Tag Archives: Arizona AAP

Kids who are bullied less likely to be physically active

Children who are bullied by their peers endure great emotional pain and suffering.

Staying active has emotional benefits, too. Courtesy YMCA of the East Bay, Oakland, CA

But a new study, to be published in the March 2012 issue of Pediatrics, found that children who are ostracized, even for brief periods, are significantly more likely to choose sedentary over physical activities.

Researchers asked children between the ages of 8 and 12 to play a virtual ball-toss game. They were told that they were playing the game online with other kids. In some of the sessions, the game was pre-programmed to exclude the child from receiving the ball for most of the game.

In the other sessions, the child received the ball one-third of the time. After the game, the kids were given a choice of any activity they liked. They were then monitored by a device that measured physical activity.

The researchers found the kids who were excluded were far more likely to choose an activity that did not require physical effort.  They concluded that being ostracized may reinforce behaviors that lead to obesity in children.

Even though this study seems small, it is important, says Dr. Farah Lokey, a member of the Arizona Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Children who are prone to being bullied and then ostracized in school every day tend to spend more time at home and less time participating in activities with other children.

And that can damage self-esteem. “The key to getting these children active, and feeling good about themselves, says Lokey, who practices at Southwestern Pediatrics Gilbert, “is putting them into activities where they can shine on their own and meet like-minded individuals.”

Individual sports such as golf, swimming, and tennis can provide these opportunities, Lokey adds. “These sports not only allow them to become experts in the sports by learning these skills but definitely help their self- esteem and pride.”

Sports like Karate and other self-defense activities encourage treating others with respect. That keeps the concept top-of-mind for children.

When to worry

Younger school-age children typically begin their school years with a sense of excitant about learning and making new friends. But if a child seems suddenly less enthused and more fearful around school, or develops separation anxiety, that could be a red flag that bullying is going on, says Lokey.

Some children will show physical problems with no diagnosable cause, such as a tummy aches – but maybe only on the weekdays, not on weekends. Sleep problems or anxiety in social situations can also be indicators.

With older children, behavior can become more aggressive and defiant, says Lokey. Grades may suffer, and parents may notice a change in appearance as well as a tendancy to seclude themselves from others.

 What to do

If parents do see sudden changes, they should speak to school officials and enlist the help of school counselors. Lokey says that pediatricians can be a great resource when parents have questions about these behaviors.

A child’s physician can talk to their patient in confidence and offer to speak with school counselors if needed. “Bolstering confidence and self-esteem in the children we pediatricians treat,” says Lokey, “is one of our main goals.”

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Why carpooling parents skip booster seats

Plenty of parents drive children other than their own in carpools, but according to new study findings published in the February issue of Pediatrics, they don’t consistently use booster seats for these “guest passengers.”

In this particular study, about three-quarters of the 4- to 8-year-olds using a seat

Courtesy U.S. Dept. of Transportation

belt were doing so in accordance with the laws in their state. But state laws don’t always comply with the national recommendations.

National recommendations encourage the use of booster seats until a child reaches 57 inches, the average height of an 11-year-old.

State booster seat laws were associated with higher safety seat use, regardless of the carpooling factor, even though half of parents admit to not knowing the age cited in their state booster seat law. Another 20 percent guessed incorrectly.

So, take a guess. What’s the law for booster seats in Arizona?

Arizona is one of only 3 states that currently does not have a law requiring children to be restrained in a booster seat, says Sara Bode, M.D., a pediatrician and Arizona AAP member who practices at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Current law only requires car seats for children 5 years or younger.

Part of the lower incidence of use may be due to a lack of state booster seat laws, says Bode. There is a current house bill this legislative session that has passed initial committee hearings. House Bill 2452 would mandate booster seats for children up to age 8 or until they are 4 feet 9 inches tall.

Booster seats are just as important as infant and toddler seats, says Bode. They allow correct positioning of the seat belt across the chest and hips.

Kids can easily slip out of a seat belt during a crash or can suffer serious or fatal injuries to the neck and abdomen. In her work at Phoenix Children’s, Bode has seen many children who have experienced trauma from a motor vehicle injury.

Don’t make these five tragic car seat mistakes!

“I personally have taken care of a family who suffered from a motor vehicle crash,” says Bode. “Their 5 year-old wasn’t properly restrained. As a result, she suffered a serious abdominal injury requiring surgery and a prolonged hospital stay.”

Kids who are seated in a booster seat in the rear of the car are 45% less likely to be injured in a crash as compared to those using a seat belt alone, according to data gathered by SafeKidsUSA, a nationwide network of organizations working to prevent unintentional childhood injury.

Study authors conclude that social norms may play a big role in booster seat use, too. As far as carpools go, there are inherent difficulties with the transfer of car seats between parents and carpool drivers, says Bode. It’s just one more thing for parents to do during a busy time of the day.

How do we change the social norm?  Bode suggests that daycares and schools could play a large role in educating parents on the importance of use as well as providing  expectations for proper restraint, and a designated area to store booster seats during the school day.

Plenty of community resources are available to help parents use booster seats properly. Check out our RAK Car Seat Safety Local Resource Page here.