Twitter Facebook RSS Feed Print
Parenting

Your Child: Multitasking and Homework

2:00

Does your child multitask with media while doing his or her homework? If so, they’re not alone and most likely they are spending a lot more time trying to finish an assignment.

What might at first glance seem harmless, doing homework or studying while watching TV, texting or checking social media can actually impair learning the material as well as lower test scores. Research has shown that it's one of the worst study habits a student can develop.

Why is that?  Our brains are wired to focus on one activity at a time. It’s how we’ve survived over the centuries.

Doing two things at once actually comprises the brain, shifting its processing from one neural network to another. Each shift comes with a cost of consuming time, mental effort, and brain fuel. Microseconds are wasted as the brain turns off the active network and turns on the next. This not only costs time (which adds up) but also depletes the brain’s critical resources of glucose and oxygen. The result – less gets done and less is remembered. While the brain is switching gears – trying to focus on the next thing required- it’s retaining less and less.

Oftentimes, this lack of retention shows up as poorer grades, less intercommunication skills and generally being more distracted.

In a study of 8-18 year old students done by the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly one third of the students surveyed confessed that when they were doing homework, they were also watching TV, texting, or listening to music. Victoria Rideout, the lead author of the study, warns parents about the dangers of media multitasking. This concern is distinct from worrying about how much kids are online or how much kids are media multitasking overall. “It’s multitasking while learning that has the biggest potential downside,” she says.

Dr. David Meyer, a psychology professor at the University of Michigan observed that “under most conditions, the brain simply cannot do two complex tasks at the same time. Listening to a lecture while texting, or doing homework and being on Facebook—each of these tasks is very demanding, and each of them uses the same area of the brain, the prefrontal cortex." Most students incorrectly believe that they can perform two challenging tasks at the same time, according to Meyer. They may like to do it, they may even be addicted to it, but there’s no getting around the fact that it’s far better to focus on one task from start to finish.”

Multitasking takes up a lot more time than focusing on one activity. Finishing homework can last much later into the evening causing kids to get less sleep than they need. 

Parents of students have to take an active role in their children’s study habits. During homework time, your child’s phone and the TV need to be turned off.  You may even have to put the phone in a different location in the house until homework is completed. A quick lesson refresher with your child after homework is finished can help you see how much your child is retaining and whether all the assignments have been completed.

The Internet can be a helpful tool when researching certain school topics; the trick is to stay on point without falling into the trap of checking out other tempting sites such as social media. Once on the computer, it takes a lot of self-control to stay focused on a singular subject. You may need to help your child stay the course during this time.

Be sure and praise your child for their accomplishments instead of making homework a battleground. The more they are able to develop good study habits, the less time it will take to complete their assignments and the sooner they’ll be able to check back in with their friends and find out what’s been going on.

Story sources: Michael Howard, http://www.beyondbooksmart.com/executive-functioning-strategies-blog/distracted-by-technology-focusing-attention-on-homework

Judy Willis M.D., M.Ed, https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/radical-teaching/201611/the-high-costs-multitasking-you-and-your-kids

 

Parenting

Most Parents Give Their Child the Wrong Medicine Dose

1:30

According to a new study, most parents accidently give their child the wrong dose of liquid medication – sometimes, as much as twice the amount they should have.

The study, conducted at pediatric clinics in New York, Atlanta and Stanford, Calif., also found that most dosing errors occurred when parents used a measuring cup. There were fewer errors when parents measured the dose with an oral syringe.

Pediatric medicines generally rely on liquid formulations, and parents have to decipher a sometimes, bewildering assortment of instructions in different units with varying abbreviations — milliliters, mL, teaspoon, tsp., tablespoon. Some medicines come with a measuring tool, but often the units on the label are different from those on the tool. It can be very confusing, especially for a parent trying to treat a sick child.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended in 2013 that over-the-counter products use a standard dosing tool with consistent labeling. The changes however, were not required.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) also recommended standard dosing tools for OTC products last year.

For this study, Dr. H. Shonna Yin and her colleagues ran an experiment to see what combination of tools and instructions would produce the fewest errors in dispensing liquid medication. They randomly assigned 2,110 parents to one of five pairings of the many possible combinations of tools and label instructions.

In nine trials, 84.4 percent of the parents made at least one dosing error, and more than 68 percent of the errors were overdoses. About 21 percent of parents at least once measured out more than twice the proper dose. Smaller doses produced more errors. When the dose was 2.5 milliliters, there were more than four times as many errors as when it was 5 milliliters.

The difference in errors was the tool used to give the medication. When a cup was used, there were four times as many errors as when an oral syringe was used.

“If the parents don’t have an oral syringe, the provider should give one to the parents to take home,” said Dr. Yin, who is an associate professor of pediatrics at New York University. “Especially for smaller doses, using the syringe made a big difference in accuracy.”

If you don’t have an oral syringe at your home, you can check with your pediatrician or pharmacist and they should be able to help you choose the right one for your child.

The study was published online in the journal, Pediatrics.

Story source: Nicholas Bakalar, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/13/well/family/most-parents-give-the-wrong-dose-of-liquid-medication.html?WT.mc_id=SmartBriefs-Newsletter&WT.mc_ev=click&ad-keywords=smartbriefsnl&_r=0

Parenting

Energy Drinks and Hyperactivity in Kids

2:00

A new study suggests that energy drinks may contribute to hyperactivity and inattention in middle-school students.

Researchers looked at 1,600 students in an urban school district in Connecticut where the average age was 12 years old. They found that children who drank energy drinks were 66 percent more likely to be at risk for hyperactivity and inattention symptoms, according to the study in the current issue of the journal Academic Pediatrics.

Not only did the drinks contain caffeine, a central nervous system stimulant, but were also packed with sugar. The study also took into account other sugar-sweetened drinks consumed by the students.

"As the total number of sugar-sweetened beverages increased, so too did risk for hyperactivity and inattention symptoms among our middle-school students. Importantly, it appears that energy drinks are driving this association," study leader Jeannette Ickovics, a professor in the School of Public Health, said in a Yale news release.

"Our results support the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation that parents should limit consumption of sweetened beverages and that children should not consume any energy drinks," she added.

The students in this study drank an average of two sugary drinks a day. The number of daily sugary drinks ranged from none to as many as seven or more such drinks. Some sugar-sweetened beverages and energy drinks contain up to 40 grams of sugar each. Depending on how old they are, children should only have about 21 to 33 grams of sugar a day, according to the researchers.

On an average, boys tended to drink more energy drinks than girls.

Along with the hyperactivity and inattention in school, researchers were concerned about the risk of obesity for children that consume these types of drinks.

Lots of kids and even some parents confuse sports drinks and energy drinks – thinking that they are the same thing. They are not.

Energy drinks contain substances not found in sports drinks that act as stimulants, such as caffeine, guarana and taurine. Caffeine – by far the most popular stimulant – has been linked to a number of harmful health effects in children, including effects on the developing neurologic and cardiovascular systems.

As soda sales slip, energy drinks have increased nearly 7 percent creating a $9.7 billion dollar industry according to Bloomberg. Concerns have been raised that some energy drink manufacturers are marketing energy drinks directly at kids.

The American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) that deals specifically with children’s health issues, has emphatically stated that energy drinks are never appropriate for children or adolescents.

Sources: Robert Preidt, http://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/adolescents-and-teen-health-news-719/energy-drinks-tied-to-low-attention-and-hyper-behavior-in-middle-schoolers-study-696275.html

http://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/Kids-Should-Not-Consume-Energy-Drinks,-and-Rarely-Need-Sports-Drinks,-Says-AAP.aspx

Parenting

Recall: 8 million Cuisinart Food Processors

1:30

Food processors are used in millions of American homes to prepare family meals. One popular brand, Cuisinart, is recalling about 8 million of its food processors due to mouth lacerations and tooth breakage.

The food processor’s riveted blade can crack over time and small metal pieces of the blade can break off into the processed food.

This recall involves the riveted blades in Cuisinart food processors with model numbers that begin with the following:  CFP-9, CFP-11, DFP-7, DFP-11, DFP-14,  DLC-5, DLC-7, DLC-8, DLC-10, DLC-XP, DLC-2007, DLC-2009, DLC-2011, DLC-2014, DLC-3011, DLC-3014, EV-7, EV-10, EV-11, EV-14, KFP-7 and MP-14.

The model number is located on the bottom of the food processor. The blades have four rivets and are silver-colored stainless steel and have a beige plastic center hub. Only food processors with four rivets in the blades are included in this recall. Cuisinart is printed on the front and on the bottom of the food processors.

Conair, the management group for Cuisinart, has received 69 reports of consumers finding broken pieces of the blade in processed food, including 30 reports of mouth lacerations or tooth injuries.

Consumers should immediately stop using the food processor’s riveted blade and contact Cuisinart for a free replacement blade.

The food processors were sold at department, gourmet and specialty stores nationwide and on various websites from July 1996 through December 2015 for between $100 and $350.

Consumers can contact Cuisinart toll-free at 877-339-2534 from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Saturday and Sunday or online at  www.cuisinart.com and click on Product Recalls at the bottom of the page for more information on the voluntary recall.

Story source: https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/2017/Cuisinart-Food-Processors-Recalled-by-Conair

 

Parenting

New Year Resolutions for the Family

2:00

As 2015 closes its tired eyes, 2016 is ready for full steam ahead! The beginning of a new year is often the time when people take stock of where they’ve been and where they want to go. It’s a great time for families to set new goals and discuss what is important to them.

Resolutions do not need to be difficult or overwhelming. In fact, the simpler the resolution, the better.

One small step at a time and before you know it 2017 will be here and your family will have accomplished more than they thought they would!

If you’re searching for ideas, here’s a list of suggestions.

1.     Spend one day out of the week unplugged from any unnecessary electronics or social media. Cell phones and computers have become a necessity these days, but too often they are overused for texting, social media and mindless Internet searches. Set a goal of spending at least one day a month (if not per week) without your gadgets, and instead, enjoy the outdoors or have a board or card game marathon.

2.     Commit to better eating schedules and choices. Healthy eating habits provide benefits for the whole family. Ask for your kids input when planning meals and discuss ways to make everyone’s choices healthier. Positive discussions about health and food can have a big impact on a child’s lifetime eating habits.

3.     Plan family outings that involve exercise. Make it fun and easy. Daily walks, bicycling, swimming even an indoor dance party can get everyone moving without a lot of expense.

4.     Read with and to your kids. Libraries are great places for young children to experience new books and reading programs. A whole new genre of books have peaked an interest in reading for many teens. Summer is a great time to start a family book club, when the kids don’t have homework competing for their time.

5.     Spread the household responsibilities. Having a system for household responsibilities spreads out the work instead of having it all fall on one person. Try keeping a chore jar with slips of paper for kids to pick which chore they'll do that week, such as taking out the trash. Print out this chore chart and put it on the refrigerator or a clipboard to help your family stay on task.

6.     Teach and reflect kindness. Kids learn how to be kind by their parent’s example. Bring unkind or rude comments to your child’s attention. Discuss how to handle frustration or angry feelings. Most of all, exhibit kindness towards your mate and others. Teach compassion through community service when an organization needs volunteers. Children who volunteer to help others in need have a broader view of the world.

7.     Get more sleep! The fact is, you all need at least eight hours of sleep to stay healthy and productive. Some children need more than that. Make sure bedtime is quiet and computers and cell phones are shut down at least an hour before bed.

8.     Teach your children how to manage money. Have them create a budget with their allowance or gift money and help them stick to it. Again, being a good example not only helps the whole family’s budget, but also teaches children the difference between want and need.

Also don’t forget to take a little time out for just you and your spouse. The occasional date night can help you reconnect and have fun together. Being a parent is hard work – one of life’s most demanding and rewarding. Don’t forget that you need to take care of yourself emotionally, physically and spiritually to be the example you want to be.

Have a Happy New Year!

Source: Erin Dower, http://life.familyeducation.com/slideshow/new-years/67775.html

Image: http://colongan.xyz/happy-new-years-eve-2016/happy-new-years-eve-happy-holidays/

Parenting

Tips for a Fun and Safe Easter!

2:00

Easter is right around the corner and many parents and grandparents will be hosting or attending the traditional egg hunt. Little ones will scramble to fill their baskets and sacks with chocolate bunnies, marshmallow chicks and decorated Easter eggs.

If you’re one of the lucky hosts, here are 7 tips to help create not only make great memories, but also a safer and healthier day!

1. Egg Safety: Always cook eggs thoroughly and refrigerate them before and after dying. If you’re blowing out the raw eggs and dying the shells, use a straw or choose pasteurized eggs to avoid salmonella exposure. Wait to hide your eggs until just before the hunt is scheduled to start: you should consume boiled eggs within two hours of removing them from the refrigerator. If you’re worried about using hard-boiled eggs, consider replacing them with plastic eggs and hiding toys and treats inside instead.

One tip to avoid cracked egg shells while cooking comes from L.A. Times Test Kitchen and Food Editor, Russ Parson. "Place the eggs in a pan just big enough to hold them in a single layer," Parsons said. "Cover them with cold water and bring them to a rolling boil. Cook for one minute, and then remove them from the heat. When the water has cooled enough that you can put your hand in (about 20 minutes), the eggs will be perfectly cooked."

2. Coloring Easter Eggs: A favorite Easter tradition is creating unique egg designs. To dye Easter eggs safely, make sure everyone washes their hands before and after handling the eggs. Eggs that have cracked during cooking are an easy target for bacteria, so avoid coloring or eating those. Use only food-grade dyes, or make your own from grape juice, tea, beets, blueberries, turmeric, or other natural products.

Instructions for making naturally dyed Easter eggs can be found here.

3. Avoid Choking Hazards: Many families hide plastic Easter eggs, typically filled with a small toy.  For toddlers and crawlers (who will put everything in their mouths), it’s best to use larger plastic eggs that have nothing in them. Small toys are easy for little throats to choke on. If you’re giving your toddler candy, avoid jellybeans and hard candies. Hotdogs are the number one choking hazard for children!

4. Food Allergies: Ask parents if any kids with food allergies will be attending your Easter egg hunt. If so, it’s easier than ever to accommodate them. Peanut-, dairy-, and gluten-free candies are readily available

5. Outdoor Dangers: Take a walk through your lawn or pasture to make sure that all tools and chemicals are removed. Check to see that poison ivy or oak is not present. And don’t forget about anthills – these stinging pests can pop up overnight, particularly after a rain. Any pets that can get over-excited by running and yelling children should be kept inside or in a pen.

6. Speaking of Pets: If your four-legged friends are allowed to join in on the fun, be sure to keep chocolate, Easter grass, and plastic off the ground and out of their reach. Remind the kids (and parents!) not to feed any candy to the dog.

Baby bunnies and chicks are often given to kids at Easter. Many experts agree that these pets do not do well in the hands of small children. They also require consistent care and the proper environment to thrive. Stuffed animals are a much better choice for most children. 

7. Easter Hunt Alternatives: If you’re concerned about certain Easter hunt safety issues; consider an alternative plan. Games can be a huge hit with kids as well as a petting zoo or children’s entertainer. Some Easter game suggestions are: Guessing the number of jelly beans in jar, playing hide and seek, competing in an Easter egg spoon race, playing pin the tail on the Easter Bunny, or you may even want to make up your own games!

Easter celebrations are a favorite family event. Make this Easter a memorable and safe one for your family!

Story sources: Alyssa Baker, http://www.safewise.com/blog/7-tips-for-hosting-safe-easter-egg-hunt/

Maria Vultaggio, http://www.ibtimes.com/how-boil-easter-eggs-without-cracking-them-tips-perfect-hard-boiled-egg-1571632

Photo: http://www.govtedu.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/colorful-eggs-basket-e...

 

 

Parenting

Samsung Recalls I Million Galaxy Note 7 Smartphones

1:00

According to the Pew Research Center, 9 out of 10 Americans own a cell phone. That includes adults, teens and children. If you or a family member owns a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphone, you need to stop using it and contact your wireless carrier or a Samsung retail outlet.

Samsung issued a warning about a week ago warning U.S. consumers to stop using the new Galaxy Note 7 smartphones.

Today, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced a recall of about 1 million of the smart-phones because the lithium-ion battery in the Galaxy Note7 smartphones can overheat and catch fire, posing a serious burn hazard to consumers.

Samsung has received 92 reports of the batteries overheating in the U.S., including 26 reports of burns and 55 of property damage from fires in cars and a garage, the agency said.

This is “such a serious fire hazard I urge all consumers to take advantage of this recall right away,” Elliot Kaye, chairman of the CPSC told a news conference late Thursday. 

This recall involves the Samsung Galaxy Note7 smartphone sold before September 15, 2016.  The recalled devices have a 5.7 inch screen and were sold in the following colors:  black onyx, blue coral, gold platinum and silver titanium with a matching stylus. Samsung is printed on the top front of the phone and Galaxy Note7 is printed on the back of the phone. 

To determine if your phone has been recalled, locate the IMEI number on the back of the phone or the packaging, and enter the IMEI number into the online registration site www.samsung.com or call Samsung toll-free at 844-365-6197.

The smartphones were sold at wireless carriers and electronic stores nationwide, including AT&T, Best Buy, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, Verizon stores and online at www.samsung.com and other websites from August 2016 through September 2016 for between $850 and $890.

You can find a list of the wireless and retailer phone numbers and websites at http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/2016/Samsung-Recalls-Galaxy-Note7-Smartphones/

 

 

 

Parenting

Flour with Added Folic Acid Is Reducing Birth Defects

2:00

Folic acid is a B vitamin that is known to help prevent certain types of birth defects in newborns. In January 1998, the FDA added a requirement that folic acid be added to breads, cereals, and other products that use enriched flour. These fortified foods include most enriched breads, flours, corn meals, rice, noodles, macaroni, and other grain products.

Since then, a new report shows that serious birth defects have fallen 35 percent. While that is certainly wonderful news, a 2014 study found that as many as 25 percent of American women are still not receiving even the minimum amount of recommended folic acid from either their diet or through supplements.

Women who don't get enough folic acid have an elevated risk of giving birth to a child with conditions called neural tube defects, the best known of which is spina bifida, which often causes paralysis.

Health experts began recommending that women of childbearing age take folic acid in 1992 because studies showed that taking 400 micrograms a day could reduce spina bifida and related birth defects by up to 70%.

Doctors now recommend that women who are considering having children start taking folic acid before trying to get pregnant. Since some pregnancies are not necessarily planned, many doctors recommend that women of childbearing age take a daily multivitamin that contains folic acid.

The benefits of folic acid have been researched for quite some time and since food producers began adding folic acid to grains, that simple step has prevented more than 1,300 babies a year from being born with spina bifida or related conditions, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Authors of the new study found that Hispanic women are more likely to have a baby with spina bifida or a similar birth defect.

That's partly because the "masa harina" corn flour used in tortillas and other Hispanic foods isn't fortified with folic acid, the study says. The March of Dimes has petitioned the FDA to require that folic acid be added to corn flour. Adding folic acid to corn flour would prevent another 40 cases of spina bifida or related conditions each year, the report says.

"Even with fortification, there will be some women that do not get the recommended amount of folic acid every day," says Candice Burns Hoffmann, of the CDC's National Centers for Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. "We still have more work to do."

If you’re considering having a baby, talk to your doctor before becoming pregnant about the benefits of folic acid and how much you may need.

Sources: Liz Szabo, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/01/15/folic-acid-birth-defects/21784019/

http://www.spinabifidaassociation.org

Parenting

Pregnancy May Actually Modify a Mom’s Brain

Baby, motherhood, health

Moms often feel like they have a “sixth sense” when it comes to their newborn’s needs and survival. What they may really be experiencing are the physical changes that pregnancy can have on the brain.

Researchers in Spain wanted to know if pregnancy could actually change the structure of a woman’s brain, impacting how she reacts to her newborn. What they found was that long-term changes to the brain do occur and that they may have evolved over time to improve a mother’s ability to protect and nurture her child.

The researchers used information gathered from MRI scans that compared the brain structures of 25 women before and after their first pregnancies.

After giving birth, the women had significant reductions of gray matter in areas of the brain associated with social interactions, the findings showed. Those brain regions overlapped with ones that activated when mothers watched images of their own babies.

“The changes concern brain areas associated with functions necessary to manage the challenges of motherhood," study co-lead author Erika Barba said in a news release from the Autonomous University of Barcelona.

Some women feel like they have trouble remembering things during and after their pregnancy, sometimes referred to as having “baby brain.” The good news is that researchers reported the participants had no changes in memory or other thinking functions during pregnancy. That means the loss of gray matter does not lead to problems in those areas. The brain changes, which lasted for at least two years after the women gave birth, probably help them adapt to motherhood, the study authors suggested.

According to study co-director Oscar Vilarroya: "The findings point to an adaptive process related to the benefits of better detecting the needs of the child, such as identifying the newborn's emotional state. Moreover, they provide primary clues regarding the neural basis of motherhood, perinatal mental health and brain plasticity in general."

Researchers also found that they were able to use the brain changes to predict a mother’s attachment to her baby. The changes were similar whether women got pregnant naturally or through fertility treatments.

This is the first research to show that pregnancy involves long-lasting changes -- at least for two years postpartum.

The term “mama bear” has often been used to describe the fierceness that some mothers’ exhibit when they feel their child is in danger or has been wronged. Now science may have found out why that is.

The study was published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

Story source: Robert Preidt, http://www.webmd.com/baby/news/20161219/pregnancy-may-spur-mothering-changes-in-a-womans-brain

Pages

Please fill in your e-mail address to be included in our newsletter.
You may opt out at any time.

 

DR SUE'S DAILY DOSE

No tech summer: enjoy the outdoors!

Please fill in your e-mail address to be included in our newsletter.
You may opt out at any time.

 

Please fill in your e-mail address to be included in our newsletter.
You may opt out at any time.