Jasmine Rose

Links & Articles of Interest…

Graco Bans Hazardous Flame Retardants

“Graco Bans Hazardous Flame Retardants”, by Healthy Stuff, July 16, 2012

Today HealthyStuff.org, Healthy Child Healthy World and the Ecology Center applaud Graco Children’s Products, Inc. for committing to ban the use of four of the most toxic chemical flame retardants from all of their products. Graco is one of the nation’s largest children’s product manufacturers, selling nearly 1 out of every 3 baby-gear products purchased in the U.S.

Over the last few months, nearly 4,000 parents signed a petition started by Sara Snow (green lifestyle expert, author of Sara Snow’s Fresh Living and Healthy Child, Healthy World Parent Ambassador) asking Graco to eliminate its use of hazardous flame retardants in their children’s products.

In response, Graco has committed to ban and monitor four Tris and related chemicals, specifically:

“Tris,” chemicals including TDCPP (Tris (1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate) and TCEP (Tris (2-chloroethyl) phosphate),
TCPP (Tris (1-chloro-2-propyl) phosphate), which is structurally similar to the “Tris” compounds,
All three Tris chemicals are either carcinogens or suspected carcinogens, and
Firemaster 550, a chemical mixture containing ingredients that have been targeted for review by EPA due to widespread exposure and potential health risk, is also on Graco’s ban list.
While recognizing that eliminating these toxic flame-retardant chemicals puts Graco ahead of most other children’s product makers, advocates also urged the company to take additional steps to ensure their products no longer contain any hazardous chemicals. Specifically, Graco is being asked to disclose chemicals contained in their products and develop an alternatives assessment system to ensure chemicals are inherently safer and lower hazard.

Download Graco Hazardous Flame Retardant Ban Statement

You can take action today by sending Graco a thank you message!

Check out some of HealthyStuff.org’s 2011 car seat test results.


Many baby items found to contain toxic chemicals

“Many baby items found to contain toxic chemicals” by SF Gate, May 11, 2011

(05-17) 16:49 PDT SAN FRANCISCO — Eighty percent of baby products – from nursing pillows to car seats and strollers – studied by researchers contain chemical flame retardants that are either untested or known to be toxic, according to a report being released today.

The study, published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, focused on flame retardants because the chemicals have been linked to increased risks for thyroid impairment, reproductive problems, endocrine disruption, cancer and other health issues. Some of the chemicals have been banned or voluntarily removed from some products but not others.

“New parents would be horrified to learn some of their baby shower presents contain the same chemical that was removed from baby pajamas in the ’70s,” said Arlene Blum, founder of the Green Science Policy Institute in Berkeley and an author of the report.

For example, the federal government banned a chemical known as brominated tris from children’s pajamas in 1977 after it was found to cause cancer in laboratory animals. A close relative of the chemical, chlorinated tris, was substituted and then voluntarily removed by manufacturers from the pajama products.

But in 1975, California passed the nation’s only flammability laws for furniture, and chlorinated tris was among many chemicals to emerge to meet the requirements and was found in many of the products tested for the study.

100 foam samples
Researchers tested more than 100 foam samples from products sent by volunteers in California and 10 other states, Washington, D.C., and Canada. The products, which were not identified by brand name, included baby carriers, changing pads, portable cribs, rocking chairs and other items.

Eighty samples contained a flame retardant additive that was either associated with adverse health effects or had not yet been studied.

“The majority of baby products tested in this study contain flame retardant chemicals with names that resemble alphabet soup. But unlike soup, they aren’t good for you,” said Dr. Sarah Janssen, staff scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council in San Francisco. “Some of these chemicals have been linked to a lowered IQ, reproductive problems, hormone disruption and cancer.

“If this wasn’t concerning enough, only a small number of flame retardants have undergone adequate testing.”

The most common flame retardant detected in the samples was chlorinated tris, which was found in more than a third of the products. Though the chemical was removed from children’s pajamas more than 30 years ago, it persists in other products, including furniture, carpet padding and baby products.

Chemicals detected
Another once-common flame retardant, pentaBDE, was found in only five products, probably a result of a decision by manufacturers to stop making the chemical in the United States in 2004 because of health and environmental concerns.

Blum said many of the newer products contained chlorinated tris, which she said is a probable human carcinogen.
“Is this an improvement?” she asked.
The American Chemistry Council, which represents the chemical industry, said that new flame retardants being developed today undergo extensive testing by manufacturers and that the safety data are scrutinized by government agencies in the United States and abroad.

“This study attempts to examine the existence of certain flame retardants in a small sampling of children’s products; it does not address exposure or risk,” the group said in a statement. “We will continue to work with government agencies and the scientific community to meet our dual objectives – using the safest possible chemistry to protect families by preventing fires from starting and limiting the spread of fires once ignited.”

Ami Zota, a postdoctoral fellow in UCSF’s Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment who was not involved in the study, said the results raise questions about the safety of products used by mothers and children in the early stages of development.

“These chemicals are not being tested in a thorough manner for reproductive and developmental health effects before they’re used in the marketplace,” she said.

Leno seeks options
A bill by state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, that have would allowed nontoxic flame retardants in furniture as an alternative to current retardants failed this month in a Senate committee.

Mary Brune, an Alameda mother of two, said she is frustrated by the lack of options to buy nontoxic products.
Brune, who founded Making Our Milk Safe, a grassroots mothers’ organization whose work is aimed at eliminating toxins from breast milk, participated in a study four years ago that found disturbingly high levels of a flame retardant known as PBDEs, or polybrominated diphenyl ethers, in people, including her daughter.
Brune said she supports fire safety, but doesn’t want to subject her children to dangerous chemicals.

“I can’t fathom that sitting in a glider, rocking my daughter or son and nursing them on a pillow poses some imminent fire danger,” she said. “This should be something we have a choice about.”

The study
An abstract of the study and a link to the article “Identification of Flame Retardants in Polyurethane Foam Collected from Baby Products” is available at http://www.greensciencepolicy.org.

Tips to reduce chemical exposure
Here are some suggestions to reduce the toxic chemicals in your home:

Foam: Check products that contain polyurethane foam for a label stating they meet Technical Bulletin 117, the California flammability standard. Products with the label are likely to contain toxic or untested flame retardants.

Fire retardants: Consider buying baby products that contain polyester, down, wool, cotton and other materials unlikely to contain added fire retardants.

Clean well: Wash your hands frequently, vacuum often and use a wet mop to reduce dust that may contain toxic chemicals.

Source: Green Science Policy Institute.
E-mail Victoria Colliver at vcolliver@sfchronicle.com.

Big Tobacco and Big Chemical Partner to Put Toxic Chemicals in Your Home

“Big Tobacco and Big Chemical Partner to Put Toxic Chemicals in Your Home” by Kate Sheppard on Fri. May 11, 2012

Flame retardants—chemicals added to a variety of consumer products that are meant to make them less flammable—have been linked to all kinds of health problems, including cancers, reproductive problems, and hormone disruption. But these phthalates and other problem chemicals are still still found in abundance in our homes, even in car seats and other products made for babies. So why are more of these chemicals being dumped into products than ever before?

The Chicago Tribune has an absolutely fantastic investigative series out this week looking at the abundance of these chemicals in our homes, the deceptive campaign waged to get them there, the bad science that is used to sustain the industry, and the lack of regulation at the federal level.

As the story notes, the use of flame-retardant chemicals has increased from 526 million pounds per year in 1983 in to 3.4 billion pounds in 2009. That figure is expected to grow to 4.4 billion pounds by 2014. They rose to prominence, as the series documents, with the help of Big Tobacco, which saw using the chemicals as preferable to designing cigarettes that wouldn’t set the couch on fire if the smoker fell asleep. The industry has managed to maintain its hold by playing on people’s fear of fire, making dubious claims of safety, and astro-turfing support.

They’re all over most homes—in the insulation, carpet padding, televisions, and couches. Health and environmental groups have long raised concerns about their abundance and impacts. But firefighters aren’t big fans of them, either, as studies have found that the chemicals aren’t effective at preventing fires and actually make the smoke from fires more toxic.

It’s a four-part series, but there are also numerous graphics, videos, and sidebars to check out. Seriously, just go read it.

Floors That Can Make You and Your Children Sick

“Floors That Can Make You and Your Children Sick” Dr Mercola, Sept 26, 2012

The High Cost of Accident Free

“The High Cost of Accident Free” by Abundant Life Children, September 20, 2012

The crew and I arrived at our local park last week to find that we were the second child care group visiting that day. I’ll admit a slight bit of relief, as I usually spend a great deal of our first moments at the park explaining (to every other adult at the park) why there are so many of them and only one of me and no one appears to be a twin. Is it even possible? Well, as the second child care provider on the perimeter, I felt in good company.

Then I noticed the comments from the other provider and realized what different pages we were on, regardless of our shared profession.

No climbing up the slide. Stop putting wood chips on the equipment – they will make everything dirty. Be careful climbing up on those bars, you’re making me nervous. You will fall and get hurt. Watch out! Climb out from the middle of that wheel. If you stand there in the middle, someone will fall on you and it will hurt and you will cry. Stop talking to her [me]. Now is not the time for talking. Now is the time for sliding. Come back over to the slide and play here. You can talk all day long after we get home.

Before moving on, I must share my unwavering belief that most of the time, educators and parents are making the best choices they know to make. Voicing concerns for safety and helping a child get the most out of their day at the park seems like a perfectly reasonable priority. And yet I can’t help but reflect on the consequences of our hyper-vigilance (our “super-supervision”) on our developing children.

We live in an era without accidents. Don’t get me wrong, we still have plenty of accidents, we just don’t view them as accidental anymore. Instead of chalking up a bump or a skinned knee to “kids being kids,” we look for the negligent party that allowed this accident to happen. We sue McDonald’s over the spilled coffee.

No accidents? How will I learn to manage risk?

And it’s affecting our children.

Young children need lots of practice learning to manage risks when the actual risk of injury is very low. Consider the likely scenario if a child climbs up the slide. Option 1: the child has an opportunity to learn physical coordination and balance by maneuvering a steep incline. Option 2: While working on those physical skills, a child going up and a child going down have an unfortunate encounter. By extension, those two children recognize the importance of being aware of their surroundings.

When children don’t get lots of practice learning to trust their physical bodies, they are actually at greater risk of injury! The more they learn when they are small, the safer they will be in the long run, because they learn to negotiate situations that carry risk.

1. Trust, trust, and trust. Children have a remarkably accurate internal gauge of what they can comfortably manage. The less we interfere with that, the more children will learn to listen to that voice of reason. This means that for children on both ends of the risk-taking spectrum, we support their development. A child who eagerly climbs a wobbly cargo-net to the top of a play structure is ready for that challenge. A child who resists climbing up that same wobbly cargo-net long past his same-aged peers is just not ready for that type of exploration. To force the adventurer to tone it down or to force the cautious explorer to push past their fears communicates one thing: your internal voice cannot be trusted to keep you safe.

2. No More “Be Careful.” My daughter learned to climb one of these fancy pieces of equipment when she was very young. As she was learning to climb, I was learning to bite my tongue. Instead of all the “be carefuls” that came instinctively, I used my physical presence to help assure her safety and provided specific feedback when the situation arose.

You seem stuck and want to keep climbing. To move up a rung, you will need to put your foot and your hand on the next bar up. Do you see where there is a gap in the wall of this structure? Keep your body away from that gap so you don’t fall out. When children climb past my own sense of acceptable risk, I step in like this: You are now so high that I can’t reach you if I need to. I will watch you move back down. I resist the urge to label their adventurous climbing as “unsafe” – after all, it is my own discomfort that compels me to pull the reigns back a little.

3. Do only what you can do on your own. If we put children into situations that would be inaccessible to them on their own, we generate a false sense of confidence and dampen their internal awareness of their limits. You can climb the monkey bars when you can get up and down on your own. You can go on the slide when you feel confident sliding on your own. If I hold a child’s weight while she moves her arms from one monkey bar to the next or sit with a child in my lap while we go down the slide together, they lose contact with what their bodies are naturally capable of doing.

4. Set the stage for success. Our job is to prepare spaces that are safe for exploration. That means eliminating hazards and reducing risks. We do our job of securing heavy furniture, covering electrical outlets, and providing toys that are a safe size for mouthing infants. When we are out on field trips, we try to visit public spaces that provide the most accessible learning areas. By learning in spaces that have few built-in limitations, children learn that they are capable and that persistence will pay off!

5. Respond well to hurts. Accidents happen. As parents and educators, we cringe to see our beloved wee companions in pain, and yet the learning that children do when they fall down and pick themselves up again is critical. The way we assist in those moments of pain can either support the learning process or saddle our children with increasing fear and anxiety. Janet Lansbury wrote a wonderful reflection on this process and includes an amazing example of this practice in action.

In short: be calm, give specific feedback about the injury, and honor the child’s way of managing pain. Don’t hug if a child does not want a hug. Don’t kiss if a child does not want a kiss. Don’t touch the child (if they are physically safe from further injury) until they say it would be helpful.

Gill, T. (2007). No fear: growing up in a risk averse society. London: Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.
Gramling, M. (2010). Zero risk, zero gain: Tom Sawyer, Won’t you Please Come Home?. Exchange, March/April(192), 50-51.
Guldberg, H. (2009). Reclaiming childhood: freedom and play in an age of fear. Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.
Lindon, J. (2003). Too safe for their own good?: helping children learn about risk and lifeskills. London: National Children’s Bureau.


What Kids Really Want Parents to Know

I would add to number 4- Please turn your cell phone noise off around me so it doesn’t disrupt my concentration and brain development…

“What Kids Really Want Parents to Know” by Parenting from Scratch, Sept 25, 2012

Over the years, I’ve been able to decipher a few important lessons from my kids. Sometimes I’m good at figuring out what they are really trying to say with their behavior, other times, it takes me months or years of frustration before I figure out something they’re communicating. Here are some important messages, decoded, that I have come to realize my kids–and many kids–want parents to know.

1. Take me seriously. Don’t make jokes at my expense, don’t tease me for something “cute” that I’ve said, and don’t make light of things I think are important. They may seem silly to you, but based on my limited perspective of the world, this is how I think. If it’s wrong, don’t make fun of me, just help me learn what’s what.

2. Appreciate my interests. There is a reason why I like the things I do. Whether it’s collecting feathers, an interest in weapons, or playing video games, let me show you what I like about stuff. Don’t worry, you don’t have to like it too, but at least you’ll know why it appeals to me and you’ll understand me better.

3. Let me teach you stuff. I know you know lots of things, and I do too. Telling you about new concepts I’ve learned helps me clarify information. Plus I’m proud. Sometimes, please be my student so I can show you how much I know.

4. I like to finish what I start. I know I can’t always do that (like when we have to go somewhere) but I often get interrupted from my games, creative play, or the time I spend just thinking. It may look like I am “not doing anything,” but I assure you, I am. My brain is learning how to concentrate in long stretches and focus on tasks. If there’s not a reason to interrupt my work or thoughts, please let me finish.

5. I need to make some decisions for myself. Too many is overwhelming, but not enough is frustrating. Please give me just enough say in my life to help me feel that I am contributing in meaningful ways. Picking out my clothes is great, solving my own problems is even better!

6. I want you to understand me. Don’t try to sculpt me into who you think I should be, but understand me for who I already am. I’m learning about myself, too…let’s get to know me together.

7. If I have to jump around like a puppy to get your attention, I will. Please don’t require me to be crazy, noisy, and distracting to get you to notice and interact with me. I much prefer your regular, willing attention like you give other people.

8. Hold my hand…literally not figuratively. I want you to hug me, hold me, play with me, and give me physical affection. I love that, and I need it regularly. Then, I need you to let go and allow me find my own way through life’s challenges. I need to hold your hand, but I don’t need you to hold mine.

Epidemic of Fever Phobia: the Facts on Why Fever is Your Friend

“Epidemic Of Fever Phobia: The Facts On Why Fever Is Your Friend” by Dana Ullman, Sep 30, 2009 07:03 PM EDT

Health and medical journalists are not presently providing the public with what might be the most important health advice that they should be given during the flu season: people with the flu should avoid taking fever-reducing drugs, such as aspirin or acetaminophen (aka TylenolTM), except in rare situations

It is widely recognized that fever is a vital defense of the body in its efforts to fight infection. A fever enables the body to increase its production of interferon, an important antiviral substance that is critical for fighting infection. Fever also increases white blood cell mobility and activity, which are instrumental factors in fighting infection. Jane Brody, a long-time respected health columnist for the New York Times, reported back in 1982 on the healing benefits of fever. She noted, a number of physicians, including pediatricians, are now suggesting that moderate fevers be allowed to run their course, for they may shorten the illness, potentiate the action of antibiotics and reduce the chances of spreading the infection to others. [1]

Recognition that fever is beneficial has been known for more than 2,000 years, and historically, the healing benefits of fever are so substantial that many patients have actually been treated with ”fever therapy” to aid their recovery from such ailments as cancer, syphilis, tuberculosis and even mania.[2] [3] However, in the 1800’s, aspirin compounds that rapidly reduced fevers became commercially available, and the medical view of fever changed dramatically. Since the mid-1800s, drug companies have successfully convinced conventional physicians and the general public to become vigilant in bringing down fevers, even sometimes using such drastic measures as cold baths and alcohol rubs along with aspirin.

In reference to the flu and fever, the bottom line is that it makes little sense to aggressively suppress the body’s natural defenses against viral infection. There are, of course, some exceptions here. For instance, it may make sense to seek medical care if one’s fever is above 104 degrees for over six hours or in any fever in an infant under four months of age.

Calling Dr. Gupta: CNN’s Correspondent Gives Himself Questionable Medical Advice
“Fever phobia” is so rampant that many usually intelligent people, including physicians and medical reporters, forget what they know about the inherent defenses of the body when they become sick.

On September 23, Sanjay Gupta, MD, CNN’s chief medical correspondent, described his own experience in getting the H1NI flu while reporting from Afghanistan.[4] Although Dr. Gupta reported that he experienced a “high fever,” he never gave specifics, but it is unlikely that over 104 degrees. The fact that Dr. Gupta was away from home and in war zone probably led him to want some relief of his fever, and because of this, he choose to take Tylenol. However, he certainly didn’t help himself by taking this drug to suppress his fever.

It is therefore no wonder that he became the sickest he has ever become. Taking drugs that suppress fever disables the body’s own defenses in fighting infection. It is akin to unscrewing the warning oil pressure light in your car as a way to get rid of that irritating red signal. Such “treatment” is not curative, and in fact, it can lead to much more serious problems.

Ironically, the word “symptom” derives from the words “sign” or “signal” …and just turning “off” a sign or signal is simply not smart, even if double-blind studies show that unscrewing the warning bulb is “effective” in turning the light off.

Ultimately, Dr. Gupta missed a great opportunity to educate the public about not taking fever-reducing drugs, except in certain extreme fevers. Perhaps this article will “light a fire” underneath him to do so.

The New Drug Pushers: Parents
In a 2007 survey of Australian parents published in a pediatrics journal, a shocking 91% of parents used fever-suppressing drugs in the treatment of their children’s fever. Even more startling is the fact that this survey found that the medications were refused or spat out by the child in 44% of the cases, and yet, 62.4 of the parents actually used force to get their child to take these drugs, using different methods of ingestion (29.5%) or by using a suppository (20.8%). [5]
It is interesting to note that children tend to have an inherent fear of doctors, and this fear may not simply be the result of getting injections from them. This fear may be an instinctual fear that what doctors offer them may not really be good for them, despite the seemingly short-term benefits of many drugs. It may be time for us to listen to our children.

Serious Problems from Aspirin and Acetaminophen
Many people minimize the problems from these common drugs, but do so at their own and their family’s peril.
Children who get a viral infection and are given aspirin can lead to Reye’s syndrome, a serious neurological condition that can cause death. Aspirin is also known to thin the blood and increase the chances of various bleeding disorders. Its use more or less doubles the risk of a severe gastrointestinal event, which in most cases can lead to hospitalization. Lower doses that people take to reduce heart problems only seem to decrease these risks by a small amount.

Many people take acetaminophen because it is not associated with increased bleeding. However, the general public is usually not aware of the fact that poison control centers in the US receive more calls as a result of an overdose of this drug than any other drug.[6] This same problem exists in the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. Most commonly, overdoses of acetaminophen can lead to acute liver failure. In children, it has been associated with increased asthma and eczema symptoms.

Safer Solutions for the Flu…
Instead of using conventional drugs that suppress fevers or that inhibit other important defenses of the body, it makes more sense to use some type of natural medicines that mimic and augment the wisdom of the body.
Homeopathic medicines are my own favorite method to augment the body’s own defenses so that they can more effectively heal themselves from various ailments, including the flu. Because of the similarity between the 1918 flu and the H1N1 flu, it may be helpful to reference homeopathy’s impressive successes in treating people during the 1918 flu.[7] The death rates in the homeopathic hospitals in the US were only around 1%, while the death rates in conventional hospitals were closer to 30%. Another important fact from that era is that New York City had the lowest mortality rate during the 1918 flu than any city in the U.S., and this impressive statistic is primarily due to the fact that this city’s health commissioner at that time was Royal Copeland, MD, a renowned homeopathic physician, who later became a thrice-elected U.S. Senator (Franklin D. Roosevelt was even his campaign manager during his first election as senator).[8] Copeland asserted, “There can be no doubt that the superiority of homeopathy in a purely medical condition is just as great as it was fifty years ago.”
One of today’s most popular homeopathic medicines for the flu is the popular Oscillococcinum, a medicine that has been used by homeopaths since the 1920s. There have been four controlled studies that have shown that this medicine is effective in reducing the symptoms of influenza as compared with those people given a placebo.[9]
The effectiveness of another homeopathic remedy, called Gripp-Heel, was compared with that of conventional treatments in a prospective, observational cohort study in 485 patients with mild viral infections and symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle pain, cough or sore throat.[10] As evaluated by the practitioners, 67.9% of patients were considered asymptomatic at the end of Gripp-Heel therapy vs. 47.9% of patients in the control group. Practitioners judged homeopathic treatments as ‘successful’ in 78.1% of cases vs. 52.2% for conventional therapies. Tolerability and compliance were ‘very good’ given for 88.9% of patients in the homoeopathic group vs. 38.8% in the conventional treatment group.

The above homeopathic medicines are primarily helpful during the first 48 hours of onset of the flu. Other homeopathic medicines to consider during this time and afterwards include: Gelsemium, Bryonia, Ipecacuanha, Arsenicum album, Eupatorium perf., Rhus toxicodendron, and Baptisia (homeopathic medicines are traditionally listed by their Latin names so that consumers and doctors will know the precise plant, mineral, or animal species of every medicine). Each of these medicines has a history of efficacy in homeopathic doses for treating the specific syndrome of symptoms that each has been found to cause when given experimentally in overdose to healthy people. To determine the details of each of these medicines, please consult a homeopathic guidebook, such as Everybody’s Guide to Homeopathic Medicines by Stephen Cummings, MD, and Dana Ullman, MPH or the Complete Homeopathic Resource for Common Illnesses, by Dennis Chernin, MD, MPH.

[1] Brody J. Fever: New View Stresses its Healing Benefits. New York Times, December 28, 1982.
[2] Hobohm U. Fever therapy revisited. British Journal of Cancer (2005) 92, 421–425. doi:10.1038/sj.bjc.6602386
[3] Brody J. Fever: New View Stresses its Healing Benefits. New York Times, December 28, 1982.
[4] http://pagingdrgupta.blogs.cnn.com/2009/09/23/i-went-to-afghanistan-and-all-i-got-was-h1n1/
[5] Walsh A, Edwards H, Fraser J. Over-the-counter medication use for childhood fever: A cross-sectional study of Australian parents. J Paediatr Child Health. 2007 June 29.
[6] Lee WM (July 2004). “Acetaminophen and the U.S. Acute Liver Failure Study Group: lowering the risks of hepatic failure”. Hepatology 40 (1): 6–9. doi:10.1002/hep.20293.
[7] Marino R. Flu pandemics: homeopathic prophylaxis and definition of the epidemic genius . Int J High Dilution Res 2009; 8(28): 100-109. http://www.feg.unesp.br/~ojs/index.php/ijhdr/article/view/354/399
[8] Robins N. Copeland’s Cure: Homeopathy and the War between Conventional and Alternative Medicine. New York: Random House, 2005, p. 154.
[9] Vickers A, Smith C. Homoeopathic Oscillococcinum for preventing and treating influenza and influenza-like syndromes. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2006, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD001957. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD001957.pub4 http://www.cochrane.org/reviews/en/ab001957.html
[10] Rabe, M. Weiser, P. Klein, Effectiveness and tolerability of a homoeopathic remedy compared with conventional therapy for mild viral infections. Int J Clin Pract. 2004 Sep;58(9):827-32.


“Fevers” by Holly Pevzner

4 Small Changes to Enrich Your Journey With Children

“4 Small Changes to Enrich Your Journey With Children” by Abundant Life Children

Two weeks ago, I sat with a group of child care professionals just entering the profession, and everyone felt overwhelmed. Whether parenting or working as an early care practitioner, the task of accompanying a human being in the first years of life is daunting! And it can seem like if you don’t dedicate an entire facility to child-sized furniture, pursue the latest and greatest in curriculum and materials, or spend every spare moment reviewing current research about proper technique, supporting adequate growth is impossible!

Thankfully, there is incredible power in small changes. Today, I offer four simple changes we can all begin right now that will have lasting impact on our relationship with children over a lifetime.

Simple Change #1: Say “You did it!” instead of “Good job!” Back in my student teaching days, a master teacher observed me with a group of middle school math students. When we sat to review her assessment of my work, she told me that I should use the phrase “you did it” instead of “good job.” I nodded obligingly, and promptly wrote the suggestion off as inconsequential and assessed the difference in phrases to be negligible.

After more than a decade, gobs of professional development hours, and three books by Alfie Kohn (and others), I’ve changed my tune.

Consider the difference: good job is an evaluation. Your good job to my picture of a mountain tells me you approve, and you think it’s worthy of good. It ignores my opinion; after all, whether or not I was pleased with the finished product doesn’t matter with good job. With good job, I learn to value your opinion more than my own and discount my personal feelings about the things I do. Good job keeps me focused on others for their opinions of me.

You did it tells a different story by placing the pride for my work squarely where it belongs: with me. You did it recognizes my effort and grows in me a sense of pride. You did it affirms that I am capable and eliminates unnecessary evaluations. You did it removes the pressure to preform for the evaluation of someone else.

Simple Change #2: Tell a story. Literacy development roots itself in a child’s early years, long before formal schooling begins. Supporting a child’s love for books is something parents and educators do naturally: frequenting libraries, wearing the edges of favorite picture books through repeated readings, and incorporating books into daily routines. But one of the skills that research tells us is foundational to reading is the art of storytelling. Storytelling requires an understanding of the different elements present in a story like characters, plot, conflict, resolution, and setting. Telling a successful story also requires that the narrator establishes enough context to enable the listener to follow along.

Practice storytelling with the children in your lives. Our meal tables often transform into storytelling spaces. As the children eat, I don my storytelling hat and weave language into real and imaginary adventures. Frequently, I solicit character ideas from my table companions, and often, children request repeats from days before. As friends finish eating, they assume the role of storyteller and practice the art for their audience. The most successful stories are told with lots of facial expressions, vocal inflection, and energy – so channel your inner dramatic soul and nurture this key emergent literacy skill.

Simple Change #3: Ask, “How can I help?” Children learn far more from our modeling than our instructions, so one of the surest ways to foster children who are helpful is to show helpfulness. Often our desire to nurture responsibility appears to stand in conflict with our desire to grow helpfulness. Take clean up time, for example. A child who makes a mess should be responsible for cleaning it up, right? After all, it was little Suzie who, in her overly energetic morning rampage, dumped out every basked of toys in the space. If she gets help cleaning it up, she won’t learn to take car of her things, right? After all, I didn’t make the mess. I shouldn’t have to help clean it up. So goes the standard mantra. Our standard mantra is in serious need of an upgrade!

If I resist the urge to saddle the mess-makers with the responsibility, and instead join in the process, I find an immediate response from the whole crew. Helpfulness breeds helpfulness. If I see a child working, I enter alongside and ask, “How can I help?” If I see a child overwhelmed with a large task, I announce, “Help, help! Who can help!” (A line from one of our favorite books, One Duck Stuck.) After all, who likes do manage an overwhelming project alone? Children will remember the feeling of being helped and readily accompany a needy friend in the future.

Simple Change #4: Think inside the box. Open-ended play materials hold the secret to preserving a child’s creativity, imagination, wonder, and love of learning. With no prescribed or “right” way to play, open-ended materials foster cognitive flexibility and persistence. There’s a reason why children would rather play with the box than the toy it came in! Check out fellow educator Denita Dinger for some wonderful open-ended ideas in your work with young children.

Giving your children a box nurtures their development in rich and meaningful ways. Try one or several boxes. Keep your eye out for many different sizes: small ones can be stacked and larger ones function as hiding spaces. Babies and toddlers love to load things into boxes and push them around while older toddlers and preschoolers incorporate boxes into dramatic play. By simply adding a box to your playspace, you open an opportunity for children to grow some of the critical skills they need for lifelong learning.

What small changes do you think are important? I love your thoughts – leave me a note in the comments below!

Curtis, D., & Carter, M. (2008). Learning together with young children: a curriculum framework for reflective teachers. St. Paul, MN: Redleaf Press.
Kohn, A. (1993). Punished by rewards: the trouble with gold stars, incentive plans, A’s, praise, and other bribes. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.
Pasek, K., Golinkoff, R. M., & Eyer, D. E. (2003). Einstein never used flash cards: how our children really learn–and why they need to play more and memorize less. Emmaus, Pa.: Rodale.
Whitehurst, G., & Lonigan, C. (1998). Child development and emergent literacy. Child Development, 69(3), 848-872.

The Picture Guide to Carseat Safety

“The Picture Guide to Carseat Safety”