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Traveling with an Infant: 6 Best Practices

May 6, 2014

By Noralba Martinez

A baby sleeps in the back seat of the car as her parent drives.

Traveling with an infant is a daunting task. My children are older and easier to travel with now, but they were a handful when they were younger. The more practice you have traveling with an infant, the easier it will become, as you will learn what works best for your family. For example, ground travel was always easier for us than air travel. Here are some tips to make traveling with your infant less stressful.

  • Make a List. We have so many things in our mind that it is impossible to remember everything. Make a list to facilitate the process of packing for your trip. Be sure to include EVERYTHING you use for your infant (for example, a hotel might not have sensitive soap or cream).
  • Access Bag. Whether you are flying or traveling in a car, you will need a bag to access frequently-used items like diapers, wipes, medicines, formula, snacks, extra clothes, a blanket, and toys to make the trip comfortable for your infant. Keep this bag accessible.
  • Think Clean. Always carry anti-bacterial solution, a changing pad, wipes, and a first-aid kit.
  • Air Travel. If you are flying, remember that breast milk, baby formula, and baby food are considered medical necessities and can exceed 3.4 ounces. Your baby will need to be screened by TSA, but you can consult with the Transportation Security Officer if you have concerns or questions. Before takeoff, have your baby suck on something (pacifier or bottle) to avoid pain from the change in air pressure.
  • Road Trip. Make frequent stops if you are traveling a long distance to allow time to take your baby out of his or her car seat to stretch. Use car shades on the windows to avoid sunburns and play familiar baby music to calm your baby in the car if needed.
  • Schedule. Attempt to stay on or close to your baby’s schedule. Keep him or her alert during the day and try to keep nap times on schedule to avoid confusion and over-tiring.

Remember to have fun and enjoy your time with your baby. Don’t over-stress. It gets easier to travel after you do it over and over.

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My daughter comes home from daycare with bruises. How do I know if she’s being mistreated or has a health issue?

May 2, 2014

By YOU Program Facilitator

A doctor examines a baby girl.

Question: My 4-year-old daughter comes home from daycare with bruises on her arms and legs. I’ve asked the daycare and they say she plays kind of rough. She doesn’t play like that at home, though. I also talked to other parents at the daycare and their kids don’t seem to have a lot of bruises. How do I know if she’s being mistreated or if it’s a health issue?

Answer: It’s good that you have noticed the bruises and asked the daycare and other parents about their children’s experiences. Have you asked your daughter if anyone is hurting her?

If not, the next step is to ask her. She might be able to tell you if something is wrong. There is also a chance that she won’t tell you what’s happening for various reasons. Either way, by asking her directly, you are showing her that you care about her, what happens to her, and what she tells you.

Next, regardless of her response, you should take your daughter to her pediatrician. Your daughter is at an age where she no longer sees her doctor as frequently as when she was a baby, so if there is a potential medical issue that occurs between scheduled check-ups, she should visit the doctor immediately.

Her doctor can help you determine whether her bruising is from playing rough, a health issue, or from mistreatment and can help you determine the next appropriate step for preventing it. Additionally, the doctor can document suspicious injuries and give you information on reporting those to authorities if necessary.

Hopefully the daycare provider is correct and your daughter is just playing a little rough, but you have every right to be concerned about your daughter’s safety. Consider spending a day at her daycare observing to make sure everything is okay there. Even if you need to take a day off work, it's worth it to make sure your daughter is safe there. 

For more information on how to deal with your child’s injuries and doctor visits, please see Through the Early Years, the first book in the YOU: Your Child’s First Teacher 3-book set. If you suspect your child is being abused, call the National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4-A-CHILD.

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Teen Drinking: Prom and Graduation Parties

May 1, 2014

By Nely Bergsma

A male teen lays in a blur of glasses and bottles of alcohol.

The end of the school year brings much to celebrate, especially for teenagers. As your teen prepares for prom or graduation celebrations, it is important to set parameters and share expectations on how to celebrate safely and responsibly, especially when he or she will be attending celebrations where alcohol may be present.

Recent statistics from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) suggest that alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among youth in the United States (more than tobacco and illicit drugs) and is responsible for more than 4,300 annual deaths among underage youth. Although it is illegal for people under 21 years old to drink alcohol, 11 percent of all alcohol consumed in the United States is by people aged 12 to 20 years. More than 90 percent of this alcohol is consumed in the form of binge drinks.

As a parent I don’t assume that my children would never engage in such behavior nor attend a party where there may be alcohol. While I trust that they will make good choices, I always engage them in ongoing scenario conversations that will offer them direction but also offer me insight as to what type of decisions they are most likely to make.

  • Ask your child if there will be alcohol at any celebration they will be attending. If yes, what are the expectations for them attending? Be very clear. 
  • Who is hosting the celebration? Will the parents be home? Be certain to get the name, address, and phone number of the family hosting the party. If you do not know the family, you may want to consider calling the parents. 
  • Who will your teen know at the celebration? Will he or she be going with a group? Get the names and phone numbers of all those in the group.
  • How is he or she getting to and from the party? Be certain to get the name and phone number of the driver and his or her parents. 

Be firm but not combative. If your teen is evasive and does not want to freely give such information, then you may consider not allowing him or her to attend. Once you are comfortable with the information your teen has given you, you will have more to discuss.

  • Discuss the parameters of the event and set expectations in case something goes wrong or your teen feels uncomfortable while at the celebration.
  • Be available to your teen should he or she need your guidance while at the celebration. Make it clear that he or she can call or text you at any time.
  • While your teen is out, be ready to pick him or her up at the celebration should he or she want to leave early. Let your teen know you will not be upset if he or she needs you to come and pick him or her up.

Finally, when your teen arrives home, be awake to greet him or her. If your teen does not want to share details right then and there, wait until the next day to discuss how things went—whether good or bad.

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Social Media Privacy Tips for Teens

April 21, 2014

By Jessica Vician

Older teens (14-17) are more likely to connect with people they have never met. 64% of teens who use Twitter have public accounts. 82% of teens post their birth date. 71% post the name of the city or twon where they live. 71% of teens post their school name.

Social media continues to infiltrate our lives and there are constantly new, popular platforms for teens to use. It’s okay for your teen to be on social media, but you need to make sure he or she is engaging in appropriate behavior and protecting his or her privacy to the general public. Today I’m going to take you through privacy settings for the big three platforms: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

It’s important to establish a policy for your teen on social media. There are two key things you can have your teen do with his or her social media accounts to both protect his or her privacy and ensure you’re seeing every one of your teen’s posts.

Make the account private.

Your teen’s Twitter and Instagram accounts can easily be made private. If the account is private, people will need to send your teen a request to have access to his or her posts or photos and the general public cannot see anything your teen shares.

On Twitter, click the settings icon and select “settings” in the drop-down menu. Then on the left side of the page, click “security and privacy.” Under the “privacy” section, select “protect my tweets.”

On Instagram, click the icon on the far right of the menu bar at the bottom of the app. Then click the “edit your profile” button near the top of the page. Scroll to the bottom of that page and select “posts are private.”

On Facebook, there are certain things you cannot make private, like your profile and cover photo. Make sure your teen selects respectful and appropriate photos for these features. From there, follow these directions with your teen to make the rest of his or her page private to the general public:

  • Once logged in, click the lock icon in the upper right corner of the page.
  • The lock icon will yield a drop-down menu. Click “see more settings.”
  • In this section, you can edit any of the settings to determine who can see posts or pictures your teen posts or is tagged in. You can also edit who can contact your teen through Facebook and who can search for his or her page. Go through each section together to determine who can see what on the page.

Ensure you have access to all posts.

Follow your teen on Twitter and Instagram so that you can see everything he or she posts. Friend your teen on Facebook and set frequent meetings with him or her to review the privacy settings on your teen’s page, making sure that you always have access to see each post.

By taking some time to go through the privacy settings on your teen’s social media platforms, you can ensure that he or she is both protected from the outside world and acting appropriately with friends.

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Stranger Danger: Teaching Kids About Strangers

April 8, 2014

By Lorena Villa Parkman

A child walks alone on a city street.

We have always told our kids to be wary of strangers. This mantra carries its own wisdom. However, things aren’t always that black and white. In some occasions, kids should talk to strangers, like police officers or firefighters. The key is to teach them to differentiate between when it’s appropriate to talk to strangers, which ones are “safe” strangers, and how to act when they feel uncomfortable with an adult or with a certain situation. “Don’t talk to strangers” applies only in certain cases.

Here are a few guidelines that you can discuss with your child about what to do when being approached by someone he or she doesn’t know:

It’s okay to talk to strangers while accompanied. When your child is out with you, it’s fine to let them say hello to strangers. Most people are genuinely happy to interact with a child, so there’s no need to be rude or extremely suspicious of everyone you or your child encounters. However, let your child know that if a stranger approaches him or her while being alone, it’s not okay.

Beware the lures of strangers. Some of the most common ways that predators lure children away from safety is by asking to help them with a task, like finding a lost puppy or child, or by offering them a treat if they do what the stranger says. Teach your child that when this happens, he or she should say “No” and leave immediately to find a trusted adult.

No secrets. Your child must be aware that secrets with strangers are a no-no. Teach your child that it’s inappropriate if anyone—stranger, friend, or family member—asks him or her to keep secrets or tries to make your child do things that feel uncomfortable. If your child experiences this, he or she should tell you or your parenting partner right away.

Appearances don’t matter. Children might think that dangerous strangers look like villainous characters from a cartoon. But most of them look like regular folks, polished and kind. Teach your child to be wary of any stranger that approaches him or her while being alone, even if they look “nice.” Also, gender and age shouldn’t be a reason to trust or distrust someone. A dangerous stranger can be a woman, man, or teenager.

Safe strangers. These are people your child can ask for help when needed. Police officers and firefighters are very recognizable safe strangers. You can also show him or her how to get to the homes of friends in your neighborhood in case of an emergency.

Handling Dangerous Situations. Talk to your child about how to handle dangerous situations. Kids Safe Foundation, a non-profit that provides personal safety education, suggests teaching children: “No, Go, Yell, Tell.” Kids should say no, run away, yell loudly, and tell a trusted adult what happened. Teach your child that sometimes it’s okay to say no to an adult.

It’s better to teach your child from a place of knowledge than from a place of fear. If we say, “Don’t talk to strangers,” you are not teaching your child what to do. If you prepare him or her to handle these situations rather than instilling fear of all strangers, your child will be more confident later in life to handle all types of problems, including menacing events.

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