Parenting & Safety

How do you know if your child has asthma?

That nagging, hacking cough can play a trick on some parents.

There’s no fever, and the cough comes and goes, seemingly triggered by the getting-ready-for-bed routine. A skeptic might think it’s an “excuse cough” — notice how it can quiet down if you let that moody, sluggish kid stay home from school?

Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s nothing serious, health officials warn. Frequent intermittent coughing — particularly at bedtime and upon rising — is a classic sign of childhood asthma.

Girl Talk: The Talk

If you have adolescents or teenagers, you’ve no doubt noticed things have changed since you were that age.

Back then, certain things just weren’t discussed — in “polite company” or otherwise. Some parents remember when even married couples on TV were shown sleeping in twin beds. Today, it seems that anything goes — at least in the virtual world of television and the Internet.

Parents today do more than simply hand their child a sex-education book and hope for the best.

How much do your teens know about pedestrian safety?

Every hour in the United States, a teen pedestrian is injured or killed after being hit by a car.

That’s a scary number for the parent of a teenager. Parents and teens are already dealing with evolving relationships and growing independence, and adding another level of traveling safety can seem daunting. Talking to your teen about walking safety can reduce your teen’s risk for serious injury by a motor vehicle.

By the numbers: When should you worry about your child’s height?

Over the past 15 years, Luisa Satterly has tried not to worry about how slowly her son, Ryan, was growing. After all, she and Ryan’s father are not exceptionally tall. But in the back of her mind she wondered if he was growing normally. She recently decided to ask Ryan’s pediatrician. 

“Parents tend to worry over where their child ranks on the growth charts they see at the pediatrician’s office,” said V. Faye Jones, M.D., pediatrician and professor of pediatrics at the University of Louisville School of Medicine. “These charts only provide a general picture of a child’s growth pattern over time.”

Backpack safety 101

With the school year well underway, now is a good time to do a safety check on your child’s backpack. Talk to your child about these safety rules and work together to make necessary adjustments to help protect their back now and promote good back health in the future.

  • Lighten up: Many students are carrying too much weight on their backs, opting to skip their lockers in between classes and stuff all their books in their backpack. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends students carry no more than 15 to 20 percent of their body weight in their backpack. Here is a backpack weight guide using 15 percent of body weight to help you:
Child's weight Backpack weight
75 pounds 11.25 pounds
90 pounds 13.5 pounds
115 pounds 17.25 pounds
125 pounds 18.75 pounds
150 pounds 22.5 pounds
  • Double up: While the fad might be to sling that backpack over one shoulder, this trend could cause tremendous neck and shoulder aches and pains. Students should be encouraged to double up and put a strap over each shoulder. Doing so evenly distributes the weight of their backpack and promotes better posture and fewer back injuries.
  • Create a snug fit: Students can also be spotted wearing their backpacks low. This creates pull on the back and, often, children will try to overcompensate by arching the back or leaning forward. Tighten up the straps so the backpack fits snug against your child’s body and rests in the middle of the back.
  • Look for thick straps: Backpack straps should be wide and padded with foam to provide cushion and added support for the shoulders. Tight, narrow straps can dig into the shoulders and pinch nerves or interfere with circulation, especially when the backpack is weighted down.