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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.