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Smith & Anderson Counties Winter 2008

BeSafe Child Since 1994



Inside BeSafe Child Fighting The Flu............................................ 4 Just For Mom & Dad: Top Five Stress Busters......................... 5 Are You Prepared To Manage Your Child’s Asthma?......................................................... 6 Does My Child Have A Speech & Language Problem?........................................................ 8 Toy Safety Tips.............................................. 9

ON THE COVER: Children of the Staff at Northeast Texas Public Health Dist. Photograph by Claudette Wooddell FREE BOOKLETS AVAILABLE CALL 581-5704 OR 1-800-443-0131

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903-586-3767 1-800-233-8568 Fax 903-586-0333 email: Publisher/Editor: Royce Ewing Graphic Design/Layout: Claudette Wooddell Office: Patricia Goar ©Copyright 2008 BeSafe Publications We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information within these pages. We cannot, however, assume any liability of any kind of its validity or completeness or for additional or changed information subsequent to the date the information contained herein was submitted for publication. BeSafe Publications welcomes your suggestions and inquiries. Articles from professionals in child safety and health are also encouraged. While we retain our copyright position, we do grant permission to responsible parties to duplicate our articles in the interest of child safety, health and good character.

Teach Your Child To Master The SeeSaw Of Bullying..................................... 10 How You Play The Game.............................11 More Calcium Needed................................ 12 Active Kids Learn Better............................ 13 Knowing When A Child’s Behavior Is “Normal” Or Not?...................................... 14 Keeping Kids Safe Online.......................... 15



Fighting The Flu

ealth care officials say the best way to fight the flu is to get a flu shot. Vaccinations are the single most effective way to prevent the flu and high-risk individuals are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated. The influenza activity report recently released from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 92 percent of the pediatric deaths resulting from influenza were in children who weren’t vaccinated. Each year the influenza strains change but, fortunately, vaccinations against influenza are also updated each year to protect against the current strains. A site, sponsored by Maxim Health Systems, can be a valuable flu resource. To learn more, call (866) 534-7330 or visit Many American parents have discovered that keeping their children safe from the flu is both easier and more important than they realized. Studies show that otherwise healthy but unvaccinated day-care and school-age children are prime targets for influenza. Once infected, children shed more of the influenza viruses than do infected adults, and they do so for a longer time. That’s why they’re so often at the center of an outbreak in the family or the community. These are some simple steps to take to keep as healthy as possible during flu season: • Get vaccinated. • Frequent hand washing keeps lots of germs out, including influenza. Use a hand sanitizer. • Use tissues to block a sneeze or cough. Influenza is a largely preventable disease. Vaccination protects children those most at risk not only for infection, but for the complications that can arise from infection. You can learn more online at 4



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Top-Five Stress Busters


ife can be stressful, no doubt about it, but how we deal with that stress can make a huge difference in the quality of our lives and in our own health. Try these tips: 1. Breathe-When stress levels begin to rise, close your eyes and relax into a few deep breaths. Deep breathing suppresses and calms your sympathetic nervous system which, when activated, releases stress hormones that can be detrimental to our bodies. 2. Let Go-Many of us get stressed out over “the small stuff” in life. Instead, practice the art of “letting go.” Close your eyes and repeat several times: “let” as you inhale and “go” as you exhale. Focus on the things in your life that are the most important to you-your health, family, friends and loved ones, as well as all the blessings in your life. 3. Exercise-Exercise raises our production of endorphins-brain chemicals that make us feel good-and increases our sense of well-being. If you’re stressed out about starting an exercise routine-or want to improve your current onetry using equipment designed for your fitness level. For instance, Savasa makes jump ropes, weights, resistance bands and other items

by JoDene Stokes that are color-coded to your size, height and fitness level. Plus the products have smaller grips and handles modeled on women’s hands. They even come with a DVD featuring 15-minute workouts created by professional trainers. 4. Be Present-Stress often occurs when we relive painful memories over and over, or when we constantly worry over the unknown future. When you notice these thought patterns, tell yourself that you cannot go back in time, and since you have no control over the future and no amount of worrying will ever change that, you are then left with one optionbringing your mind into the present moment. 5. Eat Right-By eating lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads and pasta, and by eliminating foods that are high in fat, white flour, white sugar and caffeine, we can build up our immune system’s ability to protect our bodies against the damaging effects of stress. For more information, visit www.savasafit. com. Ms. Stokes is a fitness expert and Savasa Personal Trainer(tm).

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Are You Prepared to Manage Your Child’s Asthma?

old and flu season can be tough for kids with asthma-and equally challenging for their parents. These common respiratory infections can make asthma worse, especially when parents are not taking steps necessary to keep their child’s asthma well controlled. A recent survey of parents with asthmatic children, conducted by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), revealed that many parents think their child’s asthma is under control, even though the child has symptoms that prove otherwise. These signs of uncontrolled asthma include missed school days, hospitalization or emergency room visits, use of rescue medication more than twice a week and waking up at night more than once a week because of breathing problems or asthma symptoms. The right medication is vital to ensure that a child’s asthma stays well controlled throughout the year. One way to help manage everyday asthma symptoms is the use of a daily maintenance medication that can help control inflammation and may also prevent asthma


attacks. Experts suggest parents talk to their child’s doctor because having asthma can make it more difficult to fight a respiratory infection, such as a cold or the flu. “Flu symptoms make asthma symptoms even worse,” says Mike Tringale, director of external affairs for AAFA. “Patients with asthma who get the flu could end up in the emergency room. Many parents find this out the hard way when their child gets sick.” Tringale recommends that parents take several steps to ensure their child is ready to take on cold and flu season: • Get a flu shot. • Find the best asthma treatment. Work with the child’s doctor to identify the best treatment plan. • Encourage hand washing. One of the basic preventive measures for avoiding germs. For more information about how to manage asthma during cold and flu season, visit www. every or

Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)

$50 or less covers all your children for one year. Most families pay little or nothing at all. .Extend the enrollment from 6 months to 12 months. .Eliminate the 90-day waiting period for most children. .Increase the asset limit from $5,000 to $10,000 per household. .Increase the amount cars can be worth when determining eligibility. .Allow childcare expenses to be deducted from household income when determining whether children are eligible for the program. Children’s Medicaid Children’s Medicaid provides free coverage for a wide range of health care services for children who qualify. It helps nearly 2 million Texas children stay healthy and get the care they need. CHIP If your children get CHIP coverage, Your family will pay no more than $50 every year, and many families pay nothing. Depending on your income, you may have co-payments for some services, such as prescriptions and visits to a doctor’s office or emergency room. Most co-pays range from $3 to $10. Benefits Include: .Choice of doctors .Regular check-ups and office visits .X-rays and lab tests .Prescription drugs and medical supplies .Mental health care .Dentist visits, cleaning and fillings .Coverage for special health needs .Access to medical specialists .Coverage for pre-existing conditions .Shots and immunizations .Eye exams and glasses Chip now offers prenatal care for unborn children of low-income women who do not qualify for Medicaid. One application covers both programs. We will look at your application and let you know if your children qualify for Children’s Medicaid or CHIP. Go to and print an application, or call us at 903-535-0028 or 1-888-903-0028 NETPHD Website:

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Does My Child Have A Speech And Language Problem?


he most anticipated moment for a parent is the sound of a child’s first words. But what if the words are delayed, jumbled, or never come at all? Speech and language problems can affect early learning and self-esteem. Communication is a key to your child’s social and educational development. Parents, professionals in early childhood development, and teachers all want children to function at their highest potential and obtain the fullest benefit of education and social oppurtunities provided in the preschool and elementary school setting. Children with speech and language disorders may need extra help to achieve these goals. If you suspect your child has a speech and language problem, review the characteristics of a child with speech-language problem below: • Speech is difficult to understand • Exhibits limited vocabulary • Does not follow simple verbal directions • Does not understand simple questions • Has lost language that was previously learned • Consistently repeats parts of words or whole

words • Muscle tension is present in face and neck region while speaking • Becomes frusterated when not understood • Voice consistently sounds breathy and hoarse • Frequently coughs when drinking or eating • Has difficulty chewing solid and/or semi solid foods • Demonstrates facial grimacing when swallowing liquids or solids • Drooling is present when talking or at rest • Excessive spillage of food/liquid from the mouth is present • Does not respond/react to nongovernmental sounds • Does not interact or play with others like a typical child • Is more interested in playing with objects than with people • Demonstrates difficulty relating letter sounds to meaningful information • Academic progress appears slower than peers For characteristics of autism or auditory processing problems, visit our website If your child presents some of the characteristics, seek professional help to determine your child’s needs. Call us we may be able to help you. 903-663-9946

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Toy Safety Tips

ith concerns about toy safety making headlines, giving a child a gift that makes their wishes come true may seem more daunting than delightful. The following tips on safe toy selection can help: Check the manufacturer’s recommended age. Age recommendations measure the safety of a toy—not your child’s IQ. They are based on four different aspects of the toy: • Potential choking hazards, which pose the greatest threat to kids under age 3; • A child’s physical ability to play with the toy; • A child’s ability to understand how to correctly play with the toy; • General developmental needs of a particular age group. Use the age range as a starting point based on the information above. You are most familiar with your child’s developmental stage and ability level, so it’s up to you to decide if he or she is ready. A too-advanced toy could be misused and lead to an injury. Ensure that younger siblings play only with their own toys. Keep a close eye on younger children who want to mimic older siblings by playing with the older child’s

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toys. Instruct older kids to put unused toys away, well out of reach of younger children. Pick well-informed and reputable toy retailers. Online toy retailers like provide information on the most up-todate toy recalls, and will notify you if a toy you ordered through their Web site is recalled later. Take the time to teach kids how to use new toys. Accidents can happen when misuse occurs, so help keep your children safe by making sure they’re playing with toys correctly. remove toy package and wrapping immediately. Don’t store toys in their original packaging. Plastic wrap can cause suffocation, and staples or sharp plastic edges can cut. Avoid hand-me-down or garage sale toys. As economical as they may be, these types of toys may be too worn or contain parts that don’t meet current safety standards. Never give small children plastic bags, wrapping or latex balloons. Choking is a major concern for young children and these items could obstruct a child’s airway completely. remember the importance of parental supervision. Keep an eye on your child during playtime to ensure safe activities. Even better, take a little time out of your busy day to bond with your child through play. For additional tips on toy safety and more ideas to ensure safe play, visit the Safety Center ( Also, our sponsor, Adventures in Learning has the largest selection of safe and educational toys in East Texas. Their location is 4538 S. Broadway, French Quarters Shopping Center in Tyler. 9


Teaching Your Child to Master the See-Saw of Bullying

ince the first see-saw was put on the playground there has been a “school bully” running around. Unfortunately many of us have encountered such a person, whether it was when we were younger, in our teenage years or as an adult. Being able to teach our children how to identify what a bully is and what we as parents can do to help will hopefully provide our children with a vantage point over the playground bully. What is school bullying? Bullying is a form of violence that hurts others. School bullying happens at school or during school-sponsored activities when a student or group of students intentionally and repeatedly uses their power to hurt other individuals or groups. Bullies’ power can come from their physical strength, age, financial status, popularity, social status, technology skills, or by association (the people they know, who they hang out with, who their family is). What do bullies do? They can bully in direct ways, such as: • hitting, tripping, shoving, pinching, excessive tickling; • verbal threats, name calling, racial slurs, insults; • demanding money, property, service; and • stabbing, choking, burning and shooting. They can also bully in indirect ways, such as: • rejecting, excluding, isolating; • ranking or rating, humiliating; • manipulating friends and relationships; • writing hurtful or threatening e-mails and postings on web sites; and • blackmailing, terrorizing, and proposing dangerous dares. What can parents of young children do about school bullying? Parents are their children’s first teachers. The words and actions children are taught or allowed to use at home often become the words and actions they use in other settings. As families prepare their children to enter the world, lessons about respect and empathy become especially important. Being a positive role model means teaching your child by example. There are many ways parents can promote the respectful and thoughtful behaviors they would like to impart to their children. These may include the following: 10

At home • Talk often with your child and listen carefully. • Ask about your child’s school day, activities and friends. • Ask if your child feels safe and comfortable at school. • Talk about what bullying means. • Teach that bullying is unacceptable and can be dangerous. • Stop bullying when it happens at home. • Be clear about your expectations and consistently discipline when hurtful teasing and bullying occurs among siblings and peers. • Help your child understand the meaning and positive roles of friendship. • Teach that people can be different in many ways. • Teach and practice basic manners. • Help your child find and develop his/her personal talents. • Help your child choose positive and respectful friends. • Help your child choose TV, music and video programs that promote respect, kindness and understanding. • Talk with your child about their school experiences and peers. • Encourage your child to tell you when bullying happens at school. At school • Learn the school’s rules and sanctions regarding bullying. • Participate in training the school may offer regarding bullying. • Stay in touch with your child’s teacher. • As soon as you are aware of a bullying problem, report it to the school. • Accept help from the school with regard to bullying problems whether your child is the target, the bully or a bystander. Be a positive role model in any setting. Caring and responsible parents can use their choices, words and actions to model respectful behaviors and peaceful problem solving. For more information visit the National School Safety Center website at © 2006 National School Safety Center

How You Play The Game

Source: TNS Worldwide Research he old adage, “It doesn’t matter if you Americans think there should be more severe win or lose, it’s how you play the game,” repercussions like fines, lack of playing time has never been more true, according to a and suspensions for professional and amateur new survey on the state of sportsmanship in athletes who display poor sportsmanship. the United States. More than 96 percent of


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More Calcium Needed

esearch suggests that children and adolescents today are more likely to break a bone than their parents were. Experts see low dairy intake, overweight and inactivity as compound risk factors for future fractures, and urge parents to make adequate calcium and physical activity a priority in children’s lives. “We know children who avoid dairy products tend to have lower bone mass and more risk of fracture but we’re seeing other factors like weight come into play,” said Laura K. Bachrach, M.D., Professor of Pediatrics at Stanford Medical Center. “If we don’t focus our efforts on improving bone health and maintaining a healthy weight from an early age, our children are likely to miss out on a chance to build the strongest bones they can.” Today, only 12 percent of girls and 32 percent of boys get enough calcium to build bone mass during critical years, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, putting them at risk for fractures now and later in life. “The good news is that we can suggest ways to build stronger bones. The window for building strong bones lasts until early adulthood, but it’s never too late to make bone health a priority,” said Bachrach. Bachrach recommends parents provide adequate calcium and vitamin D through nutrientrich foods whenever possible, rather than turn to supplements. Milk and dairy products provide 70 percent of the calcium in the American diet, as well as other important nutrients such as vitamin D, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and protein. Here are some simple steps to building a lifetime of strong bones: • Get active. Play soccer, go for a walk or jump rope. Weight-bearing exercise helps build strong bones. Exercise is also important for maintaining a healthy weight. • Encourage milk as the beverage choice at lunch. Many schools offer low-fat or fatfree flavored milks that children love. • Offer cheese and yogurt as bone-building meal components and snack foods. • Include other calcium-rich foods in your diet such as beans, nuts, corn tortillas and dark-green leafy vegetables. Go to to find recipes that include dairy and other nutrient-rich foods.


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Active Kids Learn Better A federal mandate

arents can help their children take the right steps toward fitness. That’s a particularly good thing, because children today tend to be less active than in generations past. Twenty-five percent of all children watch at least four hours of television daily. Most children sit on the bus or in a car pool rather than expending their own energy to get to and from school. Although health experts recommend that children be active an hour a day, fewer than 25 percent get even 30 minutes of daily activity. This decrease in physical activity contributes significantly to America’s burgeoning childhood obesity rates. Nine million American children are overweight, three times more than in 1980. Schools are uniquely positioned to reverse these alarming trends, and ensure that children get the physical activity and physical education they need. What’s more, educators have discovered the academic potential of getting kids out of their seats. Physically active students have demonstrated higher test scores, better concentration and less disruptive behavior even when class time has been reduced to allow for extra time to be active.

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requires most schools to implement a Local Wellness Policy. Created at the district level, Local Wellness Policies set goals for physical activity and physical education, as well as nutrition education and nutrition standards for foods available at school. Action for Healthy Kids encourages parents to learn about their children’s school’s policy and find out how to help. Here are a few tips: • Teach children to spot opportunities to move, such as parking at the end of a parking lot. • Bike or walk wherever possible. Use the car as a last resort. • Establish an escorted “walking pool” to replace the car pool in your neighborhood. • Promote Safe Routes to School so children can walk or bike safely. • Join an Action for Healthy Kids Team to promote student wellness. For more information, visit www.

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Knowing When A Child’s Behavior Is “Normal” Or Not


ith health experts using shorthand diagnoses like “ADHD,” “PTSD” and “OCD,” it might be hard for parents to know if their child has a mental health disorder or is simply misbehaving. But as the number of behavioral diagnoses skyrockets—ADHD (attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder) alone is said to affect nearly 5 million kids, though some believe that number to be inflated—doctors say making accurate diagnoses is key. “There’s a whole spectrum of behaviors that can be considered ‘normal,’” explains Harold S. Koplewicz, M.D., founder and director of the New York University Child Study Center (CSC). “A child who talks back might be exhibiting bad—but normal— behavior, while a child who runs away might have a behavior problem. The best thing a concerned parent can do is seek information from professionals and trusted sources.” Dealing With Diagnoses So what do you do if your child is diagnosed with ADHD? First, remember that ADHD is a medical condition that makes it more difficult to control behavior and attention. The CSC suggests

you work with your physician to develop a total ADHD treatment program that might include: • Regular visits with a mental health professional. • Parent education. • Maintaining a regular schedule at home, in school, after school and on weekends. • Building a support team that includes parents, teachers, instructors and coaches. • Involvement in social skills groups. And if you suspect your child has been wrongfully diagnosed? Talk to your pediatrician immediately. In some cases, “symptoms” of ADHD can actually mask “normal” issues kids are having in school or with friends. Even physical ailments such as chronic inner ear infection can make a child seem to have certain ADHD symptoms. “The important thing is to stay informed and to play an active role in your child’s care,” says Dr. Koplewicz. “And when in doubt, seek a second opinion.” For more information and tips, visit www.

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Keeping Kids Safe Online

arents are often enthusiastic about their children exploring technology and becoming familiar with the digital world, and children may quickly surpass their parents in technological skill as a result of early exposure. According to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, however, one in five children is inappropriately or sexually solicited on the Internet and one in 17 is threatened or harassed. These statistics are alarming, but cutting kids off from technology is not a viable solution. Instead, the savvy parent needs to use any and all resources available to become educated about how to keep kids safe without eliminating virtual playtime. Luckily, many companies are concerned about promoting safe and healthy Internet activities. For example, pooling the knowledge of its national network of certified technicians, leading mobile computer services franchise Geeks On Call developed a free, informative “Parents Guide to Internet Safety.” Recently updated to include new technology and social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook, the guide provides simple and practical advice about how to protect children and be actively involved in their digital lives. Top tips include: 1. Privacy Policy-Make sure your children know how important it is to remain anonymous on the Internet. They should never give out personal information, including address or names of schools, friends, pets, etc. Encourage them to tell you if anyone on the Internet pressures them to reveal personal

information. 2. Don’t Connect In The Real World-Remind your kids how dangerous it is to have a reallife, face-to-face meeting with someone from the Internet. 3. Play By The Rules-Talk to your kids about Web safe practices and set limits on when, where and how they use the Internet. 4. Keep It Real-Remind your kids that not everything they read online is true. Many sites contain gossip, rumors, false advertisements, misleading information or outright lies. 5. Follow Their Tracks-Check your Web browser’s history to see where your kids have been online, or install software to track their activity and talk to them about it. Working to continuously empower parents, Geeks On Call also provides tips about technology that parents can use to monitor and limit their children’s online activities, such as filtering software, child-safe Web browsers and other products, and it provides a practical approach to the rules of Instant Messaging (IM) and chat rooms. The “Parents Guide to Internet Safety” is available as a free PDF download at www. geeks

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Smith & Anderson Counties Winter 2008 Since 1994 2


Smith & Anderson Counties Winter 2008 Since 1994 2