Electronics and Sleep Problems

electronics-before-bed-sleep-problems-in-childrenChildren develop sleep problems when they use portable media devices, such as tablets or smartphones, before bed.  They have more difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, are more sleepy during the daytime, and are twice more likely to sleep less than children without access to their devices before bedtime.  A JAMA Pediatrics review (reut.rs/2fkjL1j) of 20 studies that involved children using these portable media devices. The review excluded their use of PCs and TVs before bed.  It included over 125,000 children between the ages of 6 and 19 years old.
 Even more interesting, is the fact that sleep problems are also more likely in children who had their portable media device near them at bedtime, even if they didn’t use it before bedtime.  If they receive texts or use social media, then they are more likely to check their devices throughout the night.  Before you know it, after checking the texts, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat & other social media, several hours of precious  sleep may have been lost.
So many of us are guilty of using out smartphones in the middle of the night.  We’ve commonly woken up, after a deep sleep REM cycle, checked our smartphone, and interrupted our sleep.  A good amount of sleep for most children is 10 hours per night, for teens it lowers to 9 hours per night.  For a child, this has a huge impact on their education the next day as well.  If sleep problems exist, learning difficulties are more likely to occur when they are sleepy during the daytime. 
Next time you use your smartphone before bed, think about how it could negatively impact your own sleep.  Poor sleep is linked to many potential negative health consequences, including dementia.
Please consider protecting your child’s sleep by making sure they don’t use their smartphones or tablets before bedtime, turn them off or remove them from their bedroom at night.

Teen Mistakes | Sexting Bullying

Anthony Weiner is in the news again.  Apparently, more photos and conversations from his sexting, sex chatting days have surfaced.  I'm sure this isn't a shock to may people.  While learning about the latest developments, I began to wonder if parents understand that Mr. Weiner represents an ongoing problem among teens.  

Sexting is on the rise among our teens.  What's worse is now that social media is everywhere, it is also used as a bullying tool.  All it takes is a young girl/boy take a naked picture of her/himself.  Then, she sends it to someone she's presumably interested in.  Before you know it, that photo goes viral.  Or someone uses it a blackmail.  
This is becoming more common, especially since so many teenagers now have cell phones.  Imagine your daughter or son's naked picture appearing on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and elsewhere.  How do you combat that? Teens have become suicidal over this.  What makes it worse, is that your teen is unlikely to share the problem with you due to their mortification. There have been several cases of sexting bullying in the media.  Jessica Logan was 18 years old when she committed suicide related to sexting bullying in 2008. http://on.today.com/139ZVbb. Hope Witsell was a 13 year old girl who did the same in 2009. 
It's important to have open communication with your teen about the dangers of sexting and sex chats.  Prevention is key.  Remember, even if your teen isn't doing this, and hopefully they are not, it is likely they know someone who is sexting.  What if it's one of their friends?  We encourage our teens to share with us if their friends are having problems such as depression.  We need to add sexting to the list.
So when is the best time to have this conversation?  Before your teen has a phone is the time to start.  Start by explaining what the responsibility of a cell phone entails.  A great way to start is simply by asking your teen, "Do you know what sexting is?" There is no gentle tip-toeing around the topic.  Direct and honest communication is best with teens.  In addition, explain that there are consequences of sexting.  It is good to discuss that some of these consequences include school suspension, school expulsion, colleges might read this if it's in the sexter's school file, embarrassment, depression, police involvement, and more.  A great tool is using media stories, such as Anthony Weiner's story.  Ask your teen, "What do you think about that?"  Consider discussing Jessica Logan and Hope Witsell's suicides.  Sexting bullying and sexting in general are common teen mistakes that can be avoided.

Grateful - Gratitude Journal

An old high school friend had started a Grateful/Gratitude Journal.  This was probably two years ago.  She had survived a car accident.  She went through a lot as a result of that accident.  So, she started a Grateful Journal. She actually did it with her son.  I always thought it was a wonderful thing to do, but had never made the time to do it myself.  However, my friend's active journal writing never left my mind.
Then, last night, I watched an old Oprah's Lifeclass episode. It was titled "Mastering the Art of Gratitude." It was an old one that I hadn't had the time to watch, but had saved on my DVR.  As I watched Tony Robbins talking to the Oprah audience, I closed my eyes and did as he recommended.  I remembered things in my past that made me happy, proud, and grateful.   Something as simple as lying down on the carpet of my new home, doing snow angels.  It was a silly moment with my husband.  We were happy in our new and unfurnished living room.  I hadn't though about that moment that occurred 12 years ago, in a long, long time. 
Then, I felt a shift.  What if I do start a grateful journal?  How much time can it really take to right a list of a few things I am grateful for each day?  I think the positive energy will only serve to benefit my life and those around me.  So, at last, last night, I started a Gratitude Journal.  Already, the contemplative time left me more peaceful last night.  
There are also some apps titled Grateful Journal that are easy to use.  I might eventually just do it electronically.  Until then, I'll do it the old-fashioned way; I'll handwrite it.  And I may even start doing it with my son too.  However, I'm going to enjoy that as some special "me" time, for now.
As of this moment, I am grateful for that high school friend who shared a special moment in her life, that brought me to the Grateful Journal writing today; gratitude is contagious.

Quality Time | Sea World in Orlando

This past weekend my family had a great time at Sea World in Orlando. We focused mainly on the kids' section, Shamu's Happy Harbor.  It's really great. I highly recommend it.

In particular, I noticed that the way I "do" parks has definitely changed since becoming a mom. No longer do I feel the need to "do it all" in a day. In addition, I'm okay with not going on every ride. I'm more than okay with going for only a few hours. It's more relaxing to just enjoy it.

Not to mention, I have fun staying in one section alone. We spent over an hour in the "Net Climb" section of Shamu's Happy Harbor at Sea World in Orlando. We genuinely enjoyed being kids again. I'm sure our son enjoys it this way too. Having his parents climb through tunnels and on nets is super fun and special.

While I was watching my 6'4" husband net climb & tunnel crawl, at least 4 stories up in the air, I thought to myself, 'Wow ... I never imagined seeing this!'

Then, I thought about how much all of us do, so differently as parents, as compared to our lives before children. Do you notice it too? Granted, your days may not be filled with your husband singing Chipmunks tunes at random hours of the day, when your child is no where near. And you may not have a husband that is addicted to the new adventures of "The Fresh Beat Band." However, you surely have your own stories of parental life. I'd love to hear them.

As an "FYI", we used our Fun Card. For the price of a one day ticket, purchased almost a year ago, we were able to enjoy Sea World for an additional 2 days for free. You can't beat that. Deals are great. But quality time is what it's all about; the bonus was that this time it was at Sea World in Orlando.

Update: December 15, 2018

Shamu's Happy Harbor is currently closed & will reopen in 2019, remodeled as a Sesame Street themed land.   The Sea Carousel is still accessible.. However, the large net climb structure, Water Works, and Fun Ship are slated for removal.  The Seven Seas Railway, Shamu Express, Flying Fiddler, Jazzy Jellies, Ocean Commotion, Sea Carousel, and Swishie Fishies will survive, although relocated, liley with new theme & layout.  New rides, new buildings & the entire area is upposedly going to look like Sesame Street.  I have to wonder if there will be a Sesame Street themed net climb area, as there is a similar one in Busch Gardens, their sister park in Tampa, Florida.  While I will miss my memories, I look forward to improvements & new activites!


Chicken Pox Lollipops | Unsafe & Illegal

 Chicken Pox Lollipops?


For many years, before the chicken pox vaccine was available, parents used to have "chicken pox parties." The idea was to get it over with,

Chicken Pox Lollipops

Chicken Pox Lollipops

as you knew it was only a matter of time before your children became infected with the chicken pox. Now, apparently, some parents are taking this to a new level. Chicken Pox Lollipops? There is a Facebook Page titled, "Find A Pox Party." This multi-state group of parents favors "natural immunity." In so going, they purchase and sell chicken pox laced lollipops. The concept is simple and dangerous. A child that is acutely infected with chicken pox licks a lollipop. You buy the lollipop. You give that lollipop to your child. Your
child gets infected with chicken pox. However, the consequences are not simple; in fact, they can be deadly.  
Pediatricians do not recommend these parties. And we definitely are against these chicken pox lollipops. We recommend disease prevention, period. Any intentional injury or disease is unacceptable.

Natural Immunity


Anyone who knowingly infects their child in the name of "natural immunity" while not being aware of the dangerous and deadly consequences, needs to become better informed. I hope that that the information in this blog post will educate many and thereby prevent disease. Parents may think, "What are the chances of that happening to my child? It almost never happens." Remember, it only takes one time, one disasterous infection, for a parent to live a live filled with regret.

First of all, it is important to know that prior to the vaccine, chicken pox used to kill 100 children in the U.S. every year. The chicken pox vaccine is the safest manner in which you can prevent your child from getting the disease.

Chicken Pox Infection Complications


Secondly, it is important to be educated regarding the possible complications that can arise from a chicken pox infection. Most people think it is only a simple skin infection that itches a whole lot; then goes away. Many complications can arise from chicken pox. Chicken pox can cause a myriad of complications, including, but not limited to shingles, cellulitis, osteomyelitis, seizures, cerebellar ataxia, meningitis, encephalitis, pneumonia, hepatitis, conjunctivitis, retinal vasculitis, secondary blindness, and a whole slew of secondary bacterial infections, including MRSA.


Sharing Chicken Pox Lollipops Equals Sharing Many Unknown Diseases

Another thing to consider is the chicken pox lollipop is carrying that infected child's medical history. That child could have had mono, AIDS, and many other diseases that are easily spread when there are open sores and/or saliva in their mouth. Simply put, the chicken pox lollipop is filled with the unknown and could be deadly.

Illegal - Federal Crime


Lastly, this news has gotten federal attention. Please be aware, that this is a federal crime on two counts. It is illegal to send any disease via U.S. mail or private mail. Also, it is illegal to alter or tamper with consumer products. Candy is a consumer product.

More Chicken Pox Disease & Vaccination Information

The American Academy of Pediatrics have in depth articles teaching more about the chicken pox disease and the chicken pox vaccine.

Healthy Dining | Kids LiveWell Program

This July, the National Restaurant Association partnered with Healthy Dining to form Kids LiveWell.  This is a new program that highlights meals available at participating restaurants that are considered healthy meals for children.  The healthy meals will have an apple icon next to the item, in order to alert parents to healthy meal options available for their children.

In order for a meal to be consider a healthy option in the program, it must contain:
* a beverage,
* 600 calories or less,
* less than 35% calories from fat,
* less than 10% calories from saturated fat,
* less than 0.5 grams trans fat, &
* less than 35% of calories from sugar, &
* less than 770 milligrams sodium.

Participation in the Kids LiveWell program is voluntary.  Participating "inaugural" restaurants include Au Bon Pain, Bonefish Grill, Burger King, Burgerville, Carrabba's Italian Grill, Chevy's, Chili's Grill & Bar Restaurant, Corner Bakery Cafe, Cracker Barrel, Denny's, El Pollo Loco, Friendly's, IHOP, Joe's Crab Shack, Outback Steakhouse, Silver Diner, Sizzler, T-Bones Great American Eatery, & zpizza.  The Healthy Dining company states more restaurants are expected to join with an expanding list of healthy dining options for children.

If you click the restaurant logos on the Healthy Dining website, the nutritional values of foods are listed.  And the National Restaurant Association also provides nutritional information on healthy dining for kids in their in the Kids LiveWell program.


Coping with the Aftermath of a Tragedy

On Saturday, January 8, 2011, our nation suffered devastation with the shootings that occurred in Tuscon, Arizona.  Jared Loughner killed 6 and injured 14 others at a gathering for constituents of Representative Gabrielle Giffords.  Rep. Giffords was severely wounded by a bullet that passed through her brain.  She is currently in intensive care, has been responsive, but has an unknown future.  Christina Green, a 9 year old girl was among those killed.

Yesterday, there were many moments of silence observed ... at the White House South Lawn, the U.S. Capitol steps, the Supreme Court, and at the BCS national championship to mention a few.

How can we make sense of this?  How can we make sense of this to our children when we don't understand it fully ourselves?  There are several guidelines as to how you can best help your child, regardless of age, cope with the aftermath of a tragedy. 

First, you may want to consider supervising or limiting what your children see on TV regarding this and other traumatic events.  Your actions will depend on the age of your child, the level of understanding, and maturity of your child.
Second, and most important of all, communicate with your child at a level appropriate to his/her age.  If you decide to watch the news coverage with your child, discuss developments with them. Give your child the chance to ask you questions.
Next, be prepared to discuss their emotions.  Ask them what they think and/or feel.  Allow them to express fear, confusion, etc.  Let them know that a variety of thoughts and emotions are normal.  In addition, sometimes, a tragedy can bring up other thoughts and emotions from an unrelated difficult experience.  Be aware that this can occur, so that you can best handle the other issue as it arises.
Remember to be honest.  It is okay to admit to your child that you don't understand how such a tragedy could occur.  It is important to know that you might not have all the answers, but that everyone involved in the tragedy is working at getting the answers (investigators, school officials, family, friends, etc.)  You can tell your child that as more answers are available, you can talk about this again.
Be prepared to revisit the tragedy.  Keeping the lines of communication open is also important.  The reality is your child's awareness may change in the next few days, months, or even years, especially as more information becomes available over time.
Lastly, if possible, end the conversation on a positive note.  There usually are heroes in every tragedy as there are this one.  Point out the 20 year old intern, Daniel Hernandez, who at only five days of being an intern, sprung into action, applied pressure to Rep. Giffords wound, preveting excessive further bleeding.  Point out other four people in the crowd that worked together to stop the gunman from reloading, preventing more death and injuries.  Point out the masses and prayers that are being said for all these people.  Point out the moments of silence throughout the country.  Point out the communities that are uniting to help out the families of those directly injured or otherwise affected by the shootings.  At the risk of sounding corny, that's a lot of love and goodness in people's hearts.  Our children need to know that despite the evil in the world, goodness remains.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has a free downloadable guide available online regarding coping with the aftermath.  It is called, "Tips for Talking to Children and Youth After Traumatic Events: A Guide for Parents and Educators."  This is an invaluable resource.  I recommend you print it out and use it; it is helpful for any traumatic event.
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