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Your Child

ATV Accidents Causing Serious Chest Injuries in Kids

1:45

From rural America to the suburbs, you can count on the sound of children and their new ATV buzzing up and down the street on Christmas morning. All-terrain vehicles are a popular gift during the holidays, and more often than not, you’ll see children with a safety helmet on to reduce the risk of head trauma – should they have an accident.

What parents may not know is that these vehicles also pose a high risk for severe chest injuries, according to a new study.

"I believe that many parents are unaware of how serious ATV-related injuries can be," said the study's author, Dr. Kelly Hagedorn, a radiology resident at McGovern Medical School at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

"Some parents view ATVs as being more similar to bicycles. However, many of the injury patterns are more similar to those sustained in motor vehicle collisions," Hagedorn explained.

ATVs are motorized recreational vehicles with three or four tires, designed for off-road use. Because they can weigh 300 to 400 pounds and travel at speeds of up to 75 miles an hour, ATVs can often be involved in serious accidents, including crashes, rollovers and ejections, the researchers said.

The good news is that ATV-related injuries have declined since 2007. As public safety awareness about ATVs increases, more parents are making sure that helmets, protective clothing and personal oversight safeguard their children.

However, nearly 25,000 children under the age of 16 were treated for ATV-related injuries in hospital emergency rooms nationwide in 2014, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

Researchers suspect that one of the reasons children’s ATV-related chest injuries are becoming more severe and frequent is that the newer vehicles are larger and weigh more than their predecessors. 

"As ATVs have gotten bigger and heavier, riders have a harder time separating from the vehicle in a crash," said Gerene Denning. She's director of emergency medicine research at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine.

"The increasing size and weight of ATVs leads to more cases of the vehicle striking the rider. There is also a growing trend of riders being pinned by the vehicle, which can lead to compression asphyxia [a condition where the body doesn't get enough oxygen]," said Denning, who wasn't involved in this study.

The new study included records from 455 patients, 18 years old and younger. All had chest imaging at a trauma center in Houston after ATV-related incidents. The accidents occurred between 1992 and 2013. Of those admitted, 102 (22%) suffered a chest injury.

The researchers said that 40% of patients with chest injuries were treated in an intensive care unit (ICU), compared to 22% of patients without chest injuries. On average, patients with chest injuries were 13 years old.

The most common chest injury (61%) was pulmonary contusion, or bruising of the lung. About 45% of patients had a collapsed lung and 34% had rib fractures. Eight deaths occurred among the 102 patients who had chest trauma, the study found.

The study authors found that the biggest cause of chest injury was rollover (43%), followed by collision with landscape (2 %) and falls (16%).

In 41 cases, the injured child had been driving the ATV. In 33 cases, he or she had been riding along as a passenger. In the remaining 28 cases, it wasn't known whether the injured child was the driver or passenger.

While many parents are being more vigilant about ATV safety, some still believe bigger is better and are still allowing their children to operate adult-size vehicles.

"This increases both the risk of crashing and the severity of vehicle-related trauma," Denning said. "A group called Concerned Families for ATV Safety have story after story of children killed in ATV crashes. A common thread through those stories is a parent saying they didn't know how dangerous these vehicles were for their children."

ATV laws are not consistent nationwide. In many states, children younger than 16 can drive ATVs designed for adults, according to the CPSC. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children under that age be prohibited from riding ATVs.

Hagedorn is scheduled to present the study results at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, in Chicago. Findings presented at meetings are generally viewed as preliminary until they've been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Concerned Families for ATV Safety, mentioned above, offers educational resources, news and ATV safety tips for parents. It also shares family stories of children injured or killed in an ATV accident. Their website is: http://www.cfatvsafety.org

Story source: Don Rauf, https://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/child-safety-news-587/atv-accidents-can-cause-serious-chest-injuries-in-children-717207.html

Your Child

Positioning an Unconscious Child

1:45

Children that have lost consciousness and are placed on their sides have lower odds of needing to stay in the hospital, according to a new European study.

"This is just a simple part of the first aid and resuscitation techniques that anyone can be taught," said Dr. Elizabeth Murray, who was not involved with the new study but is an expert in pediatric emergency medicine at the University of Rochester Medicine’s Golisano Children’s Hospital in New York.

The “recovery” position has the patient on their side, with the mouth facing downward to allow any fluid to drain. The researchers say this position should be used on unconscious children who are breathing normally with already cleared airways.

The researchers looked at data on 553 infants and children up to age 18 who were brought to 11 pediatric emergency rooms across Europe for loss of consciousness in 2014.

As reported in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, the average age was about three years. The average time spent unconscious was about two minutes, although about a third of the group had lost consciousness for more than 20 minutes.

About one in five patients had an existing condition like epilepsy. And about half of the patients had previously lost consciousness.

About 26 percent of parents had put their children into the recovery position, with about 70 percent of those parents reporting they'd learned that technique from doctors or first aid classes.

Those who were put into the recovery position were ultimately 72 percent less likely to be admitted to the hospital than those who weren't put in the position.

More than half of the parents had tried other potentially dangerous techniques to bring their child out of an unconscious state, such as shaking or slapping them.

Those parents said they had learned those techniques from other family members or from media outlets such as TV shows or the movies.

"You can understand why a family member would do anything to make it stop," said Murray. "Just like fever or other medical conditions, there are remedies or potentially folklore that can be passed down."

Kids whose parents used a potentially dangerous technique to try to restore consciousness had twice the odds of being admitted to the hospital, according to the researchers, who were led by Dr. Sebastien Julliand of Paris Diderot University in France.

Murray told Reuters Health that parents who don’t know what to do in this kind of situation, should call 911 and speak to an emergency operator. "It’s really important to remember that the majority of dispatchers in our 911 system can give advice over the phone," she said.

Source: Andrew M. Seaman, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-pediatrics-recovery-idUSKCN0V32SY

 

Your Child

What’s the Best Way to Teach Children How to Read?

2:00

For many years, there’s been an intense debate on the best way to teach a child to read. A research group in London decided to find the answer to the argument; which is a more effective learning process for kids – teaching “whole-word meanings” or sounding out words (phonics)?

The findings found that the phonics method was the clear winner.  

In order to assess the effectiveness of using phonics the researchers trained adults to read in a new language, printed in unfamiliar symbols, and then measured their learning with reading tests and brain scans.

Professor Kathy Rastle, from the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway said, "The results were striking; people who had focused on the meanings of the new words were much less accurate in reading aloud and comprehension than those who had used phonics, and our MRI scans revealed that their brains had to work harder to decipher what they were reading."

Children learning to read in the United Kingdom are required to use the phonics system. The impact of phonics is measured through a screening check administered to children in Year 1 of school. The results of this screening check have shown year-on-year gains in the percentage of children reaching an expected standard -- from 58% in 2012 to 81% in 2016.

Critics of the phonics only system say, while this method may help children read better aloud, it doesn’t necessarily promote reading comprehension. Some educators suggest combining the two methods to help children read aloud well and increase comprehension.

However, the study’s authors say teaching phonics is the most effective.

"There is a long history of debate over which method, or mix of methods, should be used to teach reading," continued Professor Rastle "Some people continue to advocate using a variety of meaning-based cues, such as pictures and sentence context, to guess the meanings of words. However, our research is clear that reading instruction that focuses on teaching the relationship between spelling and sound is most effective. Phonics works."

The paper describes how people who are taught the meanings of whole words don't have any better reading comprehension skills than those who are primarily taught using phonics. In fact, those using phonics are just as good at comprehension, and are significantly better at reading aloud, researchers noted.

The researchers say they will continue investigating how reading expertise develops in the brain.

The study was published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

Story source: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170420094107.htm

Your Child

“Holiday Asthma” and Children

2:00

Mix together a Christmas tree, decorations pulled out of dusty storage; perhaps a new kitten or puppy, plus dry heat in the house from cold temperatures and you’ve got a recipe for “Holiday Asthma.” Those are just a few of the things that can trigger a child’s asthma attack.

“Each individual‘s asthma triggers differ,” says Kristy Miller, a spokesperson for the Environment Protection Agency. "However, from an indoor environmental perspective, the primary asthma triggers include secondhand smoke, pet dander, mold, dust mites, and pest droppings. During the winter months, many people spend more time indoors, so steps should be taken to reduce or eliminate exposures to these environmental asthma triggers."

How you can you help your child avoid these common holiday triggers? We found helpful information when WebMD turned to an expert for advice.

One dangerous trigger is respiratory infection. Respiratory infections are rampant during the winter months, particularly during the holidays, when families travel around the country, with millions of other sneezing and coughing merry-makers.

“Asthma flair-ups are frequently due to infections,” says Richard Honsinger, MD, of the Los Alamos Medical Care Clinic. “And during the holidays, we see an increased number of respiratory infections with all the traveling and with people sharing their bugs that cause asthma symptoms to worsen.”

How can you avoid these harmful infections? One solution is to avoid traveling during one of the most contagious times of the year. The other is to make sure that your child and other family members properly wash their hands. That may sound too simple, but a good scrubbing with warm water and soap for at least 15 seconds--can reduce the number of germs your kids pick up over the course of the day, which in turn helps lowers the risk of catching a cold and triggering asthma.

Many families have switched from using real trees to artificial Christmas trees for convenience and to avoid allergies. However, the actual culprit may be the decorations.

“People get all their ornaments out of their basements and closets and they’re covered in dust,” Honsinger says.

The Christmas tree all lit up with warm lights and decorated with old bulbs is a perfect recipe for asthma trouble in kids, so wipe it down with a damp cloth before you set it up in the middle of your living room to remove outdoor allergens. Before you drag your holiday storage containers out of the basement, give them a good dusting so they’re free of mites, pest droppings and other unpleasant holiday treats, and wash decorations before you put them on the tree.

Roaring fireplaces not only provide a traditional backdrop for the holidays, but also come in handy for warming the house. Unfortunately, fireplaces can trigger asthma.

“Fireplaces and stoves and things that leak smoke are things that increase the asthma response,” says Honsinger. “It’s not a true allergy--you can’t test for smoke allergies on the skin--but we know that particulate matter or burning material in the air causes an increase in asthma symptoms.”

Particulate matter can also mean exhaust and cigarette smoke, explains Honsinger. So before you set off to visit family members or friends that smoke, remember to pack your child’s medicine – and be prepared to head home early if asthma symptoms flare up.

Then there is the new kitty or puppy issue. Giving your child a puppy or kitten for Christmas sounds like an enchanting idea, but don’t forget that that adorable little bundle is covered in dander--a common asthma trigger.

“Parents get their kids a new dog for Christmas, when they don’t know if the kids are allergic or not,” says Honsinger, who is a professor of clinical medicine at the University of New Mexico. “It’s a time of year when its cold, so pets are indoors more often than not, so their dander is inside as well and we see an influx of pet allergies and asthma symptoms.”

If your child has asthma, eczema or other allergies, it’s probably a good idea to have him or her skin tested for animal allergies -before you start picking out a puppy or kitten name.

During the winter months, cold air is something most people aren’t going to be to able to avoid unless you live in a warm region of the world and even then- surprises happen.

“We know that breathing cold, dry air will increase asthma symptoms,” says Honsinger. “It excites the receptors in the lung causing asthma to come on quickly.”

Cold air dries the lungs out, and makes the chest tighten, explains Honsinger. Warm, moist air, however, is just what a kid with asthma needs.

“During cold weather have your child wear a scarf when he’s outside,” says Honsinger. ”They breath through the cloth and it catches moisture. Then they breath back in through it and it warms the air and makes the air moist. Then they’re less likely to get that feeling of tightness.”

To be on the safe side, if your child is playing outside, monitor her peak flow every hour or so. 

“Use a peak flow meter so you can see how fast your child’s air is coming out,” says Honsinger. “Use a set of guidelines that you set up with your physician, so if the peak flow drops below a certain level, use medicine. If it drops further, you better seek help. It’s something to watch.”

Because pharmacies and pediatricians may have irregular hours during the holidays, be prepared in advance. “If your child has asthma, have your medicine supply intact over the holidays when everything closes down,” says Honsinger. “If your child uses an inhaler or a nebulizer, make sure you have these on hand, so if asthma symptoms flare up in the middle of Christmas, you have something at home to start treatment right away.”

If your child doesn’t respond to available treatment, take him or her to the emergency room. Asthma isn’t something you want to let get the upper hand.

By applying some of these tips, your child may be able to escape “Holiday asthma!”

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the Kids Doctor!

Story source: Heather Hatfield, https://www.webmd.com/asthma/features/holiday-asthma-triggers-for-kids#1

Your Child

Sleep: New Recommendations for Different Ages

2:00

We all know how important a good night’s sleep is to being able to function well the next day. But how much sleep is really enough? How much we prefer is a personal choice, but how much we really need is now more concrete. 

After web analytics showed the vast popularity of the category, How Much Sleep Do We Really Need? on the National Sleep Foundation's (NSF) website, a panel of experts set about to reassure that the information provided there was the most accurate and up to date.

"Sleep duration was basically one of the most visited pages on the NSF website, and it wasn't really clear how those recommendations for the ranges had been arrived at," Max Hirshkowitz, Ph.D., chair of the National Sleep Foundation Scientific Advisory Council, told The Huffington Post.

The National Sleep Foundation decided to look at its recommendations and see if they should make any adjustments. After analyzing more recent literature on the subject, they came to the conclusion that an updating was due.

The panel of six sleep-experts and 12 medical experts conducted a formal literature review. The panel focused on the body of research surrounding sleep duration in healthy human subjects that had been published in peer-reviewed journals between 2004 and 2014. From the 312 articles reviewed, the experts were able to fine-tune existing sleep duration recommendations as detailed below:

  • Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 hours (range narrowed from 12-18)
  • Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours (range widened from 14-15)
  • Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours (range widened from 12-14)
  • Preschoolers (3-5): 10-13 hours (range widened from 11-13)
  • School-Age Children (6-13): 9-11 hours (range widened from 10-11)
  • Teenagers (14-17): 8-10 hours (range widened from 8.5-9.5)
  • Young Adults (18-25): 7-9 hours (new age category)
  • Adults (26-64): 7-9 hours (no change)
  • Older Adults (65+): 7-8 hours (new age category)

“This is the first time that any professional organization has developed age-specific recommended sleep durations based on a rigorous, systematic review of the world scientific literature relating sleep duration to health, performance and safety,” Charles A. Czeisler, Ph.D., M.D., professor of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School and chairman of the board of the National Sleep Foundation, said in a statement.

During sleep, your brain and body recharge. Lack of sleep can have short-term and long-term effects. Studies have shown that children and teens that do not get enough sleep have trouble concentrating in school, are more prone to drinking and drug use and are more likely to have behavioral issues. They are also more likely to suffer from depression.

Too little sleep can also affect growth and your child’s immune system – making it harder to fight off an illness.

For adults, if you’re able to function well on the amount of sleep you typically get, then that’s probably the right amount for you. However, for children, the NSF’s recommendations are a good resource for making sure your kids are getting enough sleep. If you find that your child is getting the recommended amount of sleep but is still groggy or lacks energy or focus during the day, talk to your pediatrician or family doctor to see if there may be something else that is causing these symptoms.

Sources: Sarah Klein, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/02/how-much-sleep-durations-changes_n_6581628.html

Your Child

“Greener” Schoolyards Improve Children’s Health

2:00

I remember my schoolyard when I was a child. It was basically the school parking lot with a few spaces marked off for softball. Kids with knee and arm scrapes visited the nurse’s station almost daily. It was icy in the winter and too hot in the late spring and early fall to play on, so many students just stood around and talked during recess. My, how times have changed.

These days, some communities are fortunate enough to have what is often referred to as “green” schoolyards and kids are much better off for it, according to a new report.

"Green schoolyards can include outdoor classrooms, native gardens, storm water capture, traditional play equipment, vegetable gardens, trails, trees and more," Dr. Stephen Pont said in an American Academy of Pediatrics news release. 

He and his colleagues found that green schoolyards provide benefits in areas such as heart health, weight control, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and stress relief.

"And outside of school time, these schoolyards can be open for the surrounding community to use, benefitting everyone," added Pont, medical director of the Texas Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Childhood Obesity. Now, that’s a great idea!

For the report, researchers from Pont’s team, collected data from prior studies related to the benefits of green schoolyards.

Other experts, such as Richard Louv, co-founder of the Minneapolis-based Children & Nature Network, believe that children need to be exposed to a more natural setting for play, exercise and a break during the school day.

"Too many children have no access to quality school grounds. In many neighborhoods, the standard play space is a barren asphalt playground or a concrete slab surrounded by chain link fence -- a completely unsuitable environment for children's play," said Louv.

Several U.S. cities have jumped on the green schoolyard band-wagon including, Austin, Texas; Grand Rapids, Mich.; San Francisco, Calif.; Providence, R.I.; and Madison, Wis.

Perhaps, other cities will take a harder look at the positive results from this report and request greener schoolyards so that more kids can enjoy and benefit from the rewards of exploring a more natural setting.

The study findings were presented recently at the American Academy of Pediatrics national meeting in Chicago. Research presented at meetings is usually considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

Story source: Robert Preidt, https://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/misc-kid-s-health-news-435/green-schoolyards-may-bring-better-health-to-kids-726508.html

 

Your Child

Happy Halloween! Make it a Safe One.

1:45

It’s that time of year– goblins, ghouls, pirates and princesses will be making their way through neighborhoods with outstretched hands and shy giggles.  Yep, Halloween is here!

Along with the kid’s fun comes parental responsibility. While you can’t protect your little one from every danger, there are steps you can take to help make this holiday safer.

Preventing fires and burns.

•       Select flame retardant materials when buying or making costumes.

•       Choose battery-operated candles and lights instead of open-flame candles.

Make sure your child can see and be seen!

•       Trim costumes or clothing with reflective tape. Many costumes are dark in color and can’t easily be seen by car drivers.

•       Give your child a small flashlight or glow stick to carry with them if they are trick- or- treating after dusk.

The “Great Pumpkin” carving

Carving pumpkins is traditional in many families and while the results can be stunning, great care needs to be taken when children are involved. 

•       Small children should never carve pumpkins. Children can draw a face with markers. Then parents can do the cutting.

·      Consider using a flashlight or glow stick instead of a candle to light your pumpkin. If you do use a candle, a votive candle is safest.

·      Candlelit pumpkins should be placed on a sturdy table, away from curtains and other flammable objects, and should never be left unattended.

Make sure your child’s costume fits properly.

Store bought costumes rarely fit properly, so you may need to make some adjustments.

•       Adjust costumes to ensure a good fit. Long skirts or capes can drag on the ground and cause falls.

•       Secure hats, scarves and masks to ensure that your child can see everything that is going on around them. Also, check to see that nothing is keeping your child from breathing properly. Masks and some super-hero helmets can fir too tightly, making it hard to breathe.

•       Make sure that swords, canes or sticks are not sharp.

Never let your child wear colored contacts.

Colored contacts have become popular with some older children. Often the packets these contacts come in have advertising on the package claiming that, “One size fits all.” They don’t.  These lenses are illegal in some states, but can be found online. They may cause pain, inflammation, and serious eye infections. Avoid these at all costs.

Make your home a safe place for trick or treaters

•       To keep homes safe for visiting trick-or-treaters, parents should remove from the porch and front yard anything a child could trip over such as garden hoses, toys, bikes and lawn decorations.

•       Parents should check outdoor lights and replace burned-out bulbs.

•       Wet leaves or snow should be swept from sidewalks and steps.

•       Restrain pets so they do not inadvertently jump on or bite a trick-or-treater.

How old should children be before they can be unaccompanied by an adult? There is no correct answer to that question. An adult should always accompany young children. When your child is about ten, they may start asking to go with their friends. There are some questions to think about before you decide to let them.

•       What is your child’s maturity level? Do they normally act pretty responsible and make good choices?

•       Who are the friends they want to go with and what is their maturity level?

•       What area are they going to be trick-or-treating in?  Will it be local or in an area your child may not be familiar with?

•       What time to they plan to start and be back home? Give your child a definite time.

Whether your child is with you - or out with friends - make sure someone has a charged cell phone with them.  You want be prepared in case of an emergency.

Halloween has changed over the years and lots of parents now take their children to specific places that host Halloween parties and activities, but whether it’s in a controlled environment or out on the streets, it’s still smart to keep safety first.

Sources: https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/news-features-and-safety-tips/pages/Halloween-Safety-Tips.aspx

 Dr. Karen Sherman, http://www.hitchedmag.com/article.php?id=365

Image: http://halloweenpictures2015z.org/halloween-image.html

 

Your Child

Sweet Potatoes May Help Prevent Diarrhea in Children

1:45

Orange sweet potatoes get high approval ratings from many pediatricians and family doctors because they offer a lot of health benefits and they taste good, so kids are more likely to eat them.

Recent research suggests they may also be helpful in reducing the cases of diarrhea in some young children by more than 50 percent.

Erick Boy, head of nutrition at HarvestPlus, said that the body converts the beta-carotene in the sweet potatoes to vitamin A the same day the food is eaten. That vitamin A is then used in the outer lining of the human gut, forming a barrier against different types of bacteria. Boy further explained that the gut uses surplus vitamin A from time to time to replace worn-out cells with healthy ones.

The researchers claimed that if a child below age 5 has consumed orange sweet potatoes in the past week, then the chances were 42 percent less that child would suffer from diarrhea. In children below age 3, the likelihood of developing the condition reduced by 52 percent.

Regular consumption of orange sweet potatoes also helps decrease the duration of diarrhea, the researchers claimed. The team observed that the duration was reduced by 10 percent among 5-year-olds and 25 percent in 3-year-olds.

This could be extremely helpful in countries like Africa, where 40 percent of the children are vitamin A deficient. This increases their risk of diseases such as diarrhea, which is one of the leading causes of mortality in children, taking more than 350,000 lives of children under five in Africa every year.

Vitamin A deficiency is rare n America, however, diarrhea in U.S. children is fairly common; typically related to viral infections or tainted food sources.

Sweet potatoes are easy to prepare and can be baked as fries or tater-tots, veggie muffins, made into soup, and mashed like regular potatoes. Many kids like their orange color and sweet taste. Besides being high in vitamin A, they contain vitamin B5, B6, thiamin, niacin, and riboflavin and are high in carotenoids. They are lower in calories than white potatoes – but a little higher in sugar.

For as sweet as they are, sweet potatoes have a low glycemic index (which means they release sugar slowly into the bloodstream).

The study was published in the journal World Development.

Sources: Guneet Bhatia,  http://www.universityherald.com/articles/20051/20150615/sweet-potatoes-may-reduce-diarrhea-in-children.htm#ixzz3djHgM93e

 

 

 

Your Child

“Is Santa Real?”

2:00

This time of year Santa is on the minds of little ones around the world. He’s also on the minds of many parents facing that tricky question, “Is Santa real?”

Who can resist the story of a jolly old man with a beard, driving a sleigh loaded with presents for boys and girls and pulled by flying reindeer?

It’s not true of course, but that doesn’t stop millions of us from passing on the story we learned as children to our own little ones. It’s a tradition that seems to never get old or fade away.

There comes a time however, when children begin to suspect that Santa isn’t real. How a parent handles the moment of truth can affect how a child will react.

Many kids begin to hear that Santa isn’t real from classmates or friends or even an older sibling. Some children may be devastated, and others may shrug it off and move on. You never quite know.

How do you know when it’s time to let children in on the big secret?

"There's really no one right time to tell kids that there's no Santa Claus," says Glen Elliott, Ph.D. Elliott is an associate professor and the Director of the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychology at the University of California, San Francisco. "The important thing is to take your cues from the child, and not try to prolong the fantasy for your own enjoyment when they may be ready to give it up."

Follow your child’s lead is a good tip. You know your child best, so consider his or her age and maturity before springing the truth on them. Kids typically begin having some doubts around 6-8 years old.

If your child is beginning to ask questions about Santa being real, it may be a way to confirm their suspicions that he’s not or they could simply want reassurance that Santa will arrive this Christmas.

For instance, your daughter might start getting suspicious about the three different Santas she sees during the course of a day of shopping. Or your son might ask questions about how Santa can get to every house in the world in one night, or how he gets into houses with no chimneys. All logical questions as a child learns how to develop a sequential order to things. Children who begin to ask a lot of logical questions about Santa Claus are probably ready to start hearing the truth about him.

Just as kids give you signals when they're ready to give up Santa, they also let you know when they're not. If a child is too young, they may not even comprehend what you are telling them. The younger the child, the more real Santa seems. Santa is Santa and he comes every Christmas – no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

So, how do you make that transition between real Santa and no Santa? There’s several ways to approach the topic.

Help your child understand a more generous and loving side to Santa. The magic of Santa isn’t just about doling out material gifts, but also of spreading joy, kindness and love around the world. You can suggest to your child that we all can be Santas by helping others. We can all spread a little happiness – just like Santa does- by giving to others, even those we don’t know.  The emphasis becomes doing something for someone else.  There are many charities that depend on people to donate gifts for children in need. Plan a shopping date to buy toys or clothes for less fortunate children and let your child pick out what to buy. Let your child be a part of giving not just receiving.

Another approach is to talk about your own childhood and how you too believed there was a Santa. Tell your little one about how you felt when you learned that Santa wasn’t real and how it became ok once you understood. Also, there are many books available with excellent stories on the non-reality of Santa you can read with your child.

Some children are afraid that if there is no Santa, there’s no Christmas. Explain that is never the case. Christmas is much more than Santa and toys. It’s actually a religious holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus. For Christians and some other faiths, the story of the birth of Jesus reveals a much deeper meaning that revolves around family, sacrifice, love and giving.

The magic of Christmas doesn’t fade away once you tell your child there is no Santa. Just like every other passage in life, we learn to adjust and keep the beauty of the tradition while creating a new experience to take its place.

Santa may not be a real person, but he does have many lessons to teach us. The best story I’ve read about telling a child the story of Santa comes from writer, Martha Brokenbrough. She penned an article for the New York Times that encapsulates the heart of the Santa story. This is a good start to finishing the question, is Santa real?

The article addresses a question her daughter, Lucy, asked, “Are you Santa?”

Here is a segment of that story:

“Santa is bigger than any person, and his work has gone on longer than any of us have lived. What he does is simple, but it is powerful. He teaches children how to have belief in something they can’t see or touch.

It’s a big job, and it’s an important one. Throughout your life, you will need this capacity to believe: in yourself, in your friends, in your talents and in your family. You’ll also need to believe in things you can’t measure or even hold in your hand. Here, I am talking about love, that great power that will light your life from the inside out, even during its darkest, coldest moments.

Santa is a teacher, and I have been his student, and now you know the secret of how he gets down all those chimneys on Christmas Eve: he has help from all the people whose hearts he’s filled with joy.

With full hearts, people like Daddy and me take our turns helping Santa do a job that would otherwise be impossible.

So, no. I am not Santa. Santa is love and magic and hope and happiness. I’m on his team, and now you are, too.”

Story sources: http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/when-santa-stops-being-real#1

http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/12/16/no-longer-believing-in-santa/?_r=0

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Do antacids work for babies?

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