Both my kids played indoor soccer this past year, and what an eye-opener it was for me. Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, let me start by saying that I have one kid who will quite visibly cringe when the ball approaches and another who will very enthusiastically run up and kick the ball in absolutely the wrong direction. Needless to say, they get their great athleticism from me. But I do want them to be active and have the opportunity to learn about team work and good sportsmanship. And these were not teams or leagues being scouted by major-league recruiters or anything. So imagine my surprise when I encountered what I thought was only a thing of the past (and/or bad movie stereotypes)…poor-sport parents.
Let me clarify, no one was booing or name calling (mostly) or throwing things at the opposing team; it would seem that most sports associations have nipped that behavior in the bud, thank goodness. And my kids’ coaches were fair, encouraging, and focused on learning and fun. But parents who were attempting to “enhearten” members of their child’s team, or even their own child, were sometimes a bit aggressive in their “cheering.” There was a lot of “coaching” from the sidelines, a lot of outwardly expressed “frustration” when the “fan’s” team did not do as hoped, and even some not so subtle “rejoicing” when the other team missed. (That may be the greatest number sarcastic quotation marks I’ve ever used in a single sentence.)
Also, to clarify, I am very much opposed to giving out trophies for just showing up. I think competitive environments can be very good for children. All people need to learn to deal with disappointment and frustration in graceful ways (just as they should learn to deal with advantage and success in gracious ways). I am not at all questioning the kids, the parents, or the coaches in their competitive feelings, which I think are quite natural and can even be healthy. What I am questioning is the way that some people (adults in particular) express those feelings. Are we teaching our kids civil ways to communicate and providing the best examples of self control? And what is behind some parents’ lack of control?
In the book Pressure Parents, Stressed-Out Kids, Wendy S. Grolnick, Ph.D. and Kathy Seal discuss the psychological phenomenon known as “ego-involvement.” “Ego-involvement is a tendency to wrap our self esteem or ‘ego’ around successes or failures… [and] we occasionally wrap our egos around our children’s achievements.” This sometimes occurs “when our protective and loving hard-wiring collides with the competition in our children’s lives, prompting us to wrap our own self-esteem around our children’s performance…[giving] us our own stake in how well our child performs.” Gronlick and Seal go on to explain how this ego-involvement adds another layer of pressure on parents, making them subject to more ups and downs in their own self-esteem and weakening parenting skills because the parents are too distracted from their child’s needs.
The idea of ego-involvement is reinforced in Sport Psychology for Youth Coaches by Ronald E. Smith and Frank L. Smoll. The authors talk about the positive or “Mastery” approach to coaching that encourages athletes to continue desirable behaviors by reinforcing or rewarding them. But Smith and Smoll eschew the negative approach that attempts to eliminate mistakes through punishment and criticism. They state that the negative approach is “often present in an ego-based climate.” They also acknowledge that it is not just coaches who can create ego-based environments. Smith and Smoll suggest ways for coaches help curb parents’ ego-involvement and best deliver the message to parents who pressure their child too much that this can “decrease the potential that sports can have for enjoyment and personal growth.” They even quote Wayne “The Great One” Gretzky who said, “Parents should be observers and supporters of their athletically inclined children, never pushers.”
So, I don’t have any great solutions to poor-sport parents. Many sports organizations have come a long way at informing parents what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Sadly, however, this doesn’t always eliminate the behavior (and, rightfully, most coaches are paying more attention to the players rather than policing the parents). And there is no sure-fire method to eliminate any negative comments that may take place off the field. Maybe the best place to start is to look at oneself and ask, “Am I guilty of ego-involvement? Am I putting my kid’s needs first? Am I a ‘pusher’ or a model of civility and good sportsmanship?”
Saturday, Aug. 16, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. Ask A Master Gardener. Discuss gardening questions and concerns at the Glenwood Branch. University of Maryland Extension – Howard County Master Gardeners. Also offered at the Miller Branch Saturday, Aug. 16, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. and Aug. 18 7 – 8:30 p.m. No registration required.
Saturday, Aug. 16, 10 a.m. Compost Demonstrations. Master Gardeners discuss and demonstrate composting on a drop-in basis at the Miller Branch. Free bins provided for Howard County residents. University of Maryland Extension – Howard County Master Gardeners. No registration required.
Saturday, Aug. 16, 11 a.m. Crop Swap. Do you have an abundance of vegetables from your garden? Let’s crop swap! Bring homegrown produce to trade for something new and delicious at the Miller Branch. Share growing tips and favorite varieties. Families welcome. Leftovers donated to the Howard County Food Bank. Set up from 11 – 11:30 a.m., swap from 11:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.
Saturday, Aug. 16, 3 p.m. Kindergarten, Here We Come. The Central Branch will have stories and activities to help mark that all important first day, including boarding a real school bus. For children entering Kindergarten this fall; 45- 60 min. Cosponsored by Friends of Howard County Library and Howard County Public School System. Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.7880. Another is offered on Aug. 19 at 10:15 a.m. at the Savage Branch and again at 7 p.m., and also at 2 p.m. at the East Columbia Branch. Offered again on Aug. 20 at 10:15 a.m. at the Savage Branch and at the East Columbia Branch at 7 p.m. And offered Aug. 21 at 10:15 a.m. at the Savage Branch.
Monday, Aug. 18, Blood Pressure Screening at Glenwood Branch – a Well & Wise Event. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Also offered, Tuesday, Aug. 12, 1 - 3 p.m.
Monday, Aug. 18, 2 p.m. Infectious Diseases. Learn about infectious diseases, how they are spread, and how disease detectives work to find and stop their spread using medical technology and nanotechnology at the Savage Branch. Participate in mock disease outbreaks around the globe to learn to identify and handle some of the most dangerous diseases, select the right medical or nanotechnology methods, and develop a communication pack to let others know. Being an Infectious Disease Detective has never been more fun! Ages 11-18. HiTech is funded in part by a National Leadership Grant for Libraries from The Institute of Museum and Library Services. Visit hclibrary.org/hitech_events. Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.0760. Offered again on Aug. 19 at 2 p.m. , Aug. 20 at 2 p.m., Aug. 21 at 2 p.m., and Aug. 22 at 2 p.m.
Monday, Aug. 25, 7 p.m. I’m Going to be a Big Brother or Sister. In partnership with Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. A Well & Wise class. Come to the Central Branch to prepare for the arrival of a baby in this class for new siblings. Enjoy stories, activities, and bring a favorite doll or stuffed animal to practice holding your baby. Resources for parents, too. Families; 30 – 45 min. Ticket required. Limited space; tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class.
Tuesday, Aug. 26, 5 – 6:30 p.m. Weight Loss Through Bariatric Surgery in the Howard County General Wellness Center. Learn about weight loss surgery from Johns Hopkins Center for Bariatric Surgery. Register online or call 410-550-5669.
Tuesdays and Thursdays, Sept. 16 to Nov. 6, 6:30 – 8 p.m. Healthy Weight Connection. Kick-start individual lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise, to help you reach a healthier weight. Receive personalized guidance from a certified dietitian. Various nutrition topics and gentle yoga. Class held in the Howard County General Wellness Center. Cost is $195. Register online or call 410-740-7601.
Tuesday, August 12, 7:00 p.m. Movin’ Up to Middle School. Starting sixth grade? Meet new classmates, discuss the big move, and learn the secrets to success at the Elkridge Branch. Compete in a book bag relay and combination lock time-trial! Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.5088. Also available August 18 at 7:00 p.m. at the Miller Branch.
Wednesday, August 13, 4:00 p.m. Kindergarten, Here We Come. The Glenwood Branch will have stories and activities to help mark that all important first day, including boarding a real school bus. For children entering Kindergarten this fall; 45- 60 min. Cosponsored by Friends of Howard County Library and Howard County Public School System. Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.5579. Offered again at 7:00 p.m. and on Thursday, August 14, 10:00 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. at the Glenwood Branch, and August 14 at 10:30 a.m. at the Elkridge Branch. Also offered August 16 at 3:00 p.m. at the Central Branch.
Saturday, August 16, 11:00 a.m. Crop Swap. Do you have an abundance of vegetables from your garden? Let’s crop swap! Bring homegrown produce to trade for something new and delicious at the Miller Branch. Share growing tips and favorite varieties. Families welcome. Leftovers donated to the Howard County Food Bank. Set up from 11 – 11:30 am, swap from 11:30 am – 12 pm. Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.
Monday, August 18, 10:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. SAT Prep. The SAT is the most widely used college admission exam. Take advantage of our SAT Math Prep course specifically designed to help students excel on the math portion of the test. Students will take an official practice exam to simulate the experience, learn test-taking strategies, and solve problems related to algebra, geometry, and probability. Grades 9-12 only. Graphing calculators are recommended. HiTech is funded in part by a National Leadership Grant for Libraries from The Institute of Museum and Library Services. Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.0760.
Blood Pressure Screening at Glenwood Branch – a Well & Wise Event. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Also offered, Tuesday, August 12, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. at Elkridge Branch. No registration required.
Use the correct medicine device for children, never a kitchen spoon
© Wanchai Yoosumran | Dreamstime.com
A “spoonful of medicine” has long been the prescription for making sick children well. But “spoonful” is a highly inaccurate description and can lead to dangerous dosing errors when parents administer medicine to their children.
According to a study published in the Journal of Pediatrics, more than 40 percent of parents have made dosing errors and they are more than twice as likely to make mistakes when using teaspoon or tablespoon measures than when using millimeter measurements. The rate of potentially dangerous outpatient medication errors for children is three times that of adults due to the complexity of weight-based dosing, inaccurate measuring devices, incomplete instructions and inadequate education for care givers about the medication.
It’s difficult for parents when pharmacies put a teaspoon measurement on the package, but then supply an oral dosing syringe that’s marked in milliliters. Parents have to do a complicated math conversion that must also take their child’s weight into consideration. Because pharmaceutical companies base their dosing on weight (mg/kg), the dosage for each child will be different. The physician or pharmacist needs to calculate the correct dose and then educate parents or other care givers on how many milliliters to give to the patient.
It is also very important for parents to use the correct dosing device: an oral syringe, dropper or dosing spoon. Kitchen spoons come in many sizes and shapes and are not accurate for dosing medications. Their use should be discouraged by doctors and pharmacies.
In addition to correct dosing, there are a number of other things parents need to consider in order to safely administer their children’s medicines at home:
- What time should the medicine be given? How often and for how long?
- How should the medicine be administered: by mouth; inhaled; inserted into ears, eyes or rectum; or applied to the skin?
- Should the medicine be taken with or without food?
- How and at what temperature should the medicine be stored?
- What are common side effects or allergic reactions?
- Are there interactions with other medications your child may be taking?
- What happens if your child misses a dose?
- Do your doctor and pharmacist have your child’s correct current weight?
Remember that kids are not just miniature adults and are often more sensitive than adults to certain drugs. Getting the dose even slightly wrong can lead to serious problems. If unsure of dosing instructions, parents should always check with their pharmacist or their pediatrician!
Six clues to observe in your child if he takes in too much water
It’s every parent’s worst nightmare. One second your toddler is happily swimming in the backyard or neighborhood swimming pool. You look away for a few seconds and, when you turn back to the pool, he is struggling under water and then gasping at the surface for air. You get him out of the water immediately and, after a few minutes, hours or even up to two days, he seems no worse for his frightening experience. But suddenly he starts to have strange symptoms that require an emergency hospital visit.
A swimmer may inhale a lot of water or take in a rush of water after jumping off a high surface or coming off a water slide. A toddler can slip into water that is over his head. It only takes a few seconds in the water – just enough time for the water to get past the vocal chords before the body can react.
The majority of children, or anyone for that matter, who suffer the effects of secondary drowning, will survive. But a small percentage could have permanent brain damage and others may even die.
It is a rare condition – the syndrome occurs in less than one to two percent of near-drowning victims–but its onset is usually rapid and is characterized by a period of one to 24 hours of respiratory well-being. The swimmer seems fine at first, but water left in the lungs begins to cause swelling and diminished oxygen exchange to and from the blood. As the blood oxygen level drops, oxygen flow to the brain and other vital organs is reduced. Inhaling pool water can cause an additional condition called chemical pneumonitis, inflammation of the lungs due to harmful chemicals. An interesting observation is that children who develop secondary drowning syndrome after immersion in fresh water have a higher rate of survival than those who take salt water into their lungs.
Common symptoms of secondary drowning are persistent cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, lethargy, fever and unusual mood change. These signs can be difficult to spot in young children who are normally tired and fussy after a day a long day in the water. If symptoms are diagnosed early on, a physician can administer oxygen and remove fluid from the lungs. If not treated, the syndrome can progress to pulmonary edema (swelling) with a frothy pink discharge from the nose and mouth; partial or complete lack of oxygen supply to the brain, which can cause serious cognitive, physical and psychological impairment; respiratory and cardiac arrest; and death.
It sounds very scary, but none of this means parents should needlessly worry or forego the joys of family summer vacations at the beach or long days at the swimming pool. Just remember that vigilant monitoring of children when near the water is extremely important and water safety is the best prevention. If your child does have a near drowning experience, you should observe him or her in the following days and know what to look for. If you see any signs of secondary drowning, immediately take your child to an emergency department. Time is a critical factor in treatment – it could save your child’s life.
Do you have little ones in your household? If you do there are a few issues that are unique to your kitchen. One is how to feed your children the most healthy food. Another is how to bring them up with the habit of preparing their own healthy food.
I sought out some books on this subject and found a few great ones to share with you.
First is Weelicious: 140 Fast and Easy Recipes (2012) by Catherine McCord. Her recipes grew from a blog she began when her first child was born. As her family has grown, the blog has blossomed into a polished website with amusing and instructive videos and advice. Her advice—as is mine—is to “turn passive eaters into active ones” by getting the kids involved in the preparation of their food. As soon as they are old enough to wash their hands they can wash vegetables. If they helped mix the salad they are more likely to enjoy eating it. McCord’s book covers foods from baby purees right up to casseroles the whole family will enjoy.
Jenny Flake is another food blogger who focuses on recipes that keep kids happy. Her book is The Picky Palate Cookbook: 133 Recipes for Even your pickiest eaters (2012). She is a happy mom whose adventures in cooking began when she realized she “didn’t know how to cook anything.” She dove right into her new kitchen and even entered cooking contests. Her enthusiasm is contagious and the photos make the food look scrumptious, but there is no promise of healthfulness and, as with McCord, above, no nutrition information. While both books cover a lot of the same ground, McCord’s is a little more child-oriented and Flake’s has more general family appeal.
The Mom 100 Cookbook: 100 recipes every mom needs in her back pocket is another 2012 publication by a blogger (—it was a very good year!). Author Katie Workman is founding editor in chief of a recipe website, as well as her own website. She has an engaging writing style and has arranged the book in 20 chapters, each headed with a “dilemma, a predicament, a head-scratcher.” Each dilemma has five solutions, accompanied by sidebars like “What the kids can do” and “Vegetarian notes.” Top all this off with a superb index (librarians like that!) and a list of suggested menus and you have a great cookbook—even though the recipes don’t have nutrition information.
If you want to get even more serious about your child’s nutrition, try Stacey Antine’s Appetite for Life: the thumbs-up, no-yucks guide to getting your kid to be a great eater (2012). Antine founded HealthBarn USA—part working farm, part classroom, part summer camp—on her family’s New Jersey farm in 2005. She is passionate about teaching children about food and fills her book with advice and ideas and recipes—each of which has nutrition information! Here is a book to learn from and to trust.
My last recommendation is The Cleaner Plate Club: more than 100 recipes for real food your kids will love (2010) by Beth Bader and Ali Benjamin. The authors share a passion for feeding children well. They “examine why children eat what they do—how their food preferences are created,” talk about shopping strategies and introduce vegetables alphabetically. If this sounds dull, you have not opened the book yet! Great illustrations, sidebars, a piece on converting recipes for the slow cooker, and one on varieties of oils. This is more than just a cookbook. You can sample more of Benjamin’s writing and recipes here.
I really enjoy browsing the new cookbooks at Howard County Library System branches! I hope you will too.