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What Would You Do? A Kid's Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers

What Would You Do? A Kid's Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers
Keeping Children Safe

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Helping Children and Teens Deal with Covid 19 Anxiety and Quarantine

At this point in the Covid Pandemic, as of early September 2020, the United States is in varying degrees of dealing with the virus depending upon how much the Epidemiolical science was followed as well as the CDC guidelines of sheltering at home, wearing masks when out, practicing social distancing, and following cleanliness procedures of hand washing and sanitizing items brought in to the home.. The virus has spread rapidly in some states that tried to open too quickly and others are faring somewhat better. Some children are going back to in-person school while others have to continue to do virtual or online learning until the situation improves in their respective areas.

Regardless of where families find themselves at this point, it is vital that parents help their children and teenagers deal with anxiety and stress about the pandemic, quarantine, and/or in-school learning or virtual /online learning.

Start by learning how to talk to them. Remain calm and try to remember that kids will react to what you say and how you say it. They are quite intuitive and will pick up cues from the conversations you have with them.

Reassure them that they are safe and let them know it is okay if they feel upset. Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can learn coping skills from you. Make yourself available and let them know they can come to you any time with questions or concerns.

Pay attention to what they see or hear on television, radio, or online. It might be a good idea to reduce the amount of screen time focused on COVID-19. Too much information on one topic can lead to anxiety and stress.

It is imperative to teach children how to reduce the spread of germs. Remind them to wash their hands frequently and stay away from people who are coughing or sneezing or sick. Also, remind them to cough or sneeze into a tissue or their elbow, then throw the tissue into the trash.

If school is open, discuss any new actions that may be taken at school to help protect children and school staff. Follow the CDC guidelines for safe return to school. If it is necessary to continue online learning because the Covid is still too high for in-person learning, try to help your children as much as you can with making the most of the online learning tools being used by their school district so that they can benefit as much as possible until it is safe to return to in-person learning in school.

Children who may have to continue sheltering at home and using online learning may begin to miss social interaction with their friends. Help them find new ways to connect with friends. Social media is one great way to stay in contact with friends. It is likely that they will be able to find ways to connect with one another that are different from the way they did it before but will suffice for the duration of the quarantine.

Try to help your children create distractions. Teach them that it may be helpful to divide their problems into two categories: things they can do something about and things they can do nothing about. Unfortunately there is much that falls under the second category right now, so it is wise to concentrate on ways to create distractions from the things they can do nothing about. They can do homework, watch a favorite movie, read books, or get creative with ways to play games, pursue recreation, and to stay as physically active as possible.

Below are some activities recommended by the CDC and educators to create fun distractions and stay physically active. These things will better help children get through the quarantine with less anxiety and stress.

  • Dance parties. Turn on your favorite music or your child's music.
  • Hide and Seek. Encourage your kids to run around the house.
  • Get outside! Although we are safer at home, we are still allowed and encouraged to get outside for fresh air, making sure we are keeping our distance from others.
  • Foot race. Inside or out, see who can get from point A to point B the fastest!
  • Bike ride. Head out as a family an enjoy the spring season.
  • Obstacle course. Use furniture, tape on the floor, blankets, pillows, etc. to create an obstacle course.
  • Build a fort. Gather all your blankets and sheets and set to build giant fort!
  • Blow bubbles. See who can catch or pop the most bubbles.
  • Charades. Create your own game of charades by writing different animals, actions, etc. on index cards. Draw them out of a hat and act them out to see who can guess the most correctly.
  • Sidewalk chalk. Pull out the chalk. Draw fun pictures or write funs sayings. You will have a colorful space when you are done.
  • Hula hoop. This can be done inside or out! See who can keep the hula hoop going the longest.
  • Balloon volleyball. Blow up a balloon and play a game of volleyball! You can do this inside without the risk of breaking something.
  • Yoga. Kids love yoga! Search YouTube and you will find many great videos, some of which are created specifically for kids.
  • GoNoodle. Although screen time, this is a fun website for kids to dance along to some silly songs and move their body with different games.
  • Jump rope. A great way for kids to have fun and stay active. If you have multiple kids at home get them all involved in a large group jump rope or Double Dutch!
  • Backyard soccer. Set up "goals" with sticks and play a game of soccer.
  • Catch. Grab a baseball or football and play a game of catch outside.
  • Basketball. Don't have a hoop? That's okay. Practice dribbling and passing.


Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Should Children Consume Energy Drinks?

New research shows that increasing numbers of children consume energy drinks, but experts say they are unsafe for kids.

According to Brenda Goodman’s article, “Report Finds Energy Drinks Risky for Kids”, a report on new research published online in Pediatrics brings to light an increase in the number of health problems related to the use of caffeine by children. It suggests that parents need to take caution regarding their children consuming energy drinks.

Energy Drinks and Sports Drinks
According to Dr. Jay Aldersburg’s article, “Sports and Energy Drinks for Kids”, there are two types of drinks that are being used by children. In his article he points out that the American Academy of Pediatricians, reports that many parents and children mistakenly think that sports drinks and energy drinks are the same.
Sports drinks include products such as Gatorade, Powerade, and others. They contain electrolytes and water and carbohydrates that serve to replenish the body during vigorous sports activities. Sports drinks can be used by children and adolescents, but doctors caution that they should only be used for those children who are involved in sustained or prolonged vigorous activity.
Energy drinks are drinks such as Red Bull, Jolt, and others. Dr. Aldersburg reports in his article that Tara Harwood of the Cleveland Clinic cautioned, “A lot of children active in sports are using energy drinks, but energy drinks contain caffeine which they don't need and sugar and other ingredients that aren't healthy for a developing child,"

Safety of Energy Drinks for Children

Jennifer LaRue Huget references in her article, “Study Warns Against Energy Drinks for Kids”, a study reported in the journal, Pediatrics, explaining the risks involved with consuming energy drinks, especially for children. The study reviews evidence that the serious harmful effects, such as heart failure are rare, but difficult to document. Until very recently there has been no poison-control code to specifically identify life threatening events related to energy drinks. Such a code has now been established, however.
Huget’s article points out that caffeine in moderation can be beneficial, as it enhances cognition, attention span and physical stamina. It remains undocumented, however, as to what degree such benefits extend to children and adolescents
Huget’s article also points out that the FDA limits the amount of caffeine in a soda to 71 mg per 12-ounce serving. The danger with energy drinks, because they are classified as dietary supplements, is that they have so far evaded such restrictions. The ingredients, some of which include taurine and guarana, added to achieve the benefits of improved cognition, attention and endurance, are part of what makes the risks of consuming energy drinks difficult to document. There is little research on their effects.
Linsey Tanner’s article, “Doctors Warn Against Energy Drinks for Kids” quotes a statement from Dr. Steven Lipshultz, pediatrics chairman at the University of Miami's medical school, on the subject of energy drinks."We would discourage the routine use by children and teens.”
Dr. Tanner also states that energy drinks contain ingredients that can increase the jittery effects of caffeine, and can also cause nausea, diarrhea, and other symptoms ranging from unpleasant to potentially dangerous. He claims that energy drinks should be regulated as strictly as alcohol, tobacco, and prescription medications.

Recommended Guidelines

Huget’s Washington Post article explains that the journal Pediactrics calls for stricter guidelines regarding energy drinks. The journal suggests increased awareness from doctors of the possible increase in their patients’ use of energy drinks and the potential adverse health effects associated with them. This is particularly true of patients who are athletes and children with ADHD, diabetes, or eating disorders.

The journal also recommends additional study of caffeine's effects on young people and of the effects of other energy-drink ingredients. The journal suggests strict regulation of energy drinks if research provides convincing evidence that energy drinks are harmful.
According to the article, “Power Drinks – Should Your Child Drink Them?”, everyone needs to stay hydrated to maintain good health. Giving children plain water for hydration is always a safe choice, even for those children who play rigorous sports. They don’t necessarily need something extra to avoid dehydration.
The average child or adolescent who plays sports should get all the necessary nutrition and hydration by eating healthy foods and drinking a lot of water before, during, and after playing sports or exercising.
 During games and sporting events, drinks, such as water and vitamin water, rather than soda and energy drinks, should be available at all times. The amount of water needed can vary from one child to another. Water breaks should be consistently scheduled every 15 or 20 minutes, depending upon the age, weight, the rigorousness of the activity, and the weather conditions.
In conclusion, the key is to stay hydrated, but with water and healthy drinks, rather than potentially dangerous ones such as energy drinks.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Helping Families Deal with Potential Drug Abuse Problems Among Teens

Protecting children from bullying, drug abuse, or any kind of harm that could befall them is one of many goals of my Anti-bullying blog, as well as my Child Safety Blog.
I would like to add to my Child Safety blog and my Anti-bullying blog a guest blog post from Edgardo Valdespino, Outreach Specialist with, a free web resource that provides information about substance use disorders, eating disorders, and other mental health issues.

“Researchers have found that middle and high school students who bully their peers or are bullied by others are more likely than students who are not involved in bullying to use alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana. Our goal is to spread awareness of this and to be an informational tool to families seeking to prevent or recover from these issues. I invite you to peruse the page, Teen Drug and Alcohol Abuse, as well as the page,
Substance Abuse: A Possible Contributing Factor to Bullying and Being a Victim of Bullies from our website,” (Edgardo Valdespino)

You will find more information about Teen Mental Health here:

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Helping Children Relax and Have Fun

My children’s books are entertaining and educational for children. Each of my four books has a blog associated with the theme or subject matter of my books.

This period of time in our country can be a very scary for children and adults. Because of the increase of gun violence, racism, home-grown terrorist attacks, ICE raids that sadly separate immigrant families, devastating storms and natural disasters, daunting bullying, and all sorts of safety concerns that frighten children, it is important to call on parents  and teachers to take extra precaution to keep our young ones safe and to teach them how to be safe when they are not with their parents or other caregivers.

It is equally important that we do whatever we can to help children still be children, to try to have fun and enjoy themselves despite the fears that can tend to be overwhelming.
For this reason, I am introducing two gentlemen, Troy Harrington and Brian Thomas who have formed a small music production company called Bubba Yum Beatz. The company creates fun songs and music videos for children that will help them relax, enjoy life, and just have fun. They have also created a video that is a song for children that teaches about anti-bullying.

I am posting to all of my book-related blogs URL links to those Bubba Yum songs for your pleasure and to share with your children.

Troy Harrington and Brian Thomas of Bubble Yum Beatz   –  “Happy Dance”     –   PSA Anti-bullying song and video Bubble Yum Beatz!  (YouTube Channel)

Educate and enjoy!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Parenting with a Disability - How to Prepare Your Heart and Home for Little One

I am pleased to introduce a guest blogger for my Child Safety Blog:

Meet Ashley Taylor. She is a freelance writer, photographer, and advocate for people with disabilities. She created to provide information and resources to other parents with disabilities. When she isn’t working, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two children. Her guest post is below.

Photo credit: Pixabay

Parenting with a Disability - How to Prepare Your Heart and Home for Little One

Adjusting to parenthood is a challenge for everyone. You prepare the best you can, but a good part of parenthood is learning as you go. If you’re living with a disability, you may face some extra challenges taking care of a new baby, but just like any other new parent, the key is to being willing to learn and grow. Here are a few tips to prepare your home and your heart for these challenges, so you’ll be ready to face them head-on.

Preparing your home and gear
No matter what your limitations may be, baby gear will take over your home. As you start thinking about everything baby needs, you will find that some baby gear works for you, and other things may need to be adapted. Every disabled parent will have different limitations of course, but a great place to start is with the babycare equipment guide from Through the Looking Glass. In many cases, simple adaptations to equipment and to your home will allow you to care for your child independently.

Connecting with parents who are in a similar situation can go a long way towards helping you figure out how to adapt so you can parent the way you really want to. For example, many parents choose babywearing these days to keep babies close, while at the same time keeping your hands free to do other things. The Disabled Parenting Project has how-to videos for everything from babywearing in a wheelchair to making a crib and changing table accessible.

For some of your child’s needs, you may find that an alternative activity works just as well to accomplish the same goal. As one disabled mother on The Mighty explains, she found that while she couldn’t play on the floor with her daughter, they would have “highchair” time instead. They got the same quality time together that other parents may find from “floor time,” and because they would spend that time doing flashcards, their daughter learned things like shapes and colors early. Based on your situation, start thinking about the ways you want to interact with baby and how you can set up your home to make these interactions work.

Preparing mentally and emotionally
Becoming a parent is unlike anything else, and the full emotional weight of that role is hard to understand before the time comes. But you can start preparing now for how you will handle the emotional rollercoaster of parenthood, and especially for the specific needs you might have parenting with a disability. In the past, parents with disabilities often had a hard time finding support and connections. Now with social media, it’s easier than ever to find other parents with disabilities who have been in your situation. Start seeking out these communities now because they will help you feel connected and can also help you find practical advice based on your shared experiences.

Even with the best support and adaptations for care, the early days of parenting can be overwhelming and stressful. You’re running on very little sleep, and you’re on-call 24/7 for your precious little one’s needs. This is enough for any new parent to feel run down, so go ahead and give yourself permission to take the time for self-care that you absolutely need to be a good parent. As a new parent, even your basic needs can slide, so start there, with sleep, good nutrition, and exercise. Beyond the basics, plan on taking a day just for yourself at least once a month. This time should be away from the house (or home alone) where you do something nourishing just for you.

New parenthood is a time that is both amazing and amazingly stressful. This is true for any new parent, but as a parent with a disability, you may need to prepare for it a little differently. As you prepare, try to find a balance between accepting your limitations, and at the same time celebrating what you can do to care for your little one.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Is Spanking Children an Effective Discipline?

My book, What Would You Do? A Kid’s Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers, advocates for safety, health, happiness and well-being of children.  Child discipline is an important aspect of raising well adjusted children. For that reason, I think it is important to address the controversy over spanking.

Spanking and verbal criticism have become, to many parents, more important tools of child rearing than approval." (Phil Donahue)

Spanking children is one form of corporal punishment, or the deliberate infliction of pain to deter misbehavior in children. Corporal punishment is a controversial issue. There are varied opinions as to the effectiveness of such discipline. As with most things in life, there are disadvantages and advantages.

One disadvantage is that spanking can get out of hand, even though parents often think their spanking is done in a controlled manner. In addition, some research shows a connection spanking children and aggressive behavior of those same children when they become adults.

Some psychologists and educators believe that spanking children prevents them from learning humane conflict resolution. They also believe that spanking children only produces cooperation in the short term, and not in the long run. They assert that spanking is based on fear and negatively affects parent - child bonding. They believe that it is more effective to promote good behavior by bonds of mutual respect and love.

There are those who believe that spanking has some advantages as an effective form of child discipline. One study found that children who remember being spanked displayed better school performance and were more charitable and optimistic than children who weren’t spanked as a disciplinary measure. This study, however, contradicts theories that children who are spanked are more aggressive than those who aren’t spanked.

Parents need to weigh the pros and cons of spanking children before deciding how they want to punish misbehavior in their own children.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Helping Your Children Cope with Divorce

Even though more and more children’s books, movies, and television shows now deal with the topic of divorce and have helped to normalize it now in a way that was never done in the past, divorce can still be devastating to children. There are strategies for parents to use to help their children cope.
Divorce is difficult for parents and children alike. Many children of divorce feel frustrated, sad, angry, and may even act out in unacceptable ways. Parents can work together to help their children over the rocky road of divorce

How to Help Children Cope

According to Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D, author of “Helping Kids Cope with Your Amicable Divorce” on, parents can help their children cope with divorce by listening, by being empathetic and by being reassuring. Parents should encourage their children to share their feelings and listen intently when they do. If they have trouble finding the words to express themselves, parents can help by being mindful of their moods and inviting them to talk and acknowledging what they say. Parents should let their children know that whatever they say is ok.

Parents should clear up any misunderstandings or misconceptions that their children have about the divorce. If necessary, parents should repeat the reason for the divorce and reassure their children that, though some things will change, the family will work together to adjust to the changes. Above all, parents should be patient with their children. Adjustment will take some time for parents and children alike.

Demonstrating physical closeness with children is a helpful coping strategy. Parents should demonstrate physical closeness in the form of hugs and a closer physical proximity.  Such closeness is a powerful way to reassure children that you will be there for them.

Parents should try to provide stability and structure for their children as they adjust to the changes. That doesn’t mean that they have to establish rigid, inflexible schedules, but having some semblance of a consistent routine in each household and open communication in and between households provides needed stability during divorce.

Divorcing parents should strive to work with their ex spouses, maintain an amicable relationship, and avoid arguing in front of the children or putting the children in the middle of arguments or disagreements. Parents should avoid making their children feel as if they have to choose sides. 

Parents should be tactful and avoid discussing with their children any details of their spouse’s behavior. Parents should avoid making negative comments about their ex in front of or to their children. Divorcing parents being amicable and working through problems together is very reassuring to children and will help teach them problem solving skills as well. 

When to Seek Professional Help

Given time, love and reassurance, many children will begin to cope with the changes that divorce brings about in their lives. Some children adapt rather quickly. Others may have a more difficult time and may need additional help.

It is normal for children of divorced parents to feel a certain amount of anger, anxiety, and even mild depression. However, if after several months, children of divorce haven’t shown signs of beginning to cope, parents should seek professional help for them.

Parents should watch for such warning signs as poor concentration and trouble at school, sleep problems, and drug or alcohol problems. If their children should start withdrawing from family, friends and loved ones or show no interest in participating in activities they formerly enjoyed, they may not be coping.

Parents should also watch for more severe reactions to the divorce such as persistent angry or violent outbursts or any signs of self injury, such as cutting. If any such behavior is observed parents should seek professional help.