It’s Not too Late to Find the Perfect Summer Camp for Your Kid

Schools are letting out for summer break and soon camps all over the country will be filling with kids ready to have fun! If you haven’t already, then now is time to start making your Making the Most of Summer Campkid’s summer camp plans. Most camps have been enrolling kids since early in the year, and many may already be full, but it’s not too late to find one for your child. There are camps available for nearly every sport, activity, or interest that your child might have, so start researching now online and locally. Let your kids help choose a camp but limit the choices to the ones that you have already pre-approved and have confirmed that there are still slots available for your kids.

Wondering how to make sure your child has a fun and memorable time at camp? Here are a few pointers to help your kids have the time of their lives:

  • Choose a camp based on your child’s age, maturity level, interests, and location. Young children and those who aren’t ready to go to an overnight camp may want to attend a local day camp. Check out local organizations that offer day camps, such as Scouts, Campfire, YMCA, and many others. Talk with your child about his concerns and ideas about camp. Choose one that offers age-appropriate activities that your child enjoys.
  • Prepare your child for the camp you have chosen by talking about the activities he will get to do there. If he is worried about missing his family, reassure him that it is normal to feel home-sick, especially if it his first time away, and that those feelings will lessen after a couple of days. Share some of your fun childhood camp stories too. Older kids who are ready for overnight camp may want to stick with one fairly close to home their first time, just in case.
  • If possible, send a postcard or card a few days before camp to the camp’s address so it will be waiting when your child arrives. (Check with the camp first to make sure they will hang onto it until your child arrives.) And be sure to send some pre-stamped postcards addressed to home, so your child can write to you and let you know all the fun he is having!
  • If your kid has friends who want to attend the same camp, try to coordinate with them so they can bunk together. My daughter and her best friend went to camp for the first time at an overnight camp that is three hours away from home. They were a little nervous about it, but had an incredibly fun time because they were together. My son and his best friend attended that same camp the next summer because their sisters had talked so much about it. Having a friend at camp can help kids beat homesickness and it doubles the fun!

Can’t find a camp with openings for your child?

Can’t afford to send your kid to camp?

Why not create your own?

Pick a week to have your own camp at home for your kids and their friends. Pitch a tent in the backyard or in the living room! Cook out on the grill or make camp food in your own kitchen. Make fun crafts out of everyday household items and play lots of games. Name your camp and have everyone pitch in to make it exciting and entertaining. Kids are creative and can turn anyplace into a summer camp if given some help from their parents. A great camp doesn’t have to cost a lot of money; it just has to be a lot of fun!

How Safe Is Your Kitchen?

When your children were young, you crawled on hands and knees to view your kitchen at toddler level. You plugged outlets, blocked the basement stairs, tightened cabinet knobs and always kept hot pot handles turned in toward the back of the stove, beyond the reach of probing fingers. Now that your kids are older, you may think your kitchen’s no longer a threat. Think again.

Here, a list of potential hazards and ways to keep your family safe:

  • Menacing microbes There’s clean andClean kitchen for a healthy family then there’s microscopically clean. The kitchen is a haven for disease-causing bacteria, but you can ward off illnesses with several germ-fighting techniques. Pop wet sponges in the microwave for two minutes each day to eliminate bacteria, and replace the sponges regularly. Use disinfectant sprays or wipes on surfaces you touch regularly, from faucets to fridge handles to the phone — not to mention the table and chairs. Dedicate a different cutting board to each type of food you prep — and mark them to track which is for veggies, which for raw meat, and so on — and be sure to disinfect after each use. And reach for paper towels to dry your hands, particularly during cold and flu months. Sharing cloth hand towels virtually guarantees passing germs from one person to the next, says Neil Schacter, M.D., author of The Good Doctor’s Guide to Colds and Flu.
  • Careless cords Kitchen gadgets and small appliances are a cook’s best friend, but every time you buy a new tool, you should ask yourself: Am I using and storing it safely? Safety expert John Drengenberg of Underwriters Laboratories (UL) cautions consumers to be watchful, particularly of the cords on small appliances — electric kettles, mixers, deep fryers, etc. — which can get caught on other objects or yanked by younger children. Keep them well out of reach and away from other appliances. Teach older kids about proper handling of appliances … and their potential dangers. Periodically check the cords to make sure the wires are not damaged, cracked or loose. If they are, stop using them immediately and take them to a professional repair shop, hire an electrician or replace with a new item, advises the National Fire Protection Association.
  • Plastics predicament The potential health risk of plastic food-storage containers has been the subject of much debate lately, but the undisputed fact is that containers leach a small amount of plastics into food. Certain foods — particularly fatty, salty or acidic ones — increase the amount that’s transferred. So does heating. Just to be safe, check the condition of your containers and replace them when they are worn out or cracked. Whenever possible, use ceramic or glass.
  • Wave worries Microwave ovens trump stoves when it comes to fast food prep but take care not to overheat. Just like you used to test the temperature of your baby’s bottle, you now need to test the temperature of microwaved food before giving it to your child. Just stick your (clean!) finger into the middle and stir before serving. Teach older kids to test it themselves and also tell them about basic microwave safety rules: Never use aluminum foil and metal pans, and only use glass, ceramics and plastics specifically labeled microwave-safe. The Harvard Medical School offers a few more tips:
    • Packaged-food containers — like margarine and yogurt tubs — should not be used in microwaves. Neither should most takeout containers and water bottles. Put food in ceramic or glass before microwaving.
    • Don’t microwave plastic storage bags or plastic grocery bags.
    • Vent containers before putting them in the microwave.
    • Plastic wrap can melt in the microwave, so don’t put it directly on the food. As an alternative, use wax paper, kitchen parchment paper or white paper towels to cover the food.

Pesticides and ADHD

Everyday Health ran a good article on pesticides and ADHD. Sure, we all want to eat a healthy diet full of fresh produce, so how can we steer clear of pesticides on producethat food? Most experts say buying organic and washing food very well before eating it is the best bet. A new study that will appear in the June issue of Pediatrics has shown a link between high levels of pesticides and ADHD. The study points out that ADHD is most probably genetic, but that being exposed to pesticides before age 6 increases the chances that the child will exhibit symptoms of ADHD.

You can find a local farmers market or stand here.

Antibiotics…Not Always the Answer

Antibiotics are wonderful things. Since penicillin was first found and produced in the early twentieth century and used during the Second World War, it and related antibiotics have saved countless lives and cured many an illness quickly.

Antibiotics may not be the right answerAntibiotics work by inhibiting certain growth factors and processes needed by bacteria to reproduce and flourish. As with many significant discoveries, penicillin was found purely by luck when an early twentieth century biochemist was trying to grow Staphylococcus (a type of bacteria). He opened the Petri dish to find that the growth of Staphylococcus seemed to be inhibited by a white substance growing next to it; that substance was studied and named “penicillin”, and indeed, did prevent growth of bacteria. The huge toll of injured and dying soldiers during the Second World War stimulated a renewed interest in the now decades old “antibiotic”, and it was pressed into service on battle fields around the world. Its successful wartime use spread to the private sector. Although initially used to help cure life threatening illnesses, it began to be used for even minor illnesses that would begin a trend that is still going on today.

The number of antibiotics in use today and their complexity is overwhelming and new ones are produced in ever increasing numbers. The primary reasons for producing a new antibiotic are to be able to treat an increasing number of bacteria known to be producing new diseases in people. Also the old antibiotics become outmoded when the existing bacteria develop very intricate mechanisms to shield themselves from the effects of the antibiotics (resistance).

Antibiotics are ineffective against viral infections, but many times well meaning health care professionals put them into use to possibly stop the advance of the viral illness (or secondary bacterial infections). Sometimes, antibiotics are dispensed at the insistent request of the parents who, in a misguided attempt to help “cure” their child of a viral illness, wish to use the latest antibiotic. At least in Pediatrics, an overwhelming majority of illness is due to viral infections and therefore speaks against the use of an antibiotic.

When antibiotics are used indiscriminately and in large amounts the following things can occur:

  1. More “allergic reactions” because of the widespread use of these drugs
  2. Increasing numbers of bacteria are developing resistances to these new and old drugs (leaving very few effective antibiotics for some very dangerous bacteria)

This is a trend that will probably continue unless health care professionals make this information available to the public. It is important to note, as new antibiotics are developed, the cost of delivering these to the portion of the population that really need them becomes prohibitive and adds tremendously to the cost of health care in this country. The process of getting a new medicine through the testing and the FDA is both very time consuming and expensive

Most of your child’s illnesses will be viral in origin and will not need an antibiotic. In addition, some routine illnesses that children get, such as ear infections, have been scrutinized carefully by researchers and their findings suggest that antibiotics may not be needed in mild ear infections. In fact, there are times that severe ear infections can be followed carefully without the use of antibiotics as long as the pain is controlled. Every attempt is being made to limit the use of all antibiotics in general. There are certainly situations that require an antibiotic such as strep throat and certain types of pneumonia, but your doctor will discuss the options at the time of your visit.

Think both locally and globally when it comes to the use of antibiotics: it will help your child and children all over the world.

Beware the Hidden Dangers in Your Child’s Lunchbox

A lunch box filled with fun, healthy food not only makes kids happy: It also helps them perform better academically. But if you’re not careful, you could be packing food poisoning along with that tuna sandwich, says Bethany Thayer, a registered dietitian, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association and mother of two. Follow these simple rules to make sure your child’s lunch box makes the grade:

  • Don’t start with a dirty lunch box: “Even a small food spill can be a bacteria magnet,” says Thayer. So give the lunch box a good scrub with hot, soapy water and dry it thoroughly. A little baking soda can get rid of any lingering food odors in lunch boxes or insulated bottles. In addition, stash a small bottle of handhealthy lunchbox sanitizer in the lunch box so kids can clean their hands before eating.
  • Do think before you pack: Whenever possible, pick foods that have little chance of spoiling. Good choices include crackers; uncut fresh, dried or canned fruit in juice; whole veggies; hard cheeses; canned meat and fish; and individual puddings with pop-top lids. Many kids crave prepackaged lunches with individual compartments, but Thayer says these meal choices tend to be high in salt and fat. Instead, she suggests making your own healthier version. “In a reusable container with separate compartments, pack whole-grain crackers, squares of cheese and/or turkey, and a little treat.” Hard-boiled eggs, tuna salad or yogurt are also healthy options, says Thayer — but only if they can be kept cold in the fridge or with an ice pack (see below) until eaten. The best choice of all: PB&J — it’s nonperishable, nutritious and a perennial kid fave.
  • Don’t forget to chill: Place all lunch ingredients and the lunch box itself — a soft-sided, insulated one is best — in the fridge the night before. “The cooler the food starts out, the cooler it will stay,” says Thayer. Pre-chill an insulated bottle with ice water before filling with juice or another beverage. Believe it or not, you can also freeze a sandwich made from peanut butter, cheese or meat the night before. (Don’t try this with fillings made with mayonnaise, eggs, lettuce, tomatoes or other raw veggies.) You can even make a whole week’s worth of sandwiches ahead of time and stick them in the freezer. Your child’s sandwich will keep the rest of the food cool and thaw by lunchtime. Alternatively, throw in a frozen juice box or water bottle, which will act as an ice pack. You might even consider sandwiching the sandwich between a frozen juice box and an ice pack. Keep several in the freezer so they’re always ready.
  • Don’t let hot foods get cool: To avoid food poisoning, soups and other hot foods should still be at 140 degrees when served. Thayer suggests you fill an insulated stainless steel container made for hot foods with extremely hot water, let it sit for a few minutes, spill out and immediately fill with hot food. Then keep the container tightly closed until lunchtime.
  • Do tell kids to toss it: If you’re packing perishables, make sure your child knows that if the food isn’t cold when he opens his lunchbox, he shouldn’t eat it, says Thayer. In addition, direct him to throw out all leftovers when lunch is over: You don’t want your child eating a spoiled sandwich on the bus home. And no matter how tempted you are to economize, never reuse any foil, plastic wrap, or paper and plastic bags, which could be contaminated with dangerous bacteria.

Cyberbullying: Knowing the Signs Can Save Your Child

Over the last few months we’ve read about horrific tragedies – bullycides — that appear prompted by relentless peer bullying. Phoebe Prince, a fifteen-year old Massachusetts high school student, committed suicide. South Hadley High Principal Daniel Smith called Prince “smart, charming, and as is the case with many teenagers, complicated …. We will never know the specific reasons why she chose to take her life,” reported. But we do have one clue: friends and school officials confirmed that she had been taunted by peers via text messages, Facebook and other social networking sites since moving from Ireland last year.

Horrific. Sad. Heart-wrenching. There really are no Cyberbullying - know the signs - smalleradequate descriptors. We’ve read of too many of our children who have ended their young lives due to vicious online (yes, and offline) peer cruelty. I carry with me a photo of a young Canadian boy — a precious sixth grader — who ended his life because of bullying. His father gave me his son’s photo and asked me to never stop doing what I do.

“Keep talking about empathy,” the dad said. “If someone had heard your message I know my son would be alive today. It would have saved him.”

I promised that dad I would keep going. But it seems we have an even tougher battle these days. Kids are crueler and at younger ages. Let’s get our heads out of the sand and realize we’re not doing a good enough job in nurturing our children’s empathy and creating cultures of compassion.

And so let’s get educated, folks. It’s our first big step to turn this around. These are serious lessons — they might save a child. Please read carefully. Watch your child and how he responds. Not one more death!

What is Cyberbullying?

So we’re clear, cyberbullying is an electronic form of communication that uses cyber-technology or digital media to hurt, threaten, embarrass, annoy, blackmail or otherwise target another minor. Every adult who interacts with kids–parents, educators, librarians, police, pediatricians, coaches, child care givers–must get educated about this lethal new form bullying so you can find ways to stop this.

One reason for such a dramatic increase in cyber-abuse is that it’s just so much easier to be cruel when you don’t have to do lash out your vicious insinuations face to face! Where we once thought we just had to protect children from adult predators using the Internet, we now need to shield kids from one another.

Cyber-bullying is real. Incidents are happening at an increasing rate. National surveys by online safety expert, Parry Aftab, estimate that 85 percent of 12 and 13-year olds have had experience with cyber bullying; 53 percent say they have been bullied online.

Many experts confirm that the psychological effects on our children can be as devastating, and may be even more so than traditional bullying. If you have any doubt, just look at the precious face of Phoebe Prince! Research proves that when kids are left unsupervised and without behavior expectations traditional bullying thrives. And we may not be doing as good a job as we think.

One survey found that while 93 percent of parents feel they have a good idea of what their kids are doing on the Internet; 41 percent of our kids say they don’t share with us what they do or where they go online.

9 Possible Signs and Symptoms of Cyberbullying To Look for In Your Children

Research also says that chances are that your child will not tell you he is harassed online. As our children get older studies also show the likelihood declines even more. One big reason: our kids say we did not listen or believe them when they did come and tell us. So get educated. Tune into your children closer. Look for these possible signs of cyber bullying though there are others. And if they are not due to cyberbullying they clearly warrant looking into. Something is amiss with your child!

  • Hesitant to be online; nervous when an Instant Message, text message or Email appears
  • Visibly upset after using the computer or cell phone or suddenly avoids it
  • Hides or clears the computer screen or closes cellphone when you enter
  • Spends unusually and longer hours online in a more tense pensive tone
  • Withdraws from friends, falls behind in schoolwork’s or wants to avoid school
  • Suddenly sullen, evasive withdrawn, marked change in personality or behavior
  • Trouble sleeping, loss of appetite, excessively moody or crying, seems depressed
  • Suspicious phone calls, e-mails and packages arrives at your home
  • Possible drop in academic performance

Your goal is to keep a good ongoing dialogue with your child so she will feel comfortable telling you if something bad happens online or elsewhere. You are your child’s best filter both on and off line Build a relationship of trust and then listen carefully to what your kids say about their online experiences. Let your child know you believe her and will not stop until she feels safe. Also be clear that you want to know if your child receives an inappropriate message (that goes for both on and offline).

This tragedy should be a wake-up call that our children need more specific guidance, developmentally appropriate supervision, and clear expectations for the wide, wide web.

Get educated. Get active! Get your community involved. And please watch for those signs.

No child should ever be allowed to send or receive cruelty! EVER!

****************************************************************************************************************************Borba - book cover -parentingsolutions140x180

Dr Borba’s book The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries, is one of the most comprehensive parenting book for kids 3 to 13. This down-to-earth guide offers advice for dealing with children’s difficult behavior and hot button issues including biting, tantrums, cheating, bad friends, inappropriate clothing, sex, drugs, peer pressure and much more. Each of the 101 challenging parenting issues includes specific step-by-step solutions and practical advice that is age appropriate based on the latest research. The Big Book of Parenting Solutions has recently been released and is now available at