Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 03-18-2013 to 03-24-2013

twitter thumbWelcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world.

Each day we use Twitter to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and other caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we may miss something, but we think overall we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for our friends and colleagues who are not on Twitter (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 15 events & stories.

PedSafe Headline of the Week:

Are child safety caps enough to keep kids out? – video shows how fast 4 year olds open these bottles SCARY!

Bullying & Students with Special Needs – Defend the Defenseless

Bully free world resources v2There have been so many horrible stories about bullying in the news lately. It makes me wonder why there was no media coverage when it happened to me and my friends back in the day. I hope it is a sign that our civilization is becoming more aware of the issue.

Individuals with special-needs are especially vulnerable to bullying, according to Starr Taxman of Starr Taxman Children’s Advocacy and Investigative Services. She is also a mother of three, and two of her children have special needs. Starr is also a sought-after speaker on the topic of bullying and interventions that help stop it.

Evidence supports Starr’s position: A 2008 report in the British Journal of Support holds that while 25% of the general student population reported being bullied, the number among students with special needs was 60% – and remember, that is only accounting for what the students reported – or were able to report!

Often people with special needs are unable to communicate traditionally, so they may not be able to explain what is happening. This was the case with Kathy Coleman’s 31-year-old non-verbal son with autism. He was able to communicate that he feared his caregiver, and his observant mom saw bruises on him, so she put hidden cameras in his room at the care facility. She was shocked at what she captured on film, and also at the facility’s reaction – to try to destroy the evidence! Naturally she is suing, and her son is no longer living there.

Eilieen ParkmanEven in paradise, bullying rears its ugly head. Recently at a school in Hawaii a 5-year-old boy with autism was being beaten up by a group of 5th graders. The young boy was reportedly down on the ground in a fetal position! A super-brave 2nd grade girl named Eileen Parkman stepped up and told the boys what they were doing wasn’t right. She was then beaten herself, and also became a target at the school. After several bullying incidents she transferred, but she has won the Maui Autism Center’s bravery award for being a “Defender of the defenseless.” On his Facebook page, Eileen’s father has thanked everyone for their support of Eileen because it helps her to hear that she did the right thing. As if that was ever a question??? What kind of world has this become???

The Bully Project has some great resources, including a special section about students with special needs. Their website includes clips from the award-winning film Bully and there are downloadable materials available. Students with disabilities have legal rights, and many situations go beyond bullying and into the legal area of harassment.

Peer advocacy is a great deterrent to bullying, so be sure to teach all your children – typical and those with special needs – to stand up for themselves and for each other.

Parenting That Fabulous Middle Child

Is the “Middle Kid Syndrome” really a problem? Not if we apply the research. be a middle childHave more than two kids? Then I’m betting you’ve heard a few of these:

“It’s like I’m stuck in the middle.”

“But I don’t want to do things like my sister.”

“I want my own stuff not these hand me downs.”

“My coach always asks why I can’t play like my brother.”

As soon as my third son was born I became very aware of the so-called “Middle Kid Syndrome.” It wasn’t hard…everyone warned me with those: “Watch out …you have a middle one now.” So I read all those birth order books and tuned into those experts warning us of the dangers of being “sandwiched in between.” I quickly learned to beware: middle kids get a bad rap. And research even proves it.

A longitudinal study from Norway involving hundreds of men found that their elder sibling is smarter by an average of 3 points IQ which can be quite significant on those SATs.

But the lead had nothing to do with genetics!

It turns out if the first born dies, the second sib takes over that IQ lead! So the reason for that IQ boost? We talk to our oldest child more, which gives them a huge edge in language development.

Research also shows (Shhhhh!) that the first born is more favored by their parents and the middle kid realizes that favoritism.

Then there’s the problem of teachers and coaches comparing the middle child unfairly to their older sibling (“Your older brother read when he was three.” “Your sister could sing in tune.”).

What’s more, they have to endure that icky label: “Oh, you’re the ‘middle’ kid.” And that isn’t enough this is the kid that gets far too many hand-me-downs. If we’re not careful this glorious child can get lost in the shuffle of their own families.

Hidden Benefits of Being “Stuck in the middle!”

It seems these middle children also learn valuable skills and perspective because of their unique position in the family. (We just may have to remind them that there are benefits, but there are a few). Studies find these benefits to being stuck in the middle that may be overlooked:

  • Middle kids are generally more creative and flexible because they are trying to be different from their elder and younger sibling.
  • They are also often more relaxed, independent, diplomatic, resourceful, as well as more balanced and generous than their other siblings.
  • They can make great negotiators and have great people skills if we let them forge their own way.

7 Common “Middle Kid” Problems & Solutions

When the Today show asked me to report about the supposed “Middle Kid Syndrome,” I jumped at the opportunity. I reviewed all the research on middle children, but also asked a number of “ middle” moms and kids (including my own) for their take on the issue. And chime in they did! Here are seven common problems that both researchers warn us of and middle kids complain about from being sandwiched in between and parenting solutions for each hot-button issue.

No. 1. Feel less favored

Not only do middle kids pick up on which sibling is the parental favorite, but researchers (after viewing videos of parent-child interaction) confirm it.

BEM86X Child feeling left out. Image shot 2009. Exact date unknown.

Sixty-five percent of mothers and 70 percent of dads exhibited a preference for one child–in most cases, the older one.

The middle kid pays the price. So, though we may think we treat our kids equally, research shows otherwise.

Be honest. Do your eyes light up with the same intensity for each of your children? That’s your test.

No. 2. Overlooked and skimped on attention

The first child is always the big deal. The last is “our baby.” The poor middle kid feels overlooked. As a result research says they can become rebellious or our little “people pleasers” to make up for what they feel is the missed attention.

  • Make a big deal over their trophy (even if the eldest has one, too).
  • Jump for joy that you get to go to the Christmas Pageant (again!)
  • Make special time so your middle kid doesn’t feel she’s overlooked. Each child deserves his own special “firsts.”
  • Keep that baby book open and ready to jot down those “firsts.”

No. 3. Hate to be compared

One of the biggest complaints of middle children is that they say they are always compared to their older sibling. “Your older brother could do that when he was three.” “Your sister liked piano.”

  • No fair! Tell Aunt Harriet to bite her tongue.
  • Your cardinal parenting rule is: Never compare.

No. 4. Hide true feelings

Mother with daughter

Middle kids learn to not reveal their feelings. After all, the elder sibling is usually more verbal and gets our ears. So the second child often keeps things to himself. So….

  • Draw your middle one out.
  • Keep the communication open.
  • Ask how he’s feeling.
  • And make the older one listen to the middle child’s ideas.

No. 5. Tired of playing referee

This breed is most often to be the diplomat in the family. They smooth things over and tote the family peace pipe because they hate conflicts and anger. They become fabulous little negotiators and grow up to have wonderful people skills.

But right now this kid shouldn’t have to take on the role of United Nations in his own home.

  • Watch your middle child’s inclination to always smooth things over, and give in to the elder or younger siblings just to keep the peace. They can be taken advantage of and causes resentment as well as just not being fair.

No. 6. Always get the hand-me-downs!

  • Okay, every once in a while is fine, but watch those: “But the coat is perfectly fine.” Or: “Your sister never played with the doll. It’s brand new.”

No. 7. Forced to follow siblings footsteps

  • Let your middle kid march to his own drum and not have to hang onto the coat tails of an older sibling. Tap into your middle’s child true potential and emphasize each child’s unique strengths and true potential. These kids are usually more creative and individualistic. Draw out their natural nature.
  • Sure, how our kids turn out does have a lot to do with genetics and pre-disposed temperament. But it also has to do with how they are treated by us as well as the experiences they have with their siblings. Let’s tune in a little closer to this now – there are peacekeepers with great people skills who are not afraid to march to their own drum.

P.S. As a mom of a middle kid let me assure you, they turn out not only fine, but plain wonderful.


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 is available at

My Son Has the Flu…Should My Whole Family Take Antivirals?

Antivirals for all??Probably not. Although antiviral meds can prevent the spread of flu, physicians usually don’t prescribe them as a preventative measure for healthy people. Since there’s a limited supply of the Rx, physicians want to ensure that those at greatest risk of flu-related complications receive those doses. So if you have an infant under the age of 6 months, a senior citizen above the age of 65, or someone with a compromised immune system (a cancer or HIV patient) in your home, ask about getting an antiviral medication for your entire family.

Otherwise, bring just your son to the doctor as soon as you notice flu symptoms, such as a high fever, chills and body aches. An antiviral can shorten the duration of the flu by up to two days — but you need to take it within the first 48 hours of the illness.

To keep the rest of your family safe, make sure they get their flu shots. Also remind them to wash their hands often, and wipe down common surfaces — like door knobs and the remote control — daily.

Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 03-11-2013 to 03-17-2013

twitter thumbWelcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world.

Each day we use Twitter to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and other caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we may miss something, but we think overall we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for our friends and colleagues who are not on Twitter (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 15 events & stories.

PedSafe Headline of the Week:

Facebook Graph Search: What It Means to Your Privacy
(note: Graph Search is still in Beta – great opt to get a head start)

Ready for Spring? Give Your Bathroom a Healthy Makeover!

check for outdated prescriptionsGermy toilets. Grimy showers. Cluttered cabinets. It’s easy to see why the bathroom may be one of the unhealthiest rooms in your house.

Take control of your bathroom this year by giving it a healthy makeover for spring. Some simple reorganizing, cleaning and change of habits will have your bathroom clean and sparkly in no time. Here are eight easy makeover tips from Donna Duberg, assistant professor of clinical laboratory science for St. Louis University:

Bathroom Makeover Step No. 1: Clear the clutter.

Leaving cosmetics on the counter exposes them to bacteria, which is then applied to your eyes, face and mouth. “Keep them in something covered if you do,” says Duberg. In addition, lotion bottles, toothpaste and hairbrushes give dust and other germs an additional place to settle. Too much clutter also discourages routine cleaning. Instead, stash these products in drawers and closets.

Bathroom Makeover Step No. 2: Bring toothbrushes out on the counter.

Sealing them up in a closed environment, like your medicine cabinet, encourages bacterial growth, says Duberg. If you must keep them there, try drying the toothbrush with a clean towel first. If you keep your toothbrush on the counter or sink, keep it as far from the toilet as possible to avoid any germ spray if someone forgets to close the lid before flushing. Also, whenever someone in the house has diarrhea or a respiratory illness, replace toothbrushes as soon as the illness ends.

Bathroom Makeover Step No. 3: Purge your medicine cabinet.

Get rid of medications that have expired or that you no longer need. Read labels carefully for instructions on disposal. Call the local trash and recycling service and ask about drug take-back programs. If there are no instructions or programs, mash up the drugs and mix them into coffee grounds or kitty litter. Seal them in a plastic bag or coffee can before throwing them in the trash.

Bathroom Makeover Step No. 4: Post a reminder over the toilet.

The reminder should say something like, “Always close the lid when you flush.” This is important because toilets contain more than 3 million bacteria per square inch, says Duberg. Flushing creates an aerosol that allows the germs to land on toothbrushes, counters and magazines — and anything else that’s close by.

Bathroom Makeover Step No. 5: Check the vent.

Dust, mold and bacteria can collect in vents too. When you turn on the vent, it distributes these unhealthy organisms. Give your vents a thorough cleaning or vacuuming once a month.

Bathroom Makeover Step No. 6: Wipe down the shower and tub.

And be sure to do it after each use too. Viruses and bacteria from your skin collect on these surfaces. The moist setting also provides a breeding ground for mold. Spritz surfaces every few days with a mixture made up of one part vinegar and nine parts water. Vinegar doesn’t require rinsing and is safe for children and pets. If you prefer a 10 percent bleach solution, keep in mind that it has to be rinsed off and prepared freshly every day in order to kill mold.

Bathroom Makeover Step No. 7: Wash the floors.

Wipe down the floors with the vinegar and water mix you use on the shower surfaces. Use washable rugs that are easily tossed in the washer and dryer. And don’t wear outdoor shoes in the bathroom — or anywhere else in the house.