Thursday, July 3, 2014

Summer Safety Campaign for Kids

Don't Let the 4th of July End in Tragedy Video urges parents to watch kids around water to stop drowning

The head of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) today released a new
public service announcement on YouTube urging anyone who cares for kids to "be on the lookout"
to prevent child drowning and heat-related deaths this summer.

"The 4th of July is a great time for families to celebrate our nation and that often involves water
sports, cookouts, and other outdoor activities," said Commissioner John Specia. "Don't let your
holiday end in tragedy. Always watch children around water, and don't leave a child behind in a car
even for a few minutes. "

35 children have already drowned in Texas this year, and two more died from heat after being left
in cars. This year children have drowned in pools, ponds, creeks, lakes, rivers, bathtubs, a water
park, a tank, a canal, a ditch, and a septic tank. Backyard and apartment pools are the most
common location for child drowning, followed by natural bodies of water such as ponds, lakes,
rivers, and creeks.

Last year, 82 children drowned in Texas, most of them between Memorial Day and Labor Day –
when water activities peak. An average of 81 children a year drowned in Texas over the last four
years. The lowest total was 74 in 2012 and the highest was 90 in 2011.
The younger the child, the greater the danger!
While teens and older children drown each year, most victims are six years old or younger. Very
young children are often fascinated with water and don't realize the danger. Remember that
drowning is silent. Don't expect a child who is in trouble to call for help.

Children under the age of one most often drown inside the house. Older children most often drown
outdoors. Outdoors, children most often drown in pools, especially backyard and apartment pools.
Most young children who drown in pools were out of sight less than five minutes and were in the
care of one or both parents at the time. Indoors, the bathtub is the most dangerous place.

For more statistics and information on water safety for kids, visit


Basic Water Safety Tips

Inside the house

• Never leave small children alone near any container of water.
• Keep bathroom doors closed and secure toilet lids with lid locks.
• Never leave a baby alone in a bath for any reason. Get the things you need before running
water, and take the child with you if you must leave the room.
• Warn babysitters or caregivers about the dangers of water and stress the need to constantly
supervise young children.
• Make sure small children cannot leave the house through pet doors or unlocked doors and
reach pools or hot tubs.

Outside the house

• Never leave children alone around water whether it is in a pool, wading pool, drainage ditch,
creek, pond, or lake.
• Constantly watch children who are swimming or playing in water. They need an adult or
certified lifeguard watching and within reach.
• Secure access to swimming pools with fences, self-closing and latching gates, and water
surface alarms.
• Completely remove the pool cover when the pool is in use.
• Store water toys away from the water, when not in use, so they don't attract a small child.
• Don’t assume young children will use good judgment around water.
• Be ready for emergencies. Keep emergency telephone numbers handy and learn CPR.
• Find out if your child's friends or neighbors have pools.

Contact a DFPS media specialist Thursday, July 3, 2014

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Value of Listening

If you are listening, your children will tell you extraordinary things. This in itself is one of the great gifts of parenting.

The other day, coming up the elevator, my four- (on the verge of five-) year-old said to me: "Mommy, when you grow older, everything changes."
"What things," I said.
She replied, "Your friends change. And you change, too. You really do. Like me. I'm changing. Everything is starting to make sense to me."
And I thought to myself, No, don't change! But I could also see exactly what she meant. Many of the vast, inchoate swirling sensory mysteries of how the world works are beginning to crystallize for her. She gets more and more clued-in every day, and there's nothing I can do about it.
But then again, here's something else that she says to me fairly often:
"Mama, there are things that kids know that grown-ups don't understand."
Now I like to think of myself as an adult who is really in tune with my children, and I certainly do spend a lot of time with them. But fundamentally, as Peter Pan reminds us, mercilessly, all grown-ups have forgotten how to fly, and many of us don't even remember that we ever visited Neverland.
If we want to know anything about childhood, and the only way is to be quiet for once and listen. Attentiveness on our part, and the intermittent silence that it requires, yields treasures.
A very important instance of this occurs when babies are learning to talk. As Po Bronson skillfully explains in a chapter of Nurture Shock, a language rich environment alone is not enough to fully nurture a baby's emerging attempts at speech. It is also matters greatly that parents and caregivers be attuned to the baby's vocalizations, and respond to them. "This variable, how a parent responds to a child's vocalizations—right in the moment—seems to be the most powerful mechanism pulling a child from babble to fluent speech." The same research also shows that babies need periods of quiet playtime, alone, when their brains can consolidate their new knowledge and they can babble to themselves.
The value of listening persists all through the parent-child relationship, and no one has expressed this more clearly than Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish in their classic, must-read book How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and How to Listen So Kids Will Talk. The best way to avert arguments, gain cooperation and improve behavior is to listen and to acknowledge what we've heard. It's only by truly attending to our children's perspectives that we can ever get anywhere with these small, perplexing people.
And if we're lucky they'll tell us a bit about Neverland in return...

Eliza Clark 
January 6, 2012

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A New Year's Eve Bash with Kids

A New Year's Eve Bash with Kids

Eliza Clark 
December 29, 2011
We all know just how impossible it is to find a babysitter on New Year's Eve. And we also know just how impossible it is for the little ones to stay up far past their bedtimes, much less til midnight. So does life with young children mean an end to New Year's Eve fun? 
It's a valid question, but we're here to tell you: not at all!!  In fact, with a little mental rejiggering and a few Savvy ideas, you may find that ringing in the New Year with the kiddos is more fun than any of the tipsy, late night dance parties of your past.
Here are our tips  for a happy, memorable celebration:
Invite over another family or two with kids so that all ages have great company and dance partners.
Reset all the clocks and then set the alarms. Pick a time that will work for the little ones -- say 8 or 9 o'clock -- and set your clocks forward so that midnight strikes at that hour. Then, for extra excitement, put all of the clocks in the house together on a table and set the alarms! That way you'll know exactly when to pop the bubbly.
Keep to an easy, pot-luck menu -- we've all done a lot of holiday cooking already! Some sort of bean dish (or black eyed peas) and grapes traditionally represent good fortune in the new year (and most kids like them... all the better!). 
Provide the requisite noisemakers and party hats. Or better yet, have your preschooler help you create pretty cut-out paper crowns for all the pint-sized guests.
At the magic hour: champagne for the grownups, juice for the little ones, kisses for all, and your favorite dance music!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Toddlers Hear Their Own Words Differently, Says Study

Toddlers Hear Their Own Words Differently, Says Study
Ever wonder why toddlers just can’t seem to get the pronunciation of some words just right? Science may now have an answer.
People subconsciously monitor their voices to ensure the sound they are producing is the one that is intended. If it is different, we are able to change that tone, but new research found that toddlers do not monitor their voices in the same way.
“Surprisingly, 2-year-olds do not monitor their auditory feedback like adults do, suggesting they are using a different strategy to control speech production,” lead author Ewen MacDonald of the Technical University of Denmark told
MacDonald said monitoring one’s voice is similar to musicians playing music. For example, violinists adjust their fingers to bring a note that is out of tune, in tune.
In the study, published in the journal Cell Biology,  a group of adults, 4-year-olds, and 2-year-olds said the word “bed” repeatedly while simultaneously hearing the word “bad” through a set of headphones. Everyone was able to adjust their speech to continue to say the word “bed,” except for the youngest age group.
The findings are surprising because infants can detect small changes in the pronunciation of familiar words in their native language, MacDonald said. By the time American children reach age 2, they have an average of 300 words in their vocabulary.
One reason for the findings may be due to the way children communicate with their caregivers, researchers noted.
“One possibility is that the 2-year-olds may rely on the person they are talking to instead of monitoring their own voice,” said MacDonald. “If you look at interactions between young toddlers learning to speak and their caregivers, you will often hear the caregiver repeating or reflecting back what the child has just said.  It may be this interaction that is helping children judge their accuracy in producing speech.”
But Diane Paul, director of clinical issues in speech-language pathology at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, said the task itself may be too challenging for this age.
“They don’t have the linguistic experience and developmental ability yet to self-correct,” said Paul. “Young children may mispronounce certain sounds (sounds that typically develop later). But if an adult asks them, “Did you say (sound pronounced correctly), they will say ‘yes.’ They hear the sound correctly even though they are not yet ready to pronounce it correctly.”
The study confirms what researchers have known about typical development, Paul continued. Young children focus on the content of what they are saying rather than the way they are saying it. Children develop the ability to “repair conversations” when they are misunderstood starting around age 3. These skills are refined as children get older, she said.
“Our work highlights the importance of social interaction, such as conversation between caregivers and children, in the development of children’s speech production,” said MacDonald. “While the present study focused on the normal development of speech production, we will be investigating potential applications for understanding and addressing delayed and abnormal early speech development.”
To help build their children’s language, parents should focus on what their young children say rather than how they say it, Paul said.  If a child has a speech error, parents should say the sound correctly in their own speech, but they should not correct the child in the early stage of speech development.
Paul gave the following notes and tips for parents to understand their children’s language development:
Children do not learn to say all speech sounds at once. They say sounds in a predictable sequence depending on the particular language or language they are learning.
Be a good speech model. Speak clearly and use correct speech sounds.
Respond to any of a child’s attempts at communication.
Show that you are listening and comment on what your child says, not how he or she says it.
Talk and read to your child often to stimulate speech, language and listening skills.

By Mikaela Conley

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Very Early Experiences May Stick in Memory

Very Early Experiences May Stick in Memory

Study: Some Children Remembered Events That Happened When They Were 2 Years Old
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

close up of toddler's eyes
Dec. 22, 2011 -- The ability to remember our earliest childhood experiences may be in place sooner than experts thought, according to new research.
Some children who played a unique game when they were just 2 years old were able to remember it six years later, the researchers found.
Other researchers who have focused on early memories, however, have said that adults' earliest memories usually start from when they were about 3 1/2 years old.
"We've got relatively objective evidence that people can recall things that happened as young as age 2," says researcher Fiona Jack, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Otago in New Zealand. "It's not common but [the study] shows it can happen."
The new findings may have implications for the theory of memory development. The new research may also help in legal settings, where it can be important to know if a memory is genuine.
The research is published in the journal Child Development.

Early Experiences & Early Memories Study

Jack and her colleagues report on 46 children who were ages 27 months to a little over 4 years. When they were ages 2 to 4, they all played a unique game called the Magic Shrinking Machine. The researchers watched them play.
The game includes a large black box designed just for the lab research. To make the machine work, the child turns it on by pulling a yellow lever, selecting a toy from an open suitcase, and putting it in a hole in the top of the box. Next, they turn a green handle on the side. When a bell rings, the child opens a red door in the front of the box to retrieve a smaller but identical version of the toy.
Jack and her colleagues interviewed the children and their parents six years later to figure out how well they recalled playing that game.
Only one-fifth of the kids recalled the event. Those who remembered included two children who were  under age 3 when they played. About half the parents recalled the game.
Both the parents and the children who had the early memories gave the researchers very similar reports.
"We know they are recalling the event accurately," Jack tells WebMD. "We were there."
What may have helped some children remember? Talking about the game to the children soon after it occurred may have helped preserve the memory, the researchers say.
Bottom line? The basic capacity of remembering our experiences may be in place for some of us by age 2, Jack says. However, she says, this autobiographical memory is not fully developed at that age. That takes time.

Early Memories: Upsetting Events Even More Likely to Be Recalled?

Others who research early memories say the new finding fits in with their own recent conclusions. "These findings contribute to an emerging body of evidence showing that many children can reliably recall events many years later from when they had been only 2 and 3 years of age," says Carole Peterson, PhD, a professor of  psychology and university research professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada.
In her research, Peterson interviewed children soon after they had been injured seriously enough to need emergency room treatment. They had broken bones or serious cuts, for instance. "Five years later all of the children could recall a lot about these injuries, and most of it was accurate," she tells WebMD.
She compared the kids' memories with interviews of adult witnesses to the injuries. The adult interviews were done shortly after the incidents.
"The children who were at least 28 months of age all remembered accurately," she says.
She has also found in another study that children recalled events from when they were just 2 years old.
While fun events like the magic game can be remembered by some children long-term, highly upsetting or stressful events such as the emergency room visit are even more likely to be recalled, Peterson says.
The new findings confirm that at least a few children can recall some experiences that happened when they were just 2 years old, says Robyn Fivush, PhD, professor of psychology at Emory University, and another expert in the field.
However, she also points out that some children, not all, recalled the game. "It was only nine children, 20%, which means that 80% could not recall it," she says.

Take-Home for Parents

Parents who want their child to remember certain early activities should talk about it after it happens, the experts agree. "Talking with children about [important] events increases the likelihood that the event will be remembered later in their lives," Peterson says.
According to Fivush, "Memories which are talked about within the family are better recalled as children grow older, so if there are special memories that you want your child to cherish, bring them up in conversation and reminisce with your child about these events."
Unique experiences are likely to be remembered best, she says: "Think of all your childhood birthday parties. If you recall a single one, it is probably because it was different in some distinctive way from the others."