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 is all too often that we hear cases of teen behaviors resulting in physical fights leading to outcomes where the teens never expected or even desired. Including disability, death, prison time, all resulting in consequences that can  change their lives forever.
It is easier for adults to understand this, because adults make most decisions with their prefrontal cortex. The part of the brain responsible for decision making and understanding consequences and planning. This is the executive functioning part of the brain, that is not fully developed until the mid to late 20's. Among teens, this part of the brain is not yet functional. Instead teens utilize their limbic system to make decisions. The part of the brain responsible for strong emotions.  While there are other neurodevelopmental factors such as neurotransmitter changes that also affect risk taking and acting out behaviors, this part of the brain is where teens act out based on strong emotions and move straight into fight-or-flight. They lack understanding, negotiation, remembering consequences, etc.

Schools can have all the regulatory requirements, programs, disciplinary practices necessary, but yet with teens, once the limbic system is activated, these programs and even disciplinary practices are not a part of their decision making in that moment. Even if a small part is, the teen is often unable to think of consequences but rather survival and strong emotions. The teens "react" rather than "respond", resulting in unintended outcomes and consequences.  Regardless of who started what or why, this is unfortunately what happened among several teens at Howard High School of Technology in Wilmington, Delaware, that resulted in the death of a 16-year old sophomore.

As an injury and neuroepidemiologist, as well as a parent, it is sad to see how these teens lives are now changed forever. There is no reason for us adults to allow such behavior. Of course it is difficult especially if adults try to intervene in the moment. What teens need is help through skill building activities way before, so they do not get to this stage of behavior. It seems clear that adults understand the teens behavior, but they seem to lack the reasoning of why they behave this way and the teens difficulty in their inability to stop. It is all to often adults think only if we have stronger discipline and consequences then they will behave differently. In some cases this can work. But again those work when the teen limbic system has not been fully activated during fight-or-flight. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies have shown how teens differ from adult developed brains. These studies in the lab have confirmed how a teen will increase risk taking even when they just think their peers can see them.
The teen developing brain is different. It is not that teens are not intelligent. Many teens that I have taught in schools are amazing. Of course they are young, unexperienced, not yet ready to conquer the world, but very knowledgeable and even eager with many interests. Which is something adults need to encourage and nurture.  However once the teen becomes emotional there is no more sanity. It is not that they are crazy.
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Time laps of the human brain between the ages of 5-20 years illustrating range of maturity
As adults, now that neuroscience studies have demonstrated why this occurs and have identified such differences between the adult and teen brain, injury and violence prevention programs, including discipline and even academic classes, need to be structured with the consideration of how the teen brain is developing. Studies have shown this can improve not only their behavior but also academic skills. It is not about adults telling teens they are bad, in trouble, or to threaten them that they are about to get into trouble, or yell at them saying were you not thinking? Remember they cannot think under their emotional condition at that moment. So no, they were not thinking. Of course, they are still responsible for their behavior.  

These developmental differences among the teen brain however are further magnified when children and teens have been exposed to child abuse and neglect, intimate partner violence, family dysfunction or even that parent who is just "a little controlling". These all can contribute to negative effects, making the reactions of the emotional brain  even more severe. Further, are those teens who have parents and caregivers who model poor, unhealthy and risky coping skills to them.

Adults, educators, administrators, policy makers, all need to consider the development of the teen brain  when planning prevention programs and even disciplinary practices. This is why I have studied and applied neuroscience to develop more strategic and effective public health programs. Without this neuroscience based component, teens will continue to act out, misbehave and never learn how to control their emotions. Resulting in another generation of adults who will eventually be in relationships raising children. And yet another generation of acting out behaviors, despite the best intentions of parents/caregivers, educators or policy makers. But such neuroscience based programs are not just helping to reducing emotional and violent behavior but also effective in reducing other risky behaviors observed throughout adolescence such as alcohol and drug use, early sexual behavior and thrill seeking. Overall without applying neuroscience based programs, we are not doing justice to teens. We have the understanding and evidence base neuroscience. So now it is time to develop programs more strategically with the teen brain in mind.
Parents, caregivers, school administrators and educators, and even probation now have programs available that include a neuroscience based approach. Pro Consumer Safety has developed Cognitive-Based Integrative (CBI) Programs to help provide parents and teens with the necessary skills so they can become empowered and have the ability practice healthy behaviors and skills to make positive choices in their life. 
Parents and caregivers often have the best intention for their children, but when the parent or caregiver are unsure or even not aware of how their own past upbringing and existing behaviors contribute to their child's development and behavior, the best is often not reached and the parents/caregiver get the opposite of what they want. Teens also want the best for themselves. While they are trying to learn, searching for their own interests they also have peer pressure, pressure trying to meet parental standards and even negative effects from media and marketing to children and teens. Again guiding the child or teen in a direction of unwanted territory. It is up to us, as adults, to provide them with the best approaches based on the emotional brain (limbic system) so they can make healthy decisions for a successful future, leading to more successful generations.

Related Information
 
 
Public Shaming and Public Humiliation before Cyberbullying: Taking a moment to look back and an opportunity for cultural change and what parents can learn.
 As technology changes, bringing in newly defined terms such as cyberbulling, cyberstalking, etc, but before these terms and existing technology existed, public shaming and humiliation still occurred having similar negative consequences. It was not until I heard Monica Lewinski speak on TedTalk and after my 12 years of doing research in this area, that made this recall of my own thoughts and experience while at The White House during that time.
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In 1998 I had the fortunate opportunity to have interned in The White House while I was pursuing my graduate degree in public health from George Washington University. While my position as an "intern" was amazing I was only an intern and while I did have the opportunity to have met former President Clinton at the time, it was truly a rewarding experience. Although this was my second opportunity providing a voluntary work at The White House but this time was different. I recall one morning before I received my identification badge and had to enter through the security gate. This particular morning was the fourth day being crowded with media reporters waiting for their clearance. I was there in my suit like most are dressed formally in Washington DC and I overheard two reporters talking saying "it must be a zoo in there, wild, crazy". I was only an intern and did not want to participate in pointless conversation. However I thought to myself “if you only knew, inside it is professional, respectful and the most hard working environment I have ever worked”. I did not speak much about me interning at The White House, other than my immediate family, not even to my colleagues. But honestly, with the amount of negative media and internet attention the situation was gaining, I did not want any needless attention.  
There were many interns at The White House and I did not work with Monica Lewinski, nor did I ever meet her. Obviously she had a much different level of internship at The White House. With my position, I only spent every Friday there with my internship work. When I did hear of her name was only in the news. Hearing words that were so hurtful and unprofessional that even at that time in my career, I felt were uncalled for, disrespectful and damaging. When I would be out with colleagues we would hear jokes about her which were degrading and unfair. Although they had a right to express their own opinion. But this was more than an opinion it was harmful. Eventually email lists and jokes at the time were similar. While I did not know how this affected her personally, I did know she was young and this could damage her reputation and have negative psychological consequences.
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As time went on, I finished my internship, research and graduated. I began a full time position as a behavioral scientist in public health. At the time part of my work was a technical adviser with the Child and Adolescent Suicide Death Review Team where we reviewed suicide related death cases for the coroner to assist in determination and assist in the development of prevention programs. I worked with the team for 12 years and most of the child and adolescent suicides were due to dysfunction in the home and bullying. It was not until recently that I heard Monica Lewinski speak on Ted Talk, that I began to think of that incident back in 1998. Hearing her speak confirmed of what I thought at that time, and what I learned over my 12 years doing research and being part of the death review team. Hearing her speak confirmed her view of a 22 year old girl and at that time I recalled of no adult or professional of ever considering how their words they used against her would affect her at such a young age in her college career or future. With my background in cognitive neuroscience and research on the adolescent brain, her brain was in a late development stage which upon such exposure could have traumatic effects. Further with brain development regardless of age the brain is plastic and adapts to respond to its environment. Looking back, I recall professionals and adults publicly shaming her resulting in further trauma. And at the time what she needed were healthy adults and professionals in her life to model for her how to respond and show guidance. Unfortunately she got worldwide attention because of her internship position and relationship with the President of the United States, from websites to emails defining and judging her worldwide within days that continued and continued.

When Monica Lewinski speaks on TedTalk one can observe how she felt and while at the time it was cyberbulling even though this term was yet to be defined. While social media platforms of today did not exist then, internet websites and email did, which is how most of the public slamming was widely spread.  As adults, our behaviors are often modeled to those younger. It is up to us adults to take those who are younger into account before we react and instead respond appropriately. In the blog "An Apology: How I Failed Monica Lewinsky" provides an excellent example of how one can take responsibility for past behavior. Once we take responsibility for our own behavior we not only learn of ourselves but also model such positive behaviors to those younger. Whether students or young professionals, we can begin to change social norms. Take a moment to listen to Monica Lewinski on Ted Talk and read the Blog, from HopeLab.

 
 
This video offers an excellent learning opportunity to teach parents about factors that influence their child's self-esteem and image. As a parent we want the best for our child. Unfortunately sometimes a parent might not be happy with how they look, like their hair for example. Such behaviors are modeled to children and teens. Unfortunately the child or teen learns from the parent and can have a negative affect on the child or teen's self-esteem.

Everyone should first be happy with the way they look. For girls in particular are often bombarded by media with super-thin models, the use of make-up and related beauty products to change how they look and they begin to compare and feel insecure about themselves. This can have a major negative affect on girls when exposed to such powerful messages affecting their self-esteem and image.

This video, about children not liking their curly hair makes an excellent point. Parents and adults in the child or teen's life can have significant influence in helping to improve their child's self-esteem and image in how they look and feel about themselves. 
Loving how one looks is a step to improving one's self-esteem. Once the parent learns to love how they look naturally, you will be surprised what positive influence this will have on your child or teen's self-esteem. It is more important to love who you and how you look, and be happy with yourself, than try to change yourself to someone who you  are not. Learn to love how beautiful you look. It will have a major influence to improving your child's self-esteem and self-image. Your child will also become more confident in themselves so they can focus on life learning activities and opportunities such as those in The Parent's Pyramid. Show your child how beautiful you are naturally, today.
 
 
Pro Consumer Safety recognizes International Youth Day, by providing educational materials to empower adults to "think globally, but act locally" for the sake of children. Adults must model positive, healthy behaviors to the children in their life and among those in their community.   
International Youth Day: In 1998 the United Nations General Assembly endorsed the 12th of August to be declared as International Youth Day. This years theme, "Youth and Mental Health" helps to raise awareness and overcome stigma and discrimination. While this is highly needed, lets also keep in mind that brain and behavior research has shown that a child or teen exposed to abuse and violence can also be a contributing factor to developing a mental health disorder later in their late teen and early adult years. However when adults seek mental health services them selves and model healthy behavior can significantly reduce this risk.

Child's Environment & Brain Development: A child's brain will adapt to the environment it is exposed to, in order to survive.  As a result, children are often a product of their environment including those around them, from whom they learn from. From biological parents to non-traditional parents (current and past boyfriends, girlfriends, grandparents, and other caregivers who have been involved in the child's life) all have the responsibility of letting of of their own "adult" issues and be there for the best interest of the child or teen. And this is especially important for younger teens. Younger teens need the stability of adult caregivers. For those adults who have been involved in their upbringing, from biological to non-traditional caregivers need to remain consistent. The modeling of adults will help the teen to also learn about communication and relationships. Data has shown that more and more children and teens are being raised in non-traditional homes by a single parent along with one or more non-biological caregivers who have been involved in the child's life. These adults all need to understand how their relationship plays a role in the child's development. It's not about the adult. It's about the child.
 
Children need to feel:
  • Safe and secure (not scared or confused)
  • Needed (being included, feeling important, feeling helpful)
  • Acknowledged (ability express their own needs and feelings, and having them respected, have their personal boundaries honored, honoring their passion for activities)

Think Global but Act Local  

For our children’s sake, think globally, but act locally by modeling positive, healthy behaviors to the children in your life and among those in your community! 

The following describes the educational materials that are downloadable below:
  • Healthy Parenting Tips: Exposing children to various learning activities, allowing them to explore their own interests and passions (not yours), will help to promote brain development and learning.
  • Parental Relationships: Parental relationships are one of the leading causes of relationship dysfunction and exposure to abuse, that has a negative impact on their development, learning, self esteem, etc.
  • Child Abuse & Neglect: These items provide resources, traumatic effects and exposure to child abuse and neglect.

HEALTHY PARENTING TIPS                                                                                                                                          
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A Parent's Pyramid
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Importance of Play
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Guidelines for Parents: Electronic Devices
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Children's Book List for Parents
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Promoting Teen's Passion for Activities-Improving Brain Development
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Anyone can be a Biological Father, but it takes a real man to be a Daddy
PARENTAL RELATIONSHIPS                                                                                                                                        
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How does your relationship rate?
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Relationship Abuse & Children
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Signs of Relationship Abuse
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Stalking
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How relationship abuse affects children
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How relationship abuse affects child development
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Parent dysfunction & children feel
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How children learn relationship dysfunction is normal
CHILD ABUSE & NEGLECT                                                                                                                                            
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Emotional abuse is child abuse
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Emotional abuse is child abuse
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Emotional abuse is child abuse
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Myths & facts of child abuse
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Yelling at a child is verbal abuse
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Don't blame the teens years, it's from abuse
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Guidelines for parents: developmental sexual behaviors in children

Questions or information on how you can learn more about how parents can decrease risky behaviors among their children during their adolescence years, please contact Dr. Safety at DrSafety@proconsumersafety.com
 
 
Children and hot cars don't mix! Pro Consumer Safety provides guidelines for prevention and educational material to help prevent these 100% preventable deaths. On average nearly every week in the United States a child under the age of two dies of hyperthermia from  being left alone in a motor vehicle.  

In over half of these confirmed deaths, the parent forgot their child was in the car. This is usually from a change of routine.  In 29% of cases the child was playing in an unlocked vehicle then got locked in, and 19% of cases the parent left the child for a moment then got distracted and forgot their child. Parents and caregivers need to understand that the body of a baby can heat up 3-5 times faster than that of an adult. As a result children should NEVER be left alone in a motor vehicle.

Pro Consumer Safety urges parents, caregivers and other adults to practice the following guidelines to help keep children safe:
  1. Never leave  child alone in a motor  vehicle, not even for a minute  (in 19 states it is illegal to leave a child alone in a motor vehicle. See link to laws below). Take your child with you first before leaving your car. 
  2. Leave Reminders: After you buckle your child up in their appropriate child safety restraint, leave reminders on the back floor next to your child, such as a briefcase, a purse or a cell phone (something needed at your final destination). This is especially important if you’re not following your normal routine such as a different parent taking the baby to day care. Also request that your day care provider or babysitter call you anytime the baby does not show up. This prevents forgetfulness during a change in routine.
  3. Lock Your Car: Keep your car locked when you’re not in it so children are unable to climb in on their own.
  4. Call 911: If you see a child alone in a motor vehicle, call 911. Emergency personnel want you to call. They are trained to respond to these situations. One call could save a life.

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Educational Material (click above to download)
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FACT SHEET (click above to download)

For more information or media advisory contact Pro Consumer Safety
323-491-6197
 
 
The recent incident of the 13-year-old girl who's mobile phone burst into flames under her pillow while she was sleeping, brings up the need for parents to follow the Guidelines for Parents: Electronic Devices, published by Pro Consumer Safety.

While this incident warns of using unauthorized accessories for smartphones, this also shows parents why it is important to set rules for use among older children and younger teens with electronic devices. To assist parents in establishing and practicing rules for their children, e
arlier this summer Pro Consumer Safety issued new guidelines for parents on the use of electronic devices for older children and teens. These guidelines help to reduce the potential injury risks among children and teens from the use of electronic devices. 

Pro Consumer Safety advises the parents of older children and younger teens to follow the recently released guidelines. These guidelines are available for download and distribution. 

Pro Consumer Safety

Download the Guidelines for Parents: Electronic Devices below and visit our social media sites for additional parenting information.
Guidelines for Parents Electronic Devices.pdf
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