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|Thursday, December 29, 2011
|Should Kids Have New Year’s Resolutions?
|by William Stratbucker, MD at 11:12 AM
Guest blogger Steven L. Pastyrnak, PhD, is a Spectrum Health Medical Group pediatric psychologist and practices at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital.
Parents sometimes ask me, "Is it healthy for kids to have New Year's resolutions?" My answer is a resounding yes! It certainly is okay for kids of most ages to set goals and to identify areas where they can improve in their lives—and New Year's resolutions offer a unique opportunity to do this in a more formal way, which can make a child more aware of them, and therefore more determined to stick to them. I also believe that starting this process at an early age is good, because it helps set a precedent and a child learns to regularly develop—and realize—goals now and in the future.
The key to making New Year's resolutions with your child is to keep expectations reasonable, take into account the developmental level of your child and to check up and coach your child to make sure he or she is sticking to the resolutions. Also, make sure any resolution is about developing positive behaviors, instead of avoiding negative ones—for example, instead of setting a goal with a young child of "not hitting," make the goal "keep my hands to myself."
With Young Children
Some preschoolers, typically those who are four and above, can understand very simple goals and set New Year's resolutions. Here are some ideas you may want to suggest for a young child:
- Brush your teeth in the morning and at night
- Clean your room before bed
- Be nice to your brother or sister
I suggest posting a drawing that depict s your child's New Year's resolution. Also give them gentle reminders so they don't forget their resolution.
With School Age Kids
As kids reach school age, parents may still participate in setting goals; however, kids may begin to have ideas of their own. Suggestions for this group include:
- Eat healthy
- Study more for school
- Try a new activity
With Teens and as a Family
Families should consider setting New Year's resolutions together, especially as they relate to things such as eating healthy and exercising. These resolutions can be especially powerful because families support each other in a shared goal. It also might be good to identify a reward if everyone participates, such as having a movie night, game night, or doing something else special that everyone enjoys.
In our family, we tend to set and reset our goals not only at the beginning of the year but throughout it. As my kids are now teens, they tend to focus goals on things such as their schoolwork, extracurricular activities and keeping active.
All of us have the potential for falling into our comfortable (and not necessarily healthy) habits and it hasn't been unusual for my kids to inspire me to do something because I see them working toward the goals that they set for themselves. Here's to keeping our 2012 resolutions.
- Dr. Pastyrnak
|Tuesday, December 06, 2011
|Button Batteries: Please Help Spread the Word!
|by William Stratbucker, MD at 10:05 AM
Jennifer Hoekstra is the Safe Kids Program Coordinator at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital and an injury prevention specialist.
Just a few weeks ago, I attended the National Safe Kids conference in Charlotte, North Carolina—and ever since I have been relentlessly working to get the word out about a hidden danger that is in nearly every home: coin lithium batteries or "button" batteries.
How many times you have seen an infant or toddler, either yours or someone else's, chewing on a remote control or mom's set of keys? Do you realize how dangerous this can be? Button batteries are in many of these devices and can cause severe injuries or death when swallowed.
A recent survey reported that 66 percent of parents have never heard of button battery risks. Another 56 percent reported that they intentionally give their children electronic devices more often than their own toys, because their children prefer playing with them.
Button batteries are in dozens of electronic devices that most of us have and leave within reach of children, such as:
- Remote controls
- Bathroom scales
- Flameless candles
- Singing greeting cards
- Talking books
The scary thing is, button batteries can easily fall out of devices—most compartments for button batteries are not required to be secure, because the products they are in are not designed for children.
Since the batteries are so small, they do not cause choking, but rather lodge in the child's throat—so a child can swallow them without a parent even realizing what has happened. If swallowed, the saliva ignites a chemical reaction with the battery, and it begins to burn the esophagus within two hours. Yet, because the child is not choking, the parent may not even be aware of what is happening. If you ever suspect a child has swallowed a button battery, go immediately to the emergency room.
After the conference, I came home and went from room to room in my own house to check for button batteries. One place I found one was in our bathroom scale—on the floor and within easy reach of all my children. I removed it immediately. I also found a button battery in the remote control of our portable DVD player, which I also immediately moved out of reach.
Thankfully, right now, the number of children who have been seriously injured by button batteries is relatively small. However, the trend is alarming—in the past five years, the number of swallowing incidences that have caused serious injury or death has quadrupled.
Here is my checklist to help you and your family stay safe:
Keep items with button batteries out of reach.Tell everyone you know about this danger, including babysitters, grandparents or others who care for your child.Get help fast if you suspect a child has swallowed a button battery.Store unused batteries in a locked cabinet, along with other hazardous items.
One final thought: The holidays are coming soon. If you purchase electronic devices as gifts, be sure to check if they use button batteries, and, if so, keep them out of reach!
- Jennifer Hoekstra