Thursday, March 28, 2013

Warning Signs of Anorexia

With concerns about childhood obesity on the rise, the plight of young people with eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa may not be on many people's minds. However, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, between 5 and 10 million people, including 1% of American teens, have an eating disorder. Anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder characterized by excessive weight loss and severely distorted body image, is one of the most common psychiatric diagnoses in young women.

Often parents and friends fail to recognize warning signs of anorexia. Teens with anorexia may comment about feeling "fat" or overweight, although they actually are losing weight. They may become preoccupied with food, calories, fat grams, and dieting. Parents may find it difficult to get them to participate in family meals, and when they do they tend to eat very little, and will chew excessively and rearrange food on their plate. Teens with anorexia will often withdraw from friends, family, and activities, and may exercise for hours at a time.

Early identification and treatment of anorexia nervosa is essential to avoid serious health effects and even death. Parents who suspect that their teen has an eating disorder should ask their family physician or pediatrician for a referral to a child and adolescent psychiatrist. Treatment usually involves a team of physicians, therapists, and nutritionists who provide counseling, nutrition therapy, and medication. The most important thing that family and friends can offer a person dealing with anorexia is unconditional love.

Source:  Linda Bobroff, professor, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Youth Online Behavior Study

Today’s youth are online pros who know how to navigate through content, play games and use communication services. Let’s take a look at a study conducted by Harris Interactive in 2010, which surveyed 1,357 10 – 17 year-olds in the U.S.

           Half of kids surveyed say that they have been using the Internet for five years or more. 58% consider themselves heavy users who access the Internet six or seven days a week.

·         Communicating and downloading content are two primary uses of the Internet by young people, but education also plays an important role. Nearly 80% say they use the Web to do research for school assignments.

·         Gaming is also a popular activity, which 61% of kids saying they play games online, including multiplayer online games.

·         81% of 16 and 17-year-olds reporting having at least one social networking account.

·         Over half (53%) of kids say they typically view and download media online.

·         Nearly all kids (91%) say that their parents trust them to do what’s right online. However, 56% say that their parents know some of what they do online, but not everything, and a quarter (26%) report that their parents don’t have time to check up on what they do online.

·         Although teens are heavy internet users, it’s still surprising that 27% say that they have accidentally infected their home computer with a virus or other malware.

·         17% have shared their passwords with friends.

·         20% say they have experienced cyber bullying.

·         25% say they wouldn’t know what to do if they were bullied or harassed online.

·         About a third (32%) say that they don’t tell their parents what they are doing online, and 31% would change their behavior if they knew their parents were watching. That’s why I always told my kids to “Always act as though your mom were watching.”

·         Even thought parents are less likely to monitor their children’s behavior as they get older, young people are more inclined to hide what they do online from their parents as they get older. By the time they reach the ages of 16, 56% of teens hide their online activities.

·         The most common ways that kids hide their online activities from their parents are by minimizing the browser when their parents are nearby (29%), hiding and deleting text messages (20%), and clearing the browser history (21%).

·         Parents should note that about one third of young people say they “often” or “always” hide their online activities from their parents.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Child Care Provider Training Schedule

Child Care Provider Training
Free for licensed child care providers in Hillsborough County
Certificate available for .2 CEU per class
Click on the green State Training tab at bottom of page,
then choose Florida, then Tampa to find a list of workshops.

The $10 fee is waived for licensed child care providers in Hillsborough County.
Simply enter your Hillsborough County zip code and click on “yes” when asked if you care for children of military families to receive the training for free.
Registration for each class is required and will be open 4 to 6 weeks before scheduled date.

Unless otherwise indicateed, classes are held at the Hillsborough County Extension Service
5339 CR 579, Seffner, FL 33584


 Tuesday, March 5, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
Every Child Counts: Building CommunityHelping young children to develop nurturing and caring behaviors to help create a community where children support each other.

Saturday, March 9, 9:00 - 11:00 a.m. Creating Special Moments with Infants and Toddlers - How to create special moments with young children while doing daily activities, such as changing a diaper or feeding a child.

Tuesday, March 26, 6:30- 8:30 pm.
Held at RCMA, 312 US Hwy 41, Ruskin
Creating Special Moments with Infants and Toddlers - How to create special moments with young children while doing daily activities, such as changing a diaper or feeding a child.

Tuesday, April 9, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Avoid Behavior Problems: Teach Self-Control – Fun ideas for teaching young children about self-control, which can lead to better behaviors.

Tuesday, April 16, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Held at RCMA, 312 US Hwy 41, Ruskin
Friendship and Play Skills - Effective ways to encourage appropriate friendships with other children and how to engage in appropriate play.

Saturday, April 20, 9:00 - 11:00 a.m.
Friendship and Play Skills - Effective ways to encourage appropriate friendships with other children and how to engage in appropriate play.

Saturday, May 11, 9:00 - 11:00 a.m.
Enhancing Emotional Literacy- Increase your awareness of the kinds of interactions between adults and young children that support children’s emotional competency.

Tuesday, May 14, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Friendship and Play Skills

Tuesday, June 4, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Understanding the Importance of Schedules, Routines and Responsive Environments
Strategies for designing a responsive physical and emotional environment that promotes child’s social and emotional growth.

Saturday, June 8, 9:00 - 11:00 a.m.
Building Positive Relationships - Ways to build positive, nurturing, dependable relationships with young children.

Tuesday, July 16, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
What Does Time Mean to Children?

Tuesday, August 13, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Avoid Behavior Problems: Teach Self-Control

Tuesday, September 10, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Enhancing Emotional Literacy

Saturday, September 14, 9:00 – 11:00 a.m.
Friendship and Play Skills

Tuesday, September 24, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Building Positive Relationships

See website for additional classes. Dates and topics are subject to change.

Registration cannot be made over the phone. Please use this Penn State website to register:

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Choosing a Child Care Center

Being part of a child care center can be a wonderful experience for both you and your child. Research shows that attending a high quality child care center can benefit a child’s social, language, emotional, behavioral, and cognitive development. Choosing a child care center is exciting, but can also be confusing. When considering a specific child care center, be sure to arrange to have a tour of the center. During this tour, do not hesitate to ask questions about the center and their practices. Here are some specific things that you can look for in a child care center and some specific questions you can ask to get this information:

Caregivers and teachers should be trained or educated in early childhood education or development and should be provided with adequate compensation.

Staff turnover should be minimal. It should be expected that in a twelve month period the child remains with at least one of the same caregivers she began with. Do not hesitate to ask the child care center administration about turnover and expect a concrete answer. Lower turnover (the number of teachers who have left in a year divided by the total number of teachers) is better. A turnover rate of 50% or more is extremely high.

Your children will fare the best if they are able to interact with a consistent set
of caregivers throughout the day. In most child care centers, two teachers work in a
classroom at any given time. It is important, then, to find out how the center handles
teacher breaks or absences. The more teachers who are assigned to a specific classroom, the more likely it is your child will interact with the same set of teachers throughout the day.

Smaller teacher-child ratios (how many teachers per children in the classroom) and
appropriate group sizes (how many total children in the classroom) should be maintained in order to ensure that each child gets the individual attention he needs and that the classroom is not too chaotic and noisy.

A clean, fun and safe environment where children can be easily supervised, but still
have the freedom to explore is important. Make sure to look for activity areas which
incorporate various interests and encourage creative learning, such as areas for building blocks, arts and crafts, music, dress up, and books. Space for physical activities, either indoor or outdoor, is important as well.

The teachers should be warm, friendly,  and should care about the child and the parents. Ask to visit some classrooms and stay long enough to observe how the teachers act around the children, and with you.

Touring a center and asking questions such as these should give you a good sense of the quality of care that the center provides. While no center may be able to meet all of these standards, knowing what the key indicators of quality care are will help you choose a center that can benefit your family for the long-term. The most important factor is your own personal feeling about the center and whether it meets your child’s individual needs. While choosing a child care center can be daunting, it is an exciting process as well. Your child’s experience in care can be enriching and lay the foundation for a lifetime of wonderful experiences, not only for the child but for your entire family.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Children who Bully

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While bullying is common among children, it is no longer tolerated nor considered to be a part of growing up as in past decades. The University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension fact sheet, “Why Do Some Children Bully Others?” provides information on children who bully.

Bullying is an early form of aggressive, violent behavior. About 16 percent of students in the Unites States are involved. Of those, seven percent are the bullies and nine percent are the targets of bullies. By 24-years-of-age, 60 percent of bullies have criminal records. In comparison to other children, bullies grow up to have more arrests for drunk driving, domestic violence and child abuse.

Bullies are aggressive children. They view violence as an okay way to interact with other children. Many bullies are impulsive and active. Some are physically abused by their parents or other adults. Some have parents who are bullies. Bullies often copy the behavior they see or experience at home.

Possibly because they don’t know what to do, parents and other adults may ignore the behavior of bullies. Since they aren’t’ disciplined, bullies learn it is okay to act aggressively towards others.

Bullies harass others because of their race, gender, ethnicity, physical attributes, sexual orientation or personality characteristics. Anyone that the bully considers “different” can become the target. Bullying can be pushing, kicking, hitting, making threats, name calling, spreading rumors, and teasing or humiliating others.

Both boys and girls are bullies. Boys tend to use more physical behaviors, while girls are more indirect, such as spreading rumors or leaving a child out of activities. Bullying usually starts in the preschool years. It escalates during elementary school and peak during middle school.

 You can download the entire publication at

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Factors of Adolescent Suicide

The loss of a child to suicide can be particularly devastating to parents, friends, and others in the child's life. When my daughter came home one day telling me of a classmate who was contemplating suicide, the flood of fear for her friend and for the fact that my daughter was so closely exposed to such pain was one of those life-stopping moments.

As parents, relatives, friends, and professionals who deal with teenagers, we can be aware of certain risks and protective factors that can predict whether or not a teen may attempt suicide. A study using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health identified a number of such factors for adolescent suicide attempts. The researchers found that among all adolescents, those most at risk of attempting suicide were those who had previously attempted suicide and would likely try again, were victims of violence or perpetrated violence on others, used alcohol and marijuana, and had problems in school.

There were some differences between girls and boys. For girls, having a friend attempt or complete suicide, drug use, and a history of mental health treatment predicted suicide attempts. For boys, the more powerful predictors were carrying a weapon at school and same-sex romantic attractions.

While risk factors varied for genders and ethnic groups, protective factors also varied. However, for all adolescents, the most important deterrent in suicide attempts was a perceived parent and family connectedness.

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

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Effects of Caffeine on Lactation

Human milk is the preferred food for infants, with exceptional physiological benefits not only for the baby but for the mother as well. Mothers need to be aware, though, that many substances that they consume are excreted in breast milk and can profoundly affect the composition and adequacy of her breast milk. Even caffeine, which many of us consume on a daily basis in our coffee, tea, cola drinks and chocolate, finds its way into breast milk.

There is much debate over how much caffeine may safely be consumed by breastfeeding moms. Most physicians believe that moderate intake causes no problems for lactating mothers or their babies, but that complications may arise when caffeine is consumed in excess. Because infants cannot metabolize caffeine until the age of three to four months, large doses may accumulate in very young breastfed infants.

An interesting study by the American College of Nutrition in 1994, demonstrated the consequences of chronic maternal consumption of coffee during lactation in rats. High doses of caffeine resulted in long-term effects on sleep, learning abilities, anxiety, and mobility. Such high doses are never encountered in humans, and more studies are necessary to determine the consequences of early caffeine consumption on behavior.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a cup of coffee or tea in the morning isn’t likely to harm a nursing baby. However, pregnant or breastfeeding mothers should consider drinking mostly decaffeinated beverages for their babies’ health.
Source: Ashley Orynich and Linda BobroffFamily Youth and Community Sciences Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Thumb Sucking is Common for Three-year-olds

Your child may use thumb sucking as a way to fall asleep or to calm down when under stress. More than likely, she will stop this habit naturally. Putting added pressure on her to stop may do more harm than good.

Most pediatricians consider thumb-sucking normal until around the age of four and recommend parents ignore it. This is especially true when the child is sick, tired or stressed. If your child only sucks her thumb when she is bored, try to distract her by giving her an activity to keep her hands busy.

The American Dental Association reports children can suck their thumbs until around the age of 4 or 5 without affecting their teeth or jaw. However, if you start to notice a change in how your child’s teeth are lining up or a change in the roof of her mouth, talk to her pediatrician or dentist.

Learn more about Your Child: 39-40 Months from Just In Time Parenting. You can also go to our Resource Links for additional information on child care and development.

Note to Parents: When reading this, remember: Every baby is different. Children may do things earlier or later than described here. This newsletter gives equal space and time to both sexes. If he or she is used, we are talking about all babies.