Quick hits of news and fresh ideas for busy parents.

Think Twice with the Two and Under Crowd
Back in 2008, the United States Food and Drug Administration issued a warning that parents should not give children ages 2 and younger any over-the-counter medicines for coughs and colds. The reason was the warning was two-fold: Research had proven these types of medicines do little or nothing for young children's symptoms and reports showed the risk of overdosing at those ages was unacceptably high.

Now a poll, released on Feb. 16 by the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in Michigan, showed that 61 percent of parents of children in that age group are still administering OTC cough and cold medicines to their children, and roughly half of them are reporting that they do so with a doctor's encouragement. Many of these parents also cited a desire to help their children get to sleep as the reason for giving them the medicine.

As a result of these findings, the medical profession is again sounding the warning alarm.

"There are challenges to informing parents about this topic," said the poll's director, Dr. Matthew Davis. "The FDA warning is specific to young children, age 2 and under - but parents of those kids may not have heard the warnings issued more than two years ago. Each year a 'new generation' of parents must be educated about a wide variety of health care issues for their children.

"Physicians are a valuable source of information for parents about this issue, but it appears that physicians are not heeding FDA warnings about OTC cough and cold medicines either. Kids will be safer when parents and doctors are all on the same page in limiting these medicines to older children."

-Jane Hawes

A Dad's Response to Tiger Mom
In the last month, the term "Tiger Mom" has entered the lexicon of many parents and sparked heated debate. The term is drawn from the title of a memoir "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother," written by Amy Chua, the daughter of Chinese immigrants. Chua detailed an upbringing with a mother who demanded academic excellence and respect for authority, and belittled Western parents for raising "soft, entitled" children.

Joining the debate is Kevin Arnold, the director of the Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Therapy in Columbus and a clinical faculty member in the Department of Psychiatry at Ohio State University. Drawing from his personal and professional experiences, Arnold pens the blog "The Older Dad" for Psychology Today's website.

In his response to the Tiger Mom discussion, Arnold wrote that Tiger Moms can claim success because they 1) define success in very narrow, specific terms and 2) they are unyielding and consistent, and even in abusive situations, children respond to consistent parenting.

However, Arnold also notes that "Tiger parenting" doesn't float his boat because it "promotes conformity over creativity." It also does not prepare children for the "demands of relational economics" - in other words, how to play well with others.

Check out Arnold's essay at psychologytoday.com and then join in the discussion of local parents about this topic on the Momstyle discussion board at ColumbusParent.com.
-Jane Hawes

Get up and Go!
What if you aren't near a park or nature area? City walks, neighborhood walks, walks around the street are rich with numerous learning and sharing delights: street signs, license plates, cars and trucks, bumper stickers, images and words on billboards, shops, houses, cracks on sidewalks. All of these are fascinating to young children.

"What's in this window?"

"Listen! Is that a fire siren?"

"Let's play I SPY! I spy something blue. What do YOU spy? Let's find it!"

On a recent walk in the Clintonville neighborhood in Columbus, I walked into Cover to Cover, a children's bookstore and two walkabout books were waiting for me!

"Please Take Me for a Walk" (Susan Gal, Alfred Knopf) - the character making the request for a walk is a little dog! All the fun in store for the dog on his walk is the same fun you and your young walking companion will experience as you roam the streets.

"Goodnight Walk" (Elisha Cooper, Scholastic) - highlights a walk on a day when the time and light change. Light makes everything look different. The artist Monet spent countless hours painting the same cathedral at all times of day and evening. These are wonderful and mysterious experiences for ourselves and our children.

I would rather your child walk around the street with YOU - celebrating your senses, noticing and discovering, talking and singing enjoying than a trip around the world accompanied by a grim, joyless, uptight person. The walk around the neighborhood with YOU will become a treasured memory.

-Mimi Brodsky Chenfeld, arts educator