The Eraser Challenge Returns—What Families Need to Know

Social media “challenges” can spread quickly. Some, like the Ice Bucket Challenge, are relatively harmless and can make a difference in the world. Others, like the Cinnamon Challenge, can have serious consequences. Illinois PTA works to keep families informed about these activities that children are often engaging in without adults’ knowledge, such as with the Choking Game.

Now, a “game” that has been around for many years is making a resurgence on social media. The Eraser Challenge involves rubbing an eraser across the skin while having to do or say something. One common thing is to recite the alphabet while doing the challenge. The challenge is sometimes done as a competition to see who drops out first.

The result of participating in the Eraser Challenge is often a burn or an open wound. While an eraser burn may not sound serious, doctors are warning that they can be extremely painful and lead to scarring. In some cases, there have been serious infections that have resulted in hospitalization. In 2015, a high school student in California was hospitalized for toxic shock syndrome from a strep infection of an eraser challenge wound.

Parents should keep an eye out for injuries particularly on their children’s arms, often on the softer inside of the arm or the back of the hand. If you notice such an injury on your child, ask them how it happened. Wash the injured area with soap and water, apply an antibiotic ointment, and follow up with your child’s doctor if it doesn’t start to heal in a few days.

Student Competitions You Didn’t Know Existed

Most PTAs are aware of the annual PTA Reflections program focused on the arts, and chances are you’ve seen the Scripps National Spelling Bee on the news. Those are just two examples of the many competitions that are available to students each year. Kudoswall has created a list of 50 competitions in a variety of areas that might inspire your child to challenge themselves to do their best in a subject or talent that they love. Among the competitions listed are:

  • National Geographic Bee: Hosted by National Geographic, this competition challenges kids’ geographic knowledge.
  • Kids Philosophy Slam: Focuses on critical thinking skills and open to all K-12 grades, the slam has children creating essays or artwork on a specific topic (2017 topic: Is the pen mightier than the sword?) in order to be crowned “The Most Philosophical Student in America.”
  • Congressional Art Competition: Sponsored by the Congressional Institute to recognize high school students’ artistic talents, with winners having their artwork hang in the U.S. Capitol for a year.
  • NASKA: Members of the North American Sport Karate Association can compete in variety divisions and skills.
  • National STEM Video Game Challenge: Open to middle and high school students, this competition aims to motivate interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) by transforming their interest in playing video games into designing and creating their own.
  • C-SPAN’s Student Cam: A competition for students in grades 6-12 to submit a short documentary film (5-7 minutes) that focuses on a topic related to the annual theme.

Be sure to check out the full list with your child to see if there is a competition that sparks their interest so you can start planning on fielding a team or participating next year.

Parenting Film Festival

Parenting is tough. We do our best to raise our kids and hope we don’t leave them with years of therapy. TED is a non-profit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in conferences of short talks (generally 18 minutes or less). Those talks are shared through video online. Here is a parenting film festival from selected TED Talks.

Let’s Talk Parenting Taboos

Rufus Griscom and Alisa Volkman are the founders of and the parents of three boys. When they found that the picture of parenting in magazines and books was so different from their actual experience. In this humorous talk, they share four parenting facts that parents never admit to and why they should.

How to Raise Successful Kids—Without Over-Parenting

Julie Lythcott-Haims, a speaker at last year’s National PTA convention and the former Dean of Freshmen at Stanford University, shares how her experiences with freshmen students caused her to rethink how she (and we) raise our children through high expectations and micromanaging. She explains with humor and passion how we can stop measuring our children’s success by their grades and achievements and take a better path.

5 Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Kids Do

Gever Tully, founder of the Tinkering School, shares five dangerous things you should let your kids do and why a little danger is good for both you and your kids.

Love, No Matter What

Andrew Solomon, author of Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity, shares some of what he learned from researching that book on how families deal with exceptional children—whether they be a prodigy, differently abled, or a criminal. When your child is distinctly different from you in a fundamental way, what is the line between unconditional love and unconditional acceptance?

Agile Programming—For Your Family

Bruce Feiler, author of The Secrets of Happy Families, shares an approach he discovered in researching his book that draws from the world of software development—agile development. Applying those principles to their family—with ideas flowing from the bottom-up, feedback and accountability are constant, and adaptability is encouraged—Mr. Feiler discovered a wonderful change in his family dynamics. Among the more surprising parts that worked is that kids pick their own punishments.


To Raise Brave Girls, Encourage Adventure

Caroline Paul, firefighter and author of The Gutsy Girl: Escapades for Your Life of Epic Adventure, tells how her experience as a female firefighter taught her about how we often inhibit bravery and encourage fear in raising girls and how to change that.

How Movies Teach Manhood

Colin Stokes shares his son’s and daughter’s different experiences with The Wizard of Oz and Star Wars, and how that got him thinking about what messages movies are teaching our boys about being a man.

Teach Girls Bravery, Not Perfection

Reshma Saujani, the founder of Girls Who Code, says we’re raising boys to be brave and girls to be perfect. She shares why it is important for young women to be comfortable with imperfection.

It’s Time for “The Talk”

Comedian Julia Sweeny shares a funny story of the unexpected “talk” she had with her 8-year-old daughter that started with a question about frog reproduction.


4 Ways to Stop Siblings from Fighting

Sibling conflict has happened for as long as there have been siblings. With spring break happening for many families across Illinois, the opportunities for siblings to get on each other’s nerves abound. For those times when you feel more like a referee than a parent, iMom has four suggestions to stop siblings from fighting.

  1. Create physical space. The best approach for immediate results from the physical fighting and or the dreaded “She’s looking at me!” complaint. Just like sending boxers to opposite corners, separating your fighters gives you some time to sort out what set things off and how to put an end to the conflict.
  1. Teach them how to compromise. Compromise is something we all need to learn, and still often struggle with as adults (e.g., our politicians in both Springfield and Washington, D.C.). It’s easy for someone to know what they want, but much harder, especially for children, to understand what someone else wants. Help your children see the conflict from the other’s point of view and how both of them giving up some of what they want to the other makes life run smoother for everyone.
  1. Emphasize turn-taking. Waiting for your turn to do something is a critical skill for a child to develop, and when a conflict arises, taking turns can be a solution. Put the kitchen timer to use if necessary to help keep track of how long each turn lasts. If the conflict is over a video game (“But, Mom, I can’t stop right now!”), consider allowing a five minute grace period enforced by the timer to wrap things up. Just don’t let it become a snooze button that’s hit over and over. If taking turns continues to be a struggle for your children, consider playing some board games together as a family to help reinforce the idea.
  1. Learn to live with “No Fair.” Kids have very sensitive injustice detectors, and part of growing up is learning that sometimes life is just not fair. These are the times to sit down with our child, let them vent, and empathize with their plight. Let them know how hard it is to accept something that seems unfair to them. Consider sharing one of your experiences when you were upset at life being unfair, and how you moved past your disappointment. Let them know that they are not alone in the way that they are feeling.

Be sure to check out the iMom article to see how one family implements these four ideas.