The week's best parenting advice: September 21, 2021
Pfizer's latest vaccine results, kids' books for hard times, and more
Do we finally have a COVID vaccine for younger children?
Pediatric COVID-19 cases have risen by 240 percent since July, and while vaccines are approved for kids 12 to 15, many parents are eager to get their younger children vaccinated. Pfizer and BioNTech said Monday their COVID-19 vaccine is "safe, well-tolerated, and showed robust neutralizing antibody responses" in children ages 5 to 11. The 2,268 trial participants in that age group were given two smaller doses of the Pfizer vaccine, and the "results provide a strong foundation for seeking authorization of our vaccine for children 5 to 11 years old, and we plan to submit them to the FDA and other regulators with urgency," Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said. Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said this means kids in this age group could start getting vaccinated as soon as Halloween. "Now that they have the data, they could be ready to file this within days with the Food and Drug Administration," Gottlieb said.
Kids' books for hard times
Kids are pretty resilient, as demonstrated by their ability to withstand pandemic-induced change over the last 18 months. But that doesn't mean they haven't struggled. Parents looking for resources to help kids process the pandemic — or other particularly challenging experiences — can look to books. "Reading stories to and with our children about other kids who have lived through difficult periods in history can help strengthen their resolve and even make them grateful for the many comforts that make pandemic life bearable," writes Laura Catherine Hanby Hudgens at Motherwell. Examples include A New Coat for Anna, set in post-World War II Europe; A Long Walk to Water, about struggling Sudanese children; and for older readers, Little Women, which, while heartwarming, also "portrays the material and emotional hardships faced by families of Civil War soldiers." Books about hard times can "serve as an effective springboard for conversations with our kids about the struggles and blessings of these challenging times we are living in now," Hanby Hudgens says.
You're wearing that?
Should parents try to control what their teenage daughters wear? The parent of a 14-year-old poses this question to The Washington Post's Meghan Leahy, author of Parenting Outside the Lines, complaining that their daughter's crop tops are making them uncomfortable. "I'm worried we are going to fight about it every day," the parent writes. Leahy's advice? Pick your battles. "If you nitpick her crop tops, what will happen to your relationship? ... Will your disapproval drive a wedge in your relationship or bring you closer? The answers should lead you to some conclusions about how to proceed." Your conversations about the topic should involve more listening than talking, Leahy says, to encourage a dialogue rather adding shame. Parents should also examine the roots of their own insecurities about their daughters' appearances. "Take the worry and empower yourself to be an advocate for your daughter to take exceptional care of herself and her body," Leahy says.
Newborn products to avoid
New parents are inundated with advice about what their newborn will need, but all those baby products can be expensive — you can't buy them all. And the good news is, you don't have to. Sarah Showfety at Lifehacker has a handy list of new baby products to skip, including baby shoes ("Your baby can't walk!"), a wipe warmer ("hold a regular wipe in the palm of your closed hand for five seconds and voila: nature's heater"), and hooded bath robes ("trying to accurately slide squirming, shell-shocked and cold little arms into a bathrobe is no easy task"). Perhaps most surprisingly, Showfety recommends parents avoid spending a lot on cute newborn clothes, with good reason: "A baby's primary activities are sleeping and emitting bodily fluids. Any nice clothes you put on an infant will inevitably be marred by spit up or poop."
How to make 'monster spray'
Many young children go through a phase during which they're convinced their bedroom is teeming with monsters. This might seem ridiculous to parents, but it can exacerbate fears of the dark and make bedtime a challenge. Savvy moms and dads swear by "monster spray" — a spray bottle filled with liquid meant to ward off the boogie man and make fearful children feel protected. If you want to make monster spray, Jessica Tucker at Moms recommends you let your child help decorate the bottle, sprinkle in some sparkles for an extra "magic" factor, and maybe even add some nice-smelling essential oils. Remember, opaque bottles won't work, "because part of the magic of the 'monster spray' is being able to see the liquid in the bottle," Tucker says.