Originally posted on my US News & World Report parenting blog (Dec 11)
A CONCERNED MOTHER recently reached out to a large virtual support group of fellow moms to seek advice regarding a distressing incident involving her young child. She described all sorts of challenges that commonly face working moms today, from the adjustment involved in heading back to work to all-important considerations regarding child care. But at the heart of this particular discussion was a subject that I have long found to be of universal interest to parents and others who take care of young kids: biting.
The virtual response this mom got to her tale of woe was impressive: Hundreds of other moms weighed in, sharing their own biting experiences, insights and frustrations. As I’ve found over several decades interacting with young children and their caregivers, biting can become the bane of a parent’s existence – whether you’re upset your child has been bitten, or the frustrated parent of a biter.
To tackle this issue, I’ve found it most useful for everyone involved to step away from the particular situation at hand – at least for a moment – and start with a clear understanding of what biting does, and doesn’t, represent.
The best way I’ve found to explain it is that biting happens to be the least socially acceptable of all of the predictable and developmentally normal behaviors of early childhood. The thought of one child trying to take a bite out of another child has come to be perceived as far more distasteful than, say, hitting, pinching, pushing, kicking, shrieking or any of a whole host of less-than-desirable toddler behaviors. There’s something about the discovery of a human bite mark on one’s child that parents find especially disturbing. However, a young child’s predilection to bite both friends and foes isn’t abnormal.
Originally posted on my US News & World Report parenting blog (Sept 22)
THIS WEEK HAPPENS TO BE Child Passenger Safety Week – a week specifically dedicated to ensuring that parents, as well as anyone else who transports children, use the correct car seat and properly buckle kids in each and every time children ride in motor vehicles.
As a pediatrician with 15 years of experience being a child passenger safety technician and instructor, I am most definitely a fan of this week-long focus. That’s because the stakes are high when it comes to buckling kids in properly. Motor vehicle-related injuries continue to be a leading cause of death for children in the U.S.; and buckling up is the best way to save lives and reduce injuries. Child safety seats, when used correctly, can reduce the risk of death by as much as 71 percent, according to SafeKids.org.
Yet, despite all we know about the importance of passenger safety, nearly three-fourths of cars seats are still not being used or installed correctly.
Adding to this problem is a second challenge that’s by no means exclusive to car seats, but which stands to seriously thwart our collective efforts to keep our children safe in them. I’m talking about the culture of “mommy-shaming.”
Consider the photo that just a few months ago managed to capture the attention of the parenting world. The photo I’m referring to wasn’t just any picture shared by any mom. It was a snapshot of the then 18-month-old son of pop culture royalty Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. It also just so happened to be a shot of a not-yet-2-year-old strapped into a car seat that was facing forward, rather than rear-facing seat as generally recommended for a child of this age.
The parenting and media response was fast and furious. While the virtual dust has settled, I still feel the need to weigh in on a couple lingering aspects of this cause celebre.