Top 5 Household Dangers–And How to Protect Your Children

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Laundry and Dish Pods: The leading cause of childhood poisonings is probably sitting under your sink right now. Those colorful, liquid-filled laundry soap and dish packets tend to look super enticing to curious little kiddos–as you can see from the above image, those packets can look a lot like familiar, mouth-friendly goodies! Every year sees a huge spike in childhood poisoning–so much so, that every forty five seconds, American poison control centers received a call about a child having ingested soaps from these pods.
Childproofing Tips: store your laundry pods in a high cabinet, far away from curious little hands. Even better, you can store them in a basket or plastic storage container that you can snap shut. Ninety percent of laundry and dish pods are consumed by children under the age of six, so storing them high and even locking the cabinet will go a long way to protecting your child!

Plastic Bags: These. Things. Are. Everywhere. Even if you’ve tried to go green by purchasing canvas totes to use at your local grocery store, somehow you wind up with a bag of bags somewhere in your house–dry cleaning bags, disposable shopping bags…they’re not only super annoying, but super dangerous. The horrible truth is plastic bags can kill your child. They get left all over the house–on a chair, on the table, maybe on the floor of your room or in an easily-accessible kitchen drawer.

Childproofing Tips: keeping your plastic bags just anywhere will not cut it. That includes that “bag of bags” that hangs on the pantry doorknob. The very first thing you should do is limit your plastic bag intake by investing in reusable tote bags. Secondly, store your existing stash of bags in a high or locked cabinet. Regularly purge your house of any accumulated plastic bags by taking them to your local grocery store or recycling center!

Straight Razors and Standard Shaving Razors: If you can cut yourself shaving, your kids can do some serious damage to themselves too. If kids can reach it, they will play with it, and that includes your shaving kit. We need not outline the horrors of a child playing with razors–but if it can happen, it has happened.

Childproofing Tips: Consider buying razors that come with travel cases for some added protection. Grab a dollar store plastic basket to hang from your showerhead or shower curtain rod to store your razors. When it’s time to change blades, put the used blade into the plastic container it came in and tape it shut! Throw it away immediately.

Sprays and Aerosols: You may never consider that your child would grab hold of your body spray, window cleaner, spray paint, and so on…but they can. We’ve seen grown adults blast themselves in the face with their aerosol deodorants…which means your child can, too. Inhalation of these chemicals can cause severe damage to internal organs, and exposure to the eyes can cause anything from irritation to permanent damage.

Childproofing Tips: aerosol deodorants and body sprays should be kept in a high  medicine cabinet, which can also be locked for added protection. Spray paints and chemicals can be moved to a garage or shed for storage in a plastic container that snaps shut. Children should also never be allowed the garage without parental supervision.

Sewing Kit: These are super dangerous! Arguably, sewing kits are the most dangerous item in your house–needles can be lost, eaten, stepped on and poked into eyes, ears and nose. Buttons can be eaten (major choking hazard) and thread can cut off circulation or even cause strangulation. Add into the mix scissors and you have a disaster just waiting to happen. Sewing kits are often left on dressers, worktables and countertops–easily accessible to little hands.


Childproofing Tips: You can transfer your sewing kit to a compartmental lock-box, to prevent spilling or chubby finger digging through–unfortunately grandma’s sewing basket isn’t safe anymore! It’s also important to keep your sewing kit in the top of your closet or above the washer and dryer. Locked cabinets, please!

Engaging Your Teen–A Parent’s Guide to Scaling The Wall

The first challenge to engaging your teen is maintaining the thin line between “parent” and “buddy”. While you want your child to be able to openly engage you, you are still their parent, guardian, enforcer and protector. You have a functional role, and and emotional role–and that can be a tricky scale to balance. Your emotional role is an important tool that, in moderation, can help you connect with your teenager–but it can also go too far. The worst example of this is making your teen your “gossip buddy”. In an effort to show yourself as a trusted companion your child can chat with about anything, you may begin spilling the beans about how you really feel. Suddenly your child might know that you secretly can’t stand their grandmother, or their teacher, or even your spouse. If you’re looking for someone to dish with, find another parent–there are just some things your teen doesn’t need to know, and there are plenty of other ways to be a trusted confidante for them.

The temptation is there, but must be avoided–do NOT parent your teen the way you wish your parents had parented you. This can go both ways–perhaps your parents shoved you toward a school, a career, and a life you didn’t want. Perhaps they made absolutely certain you were home by nine, kept all good grades and never had a chance to be alone with that boy or girl you were dating. Or, maybe your parents weren’t present enough–maybe they left the gate wide open and from that, you found your way into a lot of trouble. This is called “reaction formation”, and essentially you’re overcompensating where your parents were lacking. Part of creating a healthy relationship is letting go just enough to allow your child to begin engaging their individuality and begin separating from you. It’s true–your teen is going to develop beliefs, goals and rules that they aren’t going to want to share (and that you may not agree with). But rather than yanking the wheel away, or abandoning them altogether, consider watchful guidance. You can still offer a guiding hand to keep your child out of trouble while also letting them taste some freedom. Say yes to that slumber party, that movie date… but also place some loose boundaries. Ask them to call you after the film, arrange a pick-up location, have a check-in time to call or text,  etc…that way, they’re enjoying the “teen” experience their way, but still within your fence.

Hold your anger in check–this is huge. Too many times a parent has lost control, lashed out,  either verbally or physically, and damaged the relationship with their teen forever. Your teen is going to do, say and choose things that you aren’t going to like–that’s part of being a teen. They’re becoming their own person and that person might look a lot different than what you had in mind. It helps to remember that not everything is worth your anger. Your teen will get in trouble, will make mistakes you never thought they would make, and will do things you never dreamed your child will do. No matter how watchful you are, it’s going to happen. Handling these moments with grace is key, and we’ve got some tips…
–Analyze the problem. This can be anything from your son stealing your car to failing math class. Those are two very different situations that are sometimes handled with the same level of punishment! Consider if you will, the root of the problem–maybe your son is fighting for some independence. Maybe he’s just really bad at math and needs some extra help. No two transgressions are the same, and shouldn’t be treated with one standard reaction!

–Don’t raise your voice. Screaming at your teen is about as effective as screaming at a brick wall…that can also scream back. An emotional argument with your teen is the fastest road to some very dark days and damaged relationships.

–Decide if it’s something to get angry over. Let’s say your daughter is skipping band practice, and spends that extra time with friends, or at the library, or working on some other project she likes more. Realize your daughter wouldn’t skip band for no reason–engage and talk with her rather than grounding her and forcing her to go to band practice. Look for a solution–maybe find an extracurricular she likes better–rather than focusing on the problem. It’s not the end of the world!

Listen. The key to any solid relationship–business, personal or otherwise. The ability to listen, and not just hear, is going to be the most powerful tool in your arsenal. Remember that your teen is struggling–those years between childhood and adulthood are painful, awkward, complicated and can be a disaster. Remember that all that fear, unsurety and insecurity that you felt is still alive and well. Listening to your child should start at a very young age–when they hop in the van after an exciting day at preschool. Listening and engaging your child in a meaningful way then can build a solid foundation to your child trusting you and opening up to you now. But if you’ve missed that boat, don’t worry–you can start listening now. Start by asking curious questions, not interrogating your teen. Forcing them to speak to you will only push your teen further away. Rather than demanding interaction, offer an ear. It may take time, and you may not see results right away, but the more you make it known you’re there to listen and really engage them, they’ll blossom. We promise!

Mom and Me Time!

Reading Together–this one seems super simple, but couldn’t be more important. Of course, there are some very obvious academic benefits–the National Education Association and the National Center for Education Statistics has conducted numerous studies, analyzing the importance of reading to your kids…and the findings are incredible. Twenty-six percent of children who are read to four-to-five times a week recognize every alphabet letter (as compared to the fourteen percent of kids who are read to less often). This increase in reading and letter recognition leads to writing and reading on their own earlier. On top of that, children exposed to reading before preschool show a higher aptitude for learning in general, and tend to do better in school than children who were not read to.

        However, things like reading can get buried under the chaos of school, lessons, practice, events and more. Slowing down and taking time to read–maybe right after school or just before bed–creates a special opportunity to share the day’s thoughts and feelings. It’s something both you and your child can look forward to all day!

        This even works if you’ve got more than one child. Let each child pick their own book! Take them to the library–one at a time, of course, so it’s a special outing with just you–and let them experience the thrill of finding and selecting their own book!

       

Take a Hike–we know. Heading out and hitting the trails isn’t always convenient, but it’s so worth it. Pack a picnic , choose a new favorite hiking spot every week or so, and get out there!

        You’ll be surprised how different your child is once they get out into nature! The challenge here is allowing your hike to be an adventure–at a playground, there are some unwritten rules of behavior…but in the woods, not so much! Let yourself relax a little and allow your child to stray from the path. Let them run across that fallen tree, splash in that river or pond…let them climb and jump and do what kids do naturally! Then settle in the grass somewhere under a tree and enjoy a snack.

        It’s amazing the things kids can observe while they’re outside–most important while you’re out is to listen. A quiet park is the greatest place to understand your child and have meaningful conversation.

        Spring, summer, fall and winter–there’s no bad time to hike with your child! And hiking can become an amazing tradition that continues long after your child needs to hold your hand! Taking a day to have a picnic with your teen can help you overcome the insurmountable wall that forms during those awkward tween years.

       

Take in a Show–we’re not talking about plopping down on the couch to watch the latest Netflix release! We mean letting your kiddo pick a movie and going to the theatre. Little ones will love the event of going out, getting a huge tub of popcorn and noshing their favorite snacks while staring at the big screen! It’ll give you both a chance to laugh and cry together and there is plenty to talk about afterwards!

        Now, once or twice a year, do it up right–find a local stage production (usually around Christmas or sometimes in the spring), dress to the nines and go see a live show! It’s a brand new experience for your child that they’ll never ever forget. Better still, you may find yourself going to see that Christmas show every year…maybe with your grandkids one day too!

Cleaning House–while this one seems “normal”, maybe even “boring” compared to everything else on this list, teaching your child to clean with you is a perfect daily way to enjoy some quality time! Put on some music and let your kids help you dust and sweep. As they get older, they can take care of windows and dishes, and before long, you’ve got a cleaning buddy that can take half the chores off your shoulders!

        Cooking is another vastly important skill that often falls to the wayside. Teenagers and young adults rely heavily on fast food and microwave meals because the age-old art of home cooking gets lost in translation.

        It can start small–letting your toddler to preschool-aged kids add ingredients to a bowl and mix. But as time goes on, kids can help you pick out ingredients, wash and cut up produce, set the table and help serve! It’ll teach your child important cooking basics and the value of a home cooked meal! They’ll definitely thank you later.

Protect that mother-child bond and help it grow! All it takes is a few minutes of one-on-one time a day to ensure a long and beautiful relationship with your child. You’re a mother, you’re your child’s world and they’re yours…remember, you’re in your kiddo’s “good old days”–the ones that they’ll talk about on holidays and tell their kids about. Live them well!