Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Disaster Planning for Caregivers

News that a hurricane or tornado is on its way can cause anyone to worry. But if you're responsible for providing care for someone who's disabled, chances are you face additional concerns. You and the person you care for may not be able to "jump and run" when the tornado sirens are sounded or the hurricane warning is issued. As a caregiver, you should have specific strategies to be prepared for any natural disaster that may come your way.

For caregivers, as for everyone else, it's important to have basic supplies available. The supply list available at the American Red Cross website serves as the model for many basic supply lists.

With supplies in hand, it's important to create a plan. Although planning for a disaster can be frightening, having a plan in place, including an evacuation strategy, can help you and the person you care for feel more secure.

Next, create a disaster team. Caregivers often feel they're "on their own" during normal times, and this feeling may intensify during times of disaster when people are hurrying to take care of their own family and property. Consider family, friends, and neighbors who will be more than glad to help, but they'll need to know exactly what you need and when you need it. Be sure to include someone on your team who is able to lift and carry heavy objects such as wheelchairs or other medical equipment.

With a team and a plan in place, you should be able to find a little peace of mind if and when disaster strikes.

Source:  Carolyn Wilkin, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Music Lyrics and Influence on teen Sex

As a baby boomer, I was part of the generation that grew up with rock and roll. I recall the first time I heard my mother respond (unfavorably) to explicit lyrics that I listening to. They weren't nearly as explicit as the lyrics of today's music, and while I swore that I'd never become my mother, I now find myself fighting with my children to turn it off! Perhaps mom was not so far off-base after all!

In a recent national study of nearly 1,500 teenagers, researchers found a link between certain music and increased sexual behavior among teens. The researchers point out that the average teenager listens to 1.5 to 2.5 hours of music each day. While sexual themes are common in much of this music, the lyrics range from romantic and playful to degrading and hostile. What they found was that teens who listen to music with degrading sexual lyrics—including explicit references to sex and, especially, demeaning in their treatment of women—are more likely to experience advances in a range of their sexual activities, including initiation of intercourse. The association was evident among boys and girls, as well as among whites and nonwhite teens, and across a wide variety of other personal and social factors. The same did not hold true for music with other sexual lyrics.

The researchers encourage parents to monitor the type of music their children are exposed to, set limits on what they can purchase and listen to, and consider the lyrics of the music they're listening to when their children are around.

Source:  Donna Davis, Family Album Radio, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Keeping School Lunches Safe

As a parent, you’d likely never send your little ones out on a cold morning without a sweater or jacket. You’re probably also careful to make sure they’re buckled up before you pull out of the driveway. Yet, there’s another danger your children face as they go off to school every day that many parents aren’t even aware of. It’s the safety of the foods in your children’s lunch box!

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Under Secretary for Food Safety, “Packing lunches to take to school and after school snacking are vulnerable to the top two causes of food borne illness: Not keeping perishable food cold and not cooking or reheating food to a high enough temperature to destroy any germs that may be present.

The USDA offers many tips to help parents and children better guard against food borne illness. First there’s the fundamental rule: follow good hand hygiene practices by washing hands before preparing food and eating. Keep the area where you prepare your child’s meal clean, as many germs lurk there and can contaminate food that will be eaten later. Use freezer get packs or frozen juice carton to keep perishable food such as luncheon meats, cheese and condiments cold until they’re ready to be eaten.

Don’t forget to pack an encouraging little note in the lunchbox, too!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Shopping Cart Injuries

Perhaps you were one of those children who thought of the shopping cart as a mountain for the courageous climber to conquer, or a racecar with you at the wheel. Or you've been challenged by one of those children in the grocery store who were not just riding in, but standing in, climbing on, or pushing that shopping cart like it was their own private jungle gym, skateboard, or glider.

According to a recent report in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, an estimated 24,200 children younger than 15 years old, 85% of which were younger than 5 years old, were treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms last year for shopping cart-related injuries! Approximately 4% of those injuries required admission to the hospital, and 75% of the injuries involved head and neck injury. Fractures are the most common injury resulting in admission (Smith, 2006).

How can you keep your child safe in a shopping cart? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends, "If a parent chooses to transport his or her child in a shopping cart, then an effective, age- and size-appropriate restraining device should be worn by the child at all times. Children should not be left unattended in a shopping cart, be allowed to stand up in a cart, be transported in the basket, or ride on the outsideof a cart." It may not be easy, but insisting on a restraint may save you a trip to the emergency room and untold trauma.

Source:  Donna Davis, Family Album Radio, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Choosing an Infant Carrier and Car Seat

When bringing your new baby home from the hospital or birthing center, one of the items you can't leave without is an infant car seat.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, at least five infant deaths per year have been attributed to carriers, and an estimated 13,000 injuries occurred in one year. These numbers do not include vehicular incidents; rather, they resulted when "infants became entangled in restraining straps, when carrier seats toppled over on soft surfaces, such as beds, or when unrestrained children fell from the carrier seat to the floor".

In almost every case involving death, the infants had been left unattended in their carrier seat. To prevent injury or death, the Commission recommends parents choose a carrier with a wide, sturdy base for stability.

Also, always remain in arm's reach when an infant is in a carrier that is not strapped into a car, or is on a table or counter top. Remember, even infants can be very active as they explore their own movements. Never place a carrier on a soft surface, as it makes the carrier unstable. Always use the safety belts, and always buckle a car seat into the car seat belts as instructed.

And, finally, do not use infant carriers as a substitute for an infant car seat. Choosing the right infant carrier and car seat and using them properly can be the difference between life and death when driving with your infant or toddler.

Source:  Donna Davis, Family Album Radio, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Effective Parenting in the Pre-adolescent Years

We often hear mothers of young children, who choose to stay at home with their babies, say that they’ll go back to work when the kids get older.  When children begin to reach adolescence,  they are at the age where they want parents less, but actually need parents more.

Research is showing that as children start to become more independent,  they need love and attention just as much as when they were younger.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, “Parents often become less involved in the lives of their children as they enter the middle grades”. However, research shows that effective parents continue to build their relationship with their preadolescent, even as she or he grows and changes.

During this time, effective parents show love by spending time with their young teen, talking, and listening, and showing a genuine interest in them. These parents try to understand their child’s point of view and feelings. Effective parents also set clear limits that are right for the child's age, so their children stay safe, yet have some independence and freedom. Also, they help their growing children learn responsibility by completing household chores, finishing their homework on time, and helping others.

Not all young adolescents are difficult and rebellious. They vary “as much as do children in any other age group.” During early adolescence, as children are growing and changing, they’re also looking to their parents for a strong and caring relationship and guidance.

Source: Family Album Radio, Suzanna Smith, associate professor, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Non-resident Mothers

We read and hear stories with some frequency about “deadbeat dads” or those nonresident fathers who fail to make child support payments. The issue has prompted numerous studies and legislative action as well. But have you ever heard of a “deadbeat mom"? Not likely or rarely. This is a growing problem that has remained largely under the radar.

In a recent study conducted by Urban Institute, in collaboration with Child Trends, researchers reported that in 2002, 4.7 million children did not live with their mothers. This was a million more children than just 5 years earlier. These children face different challenges than those without fathers.

Drawing from the 2002 National Survey of America’s families, the researchers found that nonresident mothers are more likely to be poor than nonresident fathers. According to the research, 11% of nonresident fathers were poor compared to 27 percent of nonresident mothers. Without economic resources, these women are also less likely to pay child support than fathers.

Another striking difference among these mothers and fathers was the outcomes for their children. The report explains that when the father is nonresident, 90% of the time they are with the mother. However, when mothers are nonresident, their fathers are often unavailable as well. And those children who live with non-parental caregivers such as grandparents are also likely to experience relatively high rates of poverty. Concerns for the welfare of these children will no doubt draw greater attention from researchers and policy makers addressing the needs of children and nonresidential parents who face many struggles.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Online Sexual Solicitation

Internet connectivity in the form of blogs, chat rooms, and forums can be hazardous to our teens today. These online communication aids are not themselves the problem; rather, teens face an ever-present threat of being sexually solicited online.

For example, teens may be persuaded to discuss sex with someone, to do something sexual, or disclose personal sexual information. This can happen when an adult initiates a nonsexual relationship with a child or adolescent online, builds trust, and then seduces her or him. Similarly, online seduction can also occur between peers.

Studies find that teens most at risk for being approached sexually online are more likely to be female and between the ages of 14 and 17 years. Teens who are depressed and who have experienced difficult life transitions are especially vulnerable. Also, teens who use the Internet more frequently and who engage in high online risk behavior are more likely to be approached sexually online.

Ways to keep your teen safe online include keeping computers with Internet access in a centralized location in the home, educating your child or preteen about potential dangers and devising ways to handle online solicitation, and setting ground rules for Internet use, such as scheduled times, permissible websites, and limiting online communication to familiar peers. Although there is a big scary cyberworld out there, the family and home can be a safe haven for teens.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Helping Children with Homework

Although children and their parents often dread homework, it provides an important opportunity for children to practice what they have learned in school, get more in-depth information, apply skills learned more broadly, obtain important learning and organizational skills, and learn how to work independently with self-discipline. Homework can also give parents a sense of what their children are doing in school and how well they are doing. And homework can even enhance parents' relationships with their children.

Here are some tips on things you can do to help your children with homework.
1. Get the whole family involved by setting a regular family quiet time for working. Provide your child with a comfortable and well-lit place where they can do homework, such as a desk or a kitchen table with a chair. Minimize distractions by turning off the TV and making video games off-limits during quiet time.

2. Make sure that your child has pens, pencils, notebook paper, and any other needed supplies. Know where to direct your child to get information they may need, such as a school. a course website, a homework hotline, other children in the class, or a teacher's help before or after school .
3. Think of yourself as a coach to your children, providing assistance on what to do next if they get stuck, checking over their work when they are finished, or even helping them practice testing themselves on new skills. Showing interest in their work and encouraging their efforts can be a boost for your children and help them find greater success in school.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Breastfeeding During Disaster

As we've learned over the past couple of years, disaster can strike anyone, anywhere, and anytime. A natural disaster, whether hurricane, tornado, flood, or tsunami, can devastate areas and leave families without resources, sometimes for long periods of time. And while people of all ages suffer, infants can be at far greater risk. However, mothers can save their infants' lives and protect them from illness by simply breastfeeding, even if they haven't been breastfeeding their baby.

While medical and nutrition experts have long supported breastfeeding as the optimal way to nourish an infant, during disasters when the risk of contaminated water increases dramatically, breastfeeding can be even more critical. Breastmilk protects infants from respiratory illness and diarrhea, problems that can become fatal to a vulnerable infant displaced by disaster. Experts say breastfeeding can also "promote psychological health and comfort during stressful times. Human milk reduces pain and promotes more rapid healing after injuries and infections" (La Leche 2006a).

Even mothers who have not been breastfeeding can start up to 6 months after giving birth. According to the La Leche League, if a mother has given birth within five days, she "can have a full milk supply quickly by breastfeeding the baby, every two to three hours or more frequently". Even up to six months after giving birth, a mother can relactate.

Since breastmilk is mostly water, mom should stay hydrated. For more information on breastfeeding during emergencies go to