Pediatric Alliance Advises about Tick Bites

Up until last year, the primary source of ticks in the United States was caused by Americans bringing them back from traveling abroad; however, ticks are now prevalent in the United States.

The most common tick-borne illness in the United States is Lyme disease, which when left untreated, can be a source of severe health problems. Dr. Brian Donnelly, a board-certified pediatrician at the North Hills Division of Pediatric Alliance, provides information and advice that can help parents prevent and treat members of their family who have been bitten by a tick.

Dr. Donnelly indicates that there are three major types of ticks, including the Deer, Wood/Dog and Lone Star. Deer and Wood ticks are commonly found in western Pennsylvania; the Lone Star tick is now becoming more prevalent in this region. Dr. Donnelly suggests the safest way to remove a tick is by gripping the tick near its jaw with a pair of tweezers and pulling it straight out.
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Getting Your Children to Volunteer

Childwise logoKathleen GansterChildwise: A column for parents of children from birth to 21

By Kathleen Ganster

We all want compassionate children and a good way to get them thinking about others is to have them volunteer at a non-profit or organization in your area.

But how do you choose where and when they should volunteer? How many hours provide a meaningful experience? How do you entice a child to want as opposed to make them give to others?

Linda Robins, Volunteer Coordinator for North Hills Community Outreach shared some tips and ideas for helping to not only find a volunteering experience for your child, but one that means something to him.

“I always tell people to check out the organization first. You don’t want to call a place and say you want to volunteer without really knowing what they do,” she said.

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The Case Against Claus

Kathleen GansterChildwise logoChildwise: A column for parents of children from birth to 21

By Kathleen Ganster

Santa Claus, that big, old jolly elf that everyone loves and believes in. Well, maybe not everyone.

I decided before I had children that I was not going to “do Santa” with my kids. It was one of the few before-children decisions that I actually stuck to.

“Back in the day,” I had read an article written by a child psychologist that gave what I refer to as “the case against Claus.”  That was too many years ago for me to be able to state my source, but in a nutshell the author said when we follow the Santa Myth, you are essentially lying to your children and that they may have unrealistic expectations on what they will receive for the holiday.

A child in an apartment in New York City is never going to get a horse as a house pet, no matter how well he behaves, she stated.
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Childwise: How Do You Choose a Family-Friendly and Safe Holiday Vacation?

Childwise logoKathleen GansterBy Kathleen Ganster

Families often travel to visit other family members or to take their own holiday vacations over the school breaks.

When my husband and I stayed at a hotel this summer that he had selected due to their affiliation with a major hotel brand, it was a nightmare. It was something out of a bad movie, but even worse than our awful predicament – there were just the two of us and no other available rooms in town, he had checked – there were families staying at this place. I was horrified thinking young children were staying in this filthy place.

So I asked two of my friends who are also experts in the travel industry – how do you chose a hotel that is clean and safe? And what are other family friendly travel tips?

Patti Jo Lambert, public relations specialist for the Butler County Tourism & Convention Bureau, but perhaps more importantly, is the mom of three boys, 6 to 14. Like most families, vacations are a special time for the Lamberts.

“We have a very busy schedule so getting away together on vacation is really important to me.  I want my boys to always remember the unusual experiences and fun we had together while they were growing up,” Lambert said.
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Childwise: Can Sports Be Safe?

Kathleen GansterBy KatChildwise logohleen Ganster

You can’t turn on the TV or pick up a newspaper or magazine without reading something about the dangers of concussions in sports.  As the mother of a son who broke his back playing football, I know there are other dangers of sports as well.

But sports have many rewards for children and can be safe.

Diana L. Malone, Ph.D., is the Training and Consultation Coordinator for the Allegheny Intermediate Unit and point of contact for the Supporting Student Athletes website . Dr. Malone works with educators, coaches, parents, and student athletes on sports-related injury issues including concussion management, sudden cardiac arrest and heat-related illnesses.

The first aspect is to choose a sport that your child will enjoy and one that is appropriate for your child.

“Parents should take into consideration physical size, physical ability and where the child’s sports interests fall,” she said.

Once a sport is selected, parents should know the rules and regulations that organization or school follows.
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Grandparenting – Drawing That Fine Line Between Love and Interference

Kathleen GansterChildwise: A column for parents of children from birth to 21

By Kathleen Ganster

The thoughts of grandparenting are usually of love, cookies, fishing and joy. But that isn’t how it always turns out.

The role of a grandparent can be tough. The grandparents may want to spend more – or less – time with their grandchildren than parents allow. And they may want to buy more things, give more advice or do more for their grandchildren than the parents want.

It can all be a delicate balancing act between loving enough and interfering with parenting.Childwise logo

And like everything else, open communication may help solve a lot of issues before they even begin.
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Balancing Activities and Academics

Kathleen GansterChildwise logoChildwise: A column for parents of children from birth to 21

By Kathleen Ganster

And so it begins…the first day of school, band practice, football practice, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, play practice, SAT prep classes, volunteer work at the local senior citizen center, student council meetings and a part-time job. And did we mention homework for all those AP classes?

When is participation in activities coupled with academics enough and when it is too much?

Just as parents may struggle with life-work balance, high school students may struggle with an academic-activities balance, said Dr. Jered Kolbert, program director of counselor education and associate professor at Duquesne University.
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Childwise: Traveling With Teens

Childwise logoBy Kathleen Ganster

Before you know it, your teens will be out of the house, living on their own or at the very least, so busy with jobs and social lives that they wouldn’t want or be able to take a vacation with you.

That said, traveling with teens can be both a joy and a nightmare. As the well-worn veteran of many travel trips, I know from first-hand experience that traveling with teens has a lot of advantages – and some disadvantages.  And like most travel, planning in advance always minimizes stress.
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When Should You Get a Pet for Your Child?

Kathleen GansterChildwise logoChildwise: A column for parents of children from birth to 21

By Kathleen Ganster

What child hasn’t begged his parents for a dog?

One of my favorite stories is that of a friend of mine who told of pleading with his parents for a dog. His father wisely told Rick that the novelty would wear off and he wasn’t about to walk Rick’s dog. Finally, the dad relented, Rick got his dog and quickly, the novelty wore off. When he would whine about taking care of the dog, his dad would reply, “Excuses don’t walk the dog.”

How can you avoid excuses? When do you know if your child is ready for a pet?

Childwise went to Gilda Arroyo, Humane and Environmental Educator for the Animal Rescue Shelter and Wildlife Center ( for advice for parents.

“I look at the maturity level of the child, not the age. What level of responsibility is the child ready for?” she said.
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Allegheny County Offers Swimming Pool Safety Tips

Swimming Safety Tips

Photo Credit: quinet via Compfight cc

The Allegheny County Health Department and the Department of Emergency Services are offering advice for all residents on how to stay safe and avoid danger while enjoying swimming pools this summer.

The Health Department’s Child Death Review Team examined nine local pool-related child drownings between 2000 and 2012 and found that, in several cases, children drowned despite knowing how to swim. They either did not have proper adult supervision or there was no barrier, such as a fence, between themselves and the water. In addition to the child deaths, at least five adults have drowned in swimming pools since 2000.

Most drownings involving children and adults, as well as general pool-related injuries and infections, can be prevented by taking the following precautions while enjoying residential or public swimming pools:
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