The week's best parenting advice: October 26, 2021
The most common Halloween injury, America's pediatric mental health crisis, and more
The most common Halloween injury
It's Halloween week, and parents may be wondering about the best ways to keep kids safe when they venture out for trick-or-treating. Last year, COVID was the top concern, but this year experts say the risk of infection for outdoor events is low. Instead, the most dangerous part of Halloween for kids seems to be the costumes. "When I work in the emergency department, the number one thing I see on Halloween are kids who fall and get hurt," says Dr. John Perno, vice president of medical affairs at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital. "Having a safe costume is the best way to start off on having a good Halloween." Indeed, nearly 30 percent of Halloween-related injuries seen in the ER can be attributed to falling down, reports ABC Action News, so make sure your kid is comfortable and can move safely in their costume before they venture out.
What's scarier than a toddler tantrum?
Speaking of Halloween, parents of toddlers should be ready for potential holiday-induced tantrums this weekend. "Holidays, big events, really ANYTHING out of the ordinary can cause your toddler to go into meltdown city," say Kristin Gallant and Deena Margolin at Big Little Feelings, which specializes in online courses for parents of toddlers. This is normal, and can be prevented — or at least mitigated — with a little bit of prep work on your behalf. Get your kid ready for things like scary decor and costumes by reminding them that "it will be dark outside, and there may be spooky decorations. I'll be right there with you." Tailor these preparations to things found in your specific neighborhood, from giant skeletons to haunted houses. Practice wearing costumes in the week leading up to Halloween, and do some trick-or-treating trial runs at home where kiddos can ring your doorbell and ask for candy. "Prep your kid for how it will look, however that looks," Gallant and Margolin say.
The kids are not alright
Pediatric health experts are sounding the alarm about the mental health crisis hitting America's children, calling it a national emergency. In a letter, more than 77,000 physicians said stress related to the pandemic has exacerbated existing problems in pediatric mental health and that more kids are going into the emergency department for mental health issues. Of particular concern is that suicide-related ER visits for teenage girls are up a staggering 52 percent compared with 2019 data. What's to be done? While experts are calling for action among policymakers, BBC has a helpful "mental health first aid kit" for concerned parents that includes tips like speaking to a child's doctor, as well as their teacher, who "might be able to help make school easier or less pressured." If your child is in the midst of a mental health crisis, "it's important to listen to your child, rather than necessarily offering advice," BBC writes. "Follow your child's lead and encourage them to share so that they know you really understand."
So long, late fees
Public libraries are invaluable resources for children, providing community hubs and instilling a love of reading in young people. Now, libraries across the country are taking an important step toward increased accessibility: eliminating late fees. "From San Diego to Chicago to Boston, public libraries that have analyzed the effects of late fees on their cardholders have found that they disproportionately deter low-income residents and children," writes Emma Bowman at NPR. The New York City public libraries, San Diego Public Library, and the Chicago Public Library are among the list of big branches nixing late fees and seeing immediate benefits. For example, NPR reports that within three weeks of ending its fines policy, Chicago Public Library saw a 240 percent increase in the return of rented materials, and 400 more library card renewals compared to a year before. "We wanted our materials back, and more importantly, we wanted our patrons back," Andrea Telli, the city's library commissioner, tells NPR.
A real 'stand-up' kid
If you've got a class clown on your hands, you should be proud: Their sense of humor and comedic timing may be a sign of intelligence. A recent study of more than 200 Turkish middle-schoolers asked the kids to write captions for cartoons, which were then rated for funniness. The researchers report that "children with higher general knowledge and higher verbal reasoning were found to have higher humor ability." So next time your little comedian cracks wise, consider it a positive sign: "Kids who have the ability to be quick-witted and funny possess an intelligence that is unlike that of their peers," writes Jessica Tucker at Moms.com. "And as such, that is something that should be fostered rather than shut down to allow that intelligence to flourish."