When you have a child in your life that means the world to you, as I do, when I saw this story arise, made me sick, disgusted and so frustrated that any school or community program would allow their coaches and trainers to clearly assault and abuse teens on their cheer team as they did at East High School in Colorado.

As a WARNING, this video is very disturbing as you hear this teen crying out many times yelling for the coaches to stop as she cries and screams in terror and pain. It is terrible, sick and extremely disturbing. The trauma this teen and her colleagues experienced will affect them throughout their teen years and adult life. As a cognitive-neuroscientist myself, with their stage of adolescent brain development this trauma will have future consequences affecting brain development, putting them at risk of mental health issues.
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East High cheerleaders Repeatedly forced to do splits (Source: 9News Colorado)

As observed at East High School in Colorado, compare how the so called “adults” or “trainers” treated this one teen (although there are others) to the Mission Statement and Goals of the American Youth Football & Cheer (AYF), a National Service Organization for youth football and cheer. They failed in their mission and goals. This was clearly child abuse and neglect. This type of abuse will have acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) physical, emotional and psychological affects, having significant influence to their brain development and affecting them into adulthood.
Child Abuse and Neglect Defined: At the Federal level of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) defines child abuse and neglect as: “Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker, which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse, or exploitation, or an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.” [CAPTA Reauthorization Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-320), § 5101, Note (§ 3)]. Types of abuse include:
  • Physical abuse: Defined as “any nonaccidental physical injury to the child” and can include striking, kicking, burning, or biting the child, or any action that results in a physical impairment of the child.
  • Neglect: Defined as the failure of a parent or other person with responsibility for the child to provide needed food, clothing, shelter, medical care, or supervision to the degree that the child’s health, safety, and well-being are threatened with harm.
  • Emotional abuse: Defined as “injury to the psychological capacity or emotional stability of the child as evidenced by an observable or substantial change in behavior, emotional response, or cognition” and injury as evidenced by “anxiety, depression, withdrawal, or aggressive behavior.”

WHAT CAN PARENTS & CAREGIVERS DO?
Parents need to empower their children and teens so their child or teen knows what to do and how to get out of a situation immediately, if they ever feel threatened, ridiculed or forced into anything they feel painful or uncomfortable with.

EDUCATE YOUR CHILD

While we want children and teens to follow rules, there are their own personal boundaries that need not be violated by anyone. These include unwanted touching, pain, discomfort, fear, put downs, ridicule, threats, to name a few. A child or teen might listen and follow instructions of the coach, trainer or other adult, because they have learned “listen to the adult”. But regardless, if there is unwanted touching, pain, discomfort, feat, put downs, ridicule, threats or otherwise that makes the child or teen feeling uncomfortable in any way, this can be child abuse and neglect and they need to immediately remove themselves from that situation any way they can. If this means like yelling out "stop", "I am in pain", "someone please call the police", or physically, out of self-defense to physically remove themselves from the coach, trainer or adult and run to get help, they need to do what they need to protect themselves. Do not wait and sustain abuse.

BE AWARE OF WHAT GOES ON AT PRACTICE AND GAMES

Remember you are the parent or caregiver, and the school, club or community program, these are the people you leave your child with to care for. With understanding that your child will be safe and not injured. They are responsible for your child and your duty as a parent or caregiver is to ensure those who you leave your child with, will keep your child safe from physical, emotional and psychological harm or they will be held responsible. And you as a parent or caregiver need to let your child or teen know, in addition to those responsible (and this means the principal athletic director, trainers and other adults).

1.      Be aware of what happens at practice and games: If you are not aware you cannot protect your child. For example, are coaches, trainers and other adults making positive and constructive comments to your child and team so they can learn and improve? Or do they humiliate, put down or force the child?

2.      Coaches, trainers and other adults must put your child’s safety first: While you put your child in their hands to care for, you are the primary advocate for your child. Do they put your child at risk of injury? Does your child feel safe? If your child is injured or feels pain, how do they respond? Do they ignore the child, put them down, or do they validate how they feel?

3.      Know the coaches and program priorities: First your job as a parent or caregiver is to make sure your child is safe. Does the coach care about your child? Or do they push them beyond a limit of personal boundaries, pain or fear? Is it only about winning? Or learning and to improve and support?

4.      Know your child-their physical, emotional and psychological ability: You know your child. All children are different. They learn differently and coaches, trainers and other adults also have different methods. But they need to understand that they are also responsible to protect your child’s boundaries. If they cannot that is not the best environment for your child. If a team or program seems abusive, research it by talking to other programs or schools to compare. If it is abusive, remove your child and find another program they will enjoy. But also, if needed, report them by contacting your local health department children's services (local child abuse hotline) if things go too far like in this video. Also make sure your child understands so they can learn and be empowered. Keeping your child safe is most important, not worrying about what their peers or other parents think or say.

5.      Teach your child about the role of the coach, trainer and other adults: As a parent or caregiver talk to your child so they understand the role of a coach. A coach, trainer and other adults need to be supportive, kind, compassionate. Sometimes they can go too far and violate personal boundaries, physically, emotionally and psychologically.

6.      Make sure your child knows they can talk with you openly about how they feel: As a parent or caregiver, if you feel your child is having problems or if there are signs of abuse, “listen” to your child and “respond” being compassionate with understanding. This will help your child feel more comfortable coming to you if there is a problem. Sometimes the best thing is to listen, give the child options to consider and often they can make the best choice. You are there to help stimulate and help them make the best choices. If you need to take more control, then you do, but listen and respond, do not react to quickly. Allow them to continue to come and talk to you. 
 
 
Before you use the heavily-shaded viewing classes to experience the total solar eclipse today, make sure they are appropriate viewing glasses and NOT FAKE. I was on at a freeway off-ramp for example and someone was selling eclipse viewing glasses. I checked them out and no code. These were not safe. Inappropriate viewing glasses can cause permanent eye damage.
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NASA
Before you look check to make sure your viewing glasses are real by checking for the ISO Code “ISO 12312-2”.

For eclipse viewing glasses to be compliant they must meet International Organization for Standardization (ISO) safety regulations. Before using, make sure your glasses have this ISO code “ISO 12312-2”.
The American Astronomical Society has a list of retailers who sell appropriate eclipse viewing glasses. Yours might be on this list, but always check for the code. If the glasses you have do not have this code “DO NOT USE” and “Don’t Look At The Sun”. Appropriate eclipse-viewing lenses are designed to completely block out the sun. Without this you are at risk of permanent eye damage. And do not try to substitute appropriate eclipse viewing glasses with welding helmets either, these will not work. Don’t risk it. Check for the code “ISO 12312-2”. If you cannot find this code “DO NOT USE” and “Don’t Look At The Sun”, save your eyes! Although some might have made Pinhole Projectors which are safe but you are not looking at the sun. Enjoy your experience!
 
 
A LEARNING OPPORTUNITY FOR CHILDREN AND TEENS WHO PLAY SPORTS AND PERFORM: You have natural dopamine and skill development, you do not need performance enhancing drugs.

As fall sports practice in schools and colleges will soon begin, this is a learning opportunity for children and teens who play sports or perform at school. In the video below, hosted by the Oxford Union Society, "The Truth About Doping in Cycling", Tyler Hamilton discusses doping, the use of performance-enhancing drugs (or PEDs) in professional competition.
Photo credit: CDC & Pro Consumer Safety
In this video, he discusses the pressure, need to succeed, etc. etc., how they never wanted to use PED's, but once started they knew they crossed the line but was too late. For professional sports, its difficult to have sympathy for those who have intentionally cheated by using PED's (I do however have respect those who have come clean and take responsibility for the choices they have made). I also do understand that pressures do exist, making it difficult for those exposed to corruption and feeling no way out. For those I do have sympathy. But when they continue using, become arrogant, and lie to the public, media, their family and friends, not to mention themselves, it is more difficult to have sympathy. Nevertheless it will and does catch up to them, and according to this video it did. Tyler Hamilton makes comment to resist the temptation to cheat and dope. He further says he wishes he knew "how numb victories would feel when they were achieved dishonestly" and that "giving back a Gold Medal would feel better than winning it".

I have competed myself, not professionally, but in high school and some in college. I learned how to built my own skills. Emotionally and physically I had enough natural dopamine to challenge myself and not by comparing myself to others or worrying that I needed to be at the top, because I already was. In tennis for example I was at the top of my school and in college I had a full scholarship offered (although I declined because I wanted to focus on my studies and I was fortunate to have had that opportunity). Even in other sports, in water skiing another example, again I could out-slalom and the top of my team. It was amazing. But it was about me, not about others and no need for pressure, and no PED's. It was what I wanted and I learned the skills I needed. I eventually learned how to condition myself and learned many other outdoor physical activities and again without the use of PED's. If I could not do it, its likely it was not for me and I would choose something else. It's a choice to play or perform, if you cannot handle it, choose something else, you will find your passion or skill, but never give in to cheating by doping. If you cheat, it's not the real you and it will come back to haunt you in many ways. Generally those who do cheat have other mental health and interpersonal issues in their life. It's not about the sport, competition or drugs, its their untreated mental health and interpersonal issues that influence their poor choice to cheat. When I hear of professionals who have used PED's, "idiots", this is sad, because they are role models to children, teens and adults. For those I have no sympathy for them. From how difficult it was, blah, blah, blah. I guess time will tell. I do not wish this on anyone, but for those who have cheated with PED's are at significant health risks including, but not limited to stroke, heart attack, pulmonary embolism, cancers, to emotional, psychological and even social effects. It's not worth it.

Teens can be at particular risk of making a choice to use PED's, due to their stage of brain development. In brief, with the reduction of dopamine (feel good neurotransmitter) and serotonin (brings one down to homeostasis) to making decisions with the limbic system (emotional center of the brain), because their prefrontal cortex (responsible for executive functioning, decision making, understanding future consequences, etc.) is not fully developed until mid to late 20's. These neurodevelopmental factors can significantly influence the teen to try PED's, especially with peer and parent pressure, and someone says, they are natural, it will make you feel better, it's not a drug, it's okay. Parents need to remind teens that as a competitor or otherwise, if someone ever gives you anything to help you feel better, perform better, IMMEDIATELY, step away from the situation, don't take it and talk to another adult at your school or college, parents or professional. This helps give the teen time to assess if this is something they need so they can make the best choice. It is helpful for parents and teens to understand the risk of feeling the need to use PED's. Understand, that while it might help make you perform better and make you feel like you are on top of the world, you will end up at the bottom, physically, emotionally and psychologically and even socially, even if you do not get caught. It will catch up to you. Don't use PED's, some natural or not, don't dope, don't cheat. You have too much to loose and you truly do not need them. Compare and challenge yourself to only "you". Parents and teens need to also understand that performance enhancers are not sport specific, that teens can also be influenced by academic and testing pressures as well. See "Smart Drugs", again putting teens at significant neurodevelopmental risk.

For more information on substances and effects of performance-enhancing drugs (PED's), visit the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).


The info-graphic below illustrates how teens can be at risk of using performance-enhancing drugs for school and tests, that puts their developing brain at significant risk. However there are alternative choices as described.

 
 
The TV show "Andi Mack" on the Disney Channel has done a great job in highlighting real life experiences. Imagine being thirteen years old and on your thirteenth birthday you find out that your cool older sister is really your biological mom. And the parents raising you are actually your grandparents. Yes this is Andi Mack. But what is important here is who is there for the child and remember the adults are the role models. And while we are role models, while the child is learning from the adults and about their own life, as we mature as adults and caregivers, we learn just the same.
Andi Mack
Disney Channel, 2017

While it is not unusual to have grandparents raising grandchildren but perhaps not necessarily raising them as their own child since birth. But as with Andi Mack, finding out at thirteen, and not necessarily on purpose, the pressure can be overwhelming to the child, as well as each adult involved and how they relate to the child. While I am on the topic of grandparents raising their grandchild as their child, and perhaps not too often as their own, but similarly are many single parents who have a significant other such as a boyfriend or girlfriend who fills the role of a parent that might not be in the child's life. Having a positive role model can be a benefit to the child's development. But nevertheless can also have major developmental, emotional and sociological influences as well, if life experiences change.

In this show, Andi Mack, is full of these experiences. It illustrates how difficult life change can be. From early life and inter-personality family issues while a teen is developing, learning from the adults in the child's life to the peers they influence from.  Remember us, as "adults" are the role models. While we feel they fill so much of our own lives, we are there for them. As an adult caregiver, regardless of biological or not, if you are in a child's life it is up to you to be a positive role model and be there for the child. And while that wonderful child in your life means the world to you, they not only learn form you, but you learn of yourself.

And what to learn from all of this? Change and acceptance takes time. Time to take it all in. Sometimes we need help accepting, dealing with everything. As a teen, and even the caregivers. Talking to a therapist for the teen and adults can always be a big help too.
 
 
Perhaps you never had the chance to take swim lessons or never had the need to know how to swim. As long as you stay away from water bodies you are fine but when you least expect it and need to know how to swim, will not only put you at risk but also your loved-ones who will survive you. Everyone should know how to swim.

As a former lifeguard we are trained in preventive strategies and understand that drowning can occur when we least expect it. We also know that a victim who is drowning is silent. They do not have time to yell out for help like in the movies. They drown silently, but tragically. A victim can loose consciousness  in only two minutes and result permanent brain damage in 4-6 minutes of submersion. There are times when someone see's a loved-one in trouble in the water and tries to save them, but only becoming a victim themselves. This can be because of their inability and lack of training on how to help someone who is drowning that puts them at risk, but sometimes a natural instinct sets in and they act to-save, even though they do not know how to swim.
Contact your local parks and recreation department or  American Red Cross for a swim class near you!
This is what happened recently when a brave father, who did not know how to swim, instinctively jumped in the water to help his son, but unfortunately lost his own life. He is a hero and his child was saved by a bystander.  Knowing how to swim will not make you a lifeguard because it does not train you in prevention or rescue techniques. But knowing how to swim can save your life (and a loved one) when you least expect the need to know how to swim. Whether it is helping a loved one or a similar tragedy. Every day in the United States, on average, 10-people die from unintentional drowning (CDC) and one in five are children ages 14 and younger.  The most common drowning location is private swimming pools, followed by lakes, rivers and ponds. In addition to preventable drowning related deaths and near-deaths, even survivors among those who have drowned also carry significant emotional and psychological trauma from their loved ones who have died.

If you do not know how to swim, whether you are a parent or not, have nieces or nephews,  or even if you feel that you are not around water, remember when the need arises and that unexpected instinct kicks in when you least expect it, the life you save can be yours and also will help reduce risk of emotional and psychological trauma among your surviving loved ones. Find a swim class near you by contacting your local parks and recreation department or local  American Red Cross.
 
 
I came across this wonderful article, written by Caroline Bologna of The Huffington Post, "This Little Girl Wanted A Poop-Themed Birthday Party, So Her Parents Threw Her One" and wanted to share with parents. As someone who is fortunate to have a wonderful child in my life, I have experienced similar requests and as a parent or caregiver it is important to model healthy behaviors (responses) and also validate (acknowledge) your child's feelings and thoughts.  Further as a cognitive-neuroscientist myself, this is an opportunity to show the importance of how we respond to the child that can promote healthy changes in brain development and learning, throughout their child and teen years.

Many times as an adult, your child will ask for something that, as an adult, sounds out of the social norm, but when we remove our adult "hats" and think about it, it makes perfect sense. It is the wonderful curiosity and uniqueness of a child who is learning that makes sense.

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Huffingtonpost.com This Little Girl Wanted A Poop-Themed Birthday Party, So Her Parents Threw Her One “I tried suggesting other themes, but she always insisted on poop.” By Caroline Bologna
The way we respond to their comment or requests overtime, will result in significance changes to their brain development and affects learning. If we ignore these comments or requests, or make it sound like the child has a bad idea, this will have negative consequences overtime, especially if repetitive. So instead of encouraging the child to think and come up with creative ideas, overtime, this discourages the child from thinking on their own and expressing themselves. For a child to be able to grow up to be independent and successful throughout school we want to encourage the child to think, come up with and express their ideas and be creative. This is how the child learns and applies what they learn in school, from their peers and from their environment. So when a child comes up with something that is somewhat out of the norm, consider it and embrace the idea. This encourages them, increases self-esteem and promotes learning. And of course as adults, we know how important  self-esteem is to child development, because those with higher self-esteem are less likely to worry about income, social status or use alcohol, drugs or sex to help make them feel better. Instead they feel more content, respect themselves, are happier and healthier.

So anytime your child makes a request that might be out of the social norm or out or your comfort zone, remember be positive, think about it, and so long as it is not unsafe, embrace it. However if it is out of your comfort zone and you feel embarrassed it could be you might have lower self-esteem that you have learned, blocks you from trying things or being different. This is common if you have learned this so it is not your fault, but ask yourself if you want to cycle the same pattern of behavior to your child. So for your child's sake, try your best to accept what your child is suggesting, despite being embarrassed or insecure. 

For me, I had parents that modeled positive behaviors which improved my self-esteem, so it was easy to embrace this with my child. Several quick
examples come to mind. As a male I have gone to the office wearing a sparkly bracelet and another time gone to a meeting with one fingernail painted pink. When my little girl would make me a bracelet or painted my nail she was so happy knowing I would wear it. I was equally as proud to have as well. When people noticed I told them my little girl made it for me. They understood and thought it was such a great thing to do. This helped build her self-esteem, improved learning, and also I loved it.

Finally, The Huffington Post article. As I did, by acknowledging my child, similarly, this parent also validated her child. The mother did come up with other ideas, but the child was determined. The mother's response, helped her child stimulate creativity, improved her self-confidence, improved brain and social development, all by validating (acknowledging) the child to continue with her idea. The mother modeled positive behavior by setting boundaries, but yet allowed the child to express what she wanted. And the mother established some great ideas for her child's desire. It's quite unique. I love the "pin the poop on the toilet" game idea. It's something this child will always remember and why? Because it was her idea and her mother acknowledged it.

Remember, this is not only important to your child's ideas but anytime your child is talking, it is important to model positive behaviors in how you respond, but also always validate (acknowledge)
them. So when your child or teen  expresses themselves, respond and acknowledge them, their ideas, feelings, etc. in a positive and helpful way.

 
 
It's that time of year when parents and children start to think and talk about summer camp. Whether it is a summer day camp, equestrian riding camp, or a traditional overnight summer camp, as a parent you need to know what to look for to make sure it is an appropriate camp for your child but also to ensure it is a safe camp.

As a parent myself, an injury epidemiologist, and a former summer camp counselor for four summers, I know when selecting a camp for my child, that all summer camps are not alike and just because it is a designated summer camp does not mean they are all safe. When I first took my child to an equestrian riding camp, I wanted to know if they were certified. For example the American Camping Association (ACA) does certify summer camps. I learned quickly that equestrian summer camps do not have such certification, unless it is part of a traditional overnight summer camp.
Equestrian day summer camps do not have to meet the safety standards and requirements that are required among ACA Accredited summer camps. However this does not mean that the camp might not be safe. However a parent must know what to ask and what to look for. For example the Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA) does certify those who are trained to teach riders. However there are no guidelines specifically for summer camps. As a parent I also wanted to know if they have safety requirements to protect children from injury and if the staff who work with children if they have been screened to make sure they do not have a criminal background. Even further,  what emergency planning are in place in case of an injury. Unfortunately some camps we searched did not have any and some had very little. Because of my background and training I knew what to look for in the summer camp, but many parents might not be aware.

So we developed the Pro Consumer Safety Summer Camp Guide for Parents which has been approved by both the American Camping Association and the Certified Horsemanship Association.  This guide helps parents to make sure the summer camp is appropriate for their child. It gives the parent the necessary questions to ask to ensure the staff and administrators have systems in place to sustain a safe, protective and encouraging educational environment for their child. Don't just assume because it is a summer camp that it is certified, they have emergency protocols in place, they have safe educational practices or safe and psychologically healthy staff. As a parent myself, this guide will help empower you as a parent to know what questions to ask and what to look for to make sure the summer camp provides a safe and healthy learning environment for your child. 

 
 
Even when purchasing a new car seat or booster seat, make sure it has the required Federal sticker which allows  for use in the United States. This sticker is always required. It has valuable information such as manufacturer and model name, date of manufacture, expiration date, etc. This sticker informs you that it is allowed for use in the United States. It also provides information needed to check for recalls and related use information.

This sticker is white, generally rectangular in shape and can be found on the bottom or back of the car seat or booster seat. For infant, rear-facing only car seats, there are two stickers, one for the car seat carrier and one for each base.
Look for the required Federal sticker on your car seat (similar as to the above). This shows any expiration dates, information to check for recalls and illustrates that the seat has met Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) Number 213 of Title 49, Part 571 and legal to use in the United States. In addition, the car seat or booster seat will have contact information in the U.S. to contact the company for recall, problems, registration information, etc.  If the car seat or booster seat does not have this sticker, do not use it! If it is a new car seat or booster seat without one, return it for a refund immediately!
If this sticker is not found on the car seat or booster seat, even if you are sure the seat is allowed in the United States (i.e. well known brand such as Evenflo or Britax) or you know if it once had a sticker because you used the seat for a previous child, it is not legal to use. It needs this sticker to be valid. If you are not able to find this sticker DO NOT use the seat. This is equally as important if renting a car seat from a car rental or baby gear rental as well. When in question, always check with a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician to confirm.

If purchasing a car seat or booster seat ONLINE, make sure it has this sticker and appropriate instructions that show it is allowed for use in the United States. There are some car seats for sale on trusted websites such as Amazon and eBay, for example, that do not have these stickers and are not allowed for use in the United States. Remember a car seat or booster seat without this sticker is NOT safe, nor legal and has not been crash tested under Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213. As a result it is not clear how that car seat or booster would  perform during a car crash.  This puts your child at risk of severe injury or death in the event of a collision. Further the driver and/or parent are at risk of being ticketed because of driving with a child without a U.S. approved child restraint system. So if it does not have this sticker, return it for a full refund immediately. Anytime you are unsure always talk with a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician.

 
 
Festive feasts and holiday treats are a favorite part of the holiday and Hanukkah season. Children are especially eager to help prepare goodies and learn about cooking. Remember, having children around the kitchen requires a care and supervision. 

Kitchen Safety                                    
  • Never leave food that is cooking unattended
  • Turn all pot handles toward the back of the stove
  • Keep flammable items, such as towels & dishrags, away from the stove top
  • Never put water on a cooking fire…use baking soda or flour to help put it out
  • Turn off all appliances before leaving the kitchen

Cooking with Child Helpers       
  • Before introducing children to the kitchen, make sure you have taken essential safety steps such as having a fire extinguisher nearby
  • Wash your hands frequently as well as your children
  • Never leave a child unattended in the kitchen
  • Never carry a child while cooking
  • Make sure you & your child wear close-fitting clothing when cooking
  • Always supervise a child when using the microwave
  • Children under age 10 should not handle the stove, electrical appliances, sharp utensils or hot dishes
  • Be sure to keep hot liquids and foods away from counter or table edges where they can be easily knocked off by children
  • Unplug appliance cords when not in use and keep them out of children’s reach

U.S. Department of Agriculture Meat and Poultry Hotline:
1-800-535-4555
1-800-256-7072 (TDD/TTY)
Food & Cooking Safety                   

Clean: 
Wash hands & food-contact surfaces often. Bacteria can spread throughout the kitchen & get onto cutting boards, knives, sponges, & counter tops.

Separate: 
Don't cross-contaminate--don't let bacteria spread from one food product to another-especially true for raw meat, poultry and seafood. Keep these foods and their juices away from ready-to-eat foods.

Cook: 
Cook to proper temperatures. Foods are properly cooked when they are heated for a long enough time and at a high enough temperature to kill the harmful bacteria that cause foodborne illness.

Chill: 
Refrigerate promptly. Refrigerate foods quickly keeps most harmful bacteria from growing and multiplying. Keep refrigerator set at 40 F & freezer at "0" F, check settings occasionally with a thermometer.

Remember to follow these tips to help keep you and your family safe this holiday season. Watch out for all of the eight part serious on holiday safety including Cooking, Stress-Free Holidays, The Holidays After Loss of A Loved One, Shopping, Child Safe Gift Guide, Gift's and Child Boundaries, and Family Holiday Activities and more.

You can also visit Winter Holidays and Winter Sport Safety or read or print Holiday Times for all your holiday safety needs.

For questions, contact holidaysafety@proconsumersafety.com

 
 
The holidays are a great time to share special times with your children. Different activities can help stimulate their creativity and learning while making new traditions that will last them a lifetime. They will cherish and remember these experiences and activities more than any purchased gift.
Remember today is a gift. Live in the moment with your child today. This is why we call is the "present".

  • Bake & decorate cookies (from scratch of course-No cheating!). Have younger and older children take part in helping age-appropriate tasks
  • Go Christmas caroling with friends
  • Watch Christmas movies and have hot chocolate
  • Make decorations and ornaments. Have the children create their own for your own home or for gifts. Keeping in mind that small parts of 1 3/4 inch  is a hazard to infants and toddlers.
  • Have older children take part if planning holiday decorating and even holiday treat and recipe planning
  • Give a child one special ornament each year for the tree. That way when they will have a childhood collection of their own ornaments
  • Make your own Christmas gift "year"
  • Have older children create a holiday-related family game
  • When children create something special they made such as a Christmas cookie or ornament, preserve to use as ornaments for future years
  • Have the kids help create their own Christmas song
  • Have older children choose one day per week while out of school to go do something different, from a scavenger hunt, to looking at Christmas lights, making holiday crafts, etc.
  • Make a scavenger hunt with a holiday theme with your children and their friends. Write holiday facts on small papers with something small like a candy cane, then hide with a hint for another find.
  • Visit a holiday ice show or ballet
  • Take plenty of photos to use as a holiday scrap book for future years
  • Take a short trip. Either a day trip or weekend outing. Many cities and regions have their own special holiday features. Find out more by searching online for something special. Have older children help in the search and choices
  •  Plan a visit to one of the Polar Express train rides near you
  • Santa from around the world
  • Make your own Christmas cards
  • Take a drive or walk to look at Christmas lights and decorations
  • Attend a local Christmas parade
  • Have older children plan a few holiday season meals and cook before Christmas
  • Go to the snow, if possible, make a snowman, go sledding, play. Be a kid with your kids!
  • Go ice skating with your children
  • Go skiing or snowboarding, again if you are near snow or plan a trip (see Winter Sports). Taking time for Christmas activities and games as well
  • Between Thanksgiving and Christmas take time to have a several fun holiday theme meals or desert enjoying Christmas music and holiday activities
  • Make a gingerbread house or cookies for decorations. Play Christmas music have hot chocolate as you create
  • Get creative with the children. Look at the stars and create your own holiday related constellation as a gift 
  • Create holiday stories. Then make into small holiday books
  • Make an advent calendar and each day from December 1st to December 24th write a little note with a Christmas fact for your child to have each morning
  • Visit museums or community holiday events
  • Read or make up holiday stories for your children. These can be used throughout the holiday season. Small short stories before bedtime and later to be used as a small book for a gift when they are older
  • Save your mobile phone photos by year on your hard drive so later you can make an annual childhood scrapbook. A great gift when they come home from college
  • Create a new tradition of having the children, and adults, make one gift. Being creative it can be by hand, it can be a song, a play, a card, a poem, whatever they choose
  • Play a game with your children while listening to Christmas music and having a holiday desert
  • Attend a professional or local, school Christmas play
  • Contact Santa at the North Pole

Remember to follow these tips to help keep you and your family safe this holiday season. Watch out for all of the eight part serious on holiday safety including Cooking, Stress-Free Holidays, The Holidays After Loss of A Loved One, Shopping, Child Safe Gift Guide, Gift's and Child Boundaries, and Family Holiday Activities and more.

You can also visit Winter Holidays and Winter Sport Safety or read or print Holiday Times for all your holiday safety needs.

For questions, contact holidaysafety@proconsumersafety.com