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Back to School Substance Abuse Prevention

by Shane Watson Manager of Parent and Faculty Education for notMYkid Summer vacation is over and kids are now returning to school. With the new school year come new possibilities, new experiences, and even new classmates and friends. It’s important for parents to be aware that a return to school can also bring about some new temptations for their kids as well. That’s why “Back to School” is an important time for parents to have a dialogue with their kids about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. However, many parents are unsure how to begin the conversation. “Where do I begin? At what age should I start? What should I say? What should I not say?” Don’t panic. The fact that you’re asking questions is a good thing, because it means you’re paying attention and understand the importance of the subject. The willingness to approach the topic of substance abuse is the first key to any prevention plan, and the earlier you get started, the better your chance for success. Start the discussion at an early age to allow you to lay the groundwork for future conversations. Even children as young as three to five years old can understand basic early lessons about making healthy choices and not ingesting anything that isn’t given to them by a parent or caregiver. By the time they’re a few years older and attending school full time, it’s essential that you begin giving them concrete information about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. Be direct with them about your feelings regarding substance abuse, and set very clear guidelines and rules. Be consistent...

Safer Sports

Protecting young athletes from injuries By Malia Jacobson Sports injuries are sidelining more young athletes than ever before, a trend that concerns doctors, coaches, and parents. According to the STOP Sports Injury Campaign, 2 million sports injuries strike high school students each year. Doctors are seeing serious injuries in children as young as 5; kids under 14 account for forty percent of sports-related injuries treated in hospitals. For some, injuries are a temporary setback. When high school basketball player McKenzie Heaslet was 18, she missed only two days of practice after a wayward elbow shattered her nose during a game. One month later, she played in her third straight state championship game, winning the title with her teammates. Her mom, Dianne, knows the injury could have been much worse. “We got really lucky,” she says. Many others aren’t as fortunate. Sports injuries can stop budding athletes in their tracks, leading to time away from school and other activities, says Richard Geshel, DO, clinical assistant professor with Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine at Midwestern University. Doctors point to several reasons for recent increases in injury rates: greater recognition of some types of injury (like concussions); year-round training for athletes; and more intense training at younger ages. But fear of injury shouldn’t stop kids from participating in sports. Organized sports boost fitness and teach important skills like cooperation, perseverance, and team building. Help ensure that your budding athlete stays on the field and out of the emergency room with the right safety measures. Focus on Fun Enjoyment is the key to safe sportsmanship, so make sure kids truly want to participate....

Sleeping Baby Myths

By Nicole Johnson, Founder and Lead Consultant at The Baby Sleep Site® Before I get into this list, it’s important to define our terms. ‘Sleep through the night’ is actually a bit of a misnomer. Many of us (including pediatricians, authors of baby sleep books, and other baby sleep experts) use the term ‘sleep through the night’ to mean 8-10 (or maybe even 12!) straight hours of sleep, with no wakings. Technically, though, babies are sleeping through the night when they can sleep for a 5 hour stretch without waking. Big difference, right? I’ve found, over the years, that most parents use the first definition. When parents come to us for help with their babies’ sleep, what they want is a solid 8 (or possibly more) hours of uninterrupted sleep. So, for our purposes in this article, we’ll use ‘sleeping through the night’ to mean 8 or more hours of uninterrupted sleep. Okay, now — on to the myths! 1. “All babies can sleep through the night by 4 months.” Yes, a small percentage of babies will be sleeping 8 hours or more at 4 months old – but in my experience, most babies can’t do this. The truth is that it’s normal for a baby to feed at night up to 6-12 months, depending on the baby. What’s more, this kind of blanket statement fails to account for lots of important factors, like health history (babies with reflux tend to wake for feedings longer at night, for example), developmental delays, feeding (formula-fed babies may sleep for longer stretches than breastfed babies, for example), family situations, and temperament. If...

Unhealthy Relationships

By Evan Espinosa, Pfy. D. Unhealthy relationships can be hard to define because they encompass many actions and behaviors. A good working definition for unhealthy relationships is, “Relationships that contain behaviors which are dangerous, risky, injurious and unconducive to one’s health.” This is an important definition as it helps shed some light on what families should be mindful of when it comes to detrimental behaviors within a relationship. Actions that fall within the umbrella term of unhealthy relationships include acts such as: assault (physical or verbal), battery, intimate partner violence, domestic violence, rape, bullying, intimidation, coercion, hazing, and extreme discipline. When you think of these negative behaviors, the first things that come to mind may be relationships between intimate partners. However, unhealthy relationships are not limited to romantic relationships. Unhealthy relationships can form between your child and anyone they know. It is no surprise that actions like slapping, hitting, shoving, yelling, and insulting each other within any of the previously stated relationship variations are unhealthy. It is also beneficial to look at more subtle behaviors that can happen, which people sometimes overlook. Actions like denying affection, financial control, negative comments, blaming, hovering, and unfound accusations can be just as impactful within a relationship. It’s a myth that someone has to be physically harmed in order for it to be unhealthy. Yes, arguments and disagreements will happen within any relationship, but it speaks volumes about the strength of a relationship when each individual can control their actions and emotions, and work collaboratively to resolve a dispute in a caring and loving fashion. This is extremely important for parents to be...

Childcare Connection

By Michelle Saint Hilarie Every parent who has to take their children to a child care program, whether it is a center or a home setting, knows the challenges of establishing and building a trusting relationship with their child’s caregiver. One of the biggest barriers to establishing a relationship with your caregiver is time. The drop off and pick up time is not an ideal time to get to know each other, even though these times are typically the only times you are seeing or interacting with your child’s teacher or caregiver. This means that in order to establish and build a relationship with your child’s caregiver you will have to invest some time to get to know each other. Here are some creative tips and ideas for building a relationship with your child care provider: Visit the Program Multiple Times Ideally, you should visit the child care program before your child starts attending. Visiting multiple times at various hours of the day helps you familiarize yourself with the program and how it operates. This not only gives you an opportunity to get to know your caregiver, but it also allows you to get to know the other children and possibly their families as well. During your visit you will learn about all the various ways your caregiver will communicate with you, whether it is a daily written note, lesson plans, parent newsletter or posted messages on the door or bulletin board. Visiting multiple times will also inform your decision about finding a program that meets your family’s unique needs. Get Involved Now that you feel comfortable with the...

Ease Separation Anxiety

By Denise Morrison Yearian Separation anxiety is a normal developmental stage for most children. It usually sets in between 6 and 12 months of age, and can last 2 to 4 months. For some toddlers, it reappears between 18 and 24 months and then gradually diminishes as language development improves. Separation anxiety is the result of a new cognitive skill called object permanence. Children can now remember objects and specific people that were once present but now are not. They may search for a toy that has disappeared and can remember who is missing from their regular setting. During this stage, youngsters understand that people they are attached to leave, but they cannot yet comprehend about their return. They can also recognize signals an adult is about to go, so their anxiety may build even before the actual exit. Because they don’t understand the concept of returning, they have no idea when that person will come back and separation anxiety intensifies. To reassure children and help them grasp the concept of your exit and return, consider these 10 tips: 1. Make it a Game. Play age-appropriate games, such as “Peek-a-Boo” and “Hide-and-Seek.” Another one babies relish is, “Where is Baby?” Place a lightweight receiving blanket over your child’s head and ask, “Where’s baby?” then pull the cloth away and with a big smile and gentle, animated voice say, “There you are!” Also place the cloth over your own head, or partially hide behind a chair or around a corner where you will be easily discovered. 2. Go Gradual. When your child is playing at home, casually mention you are...

Back to School with Brain Boosters

By Reid Lappin, founder & CEO of Vokal It’s no secret that today’s generation of students are more familiar with touchscreens and social media than they are with spiral notebooks and the #2 pencil. Districts across the country are investing heavily in technology for their students to make learning, and teaching, easier. The iPad has turned the traditional classroom into a space where kids can innovate, brainstorm and create together. Classroom styles like the “flipped classroom” (a style where all the learning is done at home via screencasts) become more realistic and feasible. Best of all, most teachers will agree that classroom productivity skyrockets. However, the iPad itself is not the driving force behind this newfound productivity. It’s the apps that power the iPad that make this tablet the real educational winner. While the mass adoption of technology in academia continues to enhance the educational experience, it is also the single biggest distraction students face heading into the 2015/2016 school year. Gaming, social media and messaging platforms are all ‘fun and games,’ until students can’t get enough and the apps pull them away from their studies. Vokal, a Chicago-based mobile Innovation agency, asked their team of apprentices (student developers and coders), along with their talented iOS and Android mobile developers, to come up the Top 5 List of this school year’s biggest Brain Boosters and Brain Busters. Brain Boosters will help make students more productive and empower them to excel. The Brain Buster Apps will do the opposite – waste time, distract and become full-on tech addictions. Don’t say we didn’t warn you. BRAIN BOOSTERS 1. Notability Notability is...

Science Meets Summer Fun

Treasure hunting and bug puzzles By: Jeremy Babendure, Ph.D, Executive Director, Arizona SciTech Festival Even though back-to-school will be in full swing in a few weeks, there is still time to have some summer fun with these STEM-based projects. Bug puzzles Do you love puzzles? How about trying some crossword or word search puzzles about bugs? These activities by Arizona State University School of Life Sciences “Ask a Biologist” are based on articles such as Big Bad Beetles, Face to Face with Ants and Not so Scary Scorpions; kids use the words within the content to solve the puzzles. Download puzzles here. Geocaching If you find time on the weekend to head north and get out of the heat, how about hunting for treasure? Geocaching is an outdoor adventure where people around the world use global positioning systems (GPS) gadgets to hide and find containers with treasures. There are more than 2.5 million geocaches hidden in over 180 countries, according to geocaching.com. Before it’s time to head out to search for treasures, try these activities to get your kid’s geocaching skills ready to go! Geocaching fun facts “Geo” means Earth and “cache” has two meanings, a temporary hiding place and technology. This activity was originally referred to as “GPS stash hunting” or “gpsstashing” before the term geocaching was adopted. The first documented cache was on May 5, 2000 recorded by Dave Ulmer of Oregon. He found a partially buried black plastic bucket that contained a video, book, money, a slingshot and more. The popular geocaching site geocaching.com launched on September 2, 2000 with only 75 known caches around the...



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