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Summer time is defined by kids as freedom, fun and no homework, but as parents it is sometimes cause for extra concern. The days of running free, catching fireflies and swimming can also be filled with some parental anxiety over ticks, accidents and water safety and sun exposure.
Spending time outdoors is a right in summertime, but we all know that sunexposure can be hazardous to our skin. Children are very sensitive to the sun and because a sunburn in childhood increases later skin cancer risk it is most important to apply sunscreen to our children starting at 6months of age. Prior to 6 months we recommend that babies wear light clothing, hats with brims, sunglasses and are properly shielded from sunexposure with umbrellas and the like. Do this especially on the beach, at a pool or near any reflective surface. When applying sunblock on a child older than 6months do it without clothes on, apply a thick layer rubbed into skin and reapply every 2 hours while in the sun or after a vigourous or prolonged swim or sweat. If sunexposure is unavoidable in a baby younger than 6months applying a light layer of sunblock of SPF 15 is allowed on small areas that are sun exposed (hands, feet, etc). Be sure to bathe baby afterwards. Remember that to be truly effective sunblock may take up to 30minutes to work, so apply before going out.
What to use as sunscreen. Ideally we need to block 2 kinds of ultraviolet bands to prevent sunburn and sun damage to skin. Those are UVA and UVB rays. Zinc oxide is an ideal sunblock for this purpose but can be cumbersome to use. So it can be used as an add on to the nose, cheeks, ears and shoulders. Apply any sunblock that has an SPF of 15 or greater and apply as stated above. There are so many types of sunblock on the market just be sure that it says blocks UVA, UVB rays, water and sweat resistant and does not contain oxybenzone (this may have hormonal properties). Most now contain titanium dixodie which is not absorbed through the skin and acts as a natural reflective material for UV rays.
Try as we may occasionally sunburn occurs. Keep your child well hydrated, apply a thick layer of moisturizer, aloe and other over the counter remedies with aloe and cooling properties are available. Cool compresses, cool baths and oral pain medication like acetaminophen or ibuprofen also help. If any fever, blistering or pain occur see your doctor immediately as a sunburn is like any other burn and may need further treatment.
So enjoy your summer, be safe and savour the memories!
As a follow up to my social media post I thought I would post this article my good friend Carla forwarded to me. Parents need to read this, put down their phones and pick up social interactions with the kids. If we don't we are looking at an entire generation of kids who cannot communicate, read social cues or function interpersonally. Read, process and respond. Looking forward to any comments.
Does your child have a cell phone? If so what age did you buy if for him or her? Cell phone use is on the rise for younger and younger children and it's important to teach your kids how to use it, to use social media and that having a cell phone is a privilege not a necessity. 22% of teens log onto social networking sites more than 10 times daily and once this level of engagment rises their risk of cyberbullyng goes up. It is here that we can truly positively impact how our kids interact in the virtual world.
It is clear from many books and scholarly articles written on the subject that social networking can have postive benefits (increasing networks, reading and discovering new things), but overall our kids live in two different worlds.. the real one we know and the virtual world we may not. In your child's brain these two worlds are intertwined and cannot be disconnected even though you may not see it that way. It is here that we need to help our kids navigate the dangerous pitfalls of social media. If we are to let them have social media then its up to us to monitor them on these sites for morality, common sense, integrity and privacy.
The first decision is when to let your child have a cell phone. How old? Most experts agree that no elementary school aged child should have or need a cell phone. As children grow to middle school and beyond their schedules change, and they may be in situations that necessitate a cell phone. Remeber that the phone is NOT just to communicate with you, but also for communicating with friends, strangers (through gaming and social networks), and perhaps bullying or being bullied. Afterall it is much easier to bully behind a cell phone than face to face like it had to be in my day.
So if you think your child is old enough to manage a cell phone it behooves you to teach him or her how to use it with respect for himself and others. Facebook requests that a child be over the age of 13 to join, but you can monitor your child on this site and you should. The same goes with snapchat and intstagram. Sit down and put all the privacy settings in correctly and do this on whatever computer your child uses as well. KNOW all your child's passwords and test him or her from time to time in front of you logging on. Demand that you always have access to your child's accounts. Always go in as a guest and snoop around. BE your child's friend on social media, follow him or have a trusted friend or relative do it for you. This should be part of the contract you have with your child when getting him a phone. It is yours afterall. You can also monitor what your child does with his phone using great applications like www.mymobilewatchdog.com. There are also settings through your cell carrier that can help you monitor cell usage (time of day, etc) and even shut off your child's phone at night for instance. Look at other internet safety websites for parents like www.fosi.org/good-digital-parenting/ to help you partner with you child to ensure his or her safety on line and beyond.
Make a good example of yourself. Show good technology etiquette. Don't text or update your status in the car, at family meals and not when your kids are talking to you anytime. Show them that putting down the device, making REAL LIFE social connections and conversations are more important than any snapchat, nstagram or facebook post. We need our kids to be safe on line, to feel good about their social interactions and to live in the hereand now.
Our kids lives and self esteem are at stake here. If we teach them proper behavior on line and they learn to treat themselves and others with respect and honor your rules then we create a kinder, gentler society with global self respect. A single wrong or naive move on line can be life threatening to children. Educate yourself on how to monitor kids online, to keep them private and importantly how to respect themselves enough to repsect others. We need more kindness and it starts at home.
Bullying has become one of society's biggest reasons for teen angst and suicide. I am interested to hear and understand your views, perceptions and experiences with bullying of any kind. I believe that the face of bullying has changed dramatically with social media. Text and messages and snapchat have lead to a whole host of issues especiallly relational aggression, feeling left out and alone. Plus it's SO easy to say something hurtful via text than face to face.. oh and then say "JK" just kidding. I have read a lot and feel that this topic is under discussed at schools and homes. Kids are often left feeling alone yet just a click away from a twitter feed, instagram or snapchat... they are feeling more left out than ever, more isolated and turning more to the internet than to their friends and family. We need to support our kids.. all of them..the weird, the loners, the geeks, athletes, social butterflies and the whole lot of KIDS that we love! Start the conversation early, teach your children inclusion, that being different is ok, that worshipping a different god or looking different is what makes us an amazing, diverse country. We need compassion, inclusiveness, and acceptance. Some good reads for parents are Rosalind Wiseman's Queen Bees and Wannabees ( the book that inspired the movie Mean Girls), Odd Girl out by Rachel Simmons, The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander: From Preschool to High School--How Parents and Teachers Can Help Break the Cycle by Barbara Coloroso,and the website www.ryanpatrickhalligan.org (a very sad story of real life bullying and its aftermath). I hope we can continue the conversation and really start to help our kids feel good about themselves and perhaps save a life.