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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

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.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Safety of Teens and Tweens at Concerts

My book, What Would You Do? A Kid’s Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers, is  book offering strategies for children, teens, and parents to empower them to stay safe in a world that presents all sorts of temptations and risks for them. There are many scenarios and activities which can be of concern for parents in regard their children’s safety. One such scenario is attending concerts or music festivals.

Teens love going to concerts, and more and more preteens who enjoy music performed by musical artists whose music is directed to the younger set, such as Ariana Grande or Katy Perry, also want to attend concerts.  Nothing can guarantee a child's safety at a concert or anywhere else for that matter. However, there are steps parents can take to minimize any routine problems preteens and teens may encounter. I have presented below five strategies to help with that.

Preteens or tweens should never attend concerts alone.    
Children of this age should always have parent or adult supervision at concerts. Even teenagers can benefit from an adult presence. If a parent accompanying a tween or teen is embarrassing to him or her, parents should purchase  tickets a row or two behind the child and his or her friends. With such a strategy, parents can be there if they are needed without being on top of them.

Once parents feel confident that their teenagers are old enough and mature enough to see a concert without adult supervision, parents should make sure that they go with friends so they can look out for one another.

Always designate a meeting place.

Decide where your kids should meet if they get separated from you or their friends. It is a good idea to size up the concert or festival venue before the music begins. This is especially important at festivals, clubs, or other general-admission concerts where everybody tends to wander about.

Prepare for any possible emergencies, especially big emergencies.  

Power outages, unexpected thunderstorms, a sudden illness or injury affecting a performer, and, tragically, even terrorist threats -- any number of situations might force an abrupt cancellation or exit from the concert Always be familiar with the location of  emergency exits are. Know where the security guards are. Stay calm, stay together, don't push or get pushed.

Prevent potential problems.

Be alert to suspicious behavior and self-destructive behavior and notify an usher or guard to such behavior. "If you see something, say something."
 Likewise, remind our teens to keep an eye on their wallets and bags, water bottles or sodas, and tell them to never accept a drink or a snack from a stranger.

Anticipate needs and bring the essentials.

Make sure your teens and tweens have memorized key phone numbers in case they lose their phones or use up battery power while taking video. They should be equipped with sunglasses and sunscreen for outdoor concerts, as well as tissues (concert restrooms often run out of toilet paper) A small bottle of anti-bacterial hand gel might be a good essential to take along too. 

Make sure their cell phones are fully charged.  It might be a wise idea to have them call or text to check in with parents at a point in the concert. In addition, they should always have cash for emergencies.