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Understanding the Power and Influence of Role Models

Role Model Good Growing

Who are your child’s role models? It’s important to know whom they admire and why – and the topic makes for a great conversation.

Growing up, all kids have role models. Some are people they know personally such as relatives, teachers and coaches. Fictional characters can be excellent role models, like Harry Potter and Hermione Granger. And most kids have celebrity role models, often from the worlds of sports and entertainment. Because kids can see these people every day through the media, they may imagine they know these stars personally. Therefore, these people can have a strong influence on a child’s thoughts and behaviors.

One problem with celebrity role models is that they have the power to disappoint us when their real-life behaviors don’t match our image of them. Cyclist Lance Armstrong and other athletes have broken fans’ hearts by cheating to improve their performance, then lying about it. Young fans who began following Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber when these stars were just kids themselves have witnessed some shocking twists and turns.

A star’s fall from grace provides an opportunity to talk about how bad decisions can affect anyone’s life – and how abusing drugs or alcohol can ruin it. It also reinforces why we must all take responsibility for our actions.

We can help our kids understand that – star or not – no one is perfect or superhuman. The most successful people are those who can solve tough problems, learn from their mistakes, and move forward with a positive attitude.

Your child’s role models will change over time, and sometimes they’ll change quickly. But do stay current on who is influencing your child, whether it’s a celebrity or someone they know personally. Ask your child what they admire about these people, then listen carefully and explore those ideas further. Also talk with your child about the people who have shaped your own life. Parents are people too, and we are still inspired by our role models.

While kids will never have posters of their parents on their bedroom walls, we really are their most important role models in the long run. Our everyday behaviors – including kindness, honesty, compassion, generosity, safety and hard work – will influence them more than the brightest, shiniest star ever could.

To learn more, see our tips for communicating with your child or visit Teenology 101.

Legal Marijuana Means Greater Poisoning Risks for Children

Marijuana Good Growing

Now that marijuana is legal for adults 21 and older in Washington, it’s more apt to be in homes. Children are at risk of accidental poisoning, especially if they ingest marijuana in strong edible forms like baked goods, candy or drinks. A poisoned child is likely to hallucinate and then fall into a sedated sleep. Serious breathing problems may also occur; in these cases, ventilator support may be needed. Although it’s rare, overdoses can result in a coma. If your child is in a home with marijuana, be sure it’s stored safely out of reach and sight. If you suspect a child has ingested it, call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 and seek medical help if needed. Give these professionals the full details so they can provide the best treatment.

Learn more about kids and accidental poisonings from marijuana or read A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Underage Marijuana Use (PDF).

Why Choose Pediatric Emergency Care?

Pediatric ED Good Growing

Here’s a situation that families in our area face every day. Your child or teen has what you’re quite sure is a broken arm – or leg or collarbone. Do you go to the nearest emergency room or instead travel a bit farther to a pediatric emergency room? As long as the injury is not life-threatening and the pain is not too severe, a pediatric emergency room is always a smart choice. These doctors are board-trained and certified in pediatric emergency medicine, which means they can provide state-of-the-art care especially for young patients. The diagnostic equipment in a pediatric ER uses the least amount of radiation possible to get an accurate image, and pediatric specialists perform the exams and interpret the results. These doctors, nurses and technicians enjoy working with kids, and know how to calm them and manage pain. If there is a wait, you’ll be among families with children, and not adults whose behaviors and injuries may be upsetting for a child to see. And the most important benefit, according to kids themselves? Popsicles!

When your child needs medical care and can’t wait until your doctor’s office opens, this chart can help you know whether a visit to urgent care or the emergency department is best.

Help Your Child Develop Good Hygiene Habits

Oral Hygiene Good Growing

One of the many jobs parents have is to teach their kids about personal hygiene. It’s important for everyone’s health and self-esteem. If you model good hygiene yourself and use praise to encourage your child, they’ll have an easier time developing strong habits. Proper hand-washing is easy for toddlers to learn, and it’s a lifelong tool for staying ahead of germs. Have them scrub their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds – singing the ABC song can be used as a timing device. You’ll need to help little ones brush their teeth and floss until they have the motor skills to do so on their own, at age 6 or 7. (That’s generally about the time they can tie their own shoes or write cursive.) They may have an easier time using kid-friendly flossing tools to help them reach back teeth and do a careful job. Kids can start to trim their own nails at around age 9 or 10, as long as the clippers are small enough for them to grip and use easily. Nails are softer and easier to trim just after a bath or shower. Fingernails can be cut in a curve to follow the nail’s natural shape, while toenails should be cut straight across to prevent them from becoming ingrown. Daily bathing becomes necessary when a child hits puberty and develops body odor; they may also need to use deodorant or antiperspirant. Some kids embrace a daily shower routine more easily than others. Until then, set a regular bathing time, let them choose their own shampoo and shower gel, and praise their fresh smell and clean glow!

Learn more about oral health and personal hygiene.

Help for Constipation

Constipation Good Growing

Constipation is a common problem that can make anyone feel miserable. Our bodies work best when we poop every day, and when the poop is soft so it doesn’t hurt to go. Problems develop when we don’t go every day, or when the poop is hard so it’s painful to go. Kids who are constipated may have tummy aches and spend a long time on the toilet – or even refuse to go because it hurts. Constipation tends to run in families, so some kids may be more prone to it than others. Eating high fiber foods and drinking lots of water helps, but sometimes extra treatment is needed. Before trying any medicines or treatments, first have your child’s doctor check for a blockage or other problems.

Read more about constipation from Seattle Mama Doc.

More Movement, Less Screen Time

Movement Good Growing

Active kids and teens sleep better, are more alert during the day and perform better in school. At least one hour of movement each day is all it takes – and it doesn’t need to be intense or all at once. Spurts of 10 to 15 minutes get the job done. Small changes, like taking the stairs or walking to school, add up. Limiting screen time to make more time for activity is a double bonus. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends less than two hours a day of screen entertainment. So after dinner, instead of video games or TV, gather the family and go fly a kite, play catch or see who can pull the most weeds. Small steps make a difference!

Learn about 7-5-2-1-0 – small, simple steps you can take to help your family live a healthy lifestyle.

Flat Head Syndrome

Flat Head Syndrome Good Growing

Plagiocephaly, known as flat head syndrome, is a flat spot on the back or side of a baby’s head. It’s caused by pressure on the bones of the skull. It usually happens after birth, when infants lie on their backs in the same position causing a flat spot to develop. It’s more common in premature babies; their skull bones are softer than those of full-term babies and they also tend to move their heads less. Limit the amount of time your baby lies down, and change their position for them if they cannot. During checkups, your baby’s doctor will check for flat spots and try to determine if there’s a physical problem that prevents your baby from moving their neck and head.

Learn more about positional plagiocephaly.

In This Section...

Should your child see a doctor?

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Upcoming Safety and Wellness Classes

September

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my Good Growing Email Newsletter

The my Good Growing email newsletter offers health and safety information for children from newborn to 14.

Quick Tip

Window Falls

Install window guards or stops on windows. Kids can fall from windows open as little as five inches. Screens keep bugs out, but they don’t keep kids in.

Summer 2014: Good Growing Newsletter

You can download PDF versions of this and past issues of Good Growing.

Visit the Good Growing archives.

ParentMap

 

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Seattle Children's has partnered with the monthly parenting magazine, ParentMap, to bring you Good Growing in their January, April, July and October issues.

You'll find free copies in many places in King and Snohomish counties, and you can also subscribe to receive ParentMap at home each month.