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Is My Child OK?

If you’re like most parents, it is very hard to not compare your child to the ones he plays with. Sometimes we wonder if our child is developing at the proper rate and may even question whether he is acting in an age-appropriate way. When your son is running around the playground throwing sand, you wonder why other children his age are making beautiful sand creations or sharing so nicely with other children. It can be hard to remember that every child has different skills, and it depends on what they’ve been growing up with. If a boy’s dad works in construction, he may learn how to hammer a nail into a board before he learns to write the letter “a” perfectly. Both of these skills take a very precise amount of fine motor skills, but because of what he’s been surrounded by, he has developed these skills at different times.

All children develop at different rates. Be careful when it comes to comparing your children. It is very important to know when there may or may not be a problem. Of course, girls vary from boys, so it is especially important to remember that they will develop their skills at different times. If you are wondering where your child should be developmentally, check out Medline Plus. Another good site is Parent Further, where you’ll find information on every age from newborn to eighteen years old. You’ll also find some great articles about raising socially and emotionally healthy children at Parenting Counts. Of course, you will always want to consult your child’s pediatrician if you have any questions regarding development.

We all want our children to grow up to be polite and healthy. Trust your instincts, and with a little help from pediatricians and other experienced parents, you can find the information you need to help your children be the best they can be.

Texting/Talking and Driving - A Deadly Epidemic

Technology, when used correctly, is a wonderful tool. Many of us have become so used to the fact that we can be in constant touch with businesses, clients, friends, and family, that the mere thought of not being able to immediately “reach out and touch someone” sends us into a panic.

However, more and more experts agree that texting and talking on a cell phone while driving has become a deadly epidemic. Many states have passed or are trying to pass legislature to make it illegal to text while driving.

Just as drinking alcohol and then jumping into the minivan to go pick up the kids is negligent, so is taking a quick call or glancing down at a text message. In fact, according to the CDC, text messaging is by far one of the most alarming distractions. There are three specific ways we are distracted while using our cell phones.

  • Visual—not keeping our eyes on the road and our surroundings
  • Manual—letting go of the wheel
  • Cognitive—losing focus on our driving

These distractions can and do result in lives being lost very day in America. The benefit or enjoyment from one call or one text is not worth the risk, so please put down the phone while driving.

The following suggestions can help us all fight the urge to pick up that phone:

  • Turn it off.
  • Put your phone in your purse or briefcase in the back seat (out of reach).
  • Lock it in the trunk until you get to your destination.

If we stay off of our cells while driving, we have a much greater chance of reaching our destination safely. In the process, we set the tone by being a good example for our children and influencing their future driving habits. Let’s face it—our children are always watching us and learning more by what we do than by what we say.

Tooth Saving Tips for Trick-or-Treaters

This year, protect your child from one of the true horrors of Halloween - a cavity-filled dentist visit.

  1. Feed them cheese. It's high in calcium and re-mineralizes areas of early tooth decay. It also buffers-acids produced by oral bacteria, protecting teeth.
  2. Give them a healthy meal before trick-or-treating, so they'll have less room for candy.
  3. Have them drink water after eating sweets to help rinse sugar away from the teeth.
  4. Offer sugarless gum to keep saliva flowing and help rinse the teeth if they can't brush or floss after eating treats.
  5. Ask your dentist whether or not a prescription fluoride toothpaste is right for your child. It has a higher concentration of fluoride than over-the-counter brands.
  6. Set up a candy "bank" and offer a limited amount at a time. Freeze chocolates and candy bars, and store the rest in a sealed container.
  7. Many parents said that after letting kids indulge in some treats right after trick-or-treating, they limit their kids to a certain number of pieces each day or put the candy stash out of reach and out of sight. Then kids have to ask for it — that is, if they remember that it's there!
  8. Let kids know ahead of time the limits and reasons for those limits.
  9. Remind the kids that if they don't eat it all now, they'll have more for later. Encourage sharing the candy with friends. Not only does it thin out the candy supply, it enforces sharing.
  10. If a child is overweight or you'd just like to reduce the Halloween stash, consider buying back some or the remaining Halloween candy. This acknowledges that the candy belongs to the child and provides a treat in the form of a little spending money.

Remember that Halloween, like other holidays, is a single day on the calendar. If your family eats sensibly during the rest of the year, it will have a more lasting impact than a few days of overindulgence. Use your best judgment given what you know about your child's personality and eating habits.

Why Read Aloud?

Your child is a fluent reader, reading at grade level or better. Or maybe she is a teenager, resistant to reading or reading well on her own. So why should you continue to read aloud to your child? The reasons are endless!

According to Education World, children are never too old to listen to a read-aloud. It helps children develop their vocabulary and introduces them to higher-level text.

Jim Trelease, renowned author of The Read-Aloud Handbook and read-aloud expert, compares reading aloud to McDonald’s. The international food chain continues to advertise its product year after year, continually promoting its product. Reading aloud to children promotes reading. Cutting back on that “advertising” gives children the notion that reading is not as important as it was when they were younger. His website offers downloadable read-alouds and more information about the importance of reading aloud.

Reading aloud to your child

  • offers an opportunity to wind down together and enjoy a good story,
  • opens the lines of communication,
  • allows you the opportunity to know what your child is reading,
  • helps build your child’s vocabulary because your child can experience text above her reading level, and
  • models fluent reading for your child, a necessity if she is to grow as a reader.

Read Aloud America offers a list of recommended books to read aloud with your child, whether she is an infant or a high school senior. We hope you will give your child the fabulous gift of reading aloud—no matter her age or reading level!