summer safety    

Make Summer

    FUN and SAFE!  


Re-posted from the CDC website 

Summer is a great time for kids to enjoy different indoor and outdoor activities. Whether they are young children or teens, learn ways to keep your kids safe and healthy while they enjoy the summer fun.

Master water safety

Water-related activities are popular for getting physical activity and have many health benefits. Here are some tips to stay safe while having fun.

Drownings are the leading cause of injury death for young children ages 1 to 4, and three children die every day as a result of drowning.

  • Always supervise children when in or around water. A responsible adult should constantly watch young children.
  • Teach kids to swim. Formal swimming lessons can protect young children from drowning.
  • Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Your CPR skills could save someone’s life.
  • Install a four-sided fence around home pools.

Recreational boating can be a wonderful way to spend time with family and friends. Make boating safety a priority.

  • Wear a properly fitted life jacket every time you and your loved ones are on the water.

Beat the heat and sun

Heat-related illness happens when the body’s temperature control system is overloaded. Infants and children up to 4 years of age are at greatest risk. Even young and healthy people can get sick from the heat if they participate in strenuous physical activities during hot weather. For heat-related illness, the best defense is prevention.

  • Never leave infants, children, or pets in a parked car, even if the windows are cracked open.
  • Dress infants and children in loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Schedule outdoor activities carefully, for morning and evening hours.
  • Stay cool with cool showers or baths.
  • Seek medical care immediate if your child has symptoms of heat-related illness.

Just a few serious sunburns can increase you and your child's risk of skin cancer later in life. Their skin needs protection from the sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays whenever they're outdoors.

  • Cover up. Clothing that covers your and your child's skin helps protect against UV rays.
  • Use sunscreen with at least SPF (sun protection factor) 15 and UVA (ultraviolet A) and UVB (ultraviolet B) protection every time you and your child go outside.

Keep mosquitos and ticks from bugging you this summer

Protect yourself and your family by preventing bites and diseases, like Zika,  West Nile virus and Lyme disease, which can be transmitted by insects.



When summer winds down, it’s time to get ready for a new school year. Buying notebooks and scoping out sales is the easy part. There are less tangible things you can do as well.

Here are 9 ways you can help your child -- and yourself -- get ready to go back to school.

  1. Re-Establish School Routines

Use the last few weeks of summer to get into a school-day rhythm. "Have your child practice getting up and getting dressed at the same time every morning," suggests school psychologist Kelly Vaillancourt, MA, CAS. Start eating breakfast, lunch, and snacks around the times your child will eat when school is in session.

It’s also important to get your child used to leaving the house in the morning, so plan morning activities outside the house in the week or two before school. That can be a challenge for working parents, says Vaillancourt, who is the director of government relations for the National Association of School Psychologists. But when the school rush comes, hustling your child out the door will be less painful if she has broken summer habits like relaxing in her PJs after breakfast.

  1. Nurture Independence

Once the classroom door shuts, your child will need to manage a lot of things on his own. Get him ready for independence by talking ahead of time about responsibilities he's old enough to shoulder. This might include organizing his school materials, writing down assignments, and bringing home homework, says Nicole Pfleger, school counselor at Nickajack Elementary School in Smyrna, GA.

Even if your child is young, you can instill skills that will build confidence and independence at school. Have your young child practice writing her name and tying her own shoes. "The transition to school will be easier for everyone if your child can manage basic needs without relying on an adult," Pfleger says.

  1. Create a Launch Pad

"Parents and teachers should do whatever they can to facilitate a child being responsible," says Pfleger, who was named School Counselor of the Year by the American School Counselor Association in 2012. At home, you can designate a spot where school things like backpacks and lunch boxes always go to avoid last-minute scrambles in the morning. You might also have your child make a list of things to bring to school and post it by the front door.

  1. Set Up a Time and Place for Homework

Head off daily battles by making homework part of your child’s everyday routine. Establish a time and a place for studying at home. "Even if it’s the kitchen table, it really helps if kids know that’s where they sit down and do homework, and that it happens at the same time every day," says Pfleger. As much as possible, plan to make yourself available during homework time, especially with younger kids. You might be reading the paper or cooking dinner, but be around to check in on your child’s progress.


 Previous post

 What To Say Instead of Punishing To Teach a Lesson  

 From Dr. Laura Markam, and AHA Parenting!

"Dr. Laura.....I know I need to do a better job with preventive maintenance like spending time with my son, but I still don't know what to say to teach him a lesson when he misbehaves. You can't prevent all misbehavior, can you? So you still need to teach them a lesson somehow, right?"

Preventive maintenance, like staying connected with kids and helping them with their big emotions, does prevent lots of "misbehavior."  But kids will always need our guidance. They come into the world ready to learn, and they look to us to teach them. Red and blue, right and wrong, what to do when they get angry, how to express their needs and feelings.

We teach so many lessons, and often without even noticing that we're teaching! Because those verbal "lessons" will never teach our children as much as what we actually do. Do we yell (i.e., have tantrums) when we get angry?  So will they.  Or do we notice when we're getting irritated and say "I'm feeling grumpy....I'm going to take a minute to chill out and get calm...I will be right back..."?  They'll learn to do that, too.

So when kids "misbehave" the real lesson isn't what you say. It's that you:

  • Calm yourself, which teaches your child how to calm herself. 
  • Reconnect.
  • Help your child with emotions, even as you set limits.

But if you weren't brought up with positive parenting, this can sometimes seem impossible, and you're probably still wondering "what to say" to guide behavior in a positive way.  Here's a basic guide to get you started. 

1. Set appropriate limits.

"Teaching a lesson" means stating firmly what your limit or expectation is, and redirecting your child.  When we're frustrated, we feel like screaming at our kids to stop giving us a hard time. But they're acting out like this because they're having a hard time, and they learn limits by our repeating them over and over. When we "lose" our tempers, it plunges the child into a state of emergency. Unfortunately, that causes learning to shut down.  Instead, take a deep breath, and try to redirect your child's impulse into acceptable behavior:

"Blocks are not for throwing....You can throw your stuffed animals, or you can go outside and throw balls."

"You know that we aren't buying a toy for you today.....I know that's hard...If it's too hard for you, we'll need to leave the store and try again to buy your cousin's present next week."

"Aidan, your sister loves you, AND she needs to decide about being hugged. Can you ask before you hug her?"

"The rule is no screaming in the car so I can drive safely. I hear you're mad, and you can tell me in words. Can you stop screaming, or do I need to stop the car?"

2. Acknowledge feelings.

Kids need to feel understood before they can hear your teaching. You may feel like yelling "I told you to stop playing and get upstairs to the bathtub! How many times do I have to tell you?!"  but that teaches your child that you aren't serious until you raise your voice, and it doesn't give him any incentive to cooperate.

Instead, acknowledge his perspective, and give him his wish in fantasy:  "I hear you, you don't want to take a bath....It's so hard to stop playing...I bet when you grow up, you'll never stop playing, you'll play all night every night, won't you?! You'll probably never ever go to bed! Here, let's fly that airplane up to the bathtub."

Your child learns that you mean what you say and will insist on his cooperation, but that you understand if he doesn't like it. He doesn't always get what he wants, but he gets something better -- someone who understands, no matter what.

3. Emotion Coach

When humans are in the grip of big feelings, learning shuts down. Help your child with emotions before you try to teach. Most of us feel like saying "Go to your room until you can speak to me in a civil tone, young lady!"  but that just teaches kids that they're all alone trying to manage those big, scary emotions.

Instead, try: "Ouch! You know we speak to each other respectfully in this family. You must be so upset to speak to me like that. What's going on, Sweetie?"

You've pointed out that your child said something hurtful to you, but your main goal is not to "teach a lesson" but to create safety, so your child can process emotion. She learns that feelings aren't scary and dangerous, and we always have a choice about how we act on them. She also learns that her words have the power to hurt, and she doesn't want to do that. Finally, she learns that even when she's upset, you understand that she's good inside; she's just having a hard time right now--and that you're there to help.

4. Empower to Repair

Children want to know how to make things better when they mess up. Not while they're mad, of course. No one does. But when they're no longer angry, they want a chance to redeem themselves, to restore their good feelings about themselves and their relationships. Don't we all?

Most of us think we're supposed to say "You go apologize to your brother this minute!" but that's humiliating and makes kids resist mending the relationship.

Instead, help your child with the emotions that caused her to lash out. Then, once your child has regained her equilibrium, empower her to make things better:

"Your brother was pretty upset when you knocked down his tower....I wonder what you could do to make things better with him?...What a great idea!"

If she says, "I never want to make things better with him! I hate him!"  then she's still too angry, and needs your help with her emotions. Go back to acknowledging her feelings and helping her work through her upset:

"You're still pretty mad at your brother....Right now, it's hard to remember that sometimes you feel good about him, and that you could get back to that good place...It sounds like maybe you have something you need to tell your brother....want some help to do that?"

Once she's on the road to feeling calmer, try again. If she still resists, leave the repair up to her: "I know you're still feeling upset at your brother, and I understand why...I know when you feel better, you'll think of the perfect way to reconnect with him and make things better."  

You'll be amazed that your child will actually try to make reparations, once she doesn't feel pushed into it.  She learns that when we damage a relationship, there's a cost -- and that she can take responsibility to clean up her messes.

5. Help your child reflect.

Teaching your child the important lessons in life takes a whole lot of listening as well as talking, but lectures don't work. Teachable moments are only teachable if the student is ready to learn. So practice sharing your observations and "wondering aloud" to help your child reflect on why she's acting as she is, and also on the results of her actions.

"I notice your brother doesn't want to wrestle with you these days....I wonder whether there's anything you can do to help him feel safe and have fun?"

"I know you're using that tone of voice because you're worried we'll be late to the birthday party, Sweetie...but I get anxious when I hear shouting, and I can't drive safely...I wonder if there's another way to let me know how worried you are?"

"It's disappointing to miss words on your spelling test, I know....The good news is that your brain is like a muscle, and if you exercise it, you can learn anything and get smarter. Want me to help you learn your words for next week?"

Remember, if your child is "misbehaving" because he doesn't know the appropriate behavior, then simply teaching him is sufficient. But if he knows the right behavior and is still "misbehaving," it's a cry for help. That's why calming yourself, re-connecting with your child, and helping with emotions WHILE you set limits will teach the most important lessons.

If those are your goals, you'll find that you know just what to say.

May you make miracles today, large and small,
Dr. Laura

Involving children in household tasks: Is it worth the effort?

Research summary courtesy of University of Minnesota, College of Education & Human Development. Research by Marty Rossmann, Ph.D.

Parents of the world, take note: You can make a big difference in your children's future by asking them to take out the trash. And do the laundry, wash the dishes, make the beds, and put away the toys.

Research by Marty Rossmann, emeritus associate professor of family education, shows that involving children in household tasks at an early age can have a positive impact later in life. By involving children in tasks, parents teach their children a sense of responsibility, competence, self-reliance, and self-worth that stays with them throughout their lives.

How the research on involving children in household tasks works

Rossmann explored outcomes for 84 young adults based on an in-depth study of their parents' style of interacting with them, their participation in family work at three periods of their lives (ages three to four, nine to 10, and 15–16), and a brief phone interview when they were in their mid-20s. Variables such as parenting styles, gender, types of household tasks, time spent on tasks, and attitudes and motivators connected to doing the tasks were analyzed for their relationship to outcomes for the children.

Rossmann looked at previously unexplored data collected from a longitudinal study by Diana Baumrind, famous for its analysis of authoritarian, authoritative, and permissive parenting styles. Baumrind started her study in 1967 using a sample of parents and children living in the San Francisco Bay area. Rossmann's own family had been a part of the study.

What the research shows

Using measures of individual's success such as completion of education, getting started on a career path, IQ, relationships with family and friends, and not using drugs, and examining a child's involvement in household tasks at all three earlier time, Rossmann determined that the best predictor of young adults' success in their mid-20s was that they participated in household tasks when they were three or four. However, if they did not begin participating until they were 15 or 16, the participation backfired and those subjects were less "successful." The assumption is that responsibility learned via household tasks is best when learned young.

How the tasks are presented also influences children's abilities to become well-adjusted adults. The tasks should not be too overwhelming, parents should present the tasks in a way that fits the child's preferred learning style, and children should be involved in determining the tasks they will complete, through family meeting and methods such a weekly chore chart. They should not be made to do the tasks for an allowance. The earlier parents begin getting children to take an active role in the household, the easier it will be to get them involved as teens.

What others say about involving children in household tasks

Rossmann brings practical findings from her research to the public by making presentations to parent educators, at PTA meetings, at the Minnesota State Fair, and to a filled-to-capacity room at an international meeting of psychologists in Stockholm. The research has directly impacted the work done by fellow researchers and authors, parent educators, and parents.

Jean Illsley Clarke—director of J.I. Consultants, widely-published author, and alumna of the college—is featuring Rossmann's research findings on children doing household chores in her upcoming book on overindulgence, Indulge Them Less, Enjoy Them More: Finding a Balance Between Giving More and Saying No to Your Children. Clarke explains that in the book's three separate overindulgence research studies, "adults who were overindulged as children reported not having to do household chores as the most frequent way they had been overindulged. The pain that many of them experienced as children, and even more during adult life, presents a sad picture of lack of skills and low self-esteem. Marty Rossmann's research offers independent and important information on the role of chores."

Kris Loubert, parent educator at the Early Childhood Family Education program for Minneapolis schools, says that "involving children in household tasks is a topic parents typically want to discuss, especially parents of three- to five-year-old children. The good news about Rossmann's research is that getting children involved early (preschool-aged) in household tasks seems to have a 'payoff' beyond getting kids to learn how to keep a home in order. The responsibility learned via putting those toys away positively affects their success in young adulthood—at the university, in their careers, and in their families. The parents I work with all dream of success in these areas for their children."

"I hear parents of young children complain about how difficult it is to get kids to cooperate and how difficult it is for them to follow through with their children to the completion of a task. They often will say it easier if they just do the housework themselves. I believe Rossmann's findings could create more resolve in parents to teach, work with, and be more patient with their children as they learn how to contribute to the upkeep of the family home. Teach your kids responsibility and contribution at home early and they are likely to be successful later in life."

Wendy Wicks, president of the Dowling School PTA (Minneapolis), organized a presentation by Rossmann for parents which they found "inspiring."

"Rossmann's presentation on household chores increased our awareness of leveraging opportunities to assign our kids easy tasks on a weekly basis. After learning about the positive outcomes of those children who participated in household tasks at an early age, I think the Dowling parents who attended this presentation will be looking for ways to regularly involve their children in helping around the house."

Why this research matters

Involving children in household tasks at an early age helps them learn values and empathy as well as responsibility. It is important for children to internalize values when they are young because household responsibilities continue to play a significant role throughout one's life. Young adults are living on their own longer and they need to have household skills as part of becoming well-adjusted adults. Managing household responsibilities can be the biggest cause of stress in marriages. "There's a lot of talk about family values, but little action," Rossmann says. She would like to do more work in this area that would replicate the study with a larger sample of the population and groups that represent greater diversity.



Disciplining School-age Children

OneToughJob's Website offered this Positive Parenting tools:

Your school-age child is capable of taking an active role in setting the rules for your home and family as well as the appropriate consequences for when he breaks those rules.   Involving your child in this process will make him more likely to respect the rules. Hitting and/or yelling at your child are not effective discipline techniques. These actions teach him that violence and yelling are an appropriate response to anger or frustration.

Tips for effectively disciplining your school-age child

  • Be sure "no" is not the word your child hears most often.   Positive reinforcement is important. Praise your child for good behavior so he does not see misbehavior as the only way to get your attention. Your child can be sensitive to criticism, making this kind of praise a perfect way to bolster his self-esteem.
  • Remember tantrums still happen.   Try to remain calm; if you react to these tantrums your child will see them as a way to get attention. Take a deep breath and calmly tell your child that when he is ready to talk about how he feels, you are ready to listen.
  • Empty threats are dangerous.   It is easy to become angry and make unrealistic threats of punishment, like "If that fighting does not stop we are never going on another car trip!"   Threats on which you cannot follow through, especially those with the word "never," will weaken the power of the realistic consequences you may use in the future.
  • Manage discipline.   Your child may feel like he has little control and believes that the way to gain power is to misbehave. Constant discipline will only fuel that belief, instead, focus on giving your child positive attention when they are doing something good. This will show him that he can gain power and your attention this way, too!
  • Involve your child with choices.   Sometimes the way to deal with a child who may feel like he does not have any control is to involve him in the process. Offer him an "either/or" choice so he feels he had some say in the matter. Remember a child should not always have choices. You need to decide when this is appropriate (e.g. battle over what to have for lunch, not whether or not a seatbelt needs to be worn), and make sure that you can live with either choice.



Kids and Allowances

Teach your Children Good Money Management Skills for a Lifetime.


While kids typically learn about money and its value at school (and sometimes at daycare), how to manage money happens at home. Providing your kids with an allowance is a great tool for creating early understanding about the concept of money. Experts say that starting when a kid is old enough to identify a quarter, dime, nickel and penny as well as a $1 and $5 bill is a great time to start. Here are some quick ideas for getting started:

  • Start with math money lessons. Stack coins so that a child can learn to associate that a $1 bill is the same as four quarters, 10 dimes, 20 nickels or 100 pennies. If you child can start to grasp the concept that a bigger coin doesn't mean "better" and that a dollar bill can be broken into change that equals the same amount, your child is ready for the ABCs of money.
  • Start with an allowance at an early age. An allowance for a 3-year-old can be as little as two quarters each week to go toward a drink, a ride on the coin-operated horse, or piece of candy. Even a small amount of money to call their own that a young child can put into a purse or wallet lets them start the concept of worth and how things cost money.
  • Establish an appropriate amount. This is where it varies greatly. Some financial experts recommend paying a child an amount equal to their age each week (a 7-year-old gets $7 each week). Others think that is too much and recommend an allowance that is half of their age. For older kids, you can calculate weekly expenses and then add some additional funds to either save or to be able to spend.
  • Be consistent and firm. Remember that you are the teacher about money management, and if you say one thing and then do another, then you are teaching the child that the behavior is okay. If you tell a child that he has to use his allowance to buy a toy and then give in and buy it for him, then he has learned there are ways around saving. That's not to say you can't buy your child toys. If you plan to buy a child something, then don't tie it to his allowance. Be sure toe keep consistent and then not to give into pleas and whines for "exceptions."
  • Allowance should not be tied into family responsibilities. Experts all agree on this one: do not tie allowance into family chores or responsibilities; they do these because they are contributing members of the family and not because they get rewarded financially. However, you can always offer "extra" chores for money that doesn't normally fall into the scope of chores. Having kids do extra duties for pay will help their self-worth and teach them the value of working.
  • Teach them how to manage their money. It's not enough to simply give a child a billfold and ask them to keep track of their money. Smart parents will start showing them how to track expenses and weekly savings vs. a planned expense. An effective parenting tip is to install a small whiteboard in a child's room for the use of tracking savings and expenses for easy viewing and updating.
  • Don't forget about raises. Once you set an allowance rate, don't forget about increasing it as a child gets older or increases responsibility levels. You expect periodic raises with work; remember, childhood is a kid's job too!
  • Encourage the concept of dividing their money 4 ways: SPEND, SAVE, DONATE, and INVEST. The earlier in a child's life they master the concepts of investing, and also donating, it will be cemented into the character of their being.
  • Provide your children with chore charts so they are clear about what is expected of them to reach their goals.
  • Help Children save for short term goals, as well as a long term goal.

Courtesy of Robin McClure of

  PREVIOUS POST....................

How to Avoid the Homework Hassles

If you are like me, sending your children off to school is a mixed blessing. Being away from home, learning new routines, and making new friends can be challenging.  Homework can also be a challenging time. We have compiled a list of ideas to help parents avoid the home work hassles and start off the school year successfully. 

  •  Have Reasonable Expectations. The goal of homework at this age should be to "help kids develop good study habits and feel successful," says Harris Cooper, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Duke University. Don't assume that your child will always understand the directions, be neat, and get the right answers. Most educators agree the rule of thumb is ten minutes of homework per grade. If your child is struggling finishing in a reasonable amount of time, talk to his or her teacher.
  • Create a Special Homework Spot. Make sure the area is clear of distractions, has proper lighting and materials. Older kids may benefit from having a desk in their room, while younger children may need to use the kitchen table. Make sure you are not watching TV or chatting on the phone near them.
  • Timing, Timing, Timing! Find what time period works for you. Some children do better right after school, while others may prefer after dinner. Finding that key time for learning is very important.
  • Don't Hover. Children should be able to do their homework independently, and the expectation needs to be set from the first day of school. Do not give them the answers, but rather ask questions to help them find the answers themselves. 
  • Know When to Call in the Cavalry. Sometimes the problem with homework is due to a real learning issue, and might need professional reinforcement to help support your child. There are several learning centers and tutoring programs available. There are pros and cons to utilizing these types of services. Choosing one if any depends on your child's temperament, learning style, and needs, not to mention what you can afford. Check our database to find programs available in your area. Enter your locality and then search by category "Education."

Please always feel free to call the KidsPriorityOne Info Line at 757-CHILDREN (244-5373) for assistance.  Have a great school year!


 PREVIOUS POST....................



Think back to when you were growing up, and all the times you felt self-doubt, confusion, and frustration. Its tough growing up! You can help your children get through the bumps and bruises of life by simply being there for them. Children need to know that the  when the whole world feels likes its crashing down around them, they have one safe, secure place to go, and one bottomless source of unconditional love.

~Listening is as much a skill as giving a speech is a skill. It's not just a matter of picking up sounds: active listening involves an array of behaviors that express your attention, empathy, and respect. Listening to your children in this way will go far toward convincing them of your unconditional love. Keep these guidelines when your child has something important to say to you.

~Put down the paper or shut the TV off. Maintain eye contact with your child. Make body contact, such as hand to shoulder.  Often when children are trying to express a problem, parents say they are listening, but there attention is somewhere else. You can't con a child this way. A few minutes of sincere listening go a long way.

~Don't jump in to give solutions or lectures. Often, children just need a sounding board. Solving your child's problem may give you the relief of ending his discomfort; but, in the long term, its worth far more to them to get the support they need to formulate solutions on their own.

~Demonstrate you are listening by  asking appropriate questions and making "listening" sounds such as "Hmm", "Oh", "Really?", and "Wow"!

~Validate your child's fears and feelings, instead of minimizing them. Its tempting to say, "Don't worry about it, or "There's nothing to be afraid of". By brushing them off, you can give your child the message that his feelings aren't important. Try to reword your statement to validate them such as, "That must be frustrating", or "It can hurt to feel left out".

~Help your child focus on solutions. Help your child use forward thinking phrases like," I bet you wish...", or "Wouldn't it be nice", or "what do you think you'll do now?'

Excerpted with permission from Elizabeth Pantley from Kid Cooperation (New Harbinger 1996)



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