Water safety for children

Most children are drawn to water. It’s sparkly. Things float in it. It’s fun to splash. But water safety is no laughing matter. Anyone can have a water-related accident — even children who know how to swim. To keep your children safe in and near the water, follow these guidelines.

To reduce the risk of drowning in any swimming environment:

  • Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Parents and child care providers should know CPR.
  • Supervise. Never leave children unsupervised near a pool, hot tub or natural body of water. During gatherings, adults who know how to swim can take turns being the “designated watcher,” who isn’t distracted. Children under age 4 should be supervised at arm’s length, even if they can swim. Don’t rely on air-filled or foam toys, such as water wings, noodles or inner tubes, to keep children safe.
  • Teach children to swim. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, most children age 4 and older can learn to swim. Children ages 1 to 4 might be able to learn depending on their physical and emotional development. Swimming lessons, however, don’t necessarily prevent drowning and aren’t a substitute for adult supervision.
  • Avoid alcohol. Don’t drink alcohol when you are boating, swimming or supervising children who are swimming.

To ensure water safety in a home pool or spa:

  • Fence it in. Install a fence at least 4 feet (1.2 meters) tall that separates the pool area from the house and yard. The fence shouldn’t block the view of the pool from outside the fenced area. Vertical slats on fences should have gaps no wider than 4 inches (10.2 centimeters), and the fence shouldn’t be more than 4 inches off the ground. Avoid fences that children can easily climb. Install self-closing and self-latching gates that open away from the pool area with latches beyond a child’s reach.
  • Install alarms. Use an alarm on the house door that leads to the pool area, a floating pool-alarm or a below-water alarm. Keep in mind that an alarm isn’t a substitute for appropriate fencing and supervision.
  • Block pool and hot tub access. Use a rigid, motorized safety cover to block access to the pool when it’s not in use. Secure a cover on hot tubs. Don’t allow water to collect on top of the pool or hot tub cover. Remove aboveground pool steps or ladders or lock them behind a fence when the pool isn’t in use. Empty inflatable pools after each use.
  • Remove toys. Don’t leave pool toys in the water. A child might fall into the water while trying to retrieve a toy.
  • Beware of drains. Don’t allow children to play near or sit on pool or hot tub drains. Body parts and hair can become entrapped by the strong suction. Specially designed drain covers, safety vacuum-release systems and multiple drains can prevent entrapment.
  • Keep emergency equipment handy. Equipment might include a life ring with rope, reaching pole or shepherd’s crook. Always have a phone in the pool area.

If you have a pool or hot tub, follow all local safety ordinances.

Swimming conditions can be unpredictable in ponds, lakes, rivers and oceans. Water depth can change rapidly, as can water temperature, currents and the weather. Murky water might conceal hazards. Follow these water safety tips:

  • Wear a life jacket. Children and adults should wear personal flotation devices whenever riding in a boat or fishing. An air-filled swimming aid isn’t a substitute for a life jacket.
  • Feet first. The first descent into any body of water should be a jump — feet first. Before the jump, check water depth and temperature and look for underwater hazards.
  • Stay in designated areas. At public beaches, swim only in areas set aside for swimming. Pay attention to posted warnings about unsafe swimming conditions. Don’t allow children to swim in drainage ditches, abandoned surface mines or other water-filled areas not intended for swimming.
  • Beware of thin ice. Drowning can occur in the winter, too. Avoid walking, skating or riding on weak or thawing ice. Pay attention to posted warnings regarding ice safety and consult a local department of recreation for current ice conditions. If you spend time on frozen lakes or rivers in winter, learn rescue techniques, such as staying off the ice and using a rope, branch or other long object to reach someone who has fallen through the ice.

A baby can drown in just 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) of water. A curious toddler can fall into a toilet, bucket or fish tank. Consider these precautions:

  • Keep the bathroom door closed. Install a safety latch or doorknob cover on the outside of the door.
  • Supervise bath time. Never leave a child alone in the bathtub or in the care of another child. Drain water from the tub immediately after use.
  • Shut toilet lids. Consider installing childproof locks on lids.
  • Store buckets safely. Empty buckets and other containers immediately after use. Don’t leave them outside, where they might accumulate water.

Screen time for growing children : guideline

The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages media use, except for video-chatting, by children younger than 18 to 24 months. If you want to introduce digital media to children ages 18 to 24 months, make sure it’s high quality and avoid solo media use. For children ages 2 to 5, limit screen time to one hour a day of high-quality programming. As your child grows, a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work as well. You’ll need to decide how much media to let your child use each day and what types of media are appropriate.

Unstructured playtime is more valuable for a young child’s developing brain than is electronic media. Despite the fact that many digital media programs claim to be educational, children younger than age 2 are more likely to learn and remember information from a live presentation than they are from a video.

By age 2, children can benefit from certain types of screen time, such as programming with music, movement and stories. However, passive screen time shouldn’t replace reading, playing or problem-solving. Co-view with your child to help your child understand what he or she is seeing and apply it in real life.

As your child grows, keep in mind that too much or poor quality screen time has been linked to:

  • Obesity
  • Irregular sleep schedules and shorter duration of sleep
  • Behavioral problems
  • Loss of social skills
  • Violence
  • Less time for play

Not all apps, online games or programs are created equal. To ensure quality screen time, consider these tips:

  • Preview programs, games and apps before allowing your child to view or play with them.
  • Seek out interactive options that engage your child, rather than those that just require pushing and swiping or staring at the screen.
  • Use parental controls to block or filter internet content.
  • Make sure your child is close by during screen time so that you can supervise his or her activities.
  • Ask your child regularly what programs, games and apps he or she has played with during the day.
  • Play a video game or explore a new app with your child.
  • When watching programming with your child, discuss what you’re watching and educate him or her about advertising and commercials.

Set reasonable limits for your child’s screen time, especially if your child’s use of screens is hindering his or her involvement in other activities. Consider these tips:

  • Prioritize unplugged, unstructured playtime.
  • Create tech-free zones or times, such as during mealtime or one night a week.
  • Discourage use of media entertainment during homework.
  • Set and enforce daily or weekly screen time limits and curfews, such as no exposure to devices or screens 1 hour before bedtime.
  • Consider using apps that control the length of time a child can use a device.
  • Require your children to charge their devices outside of their bedrooms at night.
  • Keep screens out of your child’s bedroom.
  • Limit your own screen time.
  • Eliminate background TV.

Online relationships and social media have become a major part of adolescent life. Experts suggest that it’s OK for your teen to be a part of these worlds — as long as he or she understands appropriate behavior. Explain to your teen what’s OK and what’s not OK, such as sexting, cyberbullying and sharing personal information online. Teach your child not to send or share anything online that he or she would not want the entire world to see for eternity. No matter how smart or mature you feel your child is, monitor his or her online and social media behavior.

Your child is bound to make mistakes using media. Talk to your child and help him or her learn from them. Also, model positive online etiquette yourself.

Managing your child’s use of screens and media will be an ongoing challenge. But by developing household rules— and revisiting them as your child grows — you can help ensure a safe and fun experience.

Improving toddler behavior : preventing tantrums

Toddlers are infamous for tantrums and other behavior issues.It’s normal for a toddler to have temper tantrums. To reduce the frequency, duration or intensity of your child’s tantrums and encourage listening and cooperation, follow these parenting tips.

  • Know your child’s limits. Your child might misbehave because he or she doesn’t understand or can’t do what you’re asking.
  • Explain how to follow the rules. Instead of saying, “Stop hitting,” offer suggestions for how to make play go more smoothly, such as “Why don’t you two take turns?”
  • Take ‘no’ in stride. Don’t overreact when your toddler says no. Instead, calmly repeat your request. You might also try to distract your child or make a game out of good behavior. Your child will be more likely to do what you want if you make an activity fun.
  • Pick your battles. If you say no to everything, your child is likely to get frustrated. Look for times when it’s OK to say yes.
  • Offer choices, when possible. Encourage your child’s independence by letting him or her pick out a pair of pajamas or a bedtime story.
  • Avoid situations that might trigger frustration or tantrums.For example, don’t give your child toys that are too advanced for him or her. Avoid long outings in which your child has to sit still or can’t play — or bring along an activity. Also know that children are more likely to act out when they’re tired, hungry, sick or in an unfamiliar setting.
  • Stick to the schedule. Keep a daily routine so that your child will know what to expect.
  • Encourage communication. Remind your child to use words to express his or her feelings. If your child isn’t speaking yet, consider teaching him or her baby sign language to avoid frustration.
Despite your best efforts, at some point your toddler will break the rules. Ignore minor displays of anger, such as crying — but if your child hits, kicks or screams for a prolonged period, remove him or her from the situation. Consider using these parenting tips to encourage your child to cooperate:
  • Natural consequences. Let your child see the consequences of his or her actions — as long as they’re not dangerous. If your child throws and breaks a toy, he or she won’t have the toy to play with anymore.
  • Logical consequences. Create a consequence for your child’s actions. Tell your child if he or she doesn’t pick up his or her toys, you will take the toys away for a day. Help your child with the task, if necessary. If your child doesn’t cooperate, follow through with the consequence.
  • Withholding privileges. If your child doesn’t behave, respond by taking away something that your child values — such as a favorite toy — or something that’s related to his or her misbehavior. Don’t take away something your child needs, such as a meal.
  • Timeout. When your child acts out, get down to his or her level and briefly and calmly explain why the behavior is unacceptable. Encourage your child to try a more appropriate activity. If the poor behavior continues, guide your child to a designated timeout spot — ideally a quiet place with no distractions. Enforce the timeout until your child is calm and can listen to you. Afterward, reassure your child of your love and guide him or her to a positive activity.

Whatever consequences you choose, be consistent. Make sure that every adult who cares for your child observes the same rules and discipline guidelines. This reduces your child’s confusion and need to test you.

Also, be careful to criticize your child’s behavior — not your child. Instead of saying, “You’re a bad boy,” try, “Don’t run into the street.” Never resort to punishments that emotionally or physically harm your child. Spanking, slapping and screaming at a child are never appropriate.

Set a good example

Children learn how to act by watching their parents. The best way to show your child how to behave is to set a positive example for him or her to follow.