Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dayton Children’s Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions for Kids

Teach your children simple ways to make change

The New Year is already here and as your family gets ready to hit the ground running with school activities, work and busy schedules, you might have questions about how to fit in your New Year’s resolutions. The experts at Dayton Children’s offer their top ten New Year's resolutions for kids that can be easily accomplished. As parents, you should set realistic goals for your kids. Remember, small steps equal big results.
  1. Eat healthier – try to eat five fruits and vegetables each day and drink no sugary drinks.
  2. Get more active - spend less than two hours each day in front of the TV, computer or playing video games and get at least one hour of physical activity each day.
  3. Take care of your teeth - brush your teeth twice a day. Tooth decay is the number one chronic childhood disease.
  4. Be safe - make sure everybody in the car (including parents) is properly buckled in with a car seat, booster seat or seat belt.
  5. Give back – help someone else in the community through volunteering, working with community groups or by joining a group that helps people in need.
  6. Be kind - a smile and a kind word can go a long way. Tell your mom and dad, brothers and sisters or your friends that they are appreciated and loved. Be friendly to kids who don’t have any friends.
  7. Try new things - find a sport (like basketball or soccer) or an activity (like playing tag, jumping rope, dancing or riding a bike) you like and try to do it a few times a week.
  8. Protect yourself - never give out personal information such as your name, home address, school name or telephone number on the internet. Never send a picture of yourself to someone by cell phone, e-mail or the internet without your parent’s permission.
  9. Lend a helping hand – pick up after yourself, put your toys away when you’re done playing with them and don’t leave your dirty clothes on the floor. Your parents are very busy and need a little help.
  10. Express yourself - when you feel angry, frustrated or stressed out, take a break and find better ways to deal with these feelings, such as exercising, reading, writing in a journal or talking to your parents or a friend.

 It’s also important for parents to remember the following three things in order to provide love and support to their children all year long.
  1. Talk less, listen more – children and teenagers will tune out needless words and explanations. However, every kid is different; learn how your child responds to you best. Ask open-ended questions so that you don’t get one word answers. Keep the conversation going by not interjecting your opinion immediately but rather ask them what they think first.
  2. It’s not always about the QT – quality and quantity time with your children is very important. Put down the BlackBerry, turn off the TV and listen to your kids. Shorter periods of time spent each day is better than fewer longer periods of time. Talk to your kids at dinner, during car rides to school and activities or before bedtime.
  3. Give praise and allow failure – give positive feedback to your kids for their efforts but remember constructive criticism is also very important in the development of your children. According to Gregory Ramey, PhD, child psychologist at Dayton Children’s, “Sometimes, failure may be the best option for your children. It teaches them personal responsibility, coping skills and persistence.”
“Remember, it’s not always about making a big change right away, but about the little steps you take to make the changes,” says Dr. Ramey.

“By teaching your children to do simple things to improve their health, become more active or learn to help others, you and your family can all be happier and healthier.”


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Don't let your child get bitten - by frostbite!

The colder temperatures of winter bring about a host of problems we don’t deal with during the rest of the year. If your children aren’t ones for sitting in front of the fireplace to sip hot cocoa, but instead prefer to get outside and play, help them stay safe by knowing the signs and symptoms of frostbite! 

"Frostbite can result in the same type of tissue damage as a burn," says Heather Koss, RN, clinical resource nurse at Dayton Children’s and coordinator of the emergency medical system/trauma education program. "This is why it is important for parents to periodically check on children who are playing outside. Make sure they are dressed appropriately—gloves, hats, warm socks and face coverings are particularly important since fingers, noses and ears are most vulnerable to frostbite."

Signs of frostbite
  • Skin may look discolored.
  • Skin may feel cold to the touch.
  • Skin may feel numb to child.
  • If deeply frostbitten, skin may look waxy or feel hard (frozen).
What parents should do

  • Take the child to a warm place
  • Remove cold or wet clothing and give child warm, dry clothes
  • Do NOT rub or massage the cold part or apply heat such as a water bottle or hot running water.
  • Cover the body part loosely with a non-stick, sterile dressing or dry blanket.
  • If the skin looks discolored or the child has lost sensation, keep the child warm and call 9-1-1 immediately.
With proper precautions children can be safe and have a great time enjoying winter weather.

For more tips on winter safety visit our website.

Stop the Silence

Join us for a college basketball game to benefit the rehabilitation department at Dayton Children's!

What: Wright State vs Loyola
When: Saturday, January 30 at 2:00 pm
Where: Nutter Center (Wright State University)
Tickets: $10/person—you save $7!
A portion of the proceeds goes to the rehabilitation department at Dayton Children’s
To purchase tickets: Go to the Spot Shop (the Dayton Children's gift shop) or contact the development office at 641-3405.

The purpose of this "Stop the Silence" event is to raise awareness about communication disorders. Imagine how devastating it would be if you lost the ability to talk due to a stroke or accident and what effect it would have on your life. Meet some children who recieve speech therapy services at Dayton Children's and watch them demonstrate how they use augmentative and alternative communication devices to communicate!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Countdown to Good Health the 5-2-1-0 Way!

This week Dayton Children's launches our next installment of the Kohl's A Minute for Kids campaign with tips from our very own Dr. James Ebert, lead physician in the lipid clinic.

For the next two months those in our service area will hear a radio clip featuring Dominique Samuels and his mother, Diana. They discuss how small steps can make big changes for your health and share with listeners the 5-2-1-0 tips from Dr. Ebert.

Here are the 5-2-1-0 tips that your family can use:
  • Children should get at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
  • Along with eating healthy, children should spend less than 2 hours in front of the TV, computer, or video game screen each day.
  • To stay physically fit, at least 1 hour of aerobic activity everyday will keep your heart strong.
  • Finally, 0 is the amount of sugary drinks that should be consumed on a daily basis.
These four easy steps create a simple way for families to maintain their overall health and will be a great start to a healthier 2010!

For a sneak preview and additional resources, check out our Kohl's microsite at:

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Eight ways to keep children warm and safe

We're starting to see colder temperatures and some of that fun, white stuff! Make sure to follow these tips from our pediatric experts to keep kids safe during their winter break (and all winter long).
  1. Dress children in layers and have them wear insulated boots. Double socks and double mittens will keep children insulated and add a little extra warmth. Mittens are warmer than gloves because they keep all fingers together.
  2. Change socks and mittens frequently. If children sit in wet, cold clothing they may be more susceptible to illness including hypothermia or abnormally low body temperature.
  3. Remember to cover the body’s most susceptible regions: ears, fingers and toes. Keep hats on children because most body heat escapes from the head.
  4. Clothes should be kept dry.
  5. Set reasonable time limits on outdoor play– bring children in periodically to warm up and change from any wet clothing.
  6. Check children every 15 to 20 minutes to make sure they aren’t too cold and their layers remain ON.
  7. If you are in an area with deep snow, dress children in bright-colored clothing so they can be seen among snowdrifts.
  8. Don’t forget sunscreen. The winter sun reflects off winter snow increasing dangerous rays.
Children should be encouraged to play in the snow and enjoy this weather but parents should make sure weather conditions are appropriate for playing outside. With proper precautions children can be safe and have a great time enjoying winter weather.

For more tips about safe winter play visit our website.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Recall Alert: Window Covering Recall

Window Covering Safety Council Recalls to Repair All Roman and Roll-Up Blinds Due to Risk of Strangulation

On December 15, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Window Covering Safety Council (WCSC) are announced a voluntary recall to repair all Roman shades and roll-up blinds to prevent the risk of strangulation to young children. This recall involves millions of Roman and roll-up blinds. About five million Roman shades and about three million roll-up blinds are sold each year.

CPSC has received reports of five deaths and 16 near strangulations, since 2006, in Roman shades and three deaths, since 2001, in roll-up blinds. Strangulations in Roman shades can occur when a child places his/her neck between the exposed inner cord and the fabric on the backside of the blind or when a child pulls the cord out and wraps it around his/her neck. Strangulations in roll-up blinds can occur if the lifting loop slides off the side of the blind and a child’s neck becomes entangled on the free-standing loop or if a child places his/her neck between the lifting loop and the roll-up blind material.

“Over the past 15 years, CPSC has been investigating window covering hazards and working with the WCSC to ensure the safety of window coverings. We commend the WCSC for providing consumers with repair kits that make window coverings safer and look forward to future steps to eliminate these hazards,” said Inez Tenenbaum, CPSC Chairman.

Over the years, CPSC has been investigating deaths associated with different types of window coverings and has worked with the WCSC to address the hazards posed by them. In 1994 and in 2000, CPSC and WCSC announced recalls to repair horizontal blinds to prevent strangulation hazards posed by pull cord and inner cord loops. As a result of CPSC investigations, the industry has modified its products and provides free repair kits for existing horizontal blinds and other window coverings. In October 2009, CPSC issued a new safety alert to warn parents about the dangers associated with window coverings.

Consumers that have Roman or roll-up shades in their homes should contact the WCSC immediately at or by calling (800) 506-4636 anytime to receive a free repair kit.

To help prevent child strangulation in window coverings, Dayton Children's reiterates the advice of CPSC and the WCSC by urging parents and caregivers to follow these guidelines:
  • Examine all shades and blinds in the home. Make sure there are no accessible cords on the front, side, or back of the product. CPSC and the WCSC recommend the use of cordless window coverings in all homes where children live or visit.
  • Do not place cribs, beds, and furniture close to the windows because children can climb on them and gain access to the cords.
  • Make loose cords inaccessible.
  • If the window shade has looped bead chains or nylon cords, install tension devices to keep the cord taut.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What's wrong with vulgar words?

After telling my older brother to “shut up,” I immediately heard my mom yell, “Gregory, get in your room.” My mom rarely called me Gregory. I was in trouble.

“Never use that word again,” she said in her firm Italian accent. I was only about 6 years old and not smart enough to just be quiet. “Ma, what’s so wrong with saying ‘shut up’? Everyone says it,” I argued. My mom never graduated from high school and wasn’t very sophisticated. However, she had an uncanny ability to focus on what was really important.

“Gregory, can’t you think of a nicer way to get attention?” she asked.

"Shut up” seems pretty mild today. I was watching one of my favorite TV programs a few weeks ago, Clean House. The team helps families replace clutter with cleanliness by selling old items to raise money for new furniture. When someone from the show asked a father and teenage son to sell their guitar, dad and child unanimously shouted “No f*** way,” although the profanity was bleeped from the program. Even Clean House uses dirty language.

Research summarized by the Parents Television Council suggests that profanity has increased substantially over the past 10 years. Milder profanities are used more frequently, and harsher vulgarities appear to be gaining tacit acceptance. The number of expletives used in broadcast TV in 2007 was about 11,000 - almost twice that of 10 years ago. Twenty-five percent of the profanities were intense, such as the f-word, s-word or b-word. Vulgarities are no longer restricted to late evening hours, but occur during times when younger children watch television.

Maybe my mom was wrong. After all, these are just words. They don’t have any meaning other than what we assign to them. Maybe words should annoy or offend sometimes. Yesterday’s vulgarities have become today’s commonplace way to communicate anger, annoyance or aggravation. Perhaps our overreaction to these words just increases the likelihood that they will be used.

I think my mom would argue otherwise. She’d probably say that the words we use reflect who we really are. She’d probably talk about civility and courtesy, and the need to be respectful even if you feel angry or upset. While these words certainly get attention, I imagine she’d repeat her comment that there are nicer ways to get people to notice you.

Maybe we can’t have any impact on our culture, but we can exert some influence with our families and friends. I’ve worked as a coach with kids of various ages, and have set a clear expectation about what words I find offensive. I ask kids to be respectful of my values, and not use vulgar or harsh words, including “shut up,” in my presence. I’ve been amazed and pleased that kids rise to this standard and refrain from such language.

At a time when many families feel victimized by a culture that appears increasingly crude and crass, you can still encourage values of respect, courtesy and civility.

Gregory Ramey, Ph.D., is a child psychologist and vice president for outpatient services at The Children’s Medical Center of Dayton. For more of his columns, visit

Friday, December 4, 2009

Hocus Focus: The Healing Power of Magic

Dayton Children's was so happy to welcome Kevin Spencer and his assistant, Alan, for a presentation of Hocus Focus: The Healing Power of Magic - a unique interactive series of workshops associated with the Victoria Theater's Young At Heart presentation of Spencer’s Theatre of Illusion. Families were invited to share the afternoon with Mr. Spencer to learn magic tricks to help with motor skill development.  Participants learned the healing power of magic as they explored tricks with household objects including rope, rubber bands, paperclips and even dollar bills.  Here are some photos from our afternoon!

Tying a knot without letting go of the rope end

Great technique to get little fingers moving - switching the rubber band from two fingers to two other fingers

It's amazing how fun a dollar and two paperclips can be!

For more about Keven Spencer visit his website and blog.

Safe Kids Walk This Way Coloring Contest Winners

In October, Safe Kids Greater Dayton, an organization dedicated to preventing childhood injury led by Dayton Children's, held a coloring contest for the Safe Kids Walk This Way program. Children were asked to draw pictures relating to key pedestrian safety tips including walking in the crosswalk, walking at least ten feet in front of a school bus, making eye contact with drivers before crossing the street and many others. Over 150 children participated in the contest.

Here is a list of our winners.  Congratulations to all of our winners and everyone who participated.  To learn more about how your school or organization can get involved with Safe Kids Greater Dayton visit our website.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Failure can be good for kids

“What can we do to prevent our son from failing in English?” asked the parents of a high school freshman. Getting an “F” in any class meant that their son would be unable to play high school sports for a semester. “Failure is not an option,” remarked the dad, repeating an inspirational quote from the Apollo 13 movie.

I met with their son Jack for an hour and then reviewed his academic record. My meeting with Jack and his parents was not what they expected.

“Failure is the best option for your son,” I declared. There was an uneasy silence in the room. My recommendation went against every instinct of these dedicated parents and was incomprehensible to their overprotected son.

Isn’t our job as parents to protect our kids from harm? We do everything we can to ensure our children’s physical health, having them wear seat belts in cars, exercise on padded surfaces at playgrounds, and send them to school with bottles of hand sanitizer.

Shouldn’t we be just as concerned about our kids’ psychological health as we are about their physical safety?

Why is failure more important than football for Jack?

Personal responsibility. Jack’s overprotective parents have always been there for him, rescuing him from his own irresponsibility. In the real world, there is a relationship between what you do and what happens to you. Although 14-years-old, Jack has yet to learn that connection. His parents have been a buffer from life’s disappointments and rejections.

Coping skills. Life is a journey filled with occasions of great happiness interspersed with unpredictable times of frustrations, rejections, and conflict. How we navigate those tough times defines who we really are. Positive coping behaviors are critically important for our kids. Such skills include keeping a positive attitude, reaching out to friends for support, looking for creative solutions to problems, and getting enough sleep and exercise. Kids can’t learn those skills if they never have to deal with any significant rejection or disappointment. Kids who are hooked on success have a hard time with failure. These young adults may turn to drugs, alcohol, and even become depressed when dealing with frustration.

Persistence. One of the world’s greatest inventors, Thomas Edison, was also one of the greatest failures of his generation. He tested and was wrong over 6,000 times with various materials for the filament of the electric light bulb. One of Edison’s greatest attributes was his relentless persistence. “I have not failed. I just found 10,000 ways that won’t work,” remarked Edison.

Failing English may be the best thing for Jack’s psychological health. He’ll learn that his parents will not always be there to rescue him from his own irresponsible behavior. He may learn something about more efficient study habits. Perhaps he’ll even get excited about some of the assigned literature that he never bothered to read.

Unlike Apollo 13, failure may indeed be the best option for Jack.

Gregory Ramey, Ph.D., is a child psychologist and vice president for outpatient services at The Children’s Medical Center of Dayton. For more of his columns, visit

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Injury Prevention for Children With Special Needs

Special considerations: Children with special needs

If your child has a special need consider these additional safety tips from Dayton Children’s and Safe Kids Greater Dayton:

  • Beware of common dangers: Parents don’t realize that young children can drown in less than inch of water, that drinking mouthwash can cause a young child to fall into an alcohol coma, or that children can fall out of a window that is only opened 5 inches. Make sure your child’s environment is as safe as possible.
  • Use visuals reminders: The "Mr. Yuk" stickers from poison prevention centers prevent many tragedies for preschoolers and their parents. This same strategy can work for older children with ADHD, who tend to be developmentally immature and have poor memories. Use stickers with phrases such as "Don't Touch!" and "Off Limits!" Put them on the power tools, the attic door, the stove, the knife drawer or any other potential source of injury.
  • Make rules specific and clear: Give specific instructions instead: "Before crossing the street, look left, look right, then look left again. When there are no cars, cross the street and keep looking until you reach the other side." Establish exactly what's off limits: the quarry, the roof, the windowsill, the pool, the oak tree. Make a chart of specific safety rules and post it in your child's room and in the kitchen as a daily reminder.
  • Role play and rehearse: Develop and role-play risky scenarios with your kids Go over situations such as: "What do you do when the ball rolls into the street? What do you do when someone starts a fight with you on the playground?" Play out several options and review their possible consequences: "If you do that, what do you think might happen? What if you did this instead?" Help children be prepared for the dangerous situations they may encounter.
  • Arrange for supervision: Supervising ADHD kids is critical. Don't pair them with other ADHD kids and send them off to the park; send them with responsible older kids who can serve as role models and mentors. If you or another adult can't be around after school, enroll your kids in supervised activities such as music lessons and team sports.
Visit our Kohl's "A Minute for Kids" Campaign to learn more about injury prevention.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tips for Healthy Holidays

The holidays are a wonderful time of the year; however it is easy to neglect healthy eating habits when temptations are everywhere. Planning ahead during the holidays can help your family stay healthy, while keeping the fun in your festivities.

“As the holidays approach, it’s important to plan special, yet healthy, meals and a mix of activity in your child’s routine,” says Rachel Riddiford, manager of clinical dietetics at Dayton Children’s.

  • Portion control. Watching portion sizes will help a child eat healthier and avoid adding extra pounds. Use moderation when choosing foods that are special to the holidays, like cookies, pies and fudge. Choose these holiday specials over candy, soft drinks, and snack cakes to help satisfy a sweet tooth without sending blood sugar levels too high or adding unnecessary calories.
  • Change recipes. Keep a grip on seasonal calories by extra healthy eating in-between the holiday eating events. If desired, minor modifications of traditional holiday dishes makes the season healthier for the entire family. Consider fat-free or light sour cream in recipes or as a garnish. Try steaming vegetables rather than cooking in butter. Reduce sugar by half in dessert recipes.
  • Monitor kids’ access to food. Help a child resist temptation and overeating by encouraging them to eat small snacks throughout the day so they don’t feel hungry. Select foods carefully and don’t eat at the buffet table. Start the day with a small meal that includes whole grains, fruits, dairy foods and protein.
  • Plan active family events. Spend some holiday together time with active outings such as hiking or sledding, visits to the zoo or museums, trying out an indoor rock climbing wall, visiting an indoor pool together or going skating. If you don’t have time for a big outing, just go outside together to play games like tag, jump rope or build a snowman. Park your car and walk neighborhoods or downtown to see holiday decorations.
  • Buy gifts that promote being active. Include at least one gift for each child that will help them enjoy being active, such as a new bike, skates, or balls. A gift for the whole family, like a badminton set or snow skis, can create a new opportunity for everyone to enjoy the double benefits of play and physical activity. Remember to purchase safety equipment such as helmets or knee pads as well if recommended.
About our expert Rachel Riddiford, MS, RD, LD.

Rachel has been an employee of Dayton Children's since 2004. She is currently the Manager of Clinical Dietetics and works as an eating disorder specialist in the Nutrition Clinic. Rachel completed her BS in Dietetics at Western Michigan University, Master's degree at University of Dayton, and dietetic internship at Indiana University/Purdue University. She has also completed an American Dietetic Association Pediatric and Adolescent Weight Management Certificate.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Growth and Development Linked to Injury Risk

The Children’s Medical Center of Dayton and Kohl’s Department Stores, as a part of the Kohl’s “A Minute for Kids” Campaign, encourage parents to take a moment and learn more about ways to protect their children from accidental injury. A crucial part of protecting your child from injury is understanding more about their growth and development.

“Growth and development includes not only the physical changes that occur from infancy to early teens, but also some of the changes in emotions, personality, behavior, thinking and speech that children develop as they begin to understand and interact with the world around them,” says Eileen Kasten, MD, medical director of developmental pediatrics at Dayton Children’s.

Understanding your infant and toddler’s development is especially important because children in these age groups have a poor understanding of risks and danger. Their natural curiosity and impulsiveness, failure to appreciate danger and limited ability to handle more than one stimulus at a time puts them at increased risk for injury.

“Young children between 0 to 4 years are particularly susceptible to injury because they lack experience, strength and physical skill,” says Dr. Kasten. “Children at this age are impulsive and don’t have fear. They also tend to disappear quickly from a parent’s view.”

Dayton Children’s and Kohl’s Department Stores offer these tips to help protect your infant or toddler from accidental injury:

Infancy (children 0 to 12 months)

Motor Vehicle Crashes
Use a rear-facing car seat until at least age 1 and a weight of 20 lbs. This is the safest option to support an infant’s weak head, neck and back and prevent spinal cord injuries. Use a rear-facing car seat longer if the seat has a higher weight and height limits.

Supervise children at all times when they are near water. A supervised child is in sight at all times with your undivided attention focused on the child. Infants can die in less than one inch of water. Never leave your baby unattended in or near water, even for a second.

Unsafe Sleep Practices
Practice the ABCs of Safe Sleep. Infants should sleep Alone, on their Back and in a Crib. Make sure the crib is free from blankets, bumper pads, and stuffed animals and meets the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s guidelines.

Shaken Baby Syndrome
Have a plan. Infants will cry, sometimes for prolonged periods of time, and it’s important to plan how you will stay calm if you’ve tried everything and your baby is still crying. Take care of yourself so you can take care of your baby. Calming activities that can be part of your plan include breathing, going for a walk with your baby and talking to someone.

Early childhood (children 1 to 4 years old)

Motor Vehicle Crashes
Use a forward-facing car seat until the harness no longer fits. The five-point harness will protect small children and keep them in place. Children’s behavior in the car may also become distracting to the driver because they want to ride like older children or get bored.

Supervise children at all time when they are near water. A supervised child is in sight at all times with your undivided attention focused on the child. Don’t leave toys in or near the pool, where they could attract unsupervised kids. For extra protection, consider a pool alarm and alarms on the doors, windows and gates leading to the pool.

Make the kitchen a child-free zone when someone is cooking. Children want to stay close to their parents, but their cognitive skills are not developed to recognize the danger of hot items or control their impulses. As children grow in height, they can reach the counter and front burners, but can’t see what’s in them. A child’s skin burns deeper and quicker at lower temperatures than adult’s skin.

Install stair and door gates. A toddler’s increased mobility and active lifestyle put him/her at risk of falling down a staircase or wandering into areas of the home that are not child-safe.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

2.1 Million Cribs Recalled

Infant Entrapment and Suffocation Prompts Stork Craft to Recall More Than 2.1 Million Drop-Side Cribs

On November 23, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), in cooperation with Stork Craft Manufacturing Inc., of British Columbia, Canada,  announced the voluntary recall of more than 2.1 million Stork Craft drop-side cribs, including about 147,000 Stork Craft drop-side cribs with the Fisher-Price logo. The recall involves approximately 1,213,000 units distributed in the United States and 968,000 units distributed in Canada.

CPSC urges parents and caregivers to immediately stop using the recalled cribs, wait for the free repair kit, and do not attempt to fix the cribs without the kit. They should find an alternative, safe sleeping environment for their baby. Consumers should contact Stork Craft to receive a free repair kit that converts the drop-side on these cribs to a fixed side.

For additional information, contact Stork Craft toll-free at (877) 274-0277 anytime to order the free repair kit, or log on to

Important Message from CPSC:

Parents should not to use any crib with missing, broken, or loose parts. Make sure to tighten hardware from time to time to keep the crib sturdy. When using a drop-side crib, parents should check to make sure the drop-side or any other moving part operates smoothly. Always check all sides and corners of the crib for disengagement. Any disengagement can create a gap and entrap a child. In addition, do not try to repair any side of the crib, especially with tape, wire or rope.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving Feasting without Defeating

Make a choice to turn the winter holidays into a nutrition bonus versus disaster! Build momentum with the Thanksgiving Feast and skip along, right past New Year’s Eve, feeling healthy and fit.

Here are some tips to get you and your family started:

  1. Never, ever, ever go to a party or feast starving. Instead, go to a party satisfied or only slightly hungry to avoid choosing foods or amounts that you will regret later.
  2. Drink plenty of water the day of the feast. We often eat when we are thirsty. Cold weather means drier air both outside and in and increases our need for water - but we may not feel thirsty or remember to drink.
  3. Choose color. Offer and choose deeply colored vegetables…and lots of them to get a variety of nutrients to boost your immunity!
  4. Eat breakfast. Focus on whole grains, fruits, and low fat dairy options to get your metabolic engine purring, energy stores stoked and mood stablilization balanced.
  5. Fill your plate. Once. Eat leftovers later instead of a second serving.
  6. Choose a smaller plate to help with portion control. Remember, we eat beyond fullness when the food is on our plate.
  7. Go for the real stuff. Sour cream, cheese, whipped cream, brown sugar...savor the flavors rather than go for the volume. Holidays are the time for "real" flavor - just don't overindulge.
  8. Keep your routine. Sleep, exercise and stick to meal and snack times to keep your stress level down so you can focus on enjoying yourself and what the season means to you.
For more information about healthy holiday feasting visit our healthy lifestyles webpage.

About our expert - Rachel Riddiford, MS, RD, LD

Rachel has been an employee of Dayton Children's since 2004. She is currently the Manager of Clinical Dietetics and works as an eating disorder specialist in the Nutrition Clinic. Rachel completed her BS in Dietetics at Western Michigan University, Master's degree at University of Dayton, and dietetic internship at Indiana University/Purdue University. She has also completed an American Dietetic Association Pediatric and Adolescent Weight Management Certificate.

Healthy Gift Ideas for Your Child

This holiday season, help the child in your life take a step in the right direction by giving the gift of good health.

“Active gifts that promote physical exercise can be fun and rewarding,” Christie Bernard, RN, BSN, resource nurse for the lipid clinic at Dayton Children's. “This year, consider wrapping up a game or toy that can provide your child with the encouragement he or she needs to stay at a healthy weight and remain active throughout the year.”

While diet plays a large part in maintaining a healthy weight, so does exercise and an active lifestyle. The newest fashion accessory for kids across the country is a pedometer, a device that measures the number of steps taken during the day when he or she walks, runs or jumps.

“Communities and schools across the country are experimenting with supplying kids pedometers to encourage activity,” says Bernard. “Girls between the ages of 6 and 12 need about 12,000 steps per day, and boys need approximately 15,000 steps per day, to stay at a healthy weight.”

Pedometers, which can range from very inexpensive basic devices to personalized “designer” equipment, are a fun way to make a game of tracking activity. They may also be a perfect stocking stuffer this holiday season!

“The holidays are a great time to introduce your child to new active games and equipment,” says Bernard. “Think activity and movement when choosing holiday gifts.”

Gift ideas to get your child moving:

  • Active gear –- Bicycles, skates, sleds, scooters, skis... anything that gets the kids up and moving. Don’t forget the protective gear that goes along with each, such as helmets, elbow, knee and wrist pads and mouth guards.
  • Gift certificates for a fitness facility, gymnastics class or dance studio – Find a facility that offers youth-oriented sessions so your child can have fun with kids his or her own age.
  • Jump ropes, tumbling mats, yoga mats and Hula-Hoops – These low-cost items can provide hours of fun while burning calories and keeping young bodies strong.
  • Kid-focused workout videos and interactive video games – Look into the latest hip-hop video for your young dancer or athlete, or video game such as “Dance Dance Revolution” and “Twister Moves.”
  • Quality time – Give your child a gift certificate that sets aside time one day a week for a play date in the park, at the skating rink, on the basketball or tennis court, on the jogging track, etc. Parents should be role models of a healthy lifestyle. Research shows that kids who see their parents exercise are more likely to exercise themselves.
About Our Expert: Christie Bernard, RN, BSN, lipid clinic resource nurse

Christie Bernard is a graduate from Wright State University in 1993. She started her nursing career at Good Samaritan Hospital in labor and delibery/mother baby . Through that experience she decided that pediatric nursing was her passion and pursued a career at Dayton Children’s. She has been a pediatric nurse at Dayton Children’s for 15 years. She have worked in the Lipid clinic for 7 of those years where she assesses and educates patients and families with obesity related complications and hypercholestolemia.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Reach for the Red and Crimson Berry this Holiday Season

It’s time for holidays and there’s no better way to celebrate with your family and friends than cooking up something delicious and satisfying. This season consider serving your kids something that’s not only tasty but also colorful and healthy. The crimson fruit known as the cranberry is easy to spot and you can find it at your local grocer in the produce section, with the canned goods, in the freezer section, in the juice aisle, or even with the dried fruit. No matter which form you choose, your children and guests are sure to say yum while reaping the health benefits of the berry!

The tart red berry boasts as many ways to enjoy it as it does health benefits. This versatile berry adds pizzazz to most any dish- from entrées to baked good, relishes to stuffing- and can easily be added to many of your favorite traditional holiday offerings.

What’s so great about this native fruit? The research behind the berry is ongoing and there’s enough concrete evidence that this berry is one functional food that your family should not be without!

Fortify with Fruit!

Health professionals have long known that a diet rich in fruit and vegetables reduces the risk for chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and stroke. According to the Cranberry Institute, this effect may result from the high antioxidant and polyphenol content of these foods. In comparison with other typically consumed fruits, the tart cranberry tops them all; the total antioxidant capacity of the cranberry exceeds that of the plum, highbush blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, red delicious apple, strawberry, red and green grapes.

In addition to being rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, cranberries contain proanthocyanidins, or PACs. These PACs help keep us healthy by providing “anti-adhesion” activity against various harmful bacteria. Because the germs can’t stick to the different organs of the body, they can’t multiple and leave the body. Therefore, you’re left with better health after eating cranberries.

Which form is best?

People enjoy cranberries in their raw form, baked form, boiled, dried, and juiced. But how you eat them doesn’t matter because no matter the form, cranberries still provide healthful benefits to you and your family.

What kind of benefits?

Naturally low in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol, cranberries easily fit within the dietary guidelines as they are a nutrient dense choice; providing ample amounts of vitamins and minerals with relatively low amounts of calories.

Cranberries are recognized by the American Heart Association as “heart healthy” because they are low in fat while being rich in fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A, and potassium. Not only are cranberries a heart healthy choice, but the intake of cranberries can positively impact one’s overall health; from head to toe.

Cranberries have been shown to prevent cavities, fight off urinary tract infections, prevent stomach ulcers, and improve cholesterol levels. Because cranberries are so high in anti-oxidants, current research is looking into whether cranberries may be a key component in the fight against cancer.

As the seasons change and as you search for healthy dishes to serve in the upcoming months, don’t forget to include cranberries on the menu. For new dishes to enjoy this holiday season, check out, a site which contains a plethora of new and innovative recipes and can provide answers to all of your questions cranberries.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Preteens, sex and the internet

By Gregory Ramey, PhD, child psychologist at Dayton Children's and Dayton Daily News columnist

Preteen children have discovered sex on the internet. Internet entries for “sex” and “porn” are the fourth and sixth most popular items searched by children 8 to 12 years of age. By the age of 11, two out of every three youngsters in France have viewed a pornographic movie.

What does this mean and how should parents respond?

Parents fear that internet usage by preteens will result in victimization by sexual predators. That fear is unfounded. The group at highest risk for sexual enticement by adults is adolescent girls with a history of sexual abuse. These girls are looking more for emotional support than for sexual relationships, but enter into the latter to achieve the former. Physical force is not involved in 95 percent of these cases.

Preteens cruise the internet for “porn” and “sex” for a variety of purposes. Sometimes they are just curious about concerns they can’t discuss with their parents. Girls are curious about their periods or pregnancy issues. Boys are concerned about the size of their genitals, body hair and what sexual behaviors are normal. In recent years, I’ve seen an increasingly number of preteens ask questions about homosexuality, sexual identity and various types of sexual behavior.

Preteens also use the internet for sexual excitement. With an extraordinary of preteens having private access to computers, these kids view images that were unavailable to previous generations. Some of these kids have described websites that are unimaginable to me as an adult. The impact on kids’ behavior and moral values won’t be known for quite some time, but I can’t believe it’s positive.

I’ve found that most parents are both naive and irresponsible about their kids’ internet lives.

Here is what parents should be doing:

Monitor internet use of young children. A recent report by Ofcom revealed that 20 percent of children aged 5 to 7 have unsupervised use of the internet. Sixteen percent of preteens have computer access in their bedrooms. Young children should not use the computer without close adult monitoring. It’s just too risky, even for well adjusted kids from good homes.

Begin sexuality education when your child is a toddler. Responsible parents begin talking about sexual issues with their kids at an early age, and continue that dialogue throughout their childhoods. Use news events as a way to begin these discussions, even if it involves sensitive issues. Most parents underestimate their kids’ knowledge and interest about sex. Be casual in your approach, communicating to your kids that you are comfortable about these sensitive topics.

Become computer literate. Many parents tell me that their kids know more about computers than they do. Please don’t be proud of that fact. You can’t monitor what you don’t understand.

As with any technology, internet access has the potential for either helping or harming our children. It’s time for parents to be more aggressive in protecting our kids from these risks.

Gregory Ramey, Ph.D., is a child psychologist and vice president for outpatient services at The Children’s Medical Center of Dayton. For more of his columns, visit

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Hocus Focus: The Healing Power of Magic

Victoria Theatre Association’s Education and Outreach  department and Dayton Children's are pleased to announce Hocus Focus: The Healing Power of Magic – a unique interactive series of workshops associated with the Young At Heart presentation of Spencer’s Theatre of Illusion. Kevin Spencer and his team have created a program approved and accredited by the medical community that using small magic tricks as a form of physical therapy for young patients struggling to regain use of fine motor skills.

With the help of Dayton Children's, Kevin Spencer will host a FREE workshop to engage and teach children and parents in the healing power of magic.

Friday, December 4
The Children’s Medical Center of Dayton
Outpatient Conference Rooms
Space is limited.
To reserve your space, please contact
Dayton Children’s at (937) 641-3385.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Toys/Games for Language Stimulation in Preschoolers

This holiday season choose toys and games that will help your preschooler get ready for a lifetime of learning! Here are some suggestions to help your preschooler with language development from our pediatric speech and language pathologists.

1. Cat in the Hat - I Can Do That! $18.39

  • Good for teaching direction following!
2. Cranium Cariboo $21.99

  • Good pre-reading/literacy game, incorporates beginning sounds/letters, shapes, colors, numbers, concepts (“empty/full, not”)
3. Hasbro Candy Land Castle Game $15.97

  • Good for simple matching, concepts (“same/different”)
4. Hi Ho Cherry-O $12.29

  • Good for teaching 1:1 counting, concepts (“more/most, some/all”)
5. Go Away Monster $11.58

  • Very simple matching game
6. Melissa & Doug Best Friends Forever Deluxe Magnetic Dress-Up $24.92

  • Good for those who need work with descriptive words (“pretty, long”) or boy/girl pronouns
7. Lucky Ducks $22.92

  • Simple color matching, concepts (“same/different, more/most”)

Note: All toys were available at as of November 2009. Please note that not all toys will be appropriate for your child and are dependent upon his/her developmental level.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Holiday Travel Tips

Car seats – essential for safe travel by air or by land

With the busy holiday travel season right around the corner it is important to remember that car seats are an essential safety device both on the ground and in the air.

Not all car seats can fit on standard airplane seats, which are typically about 16 inches wide, but Dayton Children’s, Safe Kids Greater Dayton, and the Federal Aviation Administration strongly recommend using a car seat in an aircraft whenever possible.

"Air turbulence can be dangerous and can appear suddenly without warning," said Jessica Saunders, community relations manager at Dayton Children’s. "Infants and toddlers on airplanes are safest in a car seat with a harness. A child who rides in a car seat on the ground should ride in that car seat on a plane."

Parents should make sure that their child's car seat is labeled "certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft."

"You need your child's car seat to travel to and from the airport anyway," said Saunders. "Car rental companies might not have reliable car seats available and checking your child's seat as baggage could result in damage. Your kids are better off in their own car seats."

Babies younger than 1 year old and 20 pounds are best restrained in a rear-facing car seat, and a forward-facing car seat can protect toddlers up to 40 pounds or more. Children who have outgrown car seats should sit directly on the airplane seat and, like all passengers, keep the lap belt buckled across their thighs or hips. Booster seats are not allowed on airplanes, because they require shoulder belts and airplane seats have only lap belts.

Space for safe traveling on airplanes – Reserve your seat!

The FAA advises travelers with small children to reserve a pair of seats by a window. Car seats are not allowed in aisle seats or exit rows, where they could block emergency escape routes; they must be installed at a window seat.

Parents cannot rely on there being empty seats onboard an aircraft, especially during the busy holiday travel season. Holding a child on an adult's lap is not the safest option. Whenever possible, buy a child his or her own seat to ensure an approved car seat can be used. Most airlines offer a discount for children younger than 2.

Fasten your seat belts!

Inappropriately restrained children are nearly three and a half times more likely to be seriously injured in a crash than their appropriately restrained counterparts. Children should always wear a safety belt, in a car or in the air.

Adult air travelers should buckle up, too. "You're a role model," says Saunders. "Children learn safety behavior by watching parents and caregivers. Also, children who ride in car seats on the ground appear to be more comfortable and better behaved when using one on a plane."

Friday, November 13, 2009

Toys for Language Stimulation in Toddlers

Choose toys this holiday season that will get your toddlers talking! Here are some recommendations from our pediatric language and speech pathologists to help you and your toddler develop strong language skills.

1. Hasbro Playskool Busy Ball Popper $26.99

  • Target words could include “ball, in, out, pop, stuck, more, ready-set-go, all done, want” (Ex: want ball, ball stuck, more balls)
  • Dump all of the balls out in your lap and require child to request balls one at a time using words/signs. Use target words as able.
2. Melissa & Doug Farm Wooden Chunky Puzzle $8.54

  • Target words could include animal names & sounds, “in, out, push, more, put on” (Ex: pig in, cow on top, baby chick)
  • Talk about each piece before child puts it in. Require them to label or request each piece before putting it in.

3. Melissa & Doug Pizza Party $14.12

  • Target words could include “want, cut, more, top, eat, on, off, pepper, mushroom, pizza, meat” (Ex: want cut, more meat, cut pizza)
  • Require child to label or request each piece before putting it on the pizza.
4. Smart Snacks Rainbow Color Cones $12.16

  • Target words could include “ice cream, cone, put, on, eat, more, top, colors, big” (Ex: blue on, you eat, more ice cream)
  • Take turns putting on a scoop of ice cream. Use “my turn, your turn” and then request a word/phrase before putting on the ice cream.
5. Fisher-Price Toddlerz Spiral Speedway $21.99

  • Target words could include “ready, set, go, car, more, down, up, stop, stuck” (Ex: cars on, cars go, cars down)
  • Hold cars and have child request for them. Say ready, set, and wait for them to say go!
6. Mr. Potato Head $18.16

  • Target words could include body parts, “put in, push, more” (Ex: want arm, hat on, eyes in)
  • Take two pieces and let child have a choice. Have them request which piece they want and then let them put it in.
7. Fisher-Price Little People Animal Sounds Farm $34.97

  • Target words could include animal names & sounds, “play, eat, in, out, on, climb” (Ex: want pig, pig eat, play farm)
  • Hold an animal and model a phrase for the child to say, have them repeat it and then give it to them to play with.
8. Fisher Price - Little People Lil' Movers School Bus $21.99

  • Target words could include “bus, go, fast, people, in, up, stairs, ride, window, beep” (Ex: bus go fast, people in, climb up, riding)
  • Take turns putting the people on the bus. Before they climb in, say “climb stairs/climb up” and have the child repeat. Use the same concept when they are sitting down, riding, or getting off.
9. Fisher Price Sesame Street Giggle Microwave $34.97

  • Target words could include “food, cook, eat, hot, bite, open, close” (Ex: food in, food hot, you eat, I eat)
  • Hold two choices of food up to put in the microwave and have child request one. Practice counting as you wait for the food to be ready.
10. Hasbro Playskool Busy Gears $15.96

  • Target words could include colors, “put, on, push, ready, set, go, turn, spin”
  • Practice counting gears as you put them on. Say “ready, set,” and wait for the child to say “go” to push the button.
11. Fisher-Price Loving Family Grand Dollhouse $69.99

  • Target words could include “mommy, daddy, brother, sister, puppy, sit, eat, walk, climb, jump, play, sleep, open, close” (Ex: mommy sleeping, dog playing, girl climbing)
  • Take turns playing with one doll and talk about what the doll is doing and have the child repeat.
12. Sesame Street Elmo Building Set $10.97

  • Target words could include body parts, “on, more, push, all done”
  • Have child say each body part before putting together.
13. Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn Say Please Tea Set $15.97

  • Target words could include “I do, me, pour, drink, eat, more, please”
  • Wait for child to say “pour” then tip over teapot and wait for pouring sound.
14. LeapFrog Tag Junior book pal $29.97

  • Good for prereading skills
15. Baby Signing Time Volume 1-3 DVDs $16.49

  • Helps to teach early signs.
  • Pair verbal word with signs when practicing.
16. Small World Living Toys Fun-with-Fruit $19.99

  • Target words could include “cut, more, eat, food names” (Ex: want more, cut apple, all done, more food)
  • Cut food one at a time talking about each piece before giving it to the child. Require a verbalization/sign before giving him the food.
Note: All toys were available at as of November 2009. Please note that not all toys will be appropriate for your child and are dependent upon his/her developmental level.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Toys Ideas for Children with Autism

Looking for that perfect gift for your child with autism.  Here are some suggestions from our speech and language pathologists at Dayton Children's.

1. Tomy-Gearation $38.00
2. Gazillion Bubbles Motorized Bubble Blower (Funrise) $24.99-28.00
3. Melissa and Doug Farm Sound Puzzle $10.60
4. Just Like Home: Microwave Oven $23.99
5. Step2 Sand and Water Cart $98.10
6. Fisher Price Toddlerz Spiral Speedway $21.99
7. The Original Folding Trampoline (Galt) $73.90
8. Pin Art $14.11
9. Hop 55 Ball $28.59
10. Slinky $6.89
11. Drumset
12. Playskool Musical Sit and Spin $25.99
13. Tangle Jr. $3.99
14. Pacific Play Tents Find Me Tunnel $33.30
All of the above were available on in November 2009. Prices may vary. Please consider your child’s developmental level before purchasing toys.

Safety in the Kitchen

Going beyond protecting young children from sharp objects, safe kitchen habits include protecting your family from infections, illnesses, and even death. Germs are sneaky. You can’t see, taste, or smell them. You might even be healthy but carry them and then pass them along to another person who does get ill.

Keep yourself, your loved ones, and your holiday guests free from disease-causing germs by following these steps:

  1. Clean everything and often: countertops, hands, cutting boards, bowls, mixing spoons, spatulas, sinks, and even can lids before opening. Clean up spills quickly.
  2. Cook thoroughly and according to directions.
  3. Pay attention to “discard by” dates. In general:
    • Soft cheeses, 1 week
    • Fresh eggs, 3-5 weeks
    • Fresh or cooked meat, 3-4 days
    • Fresh poultry, 1-2 days
    • Cooked poultry, 3-4 days
    • Opened lunch meat, 3-5 days
  4. Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. Put foods away before they’ve been at room temperature for two hours. Keep refrigerators cooler than 40 degrees and freezers below 0 degrees.
  5. Raw meats and drippings deserve extra attention. Keep them separate from foods that don’t need further cooking. Before using knives, cutting boards, countertops and sink surfaces touched by the meat or drippings clean them thoroughly.
To get your own “MBA” (Mastery of Mealtime Balancing Act) degree or for many more tips, visit the American Dietetic Association’s kitchen safety website. For more tips to stay healthy during the holiday season visit the Dayton Children's healthy lifestyles page.

About our expert - Rachel Riddiford, MS, RD, LD

Rachel has been an employee of Dayton Children's since 2004. She is currently the Manager of Clinical Dietetics and works as an eating disorder specialist in the Nutrition Clinic. Rachel completed her BS in Dietetics at Western Michigan University, Master's degree at University of Dayton, and dietetic internship at Indiana University/Purdue University. She has also completed an American Dietetic Association Pediatric and Adolescent Weight Management Certificate.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Teaching Your Teens to Drive

A couple weeks ago we posted a blog post about the importance of setting rules and boundaries for your new teen driver. 

The State of Ohio requires parents to log 50 hours of driving with their new drivers. Here is an opportunity offered by some of our partners, AAA Miami Valley and PDS Driving School, to make sure the time you spend with your new driver is quality time. 

Free parents only training class
Sunday, December 6 from 2:00pm to 4:00pm
AAA Conference Center
825 S Ludlow Street
Dayton, OH 45402
Call (937) 224-2826 to reserve a seat!

Each year over 6,000 young drivers are killed in car crashes. This parent class is a first step to reduce these devastating incidents.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Toys for Language Stimulation in Infants

No doubt you have started planning the perfect gifts for all of your loved ones.  Don't forget that toys can help children in their development as well.  Here are some toy recommendations that can help language stimulation in infants from our pediatric speech/language pathologists at Dayton Children's:

1. LeapFrog Learn & Groove™ Musical Table $34.97
  • Helps teach cause-effect relationship (push=music), word-symbol associations
  • Auditory/language stimulation (music, single words)
  • Introduces shapes, numbers and counting 1-10 in English and Spanish
2. Lamaze Garden Bug Wrist Rattle/Foot Finder Set $12.99

  • Helps teach cause-effect relationship (shake=rattle noise)
  • Auditory stimulation
3. Baby Einstein Takealong Tunes $9.99

  • Helps teach cause-effect relationship (push=music)
  • Auditory stimulation
4. Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Sing-with-Me CD Player $17.99

  • Four buttons to activate lights, phrases and songs; six songs to help teach abc's, numbers, shapes, colors, and classic nursery rhymes; helps teach cause-effect relationship (push=music); auditory stimulation
5. Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn Learning Piggy Bank $18.92

  • Good for language/auditory stimulation (single words, e.g. “open, close”)
6. Stack Up Cups $5.97

  • Could help teach “putting in” and “taking out;” good for teaching verbal imitation (if cups are used as amplifier)
7. The First Years Massaging Action Teether $9.97

  • Helps teach cause-effect relationship (bite=vibration); mouth-alerting for those with low facial tone, those who enjoy vibration
8. Little Super Star Classical Stacker $13.87

  • Could help teach “on” and “1, 2, 3, 4”
Note: All toys were available at as of November 2009. Please note that not all toys will be appropriate for your child and are dependent upon his/her developmental level.

Questions from readers

By Gregory Ramey, PhD, child psychologist at Dayton Children's and Dayton Daily News columnist


My 3-year-old son won’t stay in his bed at night. He keeps coming into our bedroom, regardless of what I say to him. I finally threatened that the boogie man would get him if he came out of his room and this seems to be working. I hate to scare him, but I don’t know of any other way to control his behavior.


You should never threaten a child with consequences that you can’t or don’t want to deliver. There is a much easier way to deal with this common bedtime problem. Stop talking and threatening your son and instead, immediately put him back into his own bed whenever he goes into your room. Within a week or two he will learn that his behavior is not being reinforced and will stay in his own room throughout the night.


I think my in-laws are too tough on their 5 year old granddaughter. They seem very harsh with her - sometimes screaming at her, punishing her unnecessarily, and having expectations that seem too high for such a young child. I’ve spoken to my husband about this, and he is also surprised as that is not the way he was raised. I would like to talk to my in-laws, but I don’t want to hurt the relationship with our child.


You and your husband need to have a frank discussion with his parents. Keep your approach balanced and positive. However, be very specific about what discipline techniques you find appropriate. If they are doing things that you find seriously objectionable, then you may need to limit their contact with your daughter to times when you are present. Your daughter’s welfare comes before your in-law’s feelings.


My 10-year-old has almost a perfect life, but he still seems whiny and negative. He goes to an excellent school, has two parents who love him dearly and give him a tremendous amount of attention, and has pretty much everything he wants. Even so, it seems like whatever we do is not enough and he is always asking for more. Does it sound like he may need professional help?


Instead of seeing a psychologist, reflect upon your parenting approach. He has many of the characteristics of a spoiled child. Some kids develop a sense of entitlement. These youngsters depend upon others to entertain them, give them things, and satisfy their every whim. They are egocentric, self-absorbed, and generally unhappy.

It may be that you are giving him too much attention, and that he feels he is the center of your universe. Decrease the number of things you are giving him. Require him to do chores, and don’t attend to his whining and complaining. Volunteer efforts through his church or school may also help change his perspective.

Gregory Ramey, Ph.D., is a child psychologist and vice president for outpatient services at The Children’s Medical Center of Dayton. For more of his columns, visit

Monday, November 2, 2009

Over connected to your kids?

By Gregory Ramey, PhD, child psychologist at Dayton Children's and Dayton Daily News columnist

“Please refrain from using your cell phone during this workshop,” requested the presenter at a recent conference. Despite that announcement, the woman next to me continued to furiously send text messages on her iPhone. After about 15 minutes she turned to me and apologized for her behavior.

“I hope that I’m not disturbing you, but I’m in the middle of a serious family emergency with my daughter,” she explained. My annoyance immediately transformed to understanding.

“It’s fine,” I responded. “I hope that things are okay with your child.”

Working in a pediatric hospital, I wondered whether the emergency involved any accident or serious illness. The woman asked me to watch her materials while she made a phone call to her child. She returned in about 30 minutes, just as we were taking a morning break.

“Is your child doing any better?” I gently asked.

“I think we have the problem solved,” the mom responded. “She’s a junior at college and got locked out of her dorm this morning. She has an exam at 3:40 pm and really needed the books in her room. I made a few phone calls and got someone to let her in. I’ll text her throughout the day to see how see is doing after this setback.”

“I’m glad things worked out,” I remarked.

Here’s what I really wanted to say:

Since when did an adult being locked out of her room become a “serious family emergency” for a mom? Spend a few hours where I work in a children’s hospital and you’ll see real emergencies. Kids come into our hospital seriously injured from car accidents or barely able to breathe due to asthma attacks.

Your child is an adult. Why does her inconvenience become your issue to solve? She is a junior in college and can’t figure out how to deal with such a simple problem? While I understand that text messages are a convenient way to stay connected with your child, you may have built up a dependency between you and your daughter that isn’t good for either of you.

I’m sure you love your child very much, but one of the goals of parenting is to prepare our children for a world in which we are not there to answer their every question, solve their problems and protect them from failure and frustrations. If your daughter is depending upon you to make phone calls to get her into her room, how will she handle more serious issues when you are not around?

Your adult daughter will never develop the confidence to successfully navigate solutions to real problems if you continue to reinforce her dependency on you. This also makes me wonder about your own life and whether you have developed interests and activities other than your children.

It’s time to cut the technological umbilical cord and let your child live her own life.

Gregory Ramey, Ph.D., is a child psychologist and vice president for outpatient services at The Children’s Medical Center of Dayton. For more of his columns, visit

Safe Kids USA Celebrates Safe Crossing Week

In 2008, approximately 744 people were killed and 1,372 were injured in incidents involving trains in the United States. These incidents involved either trains and pedestrians or trains and motor vehicle occupants. Twenty-two children ages 14 and under were killed, and another 122 were injured, in incidents involving trains.

Safe Crossing Week, Nov. 1 to 7, 2009, is sponsored by CN, one of the largest railroads in North America, and Safe Kids USA. They suggest the following tips for parents and children to stay safe near railroad tracks:
  • Only cross at marked railroad crossings. Always look both ways before crossing the tracks.
  • Obey all signs and signals. Listen for a warning bell or train whistle. Watch for flashing lights.
  • Never try to cross the tracks if a train is coming. Trains are very large and heavy, and take a long time to stop!
  • When a train is coming, stand at least 10 giant steps away from the tracks. If one train passes, make sure another one isn’t coming. Trains can come from any direction at any time on any track.
  • Get off your bike and walk it across the tracks. Don’t forget to wear your helmet when you ride your bike.
  • Walking or playing on or near railroad tracks is dangerous.

Daylight Savings Time Reminders

On November 1, we turned back our clocks allowing us an extra hour of sleep. The end of Daylight Savings Time is welcomed by many  however it's important to remember that it will be getting darker earlier - putting pedestrians, especially child pedestrians, at risk. Pedestrian accidents increase during this time of year - through February - due to shorter days and increased darkness.

Remind child (and adult) pedestrians about these tips to keep them safe on the road:
  1. Be light and bright - Wear light colored clothing and reflective safety gear to be seen by drivers.
  2. Use crosswalks - Cross in a crosswalk or at the corner - places to cross the street where drivers will be expecting to see you.
  3. Choose a lit path - Whenever possible, walk and cross the street in areas with good lighting
  4. Make eye contact - Make sure that the driver sees you before you cross the street.  Look left, right and left again before crossing.
And finally, remind drivers to use extra caution in watching for pedestrians.

The Dangers of Second-Hand Items

With so many people looking for ways to cut corners, the pediatric experts at Dayton Children's are concerned that some parents who are trying to save money might be buying cheaper, second-hand items that can actually be dangerous to their children.

According to the new Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA) resellers are now allowed to sell or offer for sale:

Products that have been recalled by CPSC.

  • Toys and other articles intended for use by children, and any furniture, with paint or other surface coatings containing lead over specified amounts.
  • Products primarily intended for children age 12 or younger with lead content over a specific amount.
  • Certain toys or child care articles that contain any one of six prohibited chemicals known as phthalates, which are primarily used as plasticizers.
  • Other products that violate CPSC’s safety standards, bans, rules or regulations or otherwise present a substantial product hazard.

For details about each of these items you can download the Handbook for Resale Stores and Product Resellers which was created by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to help sellers of used products understand the new law and existing regulations.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

10 Tips for Drivers for a Safe Halloween

Drivers need to do their part to keep trick-or-treaters safe from harm. Dayton Children's, FedEx and Safe Kids Greater Dayton reminds motorists to be extra careful this Halloween and recommends that drivers:

  1. Be especially alert in residential neighborhoods.
  2. Drive more slowly and anticipate heavy pedestrian traffic on and near the road.
  3. Be sure to drive with your full headlights on so you can spot children from greater distances.
  4. Take extra time to actively look for kids at intersections, on medians and on curbs.
  5. Remember that costumes can limit children’s visibility and they may not be able to see your vehicle.
  6. Enter and exit driveways and alleys slowly and carefully.
  7. Remember that children are excited on this night and may move in unpredictable ways.
  8. Remember that popular trick-or-treat hours are during the typical rush-hour period; between 5:30-9:30pm.
  9. Reduce any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and pedestrians.
  10. Triple check all blind spots because kids will most likely not be paying good attention to you.
Visit Dayton Children's or Safe Kids USA for more Halloween safety tips!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Buyer Beware: Used Car Seats

There is no question that families are facing tough times and are looking for ways to save money.  One way to save is to purchase used car seats. The last thing a parent wants to do is buy a car seat to keep a child safe in a car only to find out that the car seat itself wouldn’t protect the child properly.

If you are purchasing a second-hand car seat make sure to check these items to make sure that your child will be riding as safely as possible.

  1. Ask whether or not the car seat was in a crash. If you are purchasing the car seat from a second-hand store or if the seat is being given to you by a family member or friend - ask and make sure that the seat was not in a crash.  If the seat was in a crash it's best not to purchase or accept the seat.
  2. Check the expiration date. The manufacture date is printed on the label of each seat.  Car seats generally expire 6 years after their manufacture date unless otherwise noted by the manufacturer. Recently, manufacturers have been stamping the expiration date or year on the seat as well to avoid confusion.
  3. Check the seat for recalls.  Occasionally, car seats are recalled by the manufacturer.  Sometimes the manufacturer can send you a part to fix the recall - in other cases the seat is not suitable for use. Seats that have been recalled are not safe to use unless noted by the manufacturer. Also, remember to register the seat with the manufacturer so that you can be notified of any future recalls.
  4. Review the manual and check for missing parts. Make sure the seat you purchase has it's original manual, or look online to find one.  It's important to have the manual to assist you in installation and to know if there are any parts missing.
For more information about car seat safety visit our website.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Building Blocks for a Health Immune System

You’ve heard about washing hands and covering coughs to protect your child from the flu – on the outside. But what can you do to protect him or her on the inside?

“Good nutrition is a key element of helping kids fight off the cold or flu,” says Rachel Riddiford, manager of clinical dietetics at Dayton Children’s. “Providing the right foods for your child will help create a healthy immune system – a natural defense of the cold or flu.”

Six ways to build a natural defense system:

  1. Five fruits and vegetables each day give vitamins C, E and A and phytochemicals, essential for a healthy immune system.
  2. Yogurt with active cultures (probiotics) once a day. These foods build defenses against flu and the common cold. Consider daily yogurt with active cultures or even supplements (mixed probiotic strains).
  3. What do eggs, nuts, meat and fish have in common? These foods plus poultry provide immune enhancing vitamins B6, B12 (except nuts), zinc and selenium.
  4. Got milk? The added vitamins A and D boosts immunity. Cow’s milk also provides vitamin B12 and zinc.
  5. Another source of vitamin D? Fish and eggs.
  6. Whole and enriched or fortified grains are another power house source of vitamin B6, vitamin A, folic acid (folate), selenium, iron and zinc. Think cereal, bread and rice to keep the flu bug away.

“If your child does get the flu, good nutrition is still important,” says Riddiford. “It’s important to properly hydrate and feed your child in a progression.”

Here are three nutrition tips if your child gets the flu:

  1. Stay hydrated. Start with ice chips, progress to sips of clear liquids. Think water, diluted herbal tea and broth. This is even a time to consider caffeine-free soft drinks. Diluted juices such as cranberry and grape may also be well tolerated.
  2. When your child is ready to progress to food, start with small bites several hours apart. Good foods to start with are grains without added fat like bread, plain cereal or dry and crispy crackers.
  3. Finally, monitor your child depending on how they are tolerating food. Start with more frequent feedings, then mix food (grains) and drink. Next, add fruits and vegetables. Then milk and dairy, finally add meat.
About our expert - Rachel Riddiford, MS, RD, LD

Rachel has been an employee of Dayton Children's since 2004. She is currently the Manager of Clinical Dietetics and works as an eating disorder specialist in the Nutrition Clinic. Rachel completed her BS in Dietetics at Western Michigan University, Master's degree at University of Dayton, and dietetic internship at Indiana University/Purdue University. She has also completed an American Dietetic Association Pediatric and Adolescent Weight Management Certificate. Rachel has worked as a Registered Dietitian for over 20 years in a variety of settings, including adult hospitals, private practice, and child development centers. She has also served as an Adjunct Instructor at the University of Dayton and has held leadership positions in various professional associations, including the Dayton Dietetic Association and the ADA Hunger and Malnutrition Dietetic Practice Group. Rachel loves gardening, sailing, hiking, and cooking, and raising a rambunctious family of five children with her husband.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

It’s Time to Talk to Your Teen About Safe Driving

National Teen Driver Safety Week (NTDSW), October 18 – 24, has been designated by Congress as a time for communities, schools and families to raise awareness and provide solutions to teen driver crashes, the leading cause of death for teens in the U.S.

We encourage parents to talk with their teens about the risks associated with driving and to set clear expectations for teen drivers and passengers. Here are 5 tips to get the conversation started:

  1. Absolutely No Alcohol. Teen drivers (ages 15-20) are at far greater risk of death in crashes where alcohol was present than the rest of us, even though they cannot legally purchase or possess alcohol.
  2. Seat belts: Always Buckle Up! Teens buckle up far less frequently than adults do. The very first thing you can do is to be a role model for your children by buckling yourself up every time you get in the car. When your teen is ready to drive, remind them that whether they are driving across town or just around the neighborhood, wearing seat belts is the absolute best way to protect themselves and their passengers from severe injury or even death in the event of a crash.
  3. Cell phone/texting: No talking or texting while driving. Talk to your teen drivers about the risks of talking, texting and other distractions, and set clear expectations about driving habits. Distracted driving results in a slower response rate which could be deadly to a pedestrian or a driver.
  4. Curfew: Have the Car in the Driveway by 10 p.m. Talk to your teen driver about when you expect them to have the car back in the driveway. The reason for setting a “home-by” rule is to protect your kids by keeping them from driving during the high-risk nighttime hours.
  5. Passengers: No more than one at all times Research shows that the risk of a fatal crash goes up in direct relation to the number of teenagers in the car. Non-adult passengers can be a dangerous and fatal distraction for young novice drivers. Also teach your child to be an considerate passenger who doesn’t distract the driver.
And remember, it's also extremely important to lead by example. Follow the rules of the road. Always wear a seat belt, don’t talk on a cell phone while driving and don’t speed. Your child watches your every move.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

School Bus Safety Week

School Buses Are Nearly 8 Times Safer than Passenger Vehicles
Dayton Children’s and Safe Kids Greater Dayton provide tips to keep kids safer for National School Bus Safety Week

As child safety advocates, we often get asked why the majority of school buses don't have seat belts.

While carpooling is a common practice in many communities, a school bus is the safest way for children to get to school. Fatal crashes involving school bus occupants are extremely rare events, even though school buses serve children daily in nearly every community.

Getting to and from the bus is actually more dangerous than riding the bus itself. In 2007, 26 children were killed as pedestrians getting on or off a school bus, or while waiting at the school bus stop in the United States. This means that five times as many children were killed while getting on or off the bus than while riding it. Oct. 19 to 23, 2009, is National School Bus Safety Week, making it a good time to teach children how to stay safer around school busses.

Here are some tips to share with your children to make sure their bus ride is as safe as possible:

  1. Arrive at the bus stop five minutes early.
  2. Stay in a safe place away from the street while waiting for the bus.
  3. Stand at least 5 giant steps (10 feet) away from the edge of the road.
  4. Wait until the bus stops, the door opens, and the driver says it is okay before moving towards the bus.
  5. Have your parents help you check that your clothing does not have drawstrings and that your book bag does not have straps or dangling objects. They can get caught in the door when exiting the bus.
  6. If something falls under or near the bus, tell the driver. Never try to pick it up yourself!
  7. When you get on or off the bus, look for the bus safety lights and make sure they are flashing. Tell the driver if they are not.
  8. Be alert to traffic. When you get on or off the bus, look left, right, and left again before you enter or cross the street.
  9. Stay in your seat and sit quietly on the bus so that the driver is not distracted.
  10. Some school buses now have seat belts. If you have seat belts on your school bus, be sure to learn to use the seat belt correctly on every ride.
In Ohio, it is against the law to pass a stopped school bus or approach within 10 feet, and motorists should never pass a school bus with its lights flashing. National School Bus Safety Week is held every year in the third week of October and led by the National Association for Pupil Transportation.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Don't get spooked!

Keeping Kids Safe on Halloween

Pedestrian safety tips for little ghosts and goblins

Halloween is an exciting night for children; however danger can lurk at every corner and crosswalk. With the days getting shorter, children are likely to be trick-or-treating in the dark when it is harder for drivers to see them and the excitement of the holiday can make everyone less cautious. Prepare your ghosts and goblins for a safe night of fun by reviewing the following tips from Dayton Children's and Safe Kids Greater Dayton:
  1. Instruct children to travel only in familiar areas and along a pre-established route. Parents should have a copy of the planned route at home.
  2. Restrict trick-or-treating visits to homes with porch or outside lights illuminated. Instruct children never to enter a home or an apartment building unless accompanied by an adult.
  3. Children should wear light colored costumes, should have reflective elements or attach reflective tape to dark costumes.
  4. Remove breakable items or obstacles including tools, ladders and children’s toys from steps, lawn and porch. Keep jack-o-lanterns lit with candles away from landings or doorsteps where costumes might brush against the flame.
  5. Avoid giving choking hazards including small toys, gum, peanuts and hard candy to small children. Consider giving out non-edible treats, such as pencils and stickers.
  6. Tell children to bring treats home before eating them. Parents should check treats to ensure that items have not been tampered with and are safely sealed.
  7. Apply face paint or cosmetics directly to the face. Makeup is safer than a loose-fitting mask that can obstruct vision. Make sure any masks worn fit securely. Cut eyeholes large enough for full vision.
  8. Dress children in costumes short enough to avoid tripping with shoes that are appropriately sized. Adult shoes are not safe for trick-or-treaters. The larger size makes it easier for them to trip and fall. 
  9.  Don’t let children carry flexible knives, swords or other props. Anything they carry could injure them if they fall.
  10. Tell children to stay on the sidewalk at all times. Stay off roads and cross streets at crosswalks or well-lit intersections. Monitor younger children when they cross the street.

If you are a driver, be extra alert in neighborhoods, avoid distractions and remember that children may not be able to see you through their costumes. Remember, children are excited and may move in unpredictable ways.