Tuesday, January 31, 2012

What Advice Do You Have When Caring for a Child After the Death of a Family Pet?

Losing the Family Pet

By H.J. Fracaro

For many children their first experience with death is the loss of a pet. Although it is devastating for children of all ages, it does allow them to understand the process of death and grieving. They observe the deceased will not be coming back and find a way to cope.

If a pet has to be put down, it is best to allow the child to say goodbye first. Give them truthful, uncomplicated answers about the process and help them remember the positive impact the pet made on their lives. It the pet is buried, plant a tree, flowers, or a marker in the yard in tribute. If cremated place the urn on a bookshelf or mantle with a photograph or collar but make sure not to turn it into a shrine to the lost pet. It is important they feel the loss and move forward instead of replacing the pet with the shrine. This is also why you should not replace the pet immediately.

There are many helpful books for children addressing pet death. Some of the most popular are: Newberry winner Cynthia Rylant’s Cat Heaven and Dog HeavenI'll Always Love You by Hans Wilhelm, and The Tenth Good Thing About Barney by Judith Viorst. Compassion, the passage of time, and books like these can help heal a child’s broken heart.

Monday, January 30, 2012

What to Expect if There is a Death in Your Charge's Life

Children and Grief
By H.J. Fracaro

Most children have an encounter with death, whether it’s the death of a pet, grandparent, friend, or parent. Children of different ages understand death to varying degrees and express their sadness in different ways.

Babies and toddlers under age two cannot comprehend death but are upset by the change in routine and the emotions of the people around them. They may cry more often, have difficulty sleeping, throw fits, rock back and forth, or have tummy trouble due to anxiety. The best way to offer comfort is to maintain their routine, offer lots of physical contact like cuddling, and be patient and gentle with the behavior changes.

Preschool age children can understand when something is dead, however they think it is a temporary state like sleeping and can be reversed; much like the characters in the cartoons they watch. They may ask questions repeatedly such as, “When is Grandma coming back?” or “What is Grandma doing right now?” Answer these questions as simply and honestly as possible. Acting out the events surrounding the death, such as playing hospital, or crashing toy cars can also be a behavior associated with grief. Crying, withdrawing, nightmares, fighting and regression, such as baby talk, thumb sucking, or bed wetting are also common. Allow these behaviors and encourage play and fun.

Kids six- to 12-years old have a more adult concept of death. They understand the body has ceased to function and the person will not be coming back. They are also capable of thinking of the future, realizing their loved one won’t be attending their future birthdays, graduation, or wedding. They worry their angry thoughts or bad behaviors could have caused the death and are aware it could happen again. Often they worry what will happen if their caregiver were to die. Common reactions to grief include regression, denial, poor or markedly improved performance in school, aggression, being protective of loved ones, and nightmares.

Teenagers have the same reactions as the previous age group but also ponder their own mortality, hide their feelings to appear strong and can utilize spirituality to cope. They may fight, scream, argue, engage in high risk behavior, change their eating habits, and change their group of friends.

With teenagers and children of any age, include them in the rituals of grieving but do not force them to participate. Having a separate mourning ritual such as releasing balloons, lighting candles, or creating a memory book can often offer closure and comfort to the child without being overwhelming.

Above all remember to be available when they want to talk or just spend time together so they are reminded they are not alone and are loved.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Working Overtime Doubles Depression Risk

Do You Work More Than 40-Hours Per Week?

A study released this week shows that working overtime doubles depression risk. Most nannies I know work more than 40-hours per week. And if you think the link between depression and work exists only in those who are unhappy with their jobs -- think again. The study finds that working long hours -- regardless of job stress or satisfaction - increases a person's risk for depression.

The study was published in the January 25 issue of the online journal PLoS ONE. "Although occasionally working overtime may have benefits for the individual and society, it is important to recognize that working excessive hours is also associated with an increased risk of major depression," study author Dr. Marianna Virtanen, an epidemiologist at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, said in a written statement.

Although the findings are "consistent with previous studies, the degree of increased risk was surprising," Dr. Bryan Bruno, chair of the psychiatry department at Lenox Hill Hospital, N.Y., told CNN. "The biggest condition that I work with is depression, and it is often related to work stressors."

Depression affects an estimated 1 in 10 U.S. adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Depression can worsen common chronic conditions, such as arthritis, asthma, cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and can also result in increased work absenteeism and decreased productivity.

Silikids Siliskin Bottle Covers

Product Review Sunday

We have compared and reviewed baby bottles on this blog. But we forgot to recommend Silikids Siliskin. If you use a glass baby bottle such as the Evenflo Classic Clear glass nurser simply slide on the custom silikids silicone sleeve. The innovative sleeve allows babies to grab hold and avoid slippage when feeding from a glass bottle encased in a colorful siliskin. It is microwave safe, keeps heat from transferring from bottle to hands, hypo allergenic, and dishwasher safe. This translucent silicone sleeve allows you to see measurements and liquid in the bottle.

Cleaner than any plastic, glass bottles are the best. The secret is silicone. It is safe, pliable, and stylish.  Due to recent concerns regarding BPA, many parents are switching to BPA Free children’s products. Silicone offers just that solution. Silicone does not contain toxic chemicals like bisphenol-A, lead, PVC, and phthalates.

Silikids Universal Wideneck Large Siliskin, Yellow is basically made up of silicon, a natural element present in sand, quartz and rock, which, after oxygen, is the most abundant element on earth. Silicon is transformed into silicone when combined with oxygen, carbon and hydrogen. Because it is an inert material, it does not react with food or beverages, or produce any hazardous fumes. It’s non-toxic, hypo allergenic, does not promote bacteria or fungus growth, and it does not transmit taste to food.

Silicone does not decompose but it is recyclable -- although probably not through your city-wide recycling program. There are many specialty recycling facilities that recycle silicone. (Send your Silikids products back to the company and they will recycle it for you!) Silicone is very durable so you won’t have to worry about disposal for a long time, thus promoting reuse and less waste.

* Silicone is hygienic and hypoallergenic. Its rubber like material is safe, durable and pliable, there are no open pores to harbor bacteria.
* Silicone is easy to use and to clean. Microwave or freezer safe/dishwasher and washer and dryer friendly.
* Silikids products are all made from food grade silicone.
* Silicone does not fade or scratch.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Skinny on Bullying by Mike Cassidy

Weekly Trip to the Library
By Elizabeth Kennedy, About.com Guide

If you are looking for a kids' book about bullying that provides a lot of information in an easy-to-digest format, I recommend The Skinny on Bullying.

This 214-page book is subtitled The Legend of Gretchen and uses a comic book-style story to introduce key information about bullies and bullying, including the different forms of bullying, how to avoid being bullied (or being a bully), helping friends who are being bullied, avoiding cyberbullying and talking to an adult when you are being bullied.

The Skinny on Bullying would be particularly helpful to the student entering middle school, although I would also recommend it for younger and older kids.

After [the] introductory messages to those being bullied and to bullies, and an author's note, the story begins. Presented in comic book form, the story centers on two popular fifth graders, friends Billy and Beth, who are getting ready to start middle school. They have to deal with the transition to a new school and to new people, some of whom are bullies.

Types of Bullying and Avoiding Bullying
As the story continues, the author points out the four main types of bullying: physical, verbal, indirect and cyberbullying. He emphasizes what he calls The Golden Rule for dealing with bullies: "Talk to an adult." Cassidy also stress the importance of standing up to bullies and helping other kids who are being bullied.

Cassidy cleverly introduces the topic of how to avoid bullies by wrapping the subject around a lesson in Billy and Beth's science class during which the teacher shows how kids can avoid bullies by "using the rules of the ocean." This includes staying in groups like fish do, avoiding places bullies (big fish) like to congregate, and standing up for yourself like the puffer fish does when confronted by a predatory fish.

The Legend of Gretchen - A Bully in Middle School
I found the rest of the book, which centers on the legend of Gretchen, to be particularly enlightening because of what it reveals about bullying and bullies. Rumors are flying about a new student who is transferring to their school. According to the legend Billy and Beth hear (and share with others), Gretchen is a monster, "born with razor-like horns, fangs and claws," and raised by wolves until she became so powerful the wolves sent her back home. When Gretchen enrolls in their school, she brings a flood of bullying with her in all its forms: verbal, physical, indirect (spreading nasty rumors) and cyberbullying, with nasty comments about Billy and Beth and others on her Facebook page.

As the story unfolds, information about each type of bullying is provided, along with appropriate responses. There are also several pages of photos and comments from such celebrities as Taylor Swift and Taylor Lautner about being bullied as kids. In another section of the book, there is the inspiring story of swimmer Michael Phelps who was bullied as a kid but went on as a young adult to win 14 gold medals in the Olympics.

When Billy and Beth finally talk to the principal about Gretchen, they are surprised to find out that they, too, have been guilty of bullying by telling everyone the legend of Gretchen when they knew it wasn't true. With the help of the principal and a new understanding of what bullying is and why people bully, Gretchen, Billy and Beth all learn some good lessons about bullying and getting along with others.

However, as the author points out, not all bullying problems end in friendship. Cassidy concludes with a further reminder to use the strategies outlined in the book to stop bullying.

I recommend The Skinny on Bullying for middle grade readers (grades 4-8), particularly kids in, or starting, middle school, as well as adults. It can also be helpful for readers, including younger children who are being bullied (or are being bullies), and their parents to read and discuss the book together.

Friday, January 27, 2012

What Advice Would You Give a Child About Bullies?

There Are No Innocent Bystanders When Kids Are Being Bullied

This whole week we discussed bullies because it is No Name-Calling Week. Nannies must teach children to help stop a bully.

In a bullying situation, there are usually bystanders, but they aren't exactly innocent. Bullying usually happens with other kids around. Having an audience is very important to a bully. She wants people to see what she's doing, and that she has power over the person she's bullying. It's usually because a bully wants a reputation for being tough or strong, or because she thinks it'll make her more popular.

So what about the people watching the bullying? Why are they letting it happen? Here are some possible reasons:
• The bully is someone other people look up to and want to hang out with.
• They want to "side" with the bully because to do that makes them feel strong. Siding with the bully's victim, on the other hand, would make them feel weak. • They're entertained by the bullying.
• They don't think speaking up will help.
• They're afraid that if they say something, the bully will turn on them.
• Watching the bullying is a way to bully vicariously. This means that they feel like they're getting their frustrations out by hurting someone even though they're not doing the hurting, just watching the hurting.

Research shows that if one person watching a bullying situation says, "Stop it!" half the time the bullying will stop? This can be hard to do, but it's important to try. When standing by and do nothing, that's saying that bullying is okay. It makes the by-stander no better than the bully himself.

Remember the Golden Rule: to treat others the way you would like to be treated. Stand up for someone when he needs it, and when you need it, someone will stand up for you.

Reference: Public Broadcasting System, PBS ONLINE® and pbskids.org, 1320 Braddock Place, Alexandria VA 22314

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Did You Ever Think Your Charge Might Be a Bully?

    No Name-Calling Week

Are you a bully and don't know it? Maybe you know you're a bully, but don't know how to change your ways?

Ask yourself these questions:
1. Does it make you feel better to hurt other people or take their things?

2. Are you bigger and stronger than other people your age? Do you sometimes use your size and strength to get your way?

3. Have you been bullied by someone in the past and feel like you have to make up for it by doing the same thing to others?

4. Do you avoid thinking about how other people might feel if you say or do hurtful things to them?

If you have bullied other people, think about why. Think about how or what you were feeling at the time. Think about how you felt afterwards.

How can you stop being a bully?

1. Apologize to people you've bullied, and follow it up by being friendly to them. They may not trust you right away, but eventually they'll see that you're for real.

2. If you're having a hard time feeling good about yourself, explore ways to boost your self-esteem. Pick up a new hobby, do volunteer work, or get involved with a sport.

3. If you feel like you're having trouble controlling your feelings, especially anger, talk to a school counselor about it.

There are many reasons to kick the bully habit. Many bullies grow up into adults who bully their families, friends, and co-workers, causing all sorts of problems with relationships and careers. It's hard to think about the future when you're feeling something here and now, but take a moment to see how your behavior may be laying down some pretty negative groundwork.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Is Your Charge Being Bullied?

No Name-Calling Week

Are school bullies bothering the children you care for?
By Dianne Hadaway, The New York Times Company

When children are bullied, physically or mentally, they may be fearful of talking about it. They don't want to make the situation worse, or could be afraid no one will help or take it seriously. If a child has ever witnessed emotional or physical bullying in her own home or with other family members, she may react grievously to this kind of treatment from peers.

Teaching children how to assert themselves effectively and how to cope with their feelings is essential. The child who bullies also needs to be given caring guidance, along with discipline, because the problems won't just go away without some kind of intervention.

Here are some lessons you can teach a child:

Teach Children the Difference Between Assertive and Aggressive Behavior.
Children should be taught to ask nicely for things and to respond directly to one another. They need to know that it's okay to say, "no," to an unfriendly demand. Allow children to role-play with you, with each other, or with dolls.

Teach Children How to Ignore Routine Teasing.
Help children understand that they do not have to respond to rude remarks or mean questions. Many times a bully will give up if they are ignored or don't get the reaction they expect.

Help The Child Label Different Behaviors.
Help children think of effective ways to respond to bullies. Help them recognize and label different behaviors as acts of aggression, jealousy, bossiness, or just attempts to get attention, then discuss appropriate ways to respond to each kind of behavior.

Encourage Children to Express Feelings in a Positive Way.
Role-play with children to help them think of ways to work out problems with classmates. This kind of "rehearsal" can help children to remain calm and confident when facing a similar situation in school. Responding with a simple, "I'm sorry you feel that way," to someone who is insulting or rude can disarm the bully and help targeted children control their own reactions and emotions.

Teach Common Courtesy Skills.
Children should know how to ask nicely and to respond politely to reasonable requests. Have the children you provide care for pleasantly suggest using good manners, such as, "I'll be happy to share my markers with you if you just ask politely."

Teach Children to Trust and Value Their Own Feelings.
Teach children to take pride in not giving in to bullies, and to handling problems in a positive, respectful manner. This will build self-esteem, which helps children reject negative peer pressure. Children who feel secure and confident in standing up for themselves and others are less likely to be targeted by bullies.

Teach Children About Respect and Rights.
Kids need to understand and know that they have a right to their personal space, their belongings, and that they should not to give up possessions or territory to bullies. Discuss what children should do if other children take their things, invades their personal space, or threatens them physically. Tell children that they should ask an adult in charge to intervene when someone is threatening or disrespecting them. Give children examples to help them understand that bullies need to face consequences of their actions.

Encourage Children to Ask for Help.
Assure children that they can and should tell someone they trust when they feel scared, threatened, or so annoyed that they cannot concentrate on their work. Even at the risk of being reprimanded for disturbing the class or interrupting the teacher, it is important not to allow a bully to exert that kind of control.

Pay Close Attention to Each Child's Behavior.
Watching for changes in a child's natural emotional rhythm will alert you to possible difficulties.

Most Important of All -- Listen to the Child.
Let children know that you are interested in what they have to say and that you support them. Listening to children is vital in building a sense of self worth. Create a comfortable atmosphere for talking with you about both the good and bad things going on in their world. If teenagers can trust you to listen to their latest drama, or if younger children get some undivided attention to ceaseless chatter, or if you can feign interest as children repeat their favorite movie dialog for the 100th time, then when it comes time to tell you about a problem, children will feel safe to do so.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Teaching Your Charge to Stand Up to Bullies

No Name-Calling Week
We can teach children that are being bullied to respect themselves by standing up to bullies.
There is a lot of new information about dealing with bullies all over the Internet, journals, and textbooks. The current belief of many child psychologists, teachers, and guidance counselors today is to teach children to stand up for themselves.

The best way to teach children to stand up for themselves is to role-play with the child to practice speaking assertively to the bully. Have the child practice telling the bully to stop.

Here are some things Lois Flaherty M.D. of the American Psychiatric Association says kids can do about being bullied:

1. Tell the bully to stop. You can say, "Cut it out! That's not funny,” “You are being mean,” or “Don’t speak to her that way!” Children should do whatever they can to let the bully know that what he or she is doing is stupid and mean. Many bullies may not realize their words and actions are mean and once confronted will stop.

2. If you feel like you can't speak up, walk away from the situation and tell the nearest adult.

3. Make sure to tell your parents and teacher.

4. Involve as many people as possible, including other friends or classmates, parents, teachers, school counselors, and even the principal.

5. Do NOT use violence against bullies or try to get revenge on your own.

In How to Say it to Your Kids, Dr. Paul Coleman says what not to say to kids who are being bullied is:
  • "Just ignore him. He’ll go away eventually." It is impossible to ignore a bully unless you spend your time in hiding, Fear is best overcome by teaching assertiveness.
  • "But you’re so tall and strong! You don’t have to be pushed around by anyone." Size and strength are less a factor than [a] child’s personality. Shyer or more sensitive children can easily be intimidated. It is better to coach him in effective responses and praise that performance.
  • "You're getting older now. I can't solve all your problems for you. I'm sure you can figure this one out [yourself]." The consequences of being bullied can be devastating. At best, kids are humiliated. At worst, they harbor deep resentments and may take matters into their own hands by finding a weapon. [Children] need your full support, the support of the school, and sensitivity to the feelings of humiliation or anger that can result.
  • "He didn't hit you, he just called you names," of "He didn't tease you, he just stared at you." Don't underestimate how intimidating non-physical forms of bullying can be.
  • Best Nanny Newsletter would like to add, "Just hit him back next time." Violence is never an appropriate way to solve a problem or deal with anger or frustration.
What do you tell children to do if they are being bullied?

Monday, January 23, 2012

No Name-Calling Week: Has a Child in Your Care Been Bullied?

This week is No Name-Calling WeekNo Name-Calling Week is a week of educational activities aimed at ending name-calling of all kinds and providing schools with the tools and inspiration to launch an on-going dialogue about ways to eliminate bullying in their communitie based on the book The Misfits by James Howe.

Each and every person has the right to feel safe in their lives and good about themselves. So, pbskids.org It’s My Life web site put together a guide to share the basics of dealing with bullies.

The different types of bullying are:

1. Physical bullying means:
• Hitting, kicking, or pushing someone, or even just threatening to do it,
• Stealing, hiding or ruining someone's things,
• Making someone do things he doesn’t want to do.

2. Verbal bullying means:
• Name-calling,
• Teasing,
• Insulting.

3. Relationship bullying means:
• Refusing to talk to someone,
• Spreading lies or rumors about someone,
• Making someone feel left out or rejected.

The reason why one kid would want to bully another kid is that when someone makes another person feel bad, they gain power over him. Power makes people feel like they're better than another person, and then that makes them feel really good about himself. Power also makes the bully stand out from the crowd. It's a way to get attention.

There is much more to share about bullies, why children bully, and how to cope with bullies tomorrow. Has a child in your care ever been bullied?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Nannies Love the Purseket Purse Organizer

Product Review Sunday

I like to carry my wallet, cell phone, and keys with me to my nanny job. Then, wherever I take the kids out during the work day I throw my personal belongings in my employer's diaper bag. I don't know if you are like me, but too often I forget to pull out my wallet, cell phone, or keys from the diaper bag.

That's until I found the Purseket. This purse organizer allows you to transfer the goods from handbag to diaper bag in one fell swoop, and the multiple pockets make it easy to locate what you're looking for. Big plus: The Purseket comes in a range of mod prints as well as four sizes, making it an easy upgrade for any bag. I highly recommend the Purseket for any nanny or au pair that has to transfer their personal items to the diaper bag and back, like me.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

How The Misfits by James Howe Inspired No Name-Calling Week

Far too many children experience some form of bullying and name-calling. According to the National Association of School Psychologists, between 15 and 30 percent of all students are either bullies or victims of bullying. It begins in the elementary school and peaks during middle school years.

No Name-Calling Week is January 23-27, 2012. No Name-Calling Week is a week of educational activities aimed at ending name-calling of all kinds and providing schools with the tools and inspiration to launch an on-going dialogue about ways to eliminate bullying in their communities.

No Name-Calling Week was inspired by The Misfits a young adult novel by James Howe. The book tells the story of a group of friends who struggle to survive the seventh grade due to their experiences of being harassed because of their weight, height, intelligence, sexual orientation, and gender expression.

Motivated by the inequities they see around them, the protagonists - “The Gang of Five” - create a political party during student council elections with a platform aimed at wiping out all forms of name-calling. In the process, they win the support of the school’s principal who helps them establish a “No Name Day” at school.

Motivated by this simple yet powerful idea, a coalition of over forty education, youth advocacy, and mental health organizations have partnered to organize an annual No Name-Calling Week in schools across the country.

The project seeks to build awareness of, dialogue for and action against name-calling in schools. Throughout the week schools there will be activities and classroom lessons on understanding name-calling and how it impacts others. Family members play an integral role in shaping children’s attitudes towards name-calling. The No Name-Calling Week website www.nonamecallingweek.org has many tips and resources for parents and students that you may find helpful.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Snow Star Craft for Nannies and Au Pairs

Have You Had Snow Yet This Winter?
With paper folded the right way and a little ‘cutting edge’ imagination, you can create something better than your typical paper snowflake — you can make Snow Stars! Younger kids may have a little trouble with this craft, but it’s like magic when they open them up. Well worth the work! If you’ve got bigger kids, then they can really get creative and have a lot of fun with these.

What You’ll Need:
Paper, Scissors, Pencil, The Templates Below

Version 1:

1. Measure and cut your paper so that it’s square. Then fold it according to the diagram below. Using thinner paper and a larger square makes the folding and the cutting in step 2 a lot easier.

2. Once your paper is folded, you can cut it anyway you want. Unfold when complete. This is pretty much the standard way of making paper snowflakes. Now let’s take a look at a different variation.

Variation 2:

1. Cut your paper into a circle. Fold the circle in half. Fold the half circle into thirds, one side over the other, as in the diagram below.
2. Once you have the paper folded, you’ll have a cone shaped piece of paper. Use the diagram as a guideline and cut out the shape you want for your snow star. The more smaller cuts on the folds, the more intricate your design will turn out. Unfold when complete.

Beware Using Supplements

All last week we posted articles about the dangers of using dietary supplement. There are only five dietary supplements approved by the FDA. Here is a short news report confirming our conclusions.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

585,922 Reasons to Be Wary of Dangerous Medication Side Effects

Has a Child in Your Care Ever Had an Allergic Reaction to Medication?

Each year, more than 500,000 children under six years of age suffer side effects to medications that are serious enough to require treatment. Be aware that each person is a unique chemical factory. Therefore, interactions between chemicals, whether the chemicals are from medications or food, cannot be predicted with full accuracy.

Nannies must know and follow guidelines on written authorization and communication with parents, storage, and disposal of medicine, and documentation. All this is in addition to the actual administration of medicine or procedures.

To safely administer medication, the nanny must know the type, the purpose, and the name of the medication, proper storage and proper dosage. Paramount to safety is that liquid medicines should be measured in a device intended for dispensing medication. Household spoons are not appropriate for administering liquid medicines.

A common example that highlights the possible pitfalls with medications occurs with widely prescribed liquid antibiotics. Typically, these medications are stored in the refrigerator, administered one hour before or two hours after meals, not taken with dairy and used until all doses are taken. If any of these steps are not followed, treatment may not be successful. Diarrhea is a common side effect which can be anticipated but does not always occur.

Combining prescription and over-the-counter drugs may increase the threat of over medication. Rashes, breathing difficulty, and sleep disturbance are among the most serious signs of side effects. The physician and the pharmacist are your best sources regarding correct use of medications.

According to the healthychild.net common signs of an allergic reaction include rash, itching, swelling, dizziness, or breathing difficulties. If a child has an allergic reaction, the doctor should be notified immediately. As in any emergency situation, if the child is having breathing difficulties, call 911 or emergency medical help immediately! Some children with allergies may have an "Epi-Pen" auto-injector. An Epi-Pen has lifesaving epinephrine, a drug used to counteract severe allergic reactions. Parents should show childcare providers how to use an Epi-Pen. Providers should always call 911 after using an Epi-Pen.

In giving medicines to children, attention to the Five Rights can help protect against serious incidents:

1. Right child: Check the name on the medicine label and the child's name twice!
2. Right medication: Medicine should be in the original labeled container -- check the medication name against the parent authorization form twice!
3. Right dosage: Practice measuring dosages using a medicine spoon, dropper, or syringe. Check the dosage on the label, the authorization, and the spoon twice!
4. Right time: Know when the medicine was last given. Make sure the parent authorization for time of dosage matches the label on the medication. Look at the clock and document the time.
5. Right route: Check the label and the parent authorization. Know how the medicine is to be given. Is it by mouth? Eye drops? Nose drops? Ointment for skin?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Do You Have a Charge With Skin Allergies?

Skin Allergies in Children

There are many types of allergies that cause rashes or hives on the skin of children. Some are caused by reactions to medications (like antibiotics), some to foods (like peanuts), some are caused by bacterial infections (impetigo) or viral infections (like chicken pox), some are fungal (like athlete's foot), and others are caused by parasites (like ringworm), but today we list just a few of the most common skin allergy reactions, their causes, and treatments.

Laundry Detergents
Allergies to laundry detergent or fabric softeners are easy to identify and easy to fix. These allergies are more common in individuals with sensitive skin, but anyone can suffer from laundry detergent allergies. Sometimes, hives may develop on the skin, or make the skin very dry, it may even cause eczema, or the allergy may cause sneezing. Several laundry detergents are allergy free. These detergents clean clothes without using the dyes and perfumes that cause laundry detergent allergies. If there is no regular detergent you can find, see a dermatologist. This type of allergy is more severe than just having to avoid a single detergent and may require additional testing or treatment.

Dust Mites\ Allergies
Skin allergies to dust mites may cause a rash in children that is more pronounced while sleeping, as dust mites thrive in bedding, pillows and mattresses, infiltrating a child's skin and resulting in intense discomfort and itching while sleeping or upon waking up.

Fleas, mites, ticks ,and other insects cause skin irritation in children allergic to pest saliva, resulting in blisters, redness, swollen skin, welts and hives, with anaphylaxis potentially occurring in children with severe insect allergies.

Topical skin allergies can be caused by sensitivity to temperature changes, physical exertion, anxiety, sun exposure, chalk dust, animal dander, and materials such as wool, metal, and plastics, causing chronic hives that may be itchy and painful because of inflammation, scabbing, and spreading.

Skin allergies in children can be treated with over-the-counter topical ointments, creams, and salves containing antihistamines for short-term reduction of symptoms, while allergy testing and follow-up care through prescription oral or topical antihistamines, corticosteroids, inhalers, immunizations and EpiPen injections for emergencies, is recommended for children with genetic predispositions and chronic allergy symptoms. Click here for our favorite products for eczema.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Do Your Charges Have Food Allergies?

Food Allergies in Children
By H.J. Fracaro

January 5, 2012 a seven year old girl allergic to peanuts died of anaphylaxis because her school was not prepared for an allergic reaction.  Being educated and equipped about food allergies can save a child’s life.

Ninety percent of allergic reactions occur due to cow’s milk, eggs, soy, wheat, nuts and seafood. Symptoms can range from mild, such as hives or a rash, to severe. If diarrhea, vomiting, fainting, swelling of the face, lips or tongue occurs call 911 immediately, as there may not be sufficient time to drive the child to the hospital yourself.

Even if the child has no known allergies they can develop at any time. Symptoms do not appear the first time a food is ingested, the body must first make antibodies that will react to the food the second time it is eaten or even later. For babies and toddlers it is best to introduce only one new food per week in order to easily identify foods that do cause symptoms.

If your charge has a known food allergy make sure it is not a hidden ingredient in prepackaged or restaurant foods. You will be surprised how many foods contain the above offenders; Chic-fil-a chicken is cooked in peanut oil, many cookies contain soy ingredients and yogurts designed specifically for babies use fish oil for its omega 3 properties. If an EpiPen has been prescribed in case of a severe reaction keep it handy at all times and know how to properly administer it.

Whether mild or severe, any kind of allergic reaction should be followed by a trip to the doctor so an emergency plan can be put in place. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Do You Have MLK Day Off as a Paid Holiday?

If Not, Here Are Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Activities to Do With Kids

Today we are asked to remember Martin Luther King, Jr. Many schools have are in recess today. So, there is no better time then to engage the children in activities and age appropriate discussions about the civil rights movement in American history. These activities and discussions perfectly parallel the inauguration of the first African American president of the United States of America.

Here are our suggestions:

You will need: brown eggs, white eggs, and a bowl.

Hand each child a brown egg and a white egg. Have them observe the difference between the two eggs. Allow the children to crack the eggs into the bowl. Have the children observe the eggs after being cracked. While the eggs were different colors on the outside, they are the same on the inside, just like people. Then use the eggs in the cake or cupcakes for the birthday party described below.

You will need: red, white and blue colored balloons, streamers, party favors, a cake or cupcakes, and red, white and blue candles.
Have a Martin Luther King, Jr. birthday party to celebrate the works of this great man. Let the children hang balloons and streamers to decorate the house or playroom. Bake a cake and use inexpensive party favors to enjoy the party.

You will need: red, white and blue beads, construction paper, scissors, hole-punch, and yarn.
Cut out construction paper hearts and punch a hole in the center using a hole-punch. String the red, white and blue beads and construction paper hearts onto a piece of yarn that is about six-inches in length. Tie the ends of yarn together making a bracelet.

You will need: small white paper plates, scissors, pencil, glue or stapler.
Doves symbolize peace. Draw a line down the middle of small white paper plates. On one half draw a second perpendicular line to the first line. Cut along the lines. The small sections form the dove wings and tail. The larger section is the dove’s body. After the children cut and glue the dove, attach it to a headbands. If you do not have a headband you can make one with heavy weight paper. Simply measure the circumference of the child’s head with a tape measure and cut a two- to three-inch strip of heavy weight paper about an inch larger then the length of the child’s head. Staple the ends together to make a headband.


Dr King Had a Dream (Sung to: Old MacDonald)
Dr. King had a dream for p-e-a-c-e.
He wanted people to be friends and live in harmony.
He had lots of love to share.
He spread kindness everywhere!
Dr. King had a dream for p-e-a-c-e!

A Song About Martin Luther King (Sung to: Yankee Doodle)
Dr. King was a man
Who came from Atlanta Georgia.
Had a dream that he preached
For all men to be equal.
Dr King was so brave
Martin was a hero.
Won the fight for everyone
To end discrimination.

MLK Jr.by Jacqueline Woodson (Sung to: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star)
Freedom, freedom, let it ring.
Let it ring said Dr King
Let us live in harmony.
Peace and love for you and me.
Freedom, freedom let it ring.
Let it ring said

Click here to see our recommendations for children's book about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

1. http://www.childfun.com/
2. http://www.perpetualpreschool.com/

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Nannies Love the Lorex Live Snap Video Monitor

What's Your Favorite Baby Monitor and Why?

All of the families I have worked for as a nanny over the past 19-years have used baby monitors. For this Product Review Sunday I want to share my favorite baby monitor of all, the Lorex LW2003 LIVE snap Video Baby Monitor.

Not only can you hear what is going on in four different rooms on one monitor, the color is sharp and clear, there is automatic night vision, the 100% digital technology ensures the signal is secure, interference-free, and has a wireless range of up to 450 feet, but you can also use this monitor as an intercom as well.

At my current job we have one camera set up in the playroom so I can talk to the older boys via the camera. I can tell them when it's dinnertime via the monitor instead of yelling through the house. I also love the I can also see and speak to the baby to settle her down when she is restless and having difficulty falling asleep. I can see, hear, and speak to all of them from one tiny, lightweight, portable, rechargeable monitor.

Another bonus is you can snap, store, and share your precious moments with microSD™ recording. Instantly capture those special events in the child's life with one-touch snapshot recording. View images on the handheld monitor, or transfer them easily to a PC or Macand share them on sites such as Facebook, Flicker, and Picasa.

Most of my employers have used the Safety 1st brand of video baby monitors which I haven't liked as much. The battery life wears out within one-year and last year when I ordered the replacement battery it took four-months to receive the replacement that we were required to buy. The image quality of the Safety 1st brands I've tried weren't as good as the Lorex brand either.

If your employers are looking for a baby monitor I high recommend the Lorex LW2003 LIVE snap Video Baby Monitor. With the great intercom features I'm sure you will use it with the older kids as well.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Chidren's Books About Martin Luther King Jr.

Weekly Trip to the Library

On Monday Americans honor the great civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a day of service.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a United States holiday marking the birth date of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., observed on the third Monday of January each year, around the time of King's birthday, January 15.

Martin Luther King Jr. led the civil rights nonviolent activism movement of the 1960's. At the age of 35, Martin Luther King Jr., was the youngest man to have received the Nobel Peace Prize. When notified of his selection, he announced that he would turn over the prize money of over $54,000 to the furtherance of the civil rights movement. He was assassinated in April 4, 1968.

Here are some books to use with children to learn more about the nonviolent civil activist:

Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
By Doreen Rappaport

This picture-book introduces Martin Luther King Jr. to young children. It uses quotes from King's writing and speeches from King's life, beginning with his childhood experience of seeing "White Only" signs sprinkled throughout his hometown. He questions his mother about their meaning, and she assures him, "You are as good as anyone." Listening to his father preach, the boy asserts that "When I grow up, I'm going to get big words, too."

The author also discusses King's role in the Montgomery bus strike that followed Rosa Park's 1955 arrest for refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger and his subsequent efforts as a civil rights crusader. After briefly describing the circumstances of his death, the story concludes, quite abruptly, with the statement, "His big words are alive for us today."

The author relies on Martin Luther King's own words to show his power, passion, and pacifism. Watercolor and cut paper collage art feature closely focused, lifelike images of King and other individuals against an inventive montage of patterns and textures. The portraits of the civil rights activist exude his spiritual strength and peaceful visage.

Martin Luther King, Jr.: Apostle of Militant Nonviolence
By James A. Colaiaco

This short book for older children discusses all the main issues and themes of the life of King. The author traces the course of events from the emergence of Martin Luther King, Jr. as a national black spokesman during the Montgomery bus boycott to his radical critique of American society and foreign policy during the last years of his life. He also provides the first in-depth analysis of King's famous Letter from Birmingham Jail - a manifesto of the American civil rights movement and an eloquent defence of non-violent protest.

Kid's Guide to African American History: More than 70 Activities
By Nancy I. Sanders

Reveiw by Carolyn Phelan
This large-format paperback introduces many aspects of African American history, from Africa to colonial America, from plantations, to emancipation. There is also information about the Underground Railroad, the Civil War, the achievements of black Americans, the civil rights movement, and hopes for the future. Throughout the book, crafts and other projects offer nannies, parents, and teachers practical ways to involve children in African American heritage.

Included are activities such as making a bead necklace, constructing a star-watching chart, and various recipes and crafts that revolve around the symbols of Kwanzaa. The pages are well designed, with illustrations in shades of gray and plenty of white space.

Young Martin Luther King Jr. "I Have a Dream" by Troll Associates
A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr. by David A. Adler
What is Martin Luther King Day? by Margaret Friskey

Stop by tomorrow for Product Review Sunday and next Saturday for another Weekly Trip to the Library.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Properly Administering Medicines to Children

Reading Medicine Labels

Parents, family, nannies, and au pairs devote themselves to the welfare of children. Yet, even with love and devotion, 80 percent of deaths of children under five-years of age are avoidable.

More than half of those deaths are caused by mistakes in the administration of medications given to benefit the child. An even greater number of children are injured or suffer serious side effects from inadvertent errors of common health aids found in most homes.

Before administrating any prescription medication to a child, the caregiver must assess the child's needs: know what to give, why the child needs it, how to contact the professional that is prescribing it, when to give it, how to store it, where to refill it, and at what cost the medication can purchased.

Caregivers should be aware of probable side effects and how to manage them if they occur. Know whether to give the medication until it is finished or only until symptoms abate.

Keep the phone number of the prescribing physician and pharmacy visible in the event of questions regarding reactions or directions.

Since each person has a unique chemical composition, side effects and each individual's reaction to a medication cannot be anticipated. Therefore, unexpected reactions must be reported to a licensed medical provider.

Over-the-counter, (OTC), preparations pose a special challenge for child care providers. They require no prescription are widely available, and are relatively inexpensive. Yet, they can be hazardous if used inappropriately. Adults must carefully read and understand the labeling found on every package.

The following categories are found on every medicine package label:

Active Ingredients: The first panel on the label lists the active ingredients and their purpose(s). This section provides the chemical name of the active chemical and how it is intended to work for the patient.

Uses/Indications: The next panel named uses or indications explains which symptoms the active ingredient is supposed to treat.

Warnings: The warnings section of the label alerts the caregiver to conditions, or people, that should not use the particular medication without the specific advice of a physician.

Directions: The directions explain the dosage and administration of the medication. Adults should always use a manufacturer provided measuring device and not a kitchen teaspoon, tablespoon, or dropper. Household goods vary widely in size and cannot be depended upon for proper dosage. Never dispense medicine in low or poor light, and certainly not in the dark. Always read the label and be sure you are using the intended medicine.

Other Information: The other information listed often notes proper storage and gives pertinent information about how and when the product should be taken.

Inactive Ingredients: The inactive ingredients listed on the medication label are the chemicals in the compound that are presumed to have no effect on the body. Dyes, preservatives, fillers, and food colors are among the compounds listed on this part of the label. A child may be allergic or sensitive to any of these ingredients, even though they are called "inactive." That also explains why one person may have a reaction to a generic drug but not the brand name of the same product.

When treating sick children remember that kids are not small adults. Do not dilute or reduce the dosage of adult products and dispense them to children.

Always check ingredients to be certain that there is no duplication or conflict between ingredients of different products.

Pediatric oral medications are often sweetened to make the palatable. However, they are not candies and like all medications, should be kept out of the reach of children.

Always record the type of medicine you give to a child, the time the child took the medicine, and the amount you administered to a child in your care so there is no chance of over medicating a child.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Do You Take Weight Loss Supplements?

Discussing Diet Supplements and Weight Loss Supplements

All week we have been discussing the dangers of using dietary supplements. It's important to remember that the FDA has only approved the use of five dietary supplements to help prevent or treat disease. So, caution should be used when taking weight loss supplements.

Dietary supplements are products designed to enhance the intake of nutrients normally obtained from food. Our discussion today will focus on so-called diet supplements, that is those products intended as appetite suppressants, and those that are self-described as weight loss aids or fat burners. These claims can be listed under the law even without scientific evidence of efficacy.

No weight loss or diet supplements are FDA-approved because the FDA reviews evidence supplied by the manufacturers and no manufacturer has done the necessary double-blind placebo research suitable for peer review. The FDA does no independent research.

The only non-Rx weight loss product approved by the FDA is Alli brand of Orlistat, a fat absorption blocker. Orlistat is not found in the human diet. The studies cited by the manufacturers of the weight loss products often cite animal studies in Italy or China as their evidence of usefulness.

This is hardly an exhaustive list but we hope it helps demystify available weight loss supplement choices:

Rationale: Said to increase metabolism, burn fat, and aid in energy while reducing appetite
Typical ingredients: cocoa seed, green tea extract, white tea, oolong tea, camelia sinesis, theobromine, skullcap, rhodiola rosea

Amino Acids
Rationale: Retain or increase lean muscle mass
Typical ingredients: Carnitine, taurine, leucine, hmb

Vitamins and Minerals:
Rationale: Increase energy
Typical ingredients: Various, especially B vitamins and calcium

Rationale: Burn fat cells
Typical ingredients: Bioflavonoids, quercetin, ginger, raspberry, vitamin C

Carbohydrate Suppression
Rationale: prevents absorption of carbs and reduces appetite for carbs
Typical ingredients: Various forms of garcinia cambogia

Serotonin Enhancers
Rationale: Overeating occurs if a person is feeling depressed
Typical ingredients: Tyrosine, SamE, St. John's Wort

Blood Sugar Stabilizers
Rationale: Normalizes insulin and blood sugar levels, decreases sugar cravings
Typical ingredients: Gymnema sylvestre, chromium, vanadyl

Hormone Boosters
Rationale: Increasing testosterone levels increases lean muscle and burns belly fact
Typical ingredients: Yohimbe, magnesium, dhea, 7-keto, pregnenolone

Fat Blockers
Rationale: Inhibit absorption of fat
Typical ingredients: chitosan, kale extract, iodine, clam shell extract

Rationale: Excreting water causes weight loss
Typical ingredients: dandelion, uva ursi

Protein Shakes
Rationale: Meal replacement and/or increase lean muscle
Typical ingredients: Whey, soy, egg or milk protein

Thyroid Enhancement
Rationale: Increase thyroid hormone to burn fat
Traditional ingredients: Tyrosine, guggulipid, kale extract, iodine

Rationale: Liquifies body fat so fat can be burned more efficiently
Typical ingredients: Lecithin, phosphatidyl serine, ps, fish oil, dha, epaes

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Using Herbs and Homeopathic Preparations

Discussing Herbs, Homeopathy, and Self-Administered Remedies
You decide that you are weary of the health care system: endless waiting, bureaucracy, and high costs. So you decide to go to a GNC or health food or vitamin store to buy some herbs for your health complaints.

The first challenge you face is to correctly diagnose your ailment. Your next decision is to select the proper herb for your problem, with the knowledge that you cannot anticipate side effects from manufacturers who do not adhere to the strict reporting standards required of producers of prescription medications. For some degree of protection, check that the label notes that the manufacturer follows the Good Manufacturing Practice so that you can have some assurance of strength and purity. Your choice then is to decide whether to use the whole herb or the standardized extract.

The label is unlikely to note interactions with other herbs or medications you take. The label may also make vague or unsubstantiated claims, such as, "May boost the immune system," or, "May increase metabolism." Even if the claims are true, the benefits may be questionable. Boosting the immune system might prevent colds but may increase histamine responses and allergic reactions. Increasing metabolism by use of herbs may speed fat burning a bit, but it may also cause jitteriness and sleeplessness.

Do your research. Do not depend solely on the advice of a salesperson whose compensation depends in part on PMs, or push money (a commission paid to the salesperon based on products sold). Therefore, the more they sell you, the more money they make.

Homeopathic preparations are another popular choice. The counter-intuitive concept of homeopathy is that the chemicals that mimic your health complaints will remedy the ailment when taken in ultra-minute doses. According to another counter-intuitive concept of homeopathy, the less chemical in the preparation, the stronger it becomes.

Homeopathic preparations are very unlikely to cause side effects, but they also lack scientific evidence of efficacy. A user of homeopathic preparations may feel better, perhaps because of a placebo effect, but the products do not alter the organic causes of disease and can delay appropriate treatment. (For example a friend of mine took homeopathic preparations to cure diabetes. You can treat diabetes but there is no cure).

Other remedies offered are found in the broad categories of essential oils, aromatherapy, and floral essences. Orange oil (used for cleaning), Vicks Vaporub, and lavender are mainstream examples of these type of products. They may relieve certain symptoms or be useful for other purposes but they are not known to cure anything.

Never use any of the these products, or any other medication, for your charges without the specific permission of the parents. Even with the parents' permission, extreme caution must be used when treating illnesses with medication. Click here to be certain you always follow proper nanny and au pair medical practices.

Tomorrow: Diet and Weight Loss Supplements

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Do You, Your Kids, or Your Charges Need to Take Vitamins?

More accurately, do you need to take vitamin-mineral supplements? You already get these nutrients from food.

The answer is, it depends. It depends on your diet, exercise, and family history. This decision should be made in consultation with a physician or a trained medical specialist. Likely, you will be told that you get sufficient nutrition from food but should supplement additional vitamin D and calcium. Therefore any extra supplementation, while not likely to be harmful is probably of no benefit.

Online, people often state that they take supplements as a form of health insurance. They note something like "I take vitamins and never get sick." They could also place garlic on their doors to keep thirsty vampires away and claim 100% success.

What about the kids: your own or your charges? That too is a decision that should be customized with the advice of a pediatrician or a physician. Knowledge of the fluoride level in the local water supply and family history and mediacl conditions are vital for the practitioner to select proper supplementation.

Make a thoughtful choice with your medical advisor. Do not be swayed by advertisements or salespersons.

Tomorrow: Discussing herbs, homeopathy, and other self-administered remedies.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Only 5 Dietary Supplements Proven by FDA to Prevent or Treat Disease

The Reason Supplements Must Include This Disclaimer: "These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease."

You're in the pharmacy, the health-food shop, or the grocery store and you approach the aisles containing vitamin-minerals and various remedies. Have you ever thought, well, this stuff must be okay because they must be FDA approved?

Looking through all these shelves and products, you might be surprised that there are just five products that are scientifically proven according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards to prevent or treat a disease.

1. Folic Acid prevents certain birth defects when taken during pregnancy.

2. Vitamin D is known to aid in the absorption of calcium and therefore helps prevent osteoporosis.

3. Calcium prevents osteoporosis when taken at appropriate dosage with vitamin D throughout a lifetime.

4. Omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to enhance brain development and to lower triglyceride levels.

5. Niacin has been proven to increase "good" cholesterol.

That is why vitamins, minerals, herbs, and combinations of these products display the disclaimer in the headline of this blog on their packaging.

You might also notice that you pay a premium for formulas that are marked "natural" or "organic." But the fact is that all manufacturers must process chemicals so that they can be made into tablets, capsules, or gel caps. The body does not use the same chemical differently whether it is synthetic or natural, regardless of the source.

Purchasing supplements at a so-called health food store, (such as GNC, or the Vitamin Shoppe), is no guarantee of purity or potency. Vitamin-mineral formulas can be purchased with unwanted metals such as tin and antimony included as ingredients. Further, high prices and high stated potencies equal expensive urine, not better health.

Why doesn't the FDA judge the effectiveness of the supplements and remedies that are available over-the-counter? The law governing these products, the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHE) allowed manufacturers to sell these products without the oversight of the FDA because Senator Orrin Hatch (R.-UT), the author of the bill, did not want to burden the growers of herbs and the purveyors of these products that headquarter in his home state.

Tomorrow: Do you, our kids, or your charges need to take vitamins?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Best Products for Sick Kids

Cold Remedies for Kids: What Works
When a child catches a cold, you can expect them to be sick for one- to two-weeks. But that doesn't mean you both have to be miserable. These remedies may help:

Water and other fluids.
You can't flush a cold out of your system, but drinking plenty of liquids can help. Water, juice, clear broth, or warm lemon water helps loosen congestion and prevents dehydration. Avoid alcohol, coffee, and caffeinated sodas, which make dehydration worse. To get kids to drink more water use 12 Fun Loop Straws, fun sippy cups like Mickey Mouse Fun Sip Cup with Ears, and cool water bottles like Wildkin Trains, Planes and Trucks 12-Ounce Steel Water Bottle.

Salt water.
A saltwater gargle — 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt dissolved in an eight-ounce glass of warm water — can temporarily relieve a sore or scratchy throat.

Saline nasal drops and sprays.
Over-the-counter saline nasal drops and sprays such as Little Noses Saline Spray/Dropscombat stuffiness and congestion. In infants, experts recommend instilling several saline drops into one nostril, then gently suctioning that nostril with a bulb syringe (push the bulb in about 1/4 to 1/2 inch, or about six- to 12-millimeters). Saline nasal sprays such as Neil Med Nasa Mist Multi Purpose Saline Spray All in One, 6.0 ounces Unit may be used in older children. Unlike nasal decongestants, saline drops and sprays don't lead to a rebound effect — a worsening of symptoms when the medication is discontinued — and most are safe and nonirritating, even for children.

Chicken soup.
Generations of parents have spooned chicken soup into their sick children. Chicken soup may be soothing because of its possible anti-inflammatory and mucus-thinning effects.

Over-the-counter cold and cough medications in older children and adults.
Nonprescription decongestants and pain relievers offer some symptom relief, but they won't prevent a cold or shorten its duration, and most have some side effects. If used for more than a few days, they can actually make symptoms worse.

Experts agree that these medications are dangerous in children younger than age two. The FDA is evaluating the safety of over-the-counter cold and cough medications in older children.

Keep in mind that acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) can cause serious liver damage or liver failure if taken in doses higher than recommended. It's common for people to take Tylenol in addition to flu medications that also contain acetaminophen, which can lead to acetaminophen overdoses. Read the labels of any cold medication carefully to make sure you're not overdosing.

If a cough lasts after your other cold symptoms have resolved, see your doctor. In the meantime, try soothing your throat with warm lemon water and honey and humidifying the air in your house. Avoid giving honey to infants.

Cold viruses thrive in dry conditions — another reason why colds are more common in winter. Dry air also dries the mucous membranes, causing a stuffy nose, and scratchy throat. A humidifier can add moisture to your home, but it can also add mold, fungi, and bacteria if not cleaned properly. Change the water in your humidifier daily, and clean the unit according to the manufacturer's instructions. Click here for our favorite humidifiers and how to use them.

Cold Remedies: What Doesn't Work

The list of ineffective cold remedies is long. A few of the more common ones that don't work include:

These destroy bacteria, but they're no help against cold viruses. Avoid asking your doctor for antibiotics for a cold or using old antibiotics you have on hand. You won't get well any faster, and inappropriate use of antibiotics contributes to the serious and growing problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Over-the-counter cold and cough medications in young children.
Over-the-counter (OTC) cold and cough medications may cause serious and even life-threatening side effects in children. The FDA warns against their use in children younger than age two-years. The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) has voluntarily modified consumer product labels on over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold medicines to state "do not use" in children under four-years of age, and many companies have stopped manufacturing these products for young children. The FDA is evaluating the safety of these medications in older children.

photo from realbollywood.com
tips from Mayo Clinic

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Why "The Help" Hurts the History of Black Domestics

Sister Citizen: Slave, Shame, Stereotype and Black Women in America by Melissa Harris-Perry

First, try to evoke an image of a nanny. Next, think of a black nanny. Now, search your mind for a picture of an African-American domestic worker. Most people, at some point, envision a stereotypical "Mammy": a large, dark-complected woman who is always smiling because she is so gratified to be satisfying the needs of the white family she serves.

Melissa Harris-Perry examines the Mammy stereotype, as well as Sapphire, the Hottentot, the Welfare Queen, the Superwoman, and other media-promoted images of black women. In her book, the author investigates the debilitating political, cultural, and social pressures put upon African American women.

Your interest in this book by Professor Harris-Perry will be piqued by her views on the movie "The Help," which can be seen online on C-Span.

She explains real black women who worked as domestics when Medgar Evers died didn't have a Miss Skeeter. She encourages us to read the facts and explore the history. In reality, black domestics walked out of their jobs and protested in the streets themselves without help from any white people.

She suggests that Minny Jackson didn't need to find the courage to leave her abusive husband only after her white boss, Celia Foote, cooked her a meal.

When Viola Davis's character, Aibileen Clark walks out of her job in the oppressive South at the end of the movie, audiences cheer as if the character is a strong woman. But, Professor Harris-Perry questions why we applaud. In reality, Aibileen was walking into the oppressive South and would not have been hired again after being fired at that time and place. In reality, she actually may have been arrested because the white character Hilly Holbrook accuses her of stealing her silver.

Harris-Perry states her perspective about the movie just past the halfway point on the show, but we found the entire hour provocative and insightful. Please click here to see the entire program.

The author's strict adherence to analysis of empirical evidence and data is as welcome as it is uncommon. The concepts of fictive kinship, linked fate, and the crooked room are intriguing enough to justify purchase of the book.

The point of her book is that media-driven stereotypes lead to misperceptions by the public. Harris-Perry helps you understand race does matter. Gender does matter. She helps you see the importance of the structural barriers to individual achievement and the inherent inequality of using stereotypes to judge an individual. All women, especially black women, can benefit from reading this book.