Entries in Kids (131)


More Kids Turning into Yoga Practitioners

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Yoga is said to be the fastest-growing sport in America, with 20 million people practicing.  But the latest trend among yogis is that an increasing number of practitioners are pint-sized.

Kids -- from newborns to teenagers -- are learning the terms downward-facing dog, sun salutation and more in kids-only yoga studios and even in their classrooms . It's also one of the only non-competitive sports available.

"More practitioners and more parents are becoming aware of the benefits of yoga and seeing their kids can benefit too," said Liz Eustace, CEO of Alignyo, an online yoga community with a newsletter devoted to all things yoga.  "The things that benefit an adult will also benefit a child.  Stress reduction, mind-body connection, physical strength -- these are things that benefit kids as well as adults."

At a recent kids yoga class for 6- to 9-year-olds at YogiBeans, a kids-only studio on New York City's Upper East Side, both parents and children were anxious to talk about the good yoga has brought to their lives.

"It clears your mind off something that's really bothering you," said one little girl.

So how does a kids yoga teacher keep the kids attention on the "oommm" for an entire class?  While there are similarities between kids and adult yoga, a kids class is far more relaxed.

"[Kids and adult classes are] very different, but the foundation is always the same.  There's still the mind-body connection that is the foundation of all yoga," said Eustace.  "But what's great is there's a ton of creativity with kids yoga, like meowing like a cat, barking in downward dog or hissing like a cobra.  There's an incredible amount of creativity and playfulness within the foundation of yoga.  And it's these kids moving in such a creative and conscious way that makes it such a fun practice for children to get involved with."

Lauren Chaitoff, co-owner and instructor at YogiBeans, agreed.  

"It's going to be little bit sillier, more playful.  Kids are stressed these days, there are social pressures and pressure in school," she said.

Experts say parents should do their research before signing their kids up for a yoga program.  A good place to start is the Yoga Alliance website, where parents can search for a instructor that's been trained in children's yoga.  The voluntary standards put forth by Yoga Alliance require 96 hours of training to become registered.

If there are no children's yoga programs in your area, your kids can still benefit from the practice.

"There's great resources online and through books and through DVDs," said Eustace.  "Whether you're in a small community or a larger community you can still integrate a lot of the practices and teachings of kids yoga."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Recess 'Crucial' for Kids, Pediatricians' Group Says

Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Kids aren't getting enough recess at school, the country's top pediatricians' group said in a new policy statement released Monday.

The statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics is the latest salvo in the long-running debate over how much of a young child's time at school should be devoted to academics -- and how much should go to free, unstructured playtime.

The authors of the policy statement write that the AAP "believes that recess is a crucial and necessary component of a child's development and, as such, it should not be withheld for punitive or academic reasons."

"The AAP has, in recent years, tried to focus the attention of parents, school officials and policymakers on the fact that kids are losing their free play," said the AAP's Dr. Robert Murray, one of the lead authors of the statement.  "We are over structuring their day. ...They lose that creative free play, which we think is so important."

The statement, which cites two decades worth of scientific evidence, points to the various benefits of recess.  While physical activity is among these, so too are some less obvious boons such as cognitive benefits, better attention during class, and enhanced social and emotional development.

Pediatricians not directly involved with the drafting of the statement applauded the AAP's move to save recess.

"It fascinates me...that this continues to be a debate," said Dr. Barrett Fromme, associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Chicago.  "The business world repeatedly lauds the corporate culture of companies like Google who offer opportunities for play and community collaboration, and suggests that such culture is the reason for the success and happiness of its employees.  Yet, we do not encourage the same culture in our children who are at a far more critical developmental period."

"This policy statement is not only important because of the physical, but also the cognitive ability of our children," said Dr. Shari Barkin, director of the Division of General Pediatrics and of pediatric obesity research at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.  "This policy has created a thoughtful, comprehensive look at what is to be gained by coming back to an emphasis on physical activity and recess."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Researchers Tell Kids to Drink Their Milk -- But How Much?

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(TORONTO) -- Pediatricians often recommend milk to help kids grow strong bones. We tell our children to drink milk, but how much "moo" juice is too much of a good thing?
A Canadian study of more than 1,300 children helps with the answer.
Published in the journal Pediatrics, the research found that two cups of milk a day -- or 500 milliliters -- are enough to maintain healthy vitamin D and iron for most children. Children with darker skin pigmentation may need three to four cups of milk a day to maintain the same amount of vitamin D in the winter months unless they take a vitamin D supplement.
"We started to research the question because professional recommendations around milk intake were unclear and doctors and parents were seeking answers," said the study's lead author, Dr. Jonathon Maguire, according to the Toronto Sun.

The authors say about 70 percent of American children drink cow's milk every day.
The right balance is important because, while too little milk can mean not enough vitamin D, too much milk can lower a child's level of iron.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Not Just How Many Calories Kids Eat, It's Also What They Eat

(NEW YORK) -- With childhood obesity becoming a greater problem in the U.S., a new study finds that weight control is more than just a matter of counting calories.    

About 32 percent of U.S. children are overweight or obese, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Experts say junk food is partly to blame for their growing waistlines.  Kids today eat nearly three snacks a day, compared to just one for children 30 years ago.
For a study published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers Brian Wansink, Ph.D., Mitsuru Shimizu, Ph.D., and Adam Brumberg looked at the effects of snacks on 201 children in grades three through six.
Some were given high-nutrient snacks of cheese and vegetables while others got low-nutrient snacks of potato chips.
Allowed to eat as much as they wanted, those children who ate the cheese-and-vegetable combination consumed 72 percent fewer calories than the potato-chip group. In other words, they needed far fewer calories to feel full.  
The study authors conclude that a high-nutrient combination snack of cheese and vegetables can be effective in reducing kids' calorie consumption during snacking.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Do Video Games Make Kids Violent?

JupiterImages/Brand X Pictures(NEW YORK) -- Adam Lanza gunned down 27 people in Newtown, Conn. Dec. 14 and his access to high-powered firearms has put gun control front and center in the discourse around the tragedy, but the 20-year-old’s reported enthusiasm for violent video games has some experts and lawmakers wondering if those, too, need the kind of regulation so many want on gun ownership.

Senator Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., addressed this issue while discussing his proposed “national commission on mass violence” on Fox News Sunday Dec. 16.

“The violence in the entertainment culture, particularly with the extraordinary realism to video games and movies now, does cause vulnerable young men, particularly, to be more violent,” said the senator, who was joined by Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

The issue of the effect of video game violence on young people came into the national spotlight in 2011 when a California law banning the sale of some games to minors was brought before the U.S. Supreme Court. The 2005 law was never enforced due to legal challenges. California asked the court to treat violent and sexually explicit video games as apart from First Amendment protections, much like obscenity.

The Supreme Court deemed California’s law unconstitutional in 2011. Writing for the court, Justice Antonin Scalia described the bill as “unprecedented and mistaken” and likened the violence in kids’ games to that in commonly read children’s fairy tales. Justice Scalia also wrote that a causal link between these games’ content and harm to young people had not been proven and went on to place the responsibility to filter what children are exposed to with the parents.

“Parents who care about the matter can readily evaluate the games their children bring home,” Scalia wrote. “Filling the remaining modest gap in concerned-parents’ control can hardly be a compelling state interest.”

Laura Davies, M.D., a child and adolescent psychiatrist in San Francisco is hesitant to support tighter controls on media of any kind. However, she believes too many children are exposed to too much violence through video games and that there can be consequences.

“A huge part of discipline and development is understanding consequences. Letting kids know that their actions have consequences,” Dr. Davies told ABC News. “Video games like Grand Theft Auto turn the consequences into positives. You kill a prostitute and get points, you’re rewarded.”

In contrast to Justice Scalia, Dr. Davies said there is a distinct difference between how a child is affected by reading about violence versus how he or she is affected by video game violence.

“They’re not affected by reading a violent book the same way they are from a video game that is visually violent and that they actually participate in and that rewards them for violent acts,” she said.

Though studies on the issue are abundant, none have been successful at directly correlating video game violence and real-world violence in children.

Chris Ferguson, department chair of psychology and communication at Texas A&M International University, has conducted several studies on violence and its effects on youth. Ferguson, who called himself a proponent of gun control, stressed the importance of mental health treatment access and of parents monitoring what their children are exposed to. However, Ferguson said he firmly believes violent video games do not lead to violence in the real world.

“If we are serious about reducing these types of violence in our society, video game violence or other media violence issues are clearly the wrong direction to focus on,” Ferguson told ABC News. “Video game use is just not a common factor among mass homicide perpetrators.  Some have been players, others have not been.”

Dr. Davies said she disagrees. Though she concedes that studies cannot prove conclusively that violent games lead to violent acts in young people, she made a distinction between those children who are naturally better able to distinguish between fantasy and reality and those, perhaps like Adam Lanza, who may not see those distinctions so easily.

“There are no numbers. It is impossible to prove causality with these sorts of things,” said Dr. Davies.  “But certain personalities are unable to so easily differentiate between fantasy and the real world. They might not fully understand that the people they harm have real lives and real families. As kids grow, most distinguish fantasy from reality.”

Though she differs in her beliefs on the cause of violent acts such as those carried out by young people like Lanza, Dr. Davies, like Justice Scalia and Chris Ferguson, agrees that parents and the schools have a responsibility to help catch problem behavior before it escalates to violence.

“There needs to be more mental health oversight. They say this kid had issues before and if you see a kid is living too much in the fantasy side, that needs to be addressed,” she said. “I’m not sure there is a clear cut solution. But, and especially if you see a kid is living too much in the fantasy world, parents need to limit screen time and limit violent games.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Connecticut School Shooting: 4 Tips to Help Kids Cope

Douglas Healey/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Every parent trying to come to grips with the scope of the tragedy in Connecticut is wondering how to talk to their kids about it.

Alan Kazdin, a professor of child psychology at Yale University, offers four tips for parents to frame that discussion and help their kids cope.

Don’t Over-Talk This

Parents can easily project their own fears onto their kids.   Your kids will likely hear about it, so your child has questions. Answer at the level of the question.  Parents shouldn’t dwell on the tragic nature of it, but don’t be evasive.  Don’t lie, don’t withhold.

Shield Kids from the Media

After 9/11, kids suffered trauma from overexposure to the media.  Child psychologists call it “secondary terrorism.” As parents, we sometimes take the stance that our kids need to be tough and “they might as well know the truth.” But psychologists say they need to be "coddled, cushioned and comforted” now so they can be emotionally stronger later.

Don’t Pull Your Kids Out of School Today

Try to keep as many normal rituals going on as possible.  Go to soccer practice.  Keep that play date.  Kids need to know that this doesn’t directly affect them.

Reassure, Reassure

If your child develops a  fear of school, tell them, “This is so rare. Something this terrible has never happened before. This never happened to mommy’s school. Grownups are doing everything to keep kids safe.”

Remember that through “middle childhood,” kids have normal excessive fears: the dark, sharks, etc. If they say, “I don’t want to go to school,” help them distance themselves from it.

Repeatedly reassure without dismissing their fears and give them a hug. Touch makes a huge difference.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Task Force Recommends Anti-Smoking Counseling for Kids

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Are programs that aim to keep kids from smoking doing the trick? One group says -- sort of.

The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force has given current programs like doctor counseling a "B" in how well they prevent kids and teens from lighting up. Task Force Member Sue Curry says there is definitely room for improvement.

"To get an A, there has to be strong certainty of a strong benefit," Curry says.

Every day almost 4,000 young people ages 12 to 17 try smoking for the first time, according to HealthDay News. One thousand become daily smokers.  Though it can take as long as two years for addiction to develop, some kids can become hooked on nicotine much faster, HealthDay reports.

The task force determined that children and teens could benefit most from counseling and educational programs. Curry says a child's doctor visit is a great place for the anti-smoking message to be driven home.

"It's an opportunity for the child's doctor and parent to communicate as well and for the clinician to provide some help to the parent in reinforcing the message," she says. "Using the influence and respect that youth have for their clinicians is another place where smoking prevention messages can be effective."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Feds Fighting to Keep Hazardous Toys Off Shelves for Holiday Season

Peter Foley/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Top federal officials are trying to block a flood of dangerous toys from overseas from hitting the U.S. store shelves this holiday season.

Federal customs and consumer protection officials have intercepted more than 2 million units of dangerous toys and children's products so far this year at U.S. ports of entry, they said Thursday.

At a press briefing Thursday, U.S. Customs and Consumer Product Safety Commission officials laid out a display of seized toys that any child could love: princess jewelry, toy cars, dolls and action figures.

But the innocent-looking playthings from overseas manufacturers were blocked from entering the country because they all can be hazardous to the health of a child, investigators said. Some contained dangerously high levels of lead. Others had sharp edges or contained small parts that could choke a small child.

"Together with CPSC, we have intercepted record amounts of unsafe products," Customs and Border Protection Deputy Commissioner David Aguilar said. "We are here to raise consumers' awareness about the very real danger of unsafe products."

Earlier this month in Detroit, authorities intercepted more than 3,000 toy guns from China. Testing revealed all had excessive levels of lead.

At a seizure last week in Jacksonville, Fla., authorities found toy cars also had lead contamination at levels high enough to do long-lasting harm to a child. In total, nearly 24,000 toys, valued at $22,000, were seized for lead violations in the Jacksonville case.

Since 2008, customs officials said, seizures have nearly doubled both in quantity and value for consumer products imported into the U.S. CBP has targeted more than 5,000 high-risk shipments for examination through the Commercial Targeting and Analysis Center (CTAC) in Washington on behalf of CPSC, leading to the seizure of thousands of dangerous imported consumer products.

But dangerous toys still kill some American kids. Thirteen kids younger than 15 died in toy-related deaths in 2011, according to the CPSC. That is down from 19 fatalities in 2010 and 17 reported in 2009. The majority of the toy-related fatalities were attributed to asphyxiation, choking or drowning. They included children choking on balloons, drowning after trying to retrieve a toy from a swimming pool or being found with tricycles in swimming pools.

The Toy-Related Deaths and Injuries Report released by CPSC Thursday estimated 193,200 toy-related, emergency department-treated injuries to children younger than 15 occurred in 2011. Many of the incidents were associated with, but not necessarily caused by, a toy.

For children younger than 15, non-motorized scooters continued to be the category of toys associated with the most injuries. There are no figures for how many of those toys may have come from overseas, but officials believe that oftentimes, it is cheap and shoddily-made imports that cause the problems.

"Proactive surveillance at the ports, strong toy standards and educational efforts create a safer holiday toy shopping experience for consumers by keeping dangerous products off store shelves," said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. "Ultimately, our goal is to protect our most vulnerable population -- kids -- and keep them safe this holiday season."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Kids Allergic to the Cold — Literally

Altrendo Images/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- While many people get sick in cold weather, a small number develop an allergic reaction to the cold — literally. Much as with food and pollen allergies, reactions can include rashes, hives that can extend almost to an inch, closing of the throat and general itchiness.

Mike and Melissa Frankenfeld of Sterling, Colo., are all too familiar with this rare condition, called cold urticaria.

Their battle started two years ago when they noticed a painful rash on their son, Connor, who was 3 years old at the time.

“It was really weird,” Melissa Frankenfeld told ABC News. “We saw this rash in the diaper area, and I thought ‘diaper rash,’ and I treated it with home remedies and it got worse. I tried changing detergents and soaps, and I took him to the doctor, because it wasn’t getting any better. They said it was diaper rash, and to let it air out.”

The rash continued to worsen and even began to swell as the Frankenfelds made the rounds of several more doctors, none of who could hit on the right treatment. The only thing that seemed to soothe Connor was warm baths.

Finally, after a year of going from doctor to doctor, the Frankenfelds found Dr. Bill Lanting, at the Asthma and Allergy Center of the Rockies.  Lanting, who’d also founded the website America’s Allergist, performed a simple test in which he pressed an ice cube against Connor’s arm for four minutes, and watched as hives formed. That’s when he knew Connor had cold urticaria.

“You have these mast cells, or allergy cells that are found mainly in the skin, and are set off by allergens like food, medications and stinging insects,” Lanting told ABC News. “Exposure to cold or literally holding a coke can or ice cube can set off the mast cell, so if you’re exposed to cold at a certain temperature, you can get hives. Hives you can deal with using Benadryl, but if it’s severe enough it can cause throat swelling and breathing problems.”

Lanting said cold urticaria was rare, affecting approximately one in 100,000 people.

In the throes of trying to get Connor diagnosed and treated, the Frankenfelds learned that their daughter, Taylor, 8 years old, also had cold urticaria, and her condition was even more serious than Connor’s. She almost went into anaphylactic shock after she was exposed to air conditioning at her school.

“I just feel my throat start to feel funny and it was feeling like it was getting bigger,” Taylor told ABC 7 in Denver. “I was really scared. I thought I was going to die.”

“There’s nothing you can do,” Melissa Frankenfeld said.  "I stay at home, and the school has me on speed dial. Every day I go to school for recess.”


Lanting said cold urticaria could be controlled by taking a daily chronic antihistamine, but so far there was no definitive cure.

Dr. Clifford Bassett, an assistant clinical professor of medicine at New York University, and founder of, said that in general, most people with cold urticaria had manageable symptoms that were not life-threatening.

Bassett said he’d treated a patient Thursday who has lived with the rare allergy for 20 years – his symptoms appear only in response to cold water, not cold temperatures.

He said cold urticaria could have a genetic cause, but it could also be acquired (usually between the ages of 18 and 25) or result from another medical condition.

Melissa Frankenfeld, who said she has received an outpouring of support from other parents dealing with this rare allergy, believes more research is needed.

“When Connor was first diagnosed, we were told he’s either going to grow out of it, it will stay the same or it will get worse, but there is not enough information out there to know for sure,” she said.

Moving to a warmer climate was not a solution, said Frankenfeld, as cold countertops, cold bathtubs, ice cream, popsicles, air-conditioning and cold drinks can all trigger a reaction.

“Even if they walk on wooden floors, their feet will break out,” Frankenfeld said. “Even running and getting sweaty against the air can cause a reaction.”

Mike and Melissa Frankenfeld try to their best to maintain a normal life for their children.

“They have to be kids,” Melissa Frankenfeld said. “They have to have a life, and they have to enjoy all the things that kids enjoy in life. They need to have the ice cream and the popsicles, but we do take the appropriate precautions. We let them play in the snow, but we bundle them up and … and we carry Benadryl because that’s the only thing you can do when a reaction does start.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


PETA's Thanksgiving Ad Asks Kids Would You Eat Your Dog?

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The animal rights group PETA is planning to attack the tradition of eating turkeys on Thanksgiving by putting up billboards near schools asking kids if they would eat their pet dogs.

The group, known for its often controversial advertisements urging people to "Go vegan" or not to buy fur, intends to put up the billboards Reno, Nev., Boise, Idaho, and Sacramento, Calif.

The billboards depict a turkey with the head of a dog and the message, "KIDS: If you wouldn't eat your dog, why eat a turkey?"

PETA, which stands for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, defended targeting children in their ads.

"Children have a natural compassion for animals," said project manager Alicia Woempner. "They are also bombarded with constant fast food advertisements and we'd like to offset that negative influence with a message of kindness."

Lamar Advertising Co., a nationwide billboard company that owns outdoor ad space in Boise, confirmed to ABC News that the animal rights group requested approval of the content of the billboard and received it.

"We don't approve everything PETA sends," said Lamar spokesman Hal Kilshaw, "but we did approve this."

Kilshaw did say that some of the group's past ads have been so extreme that they must have known they'd be denied. "And when they've been denied," he said, "they have been quick to have press conferences about it in the past."

Last year PETA put up similar ads Jacksonville, Fla., and Memphis, Tenn., and this past October the ads appeared in Saskatoon for Canadian Thanksgiving.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio