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Look Before You Lock

 Why is it so dangerous to leave a child alone in a car?  Because of biology, anatomy, thermodynamics.

Let’s talk a little about Infant and Child Anatomy:

  • Infants and children do not temperature regulate well. They have too much surface area for their body mass, meaning they lose heat too quickly because they don’t have enough mass to contain the heat.
  • Because they lose heat quickly, they generate it faster, 3 to 5 times faster than adults. For example, when you’re holding a baby for a while and then hand them off to someone else, you feel chilled. This is because the baby was generating so much heat that our temperature drops. (We are the best thermo-regulators that a baby can have.)

Next, let’s set the stage and look at what happens in a car:

Are You Ready?

When we imagine having children, we have these images of ‘having a baby’. The sweet bundle all swaddled, snuggling, and sleeping peacefully in their crib whilst we gaze lovingly, and then we quietly tip-toe out of the nursery and off to our own bed.

Then reality hits. Babies cry. Diapers explode. Breasts leak. Exhaustion hits. And just when we think we’re getting the hang of it, they grow. Their abilities change. Their needs change. Their brains develop. That sweet baby turns into a defiant toddler, that turns into a messy child, who then turns into a smelly teenager (it’s just the hormones, it’ll pass).

We give our lives over to our children. Every thing we do, every decision we make, we take them into account. There is a fantastic quote by Sophia Loren, “When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. You are connected to your child and to all those who touch your lives. A mother always has to think twice: once of herself and once for her child.”

Now, we could debate parenting styles but the more important point is how do you know if you’re ready to potentially live your life for that little baby? How do you know, before you have a baby?

Sweet Dreams?

Sleep is just as important to child development as a healthy diet and exercise, although it is one of the most commonly overlooked aspects of a child’s life.

As adults, most of us can mutter through on little sleep for a day or so before we get unbearably grumpy, but with kids, their bodies are growing and connecting neurons in the brain all the time. Sleep is absolutely critical for healthy development.

While they sleep their brains are processing and sorting everything they learned that day, and that’s not just the stuff they learned at school; their bodies are honing their fine motor skills and processing the social interactions of the day.

To make sure your child is getting the proper amount of quality sleep, here are some tips:

Time Flies (Just Breathe)

It’s already February?! If you’re feeling stressed with 2012 passing so quickly, re-visiting this post on stress & the importance of breathing might help (originally posted on Parentelligence here). 

It’s no secret that we’re all just a little stressed these days. Between the economy and information overload on the internet, we have all sorts of things to worry about nowadays. Stress and anxiety can cause physical pain, emotional strain, and strain in your relationships. When you’re stressed, your body is secreting hormones that put you into that ‘fight or flight’ state. Long term, this state will wear on your body.

Our children pick up on our heightened state and become stressed and anxious, too.This is not a good state for children to thrive in. We learn best when we’re comfortable and relaxed, not if we’re nervous and anxious.

Parents need to learn how to regulate their own stress so that we may help our children learn the same coping techniques.

Tips to regulate stress in the immediate moment:

Paging Dr. Google

You may have decided to create family resolutions, or have a personal new year’s resolution. But, as parents our biggest resolution is to do our best to take the best possible care of our children.

One of the more nerve wracking moments is when a child develops a cough, rash, or earache. We don’t want to overreact and rush to the doctor, but what if it’s serious? How do you know? Unfortunately, a lot of parents turn to Google to find out. While searching online may result in some helpful information, it can also be uber-scary because you can find all these unique, rare, serious possibilities.

In my job in community education, I run into several people a week who have Google-diagnosed their health concerns. They might be right but they are often looking at some of the remotest of possible conditions. There are good resources online for searching for health information.

How's the View

When pilots train they learn from a book, and then simulators, then by riding in the co-pilot’s seat. It’s a progression of information that’s built upon the comprehension of the previous set of knowledge learned.

Driving a car is no different. It is not recommended, and by Washington State Law not allowed, that children ride in the front seat until the age of 13 years old. This has to do with the bone structure and how it develops after we go through puberty; how the seatbelt holds onto said bone structure and the fact that in the front seat, in a front-end collision, the engine block is being shoved into the passenger compartment. This is a very safe, reasonable recommendations for keeping kids safe in a car.

If a child starts riding in the front seat at the age of 13 years, they will have 2 to 3 years worth of observation before they start driving the vehicles themselves...unless they’re looking at screens.
Years ago, we started putting DVD players and game systems into vehicles to keep kids happy and occupied. Smartphones, iPods, iPads, and all other handheld entertainment systems have followed those kids up to the front seat, once they were old enough to sit there.

The problem lies with the fact that they’re not learning from observation. The parents are probably not having conversations about ...

Family Resolutions

It's a new year - have you ever wondered how to incorporate resolutions into family life?

Yes, parents are pressed for time, but remember we have strength in numbers. Family is our strength and our motivation. In Franklin Covey’s book titled 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families, is a suggestion for creating a family mission statement. This is where each family member helps create a mission statement for the whole family. We add things in that are most important and beneficial for the family as a whole. It gets written up and framed on the fridge or hung in a prominent place. Because each member of the family had input and a say in what the mission statement represents, they all have a stake in it. This mission statement brings the family together to work for a common goal.

The same can be said for New Year’s Resolutions. I have heard more than once that New Year’s Resolutions can be hard to stick to be cause we’re still in the dead of winter with short, cold, rainy days. That makes it difficult to start anew.

However, creating Family Resolutions just might have an extra edge for succeeding. We have that wonderful built-in support system.

Here’s what to do:

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