Curfews & Growing Up

teens sitting together on a wall

Everyone is a teenager at one point in their lives and chances are at that time, you wanted to stay out late and have fun with friends. The story seems to be the same time and time again; parents want their teens home by a reasonable time and teens do not always oblige. This is where curfew enforcement comes into play.

Implementing curfews

Curfews are a great way to create routine in the household. Whether it be for your young child or teenager, curfews set standards and help hold everyone accountable. For those with younger children, practice getting them showered and in bed 10 to 15 minutes before “lights out” at 8:30-9:30pm. This type of curfew should be a piece of cake compared to enforcing one with your teen.

As your children grow up, they’ll become preteens and you’ll start to notice how they start to ask for more time out with their friends. A common question you’ll be asked as the parent is, “What time should I be home?”

For some parents, having a set curfew that never changes except under special circumstances might work, and for others, having a fluid curfew and discussing it with your teen each time they go out may work, too. No matter your parenting style, make sure communication is clear and open and make sure that the curfew set is not open for interpretation once discussed.

Enforcing the curfew

Now that you have set a curfew, it’s time to stick by it. Don’t let those last-minute, late-night calls asking to stay out later or sleep over a friend’s house fool you. The only way to get your teens to respect not only the curfew, but also you as the parent, is to enforce it. If they come rolling in around 11pm, make sure they check in with you before going to bed. Make it clear that there will be consequences if the curfew is broken. The purpose of setting a curfew is not to make your teen’s life miserable, but to keep them safe and teach them what responsibility, self-control and time management are.

Source: Healthy Children

Violent TV & Video Games

Boy in front of computer monitor playing video game

Though video games and television are supposed to be forms of entertainment, science has confirmed that there may be more serious consequences of engaging in violent TV and video games. Research shows that children who are exposed to violence in video games and TV experience a change in how they behave and resolve conflict. As a parent, you want to think that your child won’t be the one to be affected in such ways, but it can happen.

The reason for children and teens committing acts of violence or becoming aggressive in situations is not completely due to the violence they experience in video games and TV. Though there is some influence, it has never been proven that an act of violence was the result of violent media consumed. We can say that violent media contributes to the behavior or thought process behind the act of violence and that there is a link between the two.

Parental Controls

The parent does have a choice in the type of media their children consume, how often and in what ways. It is recommended that children under the age of six years old do not engage in or watch violent media, whether that be watching a movie or TV show, or playing a video game. This recommendation stems from children not being able to distinguish reality from fantasy.

Staying on top of the media your child consumes is one of the easiest ways to filter out the violent content, especially when they are young. Activating parental controls on devices is one place to start. Be sure to do your research before purchasing popular games, so that you know what to expect.

Choosing the Right Games

Often in violent video games, the player is rewarded for completing a mission or winning the game through killing the other players. This type of reward system may influence or teach your child that acting violent is a way to be rewarded or feel empowered. Luckily, there are hundreds of video games available on the market that are educational, non-violent and fun for your child. Sports-themed games may be a better option than gory, war-themed games.

Source:

Healthy Children

#InternetChallenges and Trends

#InternetChallenges and Trends - Children's Medical Group

Today, most parents have had to adapt to and learn about today’s technologies, but for the younger generation, they were born into it. Children practically eat, sleep, and breathe video games, social media and the Internet. Though it is great to see all of the educational and learning opportunities on the Internet, the “web” does have its downsides, too.

What are “Internet Challenges”

Trends and #InternetChallenges have taken over social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. While some of the challenges and trends were created to support causes and organizations, others are just for pure entertainment, and can actually be dangerous to your child.

What Makes Them Dangerous

Teenagers want to fit in and tend to be more impulsive than other age groups, which is why they are the demographic most commonly participating in these challenges and trends. Their brains are still developing, leading to decisions that aren’t always rational. Trends in the past such as the cinnamon challenge, the salt and ice challenge and the Tide Pod challenge can all have negative, dangerous impacts on your teen’s health.

Social media just adds more pressure to your teen’s social life, often making them not think twice about doing something idiotic. They are not thinking about how their hands can get burned from the salt and ice or how the Tide laundry detergent can be poisonous, causing damage to their throats and airways. Instead, they are focused on how many views, likes and comments they will receive on their post.

Stepping In

As parent, you have a responsibly to engage with your teens and keep an open line of communication about what occurs in their social life. Though you don’t have to be a helicopter parent and know every detail, keeping up with their group of friends and what they are up to is always a good idea. Starting a conversation about a current trend or challenge is a great start to learning about your teen’s opinion of it. When they are young, it’s important to keep a close eye on how they use social media and the dangers of posting things they may regret later on.

Should You “Ghost Follow” Your Teen?

Being a “ghost” follower on your teen’s social profiles is a tactic some parents use. This means that you do follow their pages, but you aren’t engaging and commenting on their posts, kind of like the saying, “look but don’t touch.” Kids can find it embarrassing if their parent leaves comments on their posts, which can break a sense of trust. Remember, teens are going to experiment and make mistakes, and as the parent you just have to try your best to lead them in the right direction.

Source:

Healthy Children

Proactively Preventing Opioid Abuse

Prescription opioids

The opioid epidemic is a serious problem nationwide. In fact, the leading cause of accidental death in this country is due to drug overdoses. Opioids are highly addictive narcotics that can range from prescription pain medications like oxycodone, morphine and codeine to illegal street drugs like heroin. In 2017, the National Institute on Drug Abuse reported more than 72,000 overdose deaths.

What Are Opioids?

Addiction and opioid abuse can happen anywhere and at any time. Prescription opioid drugs create artificial endorphins that the body also normally produces to help with pain. This gives the user the feeling of being “high” temporarily. As the user begins to abuse opioids, the brain stops producing the natural endorphins and begins to build a tolerance to the opioids. This results in the user increasing their dosages and shortens the time frame in between them, eventually taking such high amounts so frequently that overdoses occur. Large amounts of opioids greatly decrease the heart rate and can cause permanent damage after long-term opioid use. During an overdose, a person’s breathing is slowed, and their pulse slows, which can lead to irreparable brain damage.

Opioid Abuse Prevention

Proactively preventing opioid abuse in your home and around your children is important. Keeping an open line of communication with your children and educating them on the deadly consequences of opioids can decrease the risk of opioid abuse. The law prohibits distribution of opioids to anyone other than who is on the prescription, and if caught, jail time is a real possibility. If prescription pain medicine has to be in the house, store it in safe place where it is not easily accessible to other members in the house. Another good idea is to stay on top of the number of pills available and make sure none go missing. If and when the pills expire or there are leftovers, simply return them to the doctor, pharmacy or local police station to be safely disposed of.

Lastly, if you are wary of the risks opioid-based medications could pose to yourself or your family, consult with your doctor to seek out alternative medications. Asking for help is the first step in overcoming opioid abuse and can turn out to be lifesaving. Never hesitate to ask for help; there is nothing to be ashamed of.

Sources:

Healthy Children

National Institute on Drug Abuse

Dangers of Electronic Cigarettes

Dangers of Electronic Cigarettes

Electronic cigarettes, better known as vapes and Juuls are unhealthy, addictive and even deadly for young children. These electronic devices are now being created to look cool and hip, to attract the younger generations. Devices can look like pens, USBs and have the ability to light up. Going another step further, the vape juice or e-liquid can contain nicotine which is then flavored to attract kids. Vape juice is available in hundreds of different flavors like cannoli, cucumber, vanilla custard and lemonade. Vapes and Juuls are sweeping through middle and high schools and are quickly becoming a problem for underage kids.

Why is Liquid Nicotine Dangerous?

For parents who vape as an effort to quit smoking cigarettes, there is something you must keep in mind: E-juice, or liquid nicotine, is very dangerous to infants and young children under the age of five. The liquid nicotine is considered poisonous to young children if there is direct contact between the skin and liquid. The first death of a one-year old child occurred in 2014 and since 2015, more than 2,400 calls to poison control centers have been recorded.

Young boy holding a small vape pen
Juul

Ways of Poisoning

There are three different ways in which a child can become poisoned. The first is through direct skin contact when the liquid is absorbed into the blood stream. The second way is when the liquid comes in contact with the child’s mouth and is absorbed through mucous membranes. The third exposure route is when the liquid is swallowed and absorbed into the intestinal tract, which can become very dangerous.

What To Do

If you suspect your child may be experiencing liquid nicotine poisoning, immediately contact the Poison Center hotline at 800-222-1222. Symptoms to look out for, but are not limited to, include: trouble breathing, vomiting, increased heartbeat, and shaking. Many of the bottles that the liquid is packaged in are not child-resistant. Though some states require this type of packaging, it is recommended that parents transfer the liquid into child-resistant bottles and store the bottles out of the reach of children.

Source:

Healthy Children

Developing Good Homework Habits

latina girl doing homework on her computer

Developing good homework habits in your child while they are young is important. Doing so will teach your child that homework is a necessity, and the sooner they start, the sooner they will have more time for fun and games later. For some kids, doing homework isn’t a problem and for others, it is like a chore. Creating a routine of coming home from school and jumping right into the homework after a 10 to 15-minute break is a great strategy.

What Not to Do

Forcing your children to sit down and do their homework does not always work. In fact, doing so will make them resent not only you, but the homework too, prolonging the process. Try not to hover while they complete their assignments. Teaching your children that doing homework is their own responsibility is a must. As a parent, you can set up a quiet study area and encourage them to do their homework but ultimately, it will be up to them.

Be Supportive

The best way to go about developing homework habits is to make it seem natural. Provide support and encouragement to your child along the way but make it known, the child is responsible for the completion of the assignment. Helping your child develop organizational skills and focus early on will help her in the long run. It may take some time, but you and your child will find a routine that works best for everyone.

Once the homework is completed, praise your children for their hard work and reward them with play time. Doing so will allow your children to feel accomplished and proud of their homework. It will also give your children something to look forward to and will give them that little extra push when needed. It’s always good to take some time to sit down and relax with your child whether that being having a little snack, reading a book or watching a favorite television show together. This is another great way to reward your child for completing her homework.

115 People Die Every Day from Opioid Abuse

The abuse, misuse, and dependency of opioids continue to represent a significant problem in the United States. Every day, approximately 115 people die from opioid overdose, and the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that overdoses rose 30 percent between July 2016 and September 2017.  The FDA is seeking to address this epidemic by reviewing their policies, particularly around pediatric opioid labeling.

The FDA approved OxyContin for use in children 11 years of age and older in 2015. While this gives physicians additional options in chronic pain management, it may also provide additional opportunities for teens who wish to experiment with pain medication.  Parents should maintain possession of the drugs to prevent misuse and should not adjust their child’s dosage without consulting their doctor.

Statistics

Though the prescription of opioids for children can cause issues such as dependency and ultimately addiction, parents should also be aware of what’s in their own medicine cabinet. Children and teens often find unused pills that seem harmless to experiment with. According to the CDC, 80 percent of people who use heroin first misused opioid medication.

The epidemic is worsening and becoming more fatal as time passes even though prescriptions for painkillers are becoming more infrequent. Opioid addiction affects our families, neighbors, coworkers and friends. In the United States today, 2 million people are addicted to opioids. In 2017, 49,068 people died as the result of an opioid overdose.

What Drugs Are Abused?

  • Oxycodone is the active pain-relieving ingredient in drugs like OxyContin and Percocet. This drug is typically taken in pill form.
  • Hydrocodone is the active pain-relieving ingredient in drugs like Vicodin and Zohydro. This drug is typically taken in pill form.
  • Codeine is prescribed to relieve cough and pain symptoms. This drug is typically taken in syrup form.
  • Morphine is taken intravenously to relieve pain.
  • Fentanyl (pronounced fent-an-all) is used in drugs like Actiq, Duragesic, Fentora and Sublimaze. Fentanyl is 100 times stronger than morphine, and drugs like heroin are sometimes laced with fentanyl powder. Fentanyl can be absorbed through the skin which makes it incredibly dangerous.
  • Heroin is a highly dangerous recreational drug that is typically injected but can also be smoked or snorted.

Overdose

An overdose is a life-threatening situation. Someone who is overdosing has a low pulse, shallow, slow breathing, and their skin is either cool and sweaty or hot and dry. The person is either unconscious or losing consciousness and vomiting. Check the scene for hypodermic needles or pill cases nearby. If you see someone who you believe is having an overdose as a result of opioids, the overdose can be reversed with the medication naloxone, otherwise known by its brand name Narcan. This medicine is not dangerous if administered to someone who is not actually having an overdose, so having it on hand could be lifesaving. Contact your local police department about naloxone trainings and how you can obtain this medicine.

Important notes on naloxone:

  • If you believe someone is having an overdose, first call 9-1-1.
  • Administer the nasal spray – if you believe the nasal spray is ineffective, administering another dose will not hurt them.
  • Be aware that someone coming out of an overdose may be aggressive. Naloxone causes immediate withdrawal, so it is important to ensure your own safety as you monitor theirs, until paramedics arrive.

 

Local resources:

Preventing Substance Abuse in Dutchess County

Substance Use Prevention and Recovery in Ulster County

Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Council of Orange County

 

Sources:

Healthy Children

Opioid Overdose Crisis

Overdose Death Rates

Summer Jobs for Teens

Teen Summer Jobs

Encouraging your teenager to get a summer job will teach them responsibility, independence, and hard work, which is even more important than money. Unfortunately, it can be challenging for teens to find summer jobs as the market gets flooded with applications just as school is letting out. Here are a few tips to help you help your teen navigate the summer job hunt:

Type of work

Talk to your teen about what they are most interested doing for a part-time job. If possible, try to connect it to their hobbies, for example, if they love art and kids, they may want to look for a job at a camp or kids summer program. If they are an avid swimmer and love the water, they may want to take a lifeguard course and apply to be a lifeguard. If they love filmmaking and movies they may want to apply to work at the local movie theater.  If fashion is their passion, then a retail job may be the perfect gig.

Start Early

Since kids are all looking for summer jobs at the same time, consider applying earlier in the year if their schedule allows them to work a few hours a week while school is still in and can also offer to work during the busy holiday season. Getting in early helps them secure a position before the summer rush.

Resume

Work with your teen to put together a strong résumé listing all their various skills including school activities, clubs, sports, and charities they volunteer with. This will give the employer a little insight into who they are and their interests. Be sure it looks polished and professional without teen-style abbreviations or spelling errors. Since creating a resume is something they should know how to do, work with them on this.

Availability

Create a realistic list of the days and hours they would be available to work while taking into account any summer classes, team practices, and school events, as well as family obligations and summer holiday plans. Some employers can be flexible, but you want to accommodate the work schedule as much as possible.

Transportation

Whether your teen drives or not, you want to make sure that the location of the job makes sense in relation to your home. Getting a job that takes an hour to get to may not be as practical as a job that is closer. You should also look into all forms of transportation and calculate the expense and practicality of working far from home before applying.

Wage vs. Expenses

Calculate the paying wage (minus taxes) and compare it to any expenses needed for the job like travel, uniform or clothing costs, food, etc. If they end up spending more than they’re making, it might be something to reconsider unless they are there for the experience over the paycheck.

Whatever your teen does this summer, job or no job, keeping them on track for the school year can help them ease back into a routine when September rolls around. Don’t forget to make an appointment with their pediatrician while their days are less hectic!

When to Keep Your Child Home from School

It inevitably happens at some point in the year; your child wakes up with a sore throat and runny nose and pleads with you to stay home from school. What do you do? You don’t want to risk getting other children sick, but you also don’t want to let them get in a habit of staying home with every case of the sniffles. Here are guidelines to follow when determining whether or not to keep your child home from school:

Do they have a fever?

When in doubt, check your child’s fever. Whether they are complaining about a stomachache or a sore throat, a fever will help you identify how severe their illness may be. In general, your child should be fever free for 24 hours before returning to school in order to limit the spread of germs.

Will they be productive?

If it seems that your child would be completely unable to focus due to a cough or cold, they would likely be better staying home than attending school. When children are sick, they may be too busy blowing their noses to pay attention to what their teacher is saying. They can always catch up on schoolwork when they return.

Are they able to eat breakfast?

If your child is experiencing symptoms of a stomach bug, wait to see if they are able to keep breakfast down before sending them off to school. This will help you determine if their unsettled stomach is due to food poisoning or another condition. Take their temperature and bring your child to their pediatrician if symptoms persist.

Are they frequently asking to stay home?

Sometimes, children can start exhibiting school-avoidance behavior. School avoidance and school refusal occur when your child experiences anxiety at the idea of attending school. They may tell you they have a stomachache or headache, which can be physical manifestations of this behavior. Talk to them about why they do not want to attend school, and if appropriate, seek advice from school administrators, a mental health professional, or your child’s pediatrician.

When your child is home from school, make sure they are drinking enough water and getting rest. Encourage frequent hand washing both at home and once they are back in school. If your child is on antibiotics for an ear infection, strep, eye infection or other similar bacterial infections, make sure they have the medicine in their system for at least 24 hours before returning to school.