.  And lastly, decide how important it is to you for them to give up their lovie.  I have a friend who brought her "woobie" with her to college.  No harm in that...and she felt the comforts of home by having it near.

Below are some tips, ideas and things to think about if you decide to take on the challenge:

1.  Give their lovie to a baby in another family.  Some children feel a sense of pride and accomlishment when they are able to give up their treasured item to a baby who doesn't have one yet.  I wouldn't suggest giving their lovie to a baby in your own family.  This may cause jealousy between your older and younger child.

2.  If a binkie is your child's pleasure, try cutting the nipple.  I have heard of some parents telling the child that the child's teeth broke the binkie.  If they aren't able to suck, the binkie loses it's appeal and they may stop using it on their own.

3.  Give the lovie to Santa or the Easter Bunny.  You may be able to convince your child to leave their lovie for Santa or the Easter Bunny to take in exchange for presents.

4.  If it is the bottle or binkie that you are taking away, get rid of all of them in the house.  And check everywhere!  You'll be surprised where some might be hidden and how quickly your child can search them out!

5.  To reduce binkie use to nap and bedtime only, keep the binkie in the crib.  When you get your child up in the morning, make them drop the binkie down into their crib.  And they can only have it when they are in the crib.  This may help getting them down for a nap a little easier!

6.  If your child insists on taking their blankie or stuffed animal to preschool with them establish the rule that is has to stay in their backpack.  Remind them when they are missing home or their lovie, they can quietly go over to their backpack to peek at or quickly hug their lovie to make them feel better.

7.  Have the "Binkie/Bottle Fairy" visit your house.  With verbal preparation from you, this can be an exciting event.  Your child can look forward to what the "Fairy" will leave for them when they leave their lovie under their pillow over night.

We hope some of these strategies help you and your child with parting with their lovie.  If you have any tips that have worked for your child, please share them with us by posting a comment below :)  
Wednesday, July 13, 2011

STOP YOUR FIGHTING! Or maybe not? The benefits of sibling rivalry!

Mid summer is here. The hot sun is shining. The pools and beaches are bustling. Vacations are in full swing and parents are collectively going nuts from siblings fighting!

I have fond and funny memories of summer battles with my brother. I'm still baffled at the fact that I convinced him to ride all the way to North Carolina on the floor of the back seat! Don't feel too badly, I did give him some pillows (I guess the bigger question is why my parents allowed this and was it even legal in the mid eighties??) Despite our battles (and trust me there were some for the record books), my brother holds a place in my heart like no one else can. Even though I'm still perplexed at how a biological sibling of mine could like to eat anything with pickled flavoring, I'm warmly reminded of our childhood bond when I see my daughters belly laugh at each other and whisper to each other. I'm not naive to the fact that one day my home will be filled with blood curling screams over trivial subjects like stolen blue jeans, but for now I like that the majority of the time they can work out their concerns. We have always tried (unless safety is a concern) to encourage them to work it out. Their reasoning with each other and their collective solutions often surprise and amuse me. I came across a great article (the link is below) that has some really interesting facts about how siblings shape ones personality and how even arguing helps improve social skills.  The article states that "on average, siblings between 3 and 7 years old engage in some kind of conflict 3.5 times an hour. Kids in the 2-to-4 age group top out at 6.3--or more than one clash every 10 minutes." How do your kids fare? Don't fret if they seem to argue more, the research states that children that argue with siblings learn conflict resolution that translates to the classroom later on. So all that fighting is actually teaching your children something!!

My favorite part of the article is this:
From the time they are born, our brothers and sisters are our collaborators and co-conspirators, our role models and cautionary tales. They are our scolds, protectors, goads, tormentors, playmates, counselors, sources of envy, objects of pride. They teach us how to resolve conflicts and how not to; how to conduct friendships and when to walk away from them. Sisters teach brothers about the mysteries of girls; brothers teach sisters about the puzzle of boys. Our spouses arrive comparatively late in our lives; our parents eventually leave us. Our siblings may be the only people we'll ever know who truly qualify as partners for life. "Siblings," says family sociologist Katherine Conger of the University of California, Davis, "are with us for the whole journey."

I love that statement and it is so true. Our siblings are forever with us or as my neighbor reminds her children, are your "forever friends." So if your children are driving you crazy and ready to rumble, keep this Time magazine article bookmarked and remind yourself they are learning skills that they'll be able to translate into life skills for years to come.





Friday, July 8, 2011

Kids, Cars and Consol

Consol Energy has implemented an initiative called "First Move Forward" to protect children from backovers.  I first learned of the initiative while driving in the car with my dad (who happens to be retired from Consol).  And yes, I know what you're thinking, I am a "coal miner's daughter" and very proud of it :)  I went to park the car and my dad suggested I pull on through the parking space to the empty space in front of me so that the car would be facing out and I could see what was in front of me when I pulled out...makes sense, I thought.


Consol requires all employees to back into their parking spaces so that they can easily see what is in front of them when they pull out, reducing the chances of backing over someone or something.  How impressive that an energy company has taken such a big step to protect our children....I love it!


This initiative was born the same week an employee of Consol viewed a video on CNBC about the statistics on children and backovers.   


Here are those statistics, mentioned in the video, from the website KidsAndCars.org:


Every year, thousands of children are hurt or die because a driver backing up didn't see them. These incidents for the most part take place in residential driveways or parking lots.

The predominant age of victims are one year olds. (12-23 months)
Over 60% of backing up incidents involved a larger size vehicle. (truck, van, SUV) 
Tragically, in over 70% of these incidents, a parent or close relative is behind the wheel. 
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2/18/05 study reports over 2400 children
are treated in hospital emergency rooms every year due a child being struck by or rolled over by a vehicle moving in reverse.

In the U.S. fifty children are being backed over by vehicles EVERY week. Forty-eight (48) are treated in hospital emergency rooms and at least two (2) children are fatality injured every WEEK.

KidsAndCars.org recommends the following to keep children safe:

Walk around and behind a vehicle prior to moving it. 
Know where your kids are. Make children move away from your vehicle to a place where
they are in full view before moving the car and know that another adult is properly
supervising children before moving your vehicle. 
Teach children that “parked” vehicles might move. Let them know that they can see the
vehicle; but the driver might not be able to see them. 
Consider installing cross view mirrors, audible collision detectors, rear view video camera
and/or some type of back up detection device. 
Measure the size of your blind zone (area) behind the vehicle(s) you drive. A 5-foot-1-
inch driver in a pickup truck can have a rear blind zone of approximately 8 feet wide by
50 feet long. 
Be aware that steep inclines and large SUV’s, vans and trucks add to the difficulty of
seeing behind a vehicle. 
Hold children’s hand when leaving the vehicle. 
Teach your children to never play in, around or behind a vehicle and always set the
emergency brake. 
Keep toys and other sports equipment off the driveway. 
Homeowners should trim landscaping around the driveway to ensure they can see the
sidewalk, street and pedestrians clearly when backing out of their driveway. Pedestrians
also need to be able to see a vehicle pulling out of the driveway. 
Never leave children alone in or around cars; not even for a minute. 
Keep vehicles locked at all times; even in the garage or driveway. 
Keys and/or remote openers should never be left within reach of children. 
Make sure all child passengers have left the car after it is parked. 
Be especially careful about keeping children safe in and around cars during busy times,
schedule changes and periods of crisis or holidays. These precautions can save lives.

So the next time you get in your car remember to take these safety measures to prevent an unimaginable accident.  Let's keep our children safe!
Friday, July 1, 2011

Children and gun safety - information you can't afford to ignore.

While listening to the news yesterday, I heard the local reporter state that a young child had been rushed to a local hospital following a gun shot wound. The child was accidentally shot by another child in the home.  My heart sank at hearing of such a preventable serious injury.

Over 500 children a year in the United States die from accidental gun shot wounds in the home. 200 million Americans have guns in the home and and 1.7 million children live in homes with loaded and unlocked guns. These statistics frighten me beyond words can explain. According to the website momlogic.com, a recent study published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine found 39 percent of kids knew where their parent's guns were stored, while 22 percent said they had handled the weapons despite an adult's warnings to stay away. What's more, age was not a factor in whether children had played with the guns -- 5-year-olds were just as likely to report doing so as 14-year-olds.  So think twice before assuming that your child doesn't know where your gun is or that he or she will listen to your warnings not to touch it.

We all have the right to own a fire arm under the Constitution and I'm not trying to debate that right.  But if you choose to have a gun in your home and children are present as well, please consider your responsibility in their safety.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends "gun safety talks" just as you would discuss warnings about strangers and swimming pools. In our house, we use long car drives for "what if" scenarios to help walk our daughters through possible situations and guide their responses.

Although I felt a bit odd bringing up this topic when my children first reached the age of going to friend's homes alone for play dates, I quickly got over my nerves about the subject and decided it was my job to make sure my kids were safe in and out of our home.  I know this can be a sensitive subject and I certainly did not want to offend friends but the topic was an important one for my husband and I. I recently read in a parenting magazine a suggested conversation that went something like, "I know this may be a personal question but I ask parents anywhere my kids are going to play. Do you have a firearm in your home and is it unloaded and locked? My child is quite curious and I'm not sure she would be safe if she found a firearm." I thought it was a terrific suggestion of a non-offensive dialogue. 

So if you have a firearm in your home, please consider keeping it locked. I've heard the argument that if it's locked one wouldn't be able to access it quickly if an intruder entered your home. We have friends that have found a brilliant option to satisfy their desire for safety and protection in using a safe that recognizes an opens automatically to their fingerprints only in front of a sensor.  An investment of this type is worth any child's life.

Milestones &Miracles wishes you all a happy, fun, and SAFE Fourth of July weekend! Celebrate our rights of freedom and our responsibilities to love the children we are blessed to have in our lives!


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JUST PLAY!

Welcome to our blog! As longtime friends, we recently decided to combine our professional experience (as a speech-language pathologist and physical therapist) and "Mommy Experience" to create a company dedicated to something we are both extremely passionate about - letting kids be kids! Milestones and Miracles, LLC was formed in 2010. Our mission is to empower parents in understanding the natural progression of their child's development (and not rush it along and skip stages). We develop and provide developmental products to support this learning process, bonding families through engaging, fun, and meaningful experiences! We are thrilled to share that our first product, 1 2 3 Just Play With Me is available for sale. Visit www.milestonesandmiracles.com to learn more and order a unique product for yourself & your child or as a gift! We will continue use this blog to share about topics that interest and excite us. Stay tuned!

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