Childhood Myths: True or False

by Jennifer Kelly Geddes

Childhood Myths: True or False

A new book reveals the truth behind all those old wives’ tales about child safety.

“I realized that half of my parenting advice was regurgitated stuff from my folks,” says Ken Jennings, Jeopardy! champion, dad of two, and author of Because I Said So! The Truth Behind the Myths, Tales and Warnings Every Generation Passes Down to Its Kids.

Jennings’s book collects those age-old adages and shares the truth behind each. Here, a few of his findings:

MYTH: Blow on the boo-boo to make it feel better.
TRUE/FALSE: Mostly false. “The mouth is full of bacteria,” says Jennings. Therefore, putting the wound in the path of a bacteria stream might be a bad idea.

MYTH: Wait an hour to swim after lunch or you’ll get a cramp.
TRUE/FALSE: Mostly false. In fact, long-distance swimmers are routinely fed in the middle of long races to stay nourished.

MYTH: Never run with scissors.
TRUE/FALSE: Mostly true. The U.S. Product Safety Commission reports that 4,556 children under 10 sought medical care for scissor-related injuries in 2010. But 72 percent of those injuries were to fingers, which means that cutting with scissors is a vastly bigger problem than running with them.

MYTH: Don’t lean your head back to stop a nosebleed.
TRUE/FALSE: True. Here’s why: Tipping back sends blood down the throat (nasty!); tilting slightly forward prevents this and slows the flow from the nostrils.

MYTH: Don’t sniff markers!
TRUE/FALSE: True. Some contain dangerous solvents that cause dizziness when huffed, so keep the colors on the paper—not up the nose.