Lice Removal Tips in Time for Back to School Season

By Katie Bui, clinical pharmacist at CHOC Children’s

Head lice can be a pest. But don’t panic! There are many effective ways to prevent your child from getting these critters, and treat them should your child come home with lice. There’s even ways to get rid of the “super lice” that have received media attention recently for being resistant to some existing treatments.

Prevention is the First Defense

First things first- prevention is key. Be vigilant in monitoring your child’s head for lice before the infestation and symptoms start, usually when there are reported incidences at your child’s school or daycare. Teach them not to share hair ties, combs, hats, scarfs, and pillows at school or during sleepovers. Surprisingly, even taking selfies might increase the risk of getting head lice, since an affected child’s hair could touch another child’s healthy hair—the new way that older children and teenagers are being affected.

Lice Removal Tips

When treating head lice, both the eggs (also known as nits) and adult lice must be killed. To kill eggs, use nit combs and brush your child’s head from the hair shaft (the part that sticks out from the skin) for at least three days in a row. Then to kill the adult lice, there are medicines and other measures. Lice medicine can be purchased over-the-counter at your local pharmacy.

Pediculicides (medicines that kill lice) have active ingredients such as pyrethins and permethrin lotion/shampoo. If over-the-counter medicines fail, parents should seek advice from a doctor. In some cases, prescription medicines may help, including benzyl alcohol, Ivermectin lotion and malathion lotion. These medicines are safe and effective when used as directed by the label and by your doctor or pharmacist.

Non-medicine measures include washing and drying clothes, bed sheets, pillow cases and other linens in hot water to kill lice and eggs. Items that cannot be washed should be sealed in a plastic bag for two weeks or be dry-cleaned. Vacuuming furniture and floors can also remove nits.

September is National Head Lice Prevention month so be sure to share these tips- but not lice- with friends and family.

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How Parents Can Help Kids Achieve in School

Did you know that there’s an actual medical diagnosis for “academic underachievement?”

Dr. Michael W. Cater, a CHOC Children’s pediatrician, has made this diagnosis occasionally for young patients who have high potential but just don’t do well in school.

Dr. Cater places a high priority on encouraging patients to succeed in school. He says that’s just as important as having a good physical report.

“As parents, it’s our responsibility to have high expectations for our kids if they have a normal mental capacity,” Dr. Cater says. “There should be consequences for not doing your homework and not doing well in school. You go to school to get an education. Parents need to be serious about this.”

To help parents help their children, Dr. Cater lists reasonable expectations for a healthy, intelligent student:

  • You do not miss class unless you are really sick.
  • You complete your homework every night.
  • You do not go out on a school night unless you can guarantee that you are prepared for the next day’s classes.
  • You limit your phone calls and TV watching.
  • You turn in all assignments, complete and on time.
  • You see that work and your social life do not interfere with your main job, which is school.
  • You do what you know is necessary to get the highest grades you can.

Dr. Cater believes students and parents often accept low grades too easily. Parents can help turn this around, he says.

Teens should be responsible for their schoolwork, but they often make bad choices too, he says. Because of this, Dr. Cater urges parents to insist on academic standards that they know their children can meet.

“The expectations of high school teachers are generally quite fair and attainable,” he says. “As a rule, to earn a good grade in a class a student is expected to do three things: show up, turn in their homework and put some time into that work.”

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Healthy School Habits For Your Teen

Healthy School Habits TeensBack to school time can be a stressful time for teens and parents alike. Help your teen start off the new school year succesfully, with the following tips:

Get emotionally ready Take some time before school starts to talk about the school year coming up and reaffirm with your teen that you are there to help, should they need it. Don’t assume your teen already knows this.

Set goals A new school year is a great time to re-examine school performance. This includes extra-curricular activities, too. Look back together at what worked the previous school year and what did not. Help him or her set doable goals and try not to over stress your teen – or yourself!

Help establish a healthy routine Many teens struggle with time management, especially if they are juggling after-school activities and/or part-time jobs on top of their school and home responsibilities. If your teen has trouble waking up for school, set an earlier bedtime. If your teen struggles to do homework, establish a designated homework area and time. Limit distractions during homework time, such as cell phone and other electronics use. Create rules that encourage healthy habits.

Show interest in your teen’s education – Talk openly to your teen about what’s happening at school on a daily basis. Ask about homework, projects, teachers, social activities, etc. Show him or her that you genuinely care. Give your teen a chance to bring up any concerns as well as a chance to share accomplishments. Teens with involved parents are more likely to get better grades, have a better attitude about school and have higher self-esteem.

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Kick Off the New School Year with Healthy Sleep Habits

Bedtime troubles are very common at some point in most children’s lives. This often disrupts the household, and it prevents a child from getting the amount of sleep they need. This can also affect a child’s performance at school.

20130426_0079newJust in time for back to school, check out the following guidelines to help establish good sleep habits for your children.

Your child should be getting the recommended amount of sleep depending on their age.

Please note these recommendations are only guidelines and not every child will follow them.

Age 1 to 2: 10 to 12 hours at night /  one to four hours during the day

Age 3 to 5: 10 hours at night  /  up to one hour during the day; child may outgrow a nap at this age

Age 6 to 11: 10 hours at night  /  No daytime nap

Tips for establishing good sleep habits

• Older babies and children should have a nap time and bedtime schedule.
• Limit screen time to no more than two hours per day, including time spent in front of smart phones, tablets, computers and TVs. Screens should be turned off at least two hours prior to bedtime.
• Start a quiet time, such as listening to quiet music or reading a book, 20 to 30 minutes before bedtime. TV or other digital screens should not be a part of the quiet time.
• After quiet time, follow a bedtime routine, such as a diaper change, going to the bathroom and brushing teeth.
• Set a time limit for quiet time and the routine so it does not drag on and your child knows what to expect before bedtime.
• Say goodnight, turn off the light and leave the room.
• Security objects, such as a special blanket or stuffed animal, can be part of the bedtime routine.
• It is important for children to be put to bed awake so they learn to fall asleep themselves.

What if my child won’t go to sleep?

Young children can easily fall into bedtime habits that are not always healthy. These suggestions can help when a child does not want to go to bed or is having trouble staying in bed:

• If your child cries, speak calmly and reassure him or her, “You are fine. It is time to go to sleep.” Then leave the room.
• Do not give a bottle or pick up your child.
• Stretch out the time between trips to the room if your child continues. Do not do anything but talk calmly and leave.
• Your child will calm down and go to sleep if you stick to this routine. It may take several nights for your child to get used to the new plan.
• If your child is used to getting a large amount of milk right at bedtime, start to cut down the amount of milk in the bottle by 1/2 to 1 ounce each night until the bottle is empty and then take it away completely.
• Sometimes children get out of their routine of night sleeping because of an illness or travel. Quickly return to good sleep habits when things are back to normal.

Older children sometimes go through a stage when they revert back to bad sleep habits or develop new problems. Here are some tips to help parents with older children who have problems going to bed.

• If your child gets out of bed, take him or her back to bed with a warning that the door will be shut (not locked) for one  or two minutes if he or she gets out of bed.
• If your child stays in bed, the door stays open. If your child gets out of bed, the door is closed for two minutes. Your child can understand that he or she has control of keeping the door open by staying in bed.
• If your child gets out again, shut the door for three to five minutes (no more than five minutes).
• Be consistent. Put your child back in bed each time he or she gets out of bed.
• When your child stays in bed, open the door and give your child praise (for example, “You are doing a great job of staying in bed. Goodnight.”).
• Your child can be rewarded by earning a star on a calendar for staying in bed all night. You can give a special prize for a certain number of stars earned.

If you think your child might have a sleep disorder, talk to their pediatrician about having a CHOC Children’s sleep study. For more on kids and sleep, please click here.

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Tips for Being an Active Participant at Your Child’s IEP Team Meeting

By Jeanne Anne Carriere, director of the Chapman Ability Project, a collaboration between Chapman University’s College of Educational Studies and The Center for Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders 

An Individualized Education Plan (IEP) may be a critical part of some kids’ educational programs, including those with autism and other disorders. The IEP meeting is a common, multi-discipline team approach for sharing information and decision making.

Unfortunately, for many families, the IEP process can sometimes be emotionally overwhelming and confusing.  For IEP collaboration to be successful, parents need to feel like valued, respected, and equal members of the team. One way for parents of children with autism and other disorders to become more engaged in this process, is to understand the Who, What, How and Why of their child’s IEP meeting.

Who? Ask who will be at the meeting. The meeting usually consists of a parent, general education teacher, special education teacher, and an administrator, unless you have given permission for them to be absent. If assessments were conducted, someone who can explain the assessments should be present, such as the school psychologist. Your child’s service provider/s should also be present, such as the speech and language therapist or occupational therapist. Make sure the participants you would like to be at the meeting have been invited and confirm their attendance before the meeting.

What? Clarify the purpose of the meeting. What information will be presented or reviewed? If evaluations were conducted, ask for reports in advance of the meeting. This will give you time to read the reports and ask questions if needed. Understanding the evaluation results before the meeting can reduce some of the emotional intensity of the IEP meeting.

How? Request a meeting agenda so all members will know how the meeting will proceed.  Plan, review, and agree upon an agenda as the first step in the meeting. This will help the team make good use of time and remain focused on the purpose of the meeting: to create a good educational program for your child.

Why? Ask questions to understand why certain goals, services or placement have been recommended. Do you see the link between your child’s strengths and needs and the goals that have been written? Do you think your child will achieve his goals with this level of service? If not, share your suggestions with the team. Ask for other team members’ opinions and for them to share the information they used to make their recommendations. Feel free to re-ask for clarification if you did not understand an answer or the plan moving forward.

For more information, please visit The Center for Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders, a CHOC Children’s partner, at www.thecenter4autism.org.

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