Flying Solo: Should Your Child Fly Alone?

Summertime is a great time for family and friends to travel to distant places to visit one another. But would you allow your child to board an airplane alone? Writer Mary Pat Mahoney offers some tips to preparing your child for flying solo!

An adventure to remember
Five-year-old Erica is on her first airplane trip to visit her grandparents. She’s excited, she’s ready to go, and she’s alone. Erica is one of the hundreds of thousands of kids who fly by themselves. Southwest Airlines had more than 250,000 unaccompanied children fly last year, and it’s easy to see why. Air travel is fast and safe. With the competition for customers, there are plenty of bargains for parents who want children to visit extended family, friends or attend a special summer camp.

But before packing up a child and heading to the airport, parents should do their homework. Most of the time, the flight will go smoothly, but even when the skies are clear at home, mechanical break downs and sudden bad weather can disrupt travel plans. A well-prepared child and well-informed parent will be prepared for clear or stormy skies.

The unaccompanied child
Airlines call a child who flies alone an unaccompanied minor (UM). Generally, a child must be five years old to fly alone, and each airline has its own policies, restrictions and requirements, which sometimes vary greatly.

Southwest Airlines, United and US Airways allow children between five and 11 to fly unaccompanied. American and Delta want kids up to age fourteen to fly as a UM’s. On some airlines a 13 year old is considered an adult and could fly with a child under five. Other airlines use the restrictions that apply to the younger child when two or more UM’s travel together.

Cloudy skies
Airlines try their best to make sure each flight is a pleasant one, but bad weather and mechanical problems can occur. If it looks like weather could divert a UM’s flight, the airline may decide to rebook on another flight before the child even boards the plane. If a change is made after the UM is already in the air, the airline will attempt to contact the parents or the person meeting the plane. For that reason, parents and pick-up persons should provide the airline with cell, home and work phone numbers.

Once the child boards the plane, he is in the care of a flight attendant. If it is a non-stop flight, the flight attendant will transfer the child to the adult waiting at the arrival city. If the child will be making a connection to another flight, the flight attendant will accompany the child to the gate agent or airport employee who will then take the child to the appropriate gate. There should be an adult airline or airport employee with the child at all times. Depending on the number of legs on the trip, the child may be under the care of several different adults.

If the child will be spending some time in the airport, the airline may have special kid-friendly lounges for UM’s. These may not be in every airport or available from every airline. The reservation agent will know if there is one in the airport a child is traveling through.

The flight plan
When is a child ready to fly alone? Parents are the best judges of that. Is the child comfortable around strangers? Is she able to keep track of her belongings, follow directions and entertain herself quietly for extended periods of time? The responsibility that goes along with flying alone can give kids a great sense of independence and confidence. But, if a child is unsure of herself, shy or scared, flying can be a frightening experience.

Parents can help alleviate some anxiety by preparing the child ahead of time. Like so many other parenting situations, children pick up on their parents’ feelings. “My two boys have been flying alone for seven years,” says Jill C of Colleyville, Texas. “They didn’t give fear any thought because I didn’t.”

The child should know what will happen at the airport, through security, on the plane and at the destination. If he’ll be changing planes, parents need to stress that he follows the directions of the flight attendant or gate agent.

Linda Hochester of Southwest Airlines recommends parents role play with their child before the flight, “A lot of times kids won’t ask a question once they’re around someone they don’t know.” Especially when it is the child’s first flight, role playing helps kids know what to expect before they begin their adventure,” she says.

Choosing the flight’s departure time crucial. Flights early in the day offer the most flexibility. Airlines won’t let a UM fly on the last flight of the day and for good reason. If a flight is delayed or canceled, “back up” flights may be unavailable resulting in a greater chance that a child could be stranded.

On the day of travel, parents should allow extra time at the airport to fill out paperwork and pass through security. Some airlines ask parents and UM’s to arrive three hours ahead of time. The reservation agent can provide that information. Parents can go through security to the gate with their child but won’t be able to board the plane with them.

Peggy Estes, spokeswoman for Delta, reminds parents to be sure to have proper identification for their children if they’re traveling internationally. “Some countries require special documentation, such as a notarized letter, stating that the child has permission to fly alone,” she says. The reservations agent will know what special documents are needed when the flight is booked.

Fee to fly
Not all airlines charge a UM service fee, but many do. Charges range from $40 up to $90 each way depending on whether the flight is domestic or international and if there are connecting flights. If two or more children are flying together, the fee is usually charged just once.

Happy landings
Airlines ask parents to stay at the gate until the plane has pulled away from the gate since mechanical problems or weather delays could result in passengers deplaning. The plane should be well on its way before adults leave the gate.

There should have a back up plan (or two) for picking up the child at the destination. The child should have names and phone numbers of the persons he may need to call. “Include a cell phone number in the passenger record,” says Estes, “for contacts at the departing city and the arrival city.”

Likewise, the person picking up the child at the arrival city should allow plenty of time to get through security and to the gate.

When your child is ready to fly alone, you have every reason to expect it will be a positive experience. A little bit of preparation and careful planning can make it an opportunity for your child to spread his wings and fly!

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Airline web sites
Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air:
American Airlines:
Continental Airlines:
Northwest Airlines:
Southwest Airlines:
United: http://ual.comthe end

Expert Questions & Answers Hiring an entertainer

Have a question about getting organized, preparing a will, planning a party – or anything else you’re dealing with in your life as a parent? Come ask the experts what you want to know! A selection of answers to your questions will be posted on the site each week.

The question:
I’d like to hire an entertainer for my child’s party. I was thinking of something like a clown or a magician. What other options are there, and how do I make sure I get a good one? How much should I expect to pay? Thanks for your help. – Dorothy, Milwaukee WI

The Party Planner Answers:
Entertainment for a party has come a long way. Besides clowns and magicians, you can opt for one of the following choices:

  • Face painters
  • Puppeteers
  • Jugglers
  • Storytellers
  • Costumed characters

Most entertainers charge about $65-$80 an hour. However, you may be able to find services that provide clowns who juggle and do magic tricks, so you get more for your buck!

Consider entertainers who have been recommended by friends or relatives. Other great resources are the Yellow Pages or local parenting publications.  One thing to keep in mind for younger children: do not let the entertainment be a surprise. Some children may be scared when seeing the entertainer in person.

Some hiring considerations:

  • Ask for names and phone numbers of satisfied customers you can use as references.
  • Be sure the entertainer is used to working for children (they will be prepared for lack of attention or sudden outbursts).
  • Let the entertainer know of any expected guests that may be handicapped, allergic reactions to animals, etc, so he can adjust the show accordingly.
  • Prepare the children for the type of entertainer. Show a videotape of such entertainment to get them ready for what they might see and hear (the entertainer might also have such a videotape).
  • Ask the entertainer what age group their service targeted for.
  • Try to meet with the entertainer or obtain a photograph. A personal visual of who will be making your child smile is well worth it!

Not all kids want — or are ready for — an entertainer. Be sure your child is involved in this decision.the end

Dictionary Contents : S : Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

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Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
SIDS is a term used to describe the sudden, unexplained death of an infant that remains unexplained after a thorough case investigation that includes a complete autopsy, an examination of the death scene, and a review of the clinical history. SIDS is the leading cause of death of children 1 month to 1 year of age. In the United States, 5,000 to 6,000 infant deaths are attributed to SIDS each year. Many of these occur in the child care setting.

The cause of SIDS is unknown. SIDS is not contagious. SIDS is not caused by vomiting, choking, or minor illnesses such as colds or infections. Deaths due to vaccine reactions or child abuse are not classified as SIDS deaths. While we don’t know what causes SIDS, we have identified four factors associated with increased risk of SIDS: (1) placing a baby on the stomach (prone position) to sleep; (2) being exposed to tobacco smoke during pregnancy and after birth; (3) using soft surfaces and objects that trap air or gases, such as pillows, in a baby’s sleeping area; and (4) not breastfeeding a baby. However, risk factors alone do not cause SIDS. Most babies with one or more of the above risk factors do not succumb to SIDS.the end

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Dictionary Contents : P : Prostate

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A gland in males that surrounds the neck of the urinary bladder and the urethra and secretes a milky fluid that is discharged at the time of emission of semen.the end

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The Five Best/Worst Things You Can Say To Your Children About War

As America heads into war, we must decide how to discuss the issue with our kids. However, Chick Moorman, author of Parent Talk: How to Talk to Your Child in Language That Builds Self-Esteem and Encourages Responsibility , shares some advice about what to say and not to say.

The five worst things to say
1.”God is on our side.”
God doesn’t take sides. God loves everyone unconditionally. To tell children God loves us more that He loves them is untrue. “God is on our side,” is parent talk that helps our children develop false beliefs that only good things can happen to us because God plays on our team. When you say this to your children, you equip them with a false sense of superiority.

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Feelings of superiority lead to a belief in “better than.” “Better than” breeds an “us vs. them” mentality that encourages conflict, dissention and strife.

2. “We are right and they are wrong.”
No one does anything wrong considering their view of the world. Human beings do horrible things only because they believe they are right. Their side is doing what they do because they think they are right. Our side is doing what we do because we think we are right.

Being right doesn’t work. Making people wrong doesn’t work. Speak to your children of differences. Let them know what is similar and what is different about the beliefs, values, morals and cultures. But do it without making others wrong.

3. “There is nothing you can do.”
When you say these words to your child you tell her, “You are small, insignificant, and have no power.” You teach her that she is at the mercy of her environment and that she has no influence over the events of her life. You are teaching her to play her life from the victim position

Ask instead, “What do you think we can do about this?” Help her brainstorm possible actions that can be taken. Couldn’t she donate part of her allowance to the Red Cross? Could she write a letter to a serviceman or woman? How about making a poster, saying a prayer, putting a bow on a tree, or designing a T-shirt?

Tell your child, “You always have more choices than you think you have,” and help her develop an “I can” stance towards life. One of the best ways to come to believe “I can do something” is simply to go out and do something.

4. “You don’t know what you are talking about.”
Would you ever say to your child, “You’re really stupid. You’re so young and inexperienced you couldn’t possibly know anything. You need to live as long as I have and then you’ll be worthy of having an opinion.” Probably not. But when you say, “You don’t know what you are talking about,” you have sent him a similar message.

Of course we have more years of experience than our children. Absolutely, we have seen and heard things that they don’t yet begin to grasp. But that doesn’t mean we can’t respect the opinion of our eight year old or that of our 13 year old.

Listen to your child. Demonstrate your understanding of their views by reflecting it back to them with a paraphrase. Model for them a mature adult who can respect differences as well as contrary opinions.

5. “There is nothing to worry about.”
Children worry. They get scared. They have strong feelings about war, terrorism, and death. To tell they have nothing to worry about is to ask them to numb out their feelings, push them down, and pretend they don’t exist.

In times of strong emotion children needs support. They need adults in their lives who help them work through their feelings in safe ways. To help your emotion-laden child, use words that help him identify his feelings. Say, “You sound worried,” or “I hear how scared you are,” to demonstrate you are listening at a feeling level. Say, “So you are afraid we might be injured,” to demonstrate that his feelings will be acknowledged.

It is only after emotions are expressed that children are able to handle the concerns that relate to those feelings. Be a parent who encourages you child to express his emotions.

The five best things to say
1. “What have you been hearing about the war?”
Ask your children questions. Begin a dialogue by showing an interest in your child’s thoughts, ideas, and feelings. Ask him what he has heard at school. Ask what his friends think. Ask what he has heard on the news. Ask if he has questions.

Then listen to your child’s answers. Ask clarifying questions. Why do you think that? How do you think that happened? What do you think will happen next? Show an interest in your child’s opinion and it won’t be long before you hear, “What do you think, Dad?”

2. “You can only watch TV for 30 minutes and I want to be present.”
War on TV can be graphic. Viewers and parents beware. In addition, seeing real human beings killed with the precision and repetition of a video game can have a numbing effect on children.

War is not a game. Neither is it a 60-minute drama interlaced with commercials. The war related TV children watch needs to be highly regulated and supervised. Turn the TV off after the news coverage and debrief. Dialogue about what was just seen and heard. Processes the material presented and help your children make meaning of this serious material.

3. “What do you suppose it looks like from the other side?”
This question is parent talk that helps children learn about perspective. It helps them learn to see things from both sides of an issue and develop empathy as well.

“What do you suppose it looks like from the other side?” is a question that asks our children to shift perception, to put themselves in another person’s shoes, to see how a situation looks from a different point of view. It broadens their perspective and develops their ability to see several sides of an issue simultaneously.

4. “I don’t know what will happen, but I know we’ll be able to handle it.”
When children get scared, adults often make what they think are reassuring promises. They say, “Everything will be okay,” or “Nothing will happen to us. I can tell you that.” These promised do not tell children the truth. We do not know everything will be okay. We do not know for sure that nothing will happen to us. Not anymore!

Tell your children the truth, “I do not know what will happen, but I know we can handle it.” What you are really communicating to your child here is confidence. This style of parent talk says, “I am confident we can handle whatever comes our way. If we have to ration, we can handle it. If the price of gas doubles or triples, we can handle it. If the economy nosedives, we can handle it.

5. “I understand how you could feel that way.”
There is strong emotion generated in this country concerning war. We have hawks and doves, peace marchers and war advocates. There is debate and disagreement in the Congress. Marriage partners are often split on this issue. It is highly possible that one of your children holds beliefs about war that differ from yours. When these differences are expressed, effective parent talk would include, “I understand how you could feel that way.”

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“I understand how you could feel that way,” does not say you agree with your child. It does not say you share their beliefs or their feelings. It demonstrates and communicates understanding, an understanding of how they could arrive at that conclusion. It is filled with respect for differences and honors diversity.the end

Ten Ways to Ensure Healthy Eating Attitudes in Yourself and Your Family

Even more central to our health and well being than what we eat, are our attitudes and beliefs about food and eating, or how we feel about what we eat. Eating disorders are, relatively speaking, rare. The misguided attitudes about food and weight management that lead to eating dysfunction however, are not. Abigail Natenshon, author of When Your Child Has an Eating Disorder, offers some tips to ensure healthy attitudes toward food.

Changing attitudes
The consequences of these poor attitudes toward eating can be devastating — rampant dieting, body image concerns and disordered eating, all of which can put their victims at high risk to develop eating disorders, the most lethal of all the mental health disorders.

Kids learn these attitudes from their parents, through what parents say and what they do, through role modeling and imitation. Attitudes and issues are passed down as a legacy from one generation to the next.

When Your Child Has an Eating Disord…
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The following are ways that parents can insure healthy attitudes and a healthy eating lifestyle in their child:

1. Become knowledgeable about what physical fitness and healthy eating really means.

2. Become aware of your own personal attitudes and issues about food and weight.

3. Consistently prepare and serve nutritionally dense meals to the entire family.

4. Sit down with the family as often as you can, and emotionally connect with loved ones over meals. The dining table is the best place to discover what they are feeling and thinking not only about food and weight, but about life in general.

5. Turn off the television, particularly at mealtimes and particularly when the television is in the dining area.

6. Model healthy eating behaviors, and spend quality time with your family. The roots of a child’s healthy body image lie in feelings of self-acceptance and self-esteem, not in his or her actual size or shape.

7. Remain emotionally involved with your teenager and young adult. In some respects, they need your input now as much as they did when they were little. The nature of the parent/child connection will change throughout the years and life stage, though the quality and constancy of that connection is for keeps.

8. Think “out loud” in teaching kids to recognize and resolve problems effectively. In many ways, healthy eating entails ongoing decision-making, need meeting and problem solving.

9. Teach kids to become accepting of all kinds of individual differences, in themselves and others.

10. Stay physically active, and encourage your family to enjoy an active lifestyle as well.

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By recognizing and addressing attitudes before they materialize into dysfunctional behaviors, parents can prevent eating disorders and other conditions capable of compromising life and life quality. Attitudes are easier to change than habits once entrenched; minds are easier to change before they become compromised and corrupted by distorted judgment, inaccurate perceptions and behavioral compulsions that accompany malnourishment.the end

Expert Questions & Answers Getting Kids to Help Out

Ann Douglas, author of The Mother of All Baby Books: The Ultimate Guide to Your Baby’s First Year is here at GeoParent! Read Ann’s advice on everything related to having a baby and raising kids. Have a question for Ann? Ask her here!

The question:
I am having a terrible time getting my eight-year-old son to pitch in around the house. It’s very frustrating. Any tips on what parents can do to get kids to help out with chores?

Ann answers:
This is an issue our family has struggled with, too. I think most families struggle with it, in fact! Here are a few tips based on what’s worked with my kids over the years.

Highlight the advantages of pitching in. Your child is much more likely to be receptive to your request for assistance if you make it crystal clear that it’s in his best interests to help out. There’s never a shortage of laundry-folding volunteers at my house if I let everyone know that we’ll have time to hit the mall this afternoon provided that all the laundry’s folded and put away before lunch time.

Assign chores that are age-appropriate. There’s nothing more overwhelming to a child than being assigned a job that’s simply too difficult for him or her. Here are a few basic guidelines on what types of jobs kids can do at various ages:

Toddlers: Matching up socks, putting the cutlery on the table, picking up toy.
Preschoolers: Making their bed, putting clean laundry away.
Six- and seven-year-olds: Carrying the recycling box to the curb, emptying the dishwasher, vacuuming their rooms.
Eight- and nine-year-olds: Cleaning the bathroom mirror, weeding the garden, putting away groceries.
Ten- to 12-year-olds: Washing windows, mowing the lawn, washing the car.
Teenagers: Cleaning out the refrigerator, making dinner, cleaning out the garage.
Give your child some basic instructions. While you know that it’s important to use dish soap when you’re washing a sink full of dishes, your five-year-old might not realize that dish soap’s a necessary ingredient in the recipe for clean dishes!

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Don’t overload your child. In our family, we have a rule that everyone “owes” the family 20 minutes of work a day. It generally works quite well. Asking them to contribute more than that amount of time would cut too much into their play time and dramatically increase the likelihood of a mutiny.

Don’t play Martha. None of us likes to be held to Martha Stewart-like housekeeping standards, kids included. While you’ll want to encourage them to do a good job when they’re dusting the furniture, this is no time to be doing the proverbial white glove test.the end

Dictionary Contents : P : Primary Teeth

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Primary Teeth
Primary, or baby, teeth commonly begin to come in or erupt in a baby’s mouth at about 4 to 6 months of age and continue until all 20 have come in at about the age of 2-1/2 years.the end

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Dictionary Contents : P : Plasma

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The liquid portion of the blood that contains numerous proteins and minerals and is necessary for normal body functioning.the end

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Dictionary Contents : H : Hypoglycemia

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Glucose, a form of sugar, is the body’s main fuel. Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, occurs when blood levels of glucose drop too low to fuel the body’s activity.

The amount of glucose in the blood is controlled mainly by the hormones insulin and glucagon. Too much or too little of these hormones can cause blood sugar levels to fall too low (hypoglycemia) or rise too high (hyperglycemia). Other hormones that influence blood sugar levels are cortisol, growth hormone, and catecholamines (epinephrine and norepinephrine).

A person with hypoglycemia may feel weak, drowsy, confused, hungry, and dizzy. Paleness, headache, irritability, trembling, sweating, rapid heart beat, and a cold, clammy feeling are also signs of low blood sugar. In severe cases, a person can lose consciousness and even lapse into a coma.

The symptoms associated with hypoglycemia are sometimes mistaken for symptoms caused by conditions not related to blood sugar. For example, unusual stress and anxiety can cause excess production of catecholamines, resulting in symptoms similar to those caused by hypoglycemia but having no relation to blood sugar levels.the end

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