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Tag Archive for: kids health

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Give Gifts That Help Children ‘Grow’

If you’re a keen and organized shopper, I’m sure you have the majority of your holiday gifts already purchased, and if you’re anything like my Mother had everything done and wrapped in August! However, if you’re anything like my husband, you are waiting until the 24th to think about Christmas.

Although Santa and his Elves are hard at work building the toys your children put on their Christmas wish list, there may be a few items you still need to purchase.

We consulted our talented team of Pediatric Occupational Therapists and are happy to provide you with some fun but functional gift inspiration. These are gifts that are educational and stimulate child development:

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Sports Drinks vs. Energy Drinks: Can You Spot the Difference?

Are you able to spot the difference between a regular “sports drink” like a Gatorade and an “energy drink” that is full of caffeine and sugar without looking at the nutrition label?  It might be harder than you think—and if it’s hard for an adult, think of how many kids might make the mistake.  Learn more about a concerning new study warning the dangers of “energy drinks” for youth care of CBC News.

CBC News:  U of C researcher warns parents about dangers of high-caffeine energy drinks

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The A to Z of OT: K is For… Kids Health

Occupational Therapists work with people of any age, including children.  Occupational Therapists can assist children in many ways including, growth and development, learning disabilities, physical disabilities, overcoming eating issues and more.  Learn about some of the many ways an OT can help children in our post, Occupational Therapy Works for Kids.

 

October is Occupational Therapy Month and to celebrate we will be sharing a new series called the A to Z of OT.  In our attempts to further educate the public about what Occupational Therapists do we will be highlighting twenty-six of the awesome ways OTs provide Solutions for Living.  

We encourage you to follow along and to add to the discussion by highlighting other awesome things OTs help with for each corresponding letter!

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Beat Bullying with a Little Help From OT

Despite a huge focus on kindness, acceptance, and belonging, bullying still exists.  Young children, adolescents and even adults who find themselves being bullied by their peers often struggle through these traumatic experiences.  When it comes to “beating bullying” OT can help!  Occupational Therapists in South Africa who founded BullyBusters recently presented their helpful methods at the World Federation of Occupational Therapists conference in Cape Town.  Learn more about BullyBusters and their top tips to both bully-proof yourself and to overcome bullying if you’re already a victim in the following article.

Parent 24:  Practical tips on how to deal with bullying, the OT way

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Let’s Talk About Sex… and Education

Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

Sexuality is an integral part of being human and is another one of those concepts that exists on a spectrum.  It contains with it physical, emotional, social, behavioral and relational elements that impact us all at various levels and times in our lives.  As an occupational therapist, I have had many conversations with clients about changes in sexual activity post-disability, injury or trauma.  Some of these conversations are as simple as “sex is the last thing on my mind” to “I would just like to sleep beside my spouse again”…to “do you have any resources or devices you can suggest to help me re-engage sexually”…

It was in 2000 when, during my OT training, we had a lecture designed to educate and inform us about adaptive sexuality and sexual activity.  The lecturer was perfect – he was a social worker, openly gay, and owned a retail store for adult intimacy items.  He was very knowledgeable about the topic of adaptive sexuality, counselled people at his store, and the topic clearly did not make him at all uncomfortable.  But that was not true of our class.  Soon after he started his lecture and produced some adaptive items that his clients have found helpful, half of our class got up and left (in fairness, he told us all if the topic made us uncomfortable he would not be offended if we left).  I was amazed and disappointed at the same time.  Here we were, in the process of being trained to help people function in all areas of life after disability, and some members of my class were not open to learning about this.  I guess that explains why the spectrum exists – because we all have various levels of comfort with such a vulnerable, intrusive and often “taboo” topic.  

Fast forward almost 20 years to the first weeks of school, I can understand the current debate in Ontario over the topic of sex and sex education and fully appreciate both sides of the argument.  But as a parent of four teenage girls, I must ask: “what is best for the kids”?  Well, that answer too will be complicated – for some, it will be best for them to learn from their parents and for others, the school will do a better job of educating them in a way that is respectful, honest, inclusive and forthcoming.  What I think we don’t want as parents, educators, or as a society, is for kids to “figure it out on their own” and turn to the internet and social media to get answers to their important questions.  As we all know, the internet contains a lot of harmful images, video, and opinions that could negatively impact them if they go looking.

Of greatest concern, however, is the mental health of the kids who have thoughts, feelings, emotions or experiences with sexuality that are unconventional, confusing, violating or just plain scary.  If these kids are not given the proper channels, at home or school, to talk and sort-through, understand, cope with and manage these, how will they adjust?  We know kids today are increasingly anxious and depressed, we know suicidal ideation and risk is high in youth, so how can we best support them?  I personally don’t think that is through undermining research that tells us these conversations need to happen, or by resurrecting outdated anything that we know is obsolete to appease those (like half of my OT class) who find these topics, and the evolution of sexuality over the last 20 years, uncomfortable.  Kids are smart and instinctive – if adults are fighting over this, the entire concept of helping them through the many phases of sexual development may become something they won’t allow any caring and responsible adult to be a part of.  That would be a poor outcome for us all.

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What to Look for in a Backpack

Backpacks are a staple for every student. They travel back and forth between home and school, lugging books and school supplies. They are put through the unavoidable daily abuse of being thrown on the ground, trampled on, stuffed into a cubby or locker, saving a spot in line, and become over-stretched and over-used with the necessities of school. They are a necessary part of your child’s education, yet how much thought do you really put into the backpack your child wears aside from maybe price or color?  Have you considered the health implications of an improperly worn, fitted, or poorly supportive backpack?

Learn what to look for in a backpack to ensure optimal support in the following infographic:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information on how to select a backpack, proper fit and use watch our OT-V episode, Backpack Safety Guidelines.

 

Summer Programming Note:

Summer vacation is here and we will be taking a break from our regular schedule.  We will be posting some of our popular seasonal blogs just once a week throughout the summer but will resume our regular three weekly posts in September, filled with new and exciting content including our popular O-Tip of Week series.

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No You May NOT Wait in the Car

Have your children ever asked you if they could just wait in the car while you run into the bank, grocery store or post office?  Though it may seem like a short trip where kids would be safe, they may not be.

In keeping with our posts about summer health and safety, I thought I would touch on another very tragic, but preventable, circumstance surrounding cars and children.  It was the first very hot and humid day a few summers ago when I heard of the death of a two-year-old after his grandmother left him in the car.  She just forgot he was there and went about her day.  While it might seem inconceivable that this could happen to any caring and well-intentioned adult, I read an article recently that helped me to understand how possible this is.

Several years ago a mother in Calgary was returning to her job as a University Professor after a one-year maternity leave following the birth of her second child.  She was a well-educated and diligent mother that did everything she could to protect the safety of her children during pregnancy, at home, and in the community. With her return to work the family had to adopt a new routine.  She dropped her older child at day care and proceeded to take her daughter (11 months) to her new child care provider.  The mother and daughter were singing and laughing in the car when the child fell asleep.  The mother then spent the next several minutes putting together a very detailed mental plan of how she was going to get her child out of the car seat and into the day care without waking her.  Once she visualized that process, and understood how it would all work, her mind rapidly switched to thoughts about her first week back at work and all the things she needed to accomplish.  She arrived at work, went about her day, and realized when she came to her car to go home that her daughter was still in the car seat.

Her purpose of engaging in the interview and having the article published was to help people understand how this could happen and how it can be prevented.  For her, she believes that the process of “visualizing” the drop off of her daughter made her mind believe that it actually happened.  When her mind switched to thinking about work, it was convinced that her other responsibilities had been completed.  This is the power of visualization, and of a distracted mind.

But I feel the most important aspect of the article were the strategies for prevention.  The mother went on to have other children and talked openly about the steps she now takes to ensure she does not relive this tragedy.  She explained that she always makes sure she puts something in the back seat with her children.  Her purse, work bag, lunch. This requires her to enter the back seat of her car when getting out.  Or, the opposite could also work – put a diaper bag, toy or child backpack in the front seat to cue you to their presence.  This mother also said she has asked her child care providers to call her directly if her children are not dropped off on time, as expected.  Lastly, when putting her children in their car seat she puts on a bracelet that is kept in the seat.  She takes it off when getting them out. This serves as a visual cue, but has also become part of her new car seat routine that will reinforce a new behavior (put the bracelet back in the car seat when leaving the vehicle, making her access the seat).

According to WebMD “there is no safe amount of time to leave a child (or pet) in a car”.  The temperature inside a car can rise or fall exponentially faster than the temperature outside, as your car functions as a greenhouse.  Just get in your car on a hot day and try to breathe.  Preventing child death from being left in a car is possible, and parents need to be wary of new routines, changes in schedules, and the cognitive process of remembering multiple things.  And most of all, don’t be naïve enough to believe the self-fulfilling “this could never happen to me” phenomenon.  Any oversight, regardless of how significant, can happen to us all.

 

Summer Programming Note:

Summer vacation is here and we will be taking a break from our regular schedule.  We will be posting some of our popular seasonal blogs just once a week throughout the summer but will resume our regular three weekly posts in September, filled with new and exciting content including our popular O-Tip of Week series.

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Summer Reading Challenge

It can be difficult to keep children’s minds stimulated during the summer months and often many children suffer summer brain drain.  One of the best ways to put a plug on this drain is to encourage regular reading.  Encourage your child to set a SMART Goal for how many books they plan to read this summer and keep track using our free printable summer reading log.  Be sure to build in rewards when your child is on track and when they meet their goal!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Programming Note:

Summer vacation is here and we will be taking a break from our regular schedule.  We will be posting some of our popular seasonal blogs just once a week throughout the summer but will resume our regular three weekly posts in September, filled with new and exciting content including our popular O-Tip of Week series.

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Fun Ways to Encourage Learning Over the Summer Months

It’s that time again… The report cards are done, the bell has rung, and summer vacation is upon us! Summer is a time for camps, vacations, trips, cottaging and so much more.  But with all the fun in store, where do they fit in time to learn? How do we as parents make sure our kids don’t suffer summer “brain drain,” while still ensuring they get the break and vacation they need?  Check out the following infographic for ideas to keep kids brains sharp while having fun this summer vacation:

Previously posted July 2017

Summer Programming Note:

Summer vacation is here and we will be taking a break from our regular schedule. We will be posting some of our popular seasonal blogs just once a week throughout the summer but will resume our regular three weekly posts in September, filled with new and exciting content including our popular O-Tip of Week series.

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O-Tip of the Week: Encourage Active Kids with “Build Your Best Day”

Our O-Tip of the week series we will be providing valuable “OT-Approved Life Hacks” to provide you with simple and helpful solutions for living. 

Spring has finally sprung and it’s time than to add some healthy activity to your life.  So, for the month of May our series will be providing tips to help you get physical!

We came across this great tool for helping kids ensure they are meeting physical activity, screen time, and sleep recommendations each day.  Check out Build your Best Day by Participaction to help kids find fun ways to get the 60 minutes of physical activity they need each and every day!

Participaction: Build Your Best Day