Gardens cops who saved choking baby at mall are ‘angels,’ mom says
PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL – Two Palm Beach Gardens police officers are heroes to a panicked mom whose 14-month-old daughter turned blue while choking on a chicken nugget at The Gardens Mall two weeks ago.
Lucia Graham has been eating solid food — and a lot of it — since she was 9 months old, but on that afternoon, the chicken nugget she was chomping on got wedged in her throat, mom Ana Graham said. The Wellington mother of two could tell right away that something was wrong.
“On her second bite, I noticed she looked at me with her eyes wide open. She started turning red,” she said.
She yanked Lucia from her stroller and patted her on the back like the pediatrician taught her, but to no avail. Lucia started turning blue.
Then, “like angels from heaven,” two Palm Beach Gardens police officers who had been sitting across the food court appeared, she said.
Officer Robert Ayala, who had been assigned to the mall July 21, saw Ana Graham “frantically” get up and go to the stroller minutes after the family sat down. He ran up and grabbed the baby, put her face down on his left hand and struck her upper back with his palm a few times. Then he swept her mouth with his finger.
The stubborn chicken nugget remained stuck until Ayala forcefully patted little Lucia on her back again. That’s when she finally spewed out the mushy nugget.
As the ordeal was unfolding, Officer Rafael Guadalupe immediately got on his radio to call for Palm Beach Gardens Fire Rescue and talked to Ana Graham to try to keep her calm.
Ayala said he usually likes to walk around the mall so that people see him in uniform as a crime deterrent. He was at the food court only because Guadalupe was there for lunch.
“It was just the right place at the right time,” he said.
Palm Beach Gardens police undergo CPR and first aid training — including how to respond to choking adults and infants — at least every other year, department spokesman Maj. Paul Rogers said. Ayala credits his training for his quick response.
“This thing happened so fast, you didn’t have time to react. It’s just like muscle memory,” said Ayala, a father of three.
The Palm Beach Gardens City Council honored Ayala and Guadalupe Thursday night. Ayala previously received a life-saving award for forming a human chain with other officers to save two firefighters who got trapped in a rip-current effect as they attempted to rescue a young man who drowned in a spillway while wake-skating.
As for Lucia, paramedics checked her out as a precaution. The scare didn’t stop her from finishing her lunch.
Lucia’s 2 1/2-year-old brother, William, unfazed by the incident, continued eating his chicken and french fries.
Dad Curt Graham got a very long text message while he was at work, “which is never a good thing.” He called his wife, who was shaken up as she recounted what happened.
He’s “eternally grateful for the fast action,” he said.
I had enough, I’m done, and I turned and walked away.
“What the.. ? Oh this is real good”, as I looked at the dark hallway, “now they’re sure going to think you’ve lost it.”
“Now I know I didn’t imagine that”, as my eyes searched the hallway, I realized there was a big, heavy door, that was locked and chained only a few feet from me on my right. I moved as quietly as possible and leaned closer to the door… something touched me on the right shoulder and as I jerked around, a hand was reaching for my throat!
My eyes bugged out of my head like binoculars and my jaw hurt from trying to scream; all the while water was flying all over the bathroom as I was attempting to back-paddle away from the cut-off hand.
Just as I saw the broomstick holding the glove up, I heard Frank’s laughter.
I was sitting straight-up in bed, looking around and wanting to cry, but I couldn’t help but bust out laughing, and shaking my head, “That Frank is in for it when I see him.”
When we were young boys, we never missed an opportunity to scare or surprise the other, or even our friends. We never missed “Thriller”, “The Twilight Zone”, or any of the long list of scary movies, and the above good memory was after we watched “The Hand”, and Frank caught me in the bathtub.
Needless to say, Frank got my attention and reminded me that I still had an unfinished job to do: To make this world a better place for all the Children!
So with that said, I dedicate this to Frank.
The Liebster Award
If you have been nominated for The Liebster Award AND YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT, write a blog post about the Liebster award in which the Rules are simple as follows:
Dog, because they are so loyal and great companions.
3. Do you work . . if so, where (being a full-time mommy counts as work btw)?
I am retired, although I work very close to full time or even more at times as a Child Advocate, supporting Veterans, and senior citizens.
4. If you could go exploring anywhere where would that be?
The Great Barrier Reef
5. Your biggest regret?
6. How many siblings do you have? What are your thoughts on that number?
Two, and it is as good a number as any, I had an Uncle and Aunt that had 15 Children.
7. What decade do you really belong in?
Right where I am at. I started out with The Killer-Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Elvis, Buddy Holley, Otis Redding, B.B. King, lived through The Beatles, lived with The Rolling Stones(Since they still make music), Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Ozzy, Ritchie Blackmore, Charlie Daniels, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Social Distortion, Bon Jovi, Rammstein, Slipknot, Brooks and Dunn, Toby Keith, George Strait, Garth Brooks, Dwight Yoakum, Volbeat, etc..
8. Would you rather live in the Arctic or Antarctic Circle?
If I had to, I would pick the warmer climate, and the one with land to walk on so I could get back to Texas, so The Arctic.
9. What is your favorite artistic medium?
Tools, Paint, original parts, and custom parts to build War Horses(Ford Mustangs) and HOGs(Harley-Davidsons). But also woodworking tools, and good wood.
10. Camping or hotels?
Both, I’m a farm boy and love the out-of-doors, but I also love being around people and the big city at times also.
Experts offer advice that will help you raise a well-behaved child – instead of a brat.
By Dulce Zamora
Parenting is no walk in the park, especially on the days when your little angel, whether he’s 6 or 16, decides to act like a demon.
If it’s the temper tantrum in the toy store over the latest video game, or the daily fight over math homework, or the food fight in a restaurant on Friday night, parents have a choice: To react in a way that will only make matters worse when the bell rings for round two, or respond like the calm, cool, and collected parents we see on TV shows like Nanny 911 – after weeks of live-in, televised therapy.
What is the secret to their success, other than public humiliation?
“Overall, with any scenario, the worst thing a parent can do that helps bratty behavior blossom is to not set clear expectations and not have consequences to a child’s behavior,” says Jenn Berman, PhD, a psychologist in private practice in Beverly Hills who specializes in family therapy.
The TV Toy
It’s Saturday morning, you’re doing laundry, the kids are watching their morning cartoons, and it happens: Your middle child sees the toy of his dreams on TV, starts in with the begging, and doesn’t let up.
Brat-building response: “A lot of kids see things on TV – games, food, or dolls – and then they start nagging until they get it,” says Berman. “If you run to the store to buy your child exactly what they want, then you’ve taught them that nagging is an effective tool for getting their way.”
Angel-building response: “You can say, ‘It’s a cool toy. Let me find out how much it is, and I can help you save your allowance for it,'” says Berman. “You are teaching your child to work toward a goal – instead of giving in. It helps the child learn about goals, saving money, and it’s a good response for both parent and child.”
You’re having your boss over for dinner on Friday night, and while you begged your sister to watch the kids for the evening, no such luck. Is it time to start bribing them to be quiet with expensive sneakers or the latest handbag from Dolce & Gabbana?
Brat-building response: “Parents often try to buy good behavior by getting their kids expensive gifts,” says Berman. “And then they say, ‘I don’t understand why she isn’t better behaved? I get her everything she wants!'” These cool gifts lose their meaning and the child feels entitled and less well behaved.”
Angel-building response: “Allow the child the opportunity to earn what you give them, and set limits around their expectations,” says Berman. “Tell them, ‘You can get one pair of shoes within this amount of money.’ Teach them early on how to make choices.”
Her bags are packed and she’s ready to go to the sleepover, except for one thing: She forgot to ask for your permission.
Brat-building behavior: Even though she’s screaming bloody murder, if you let her get away with it once, she’ll do it again, and again and again. “You’ve taught your child that screaming long enough will get her what she wants, and now you’ve created your own private hell,” Berman tells WebMD.
Angel-building behavior: “As a parent, it is always considerate and helpful to let a child know your thinking, so your child knows why you don’t want her to go to the sleepover, so it doesn’t seem like you are being unreasonable,” says Berman. “But if you shared your reasoning, and she keeps yelling, you have to stand your ground.”
The Divide and Conquer
You’ve been very clear and given your son a decisive NO when he asked, “Can I go to the birthday party, puh-lease?” His tactic? To ask dad.
Brat-building behavior: “When a child gets ‘no’ from mom, and ‘yes’ from dad, it teaches them they can divide and conquer,” says Berman. “They learn that they can divide their parents and fool them, and if they are manipulative enough, they can get what they want.”
Angel-building behavior: “Enforce in advance,” says Berman. “Tell a child that if you ask mom and get ‘no,’ and then you ask dad and get ‘yes,’ the ‘no’ still stands, and your punishment for asking us both is xyz.”
The Screaming in the Store
We’ve all seen it: The screaming child in the toy store. He wants the latest video game, and he’s not shutting up until he has it.
Brat-building response: “If you give in, you teach your child that when he acts like a brat he can get what he wants,” says Dan Kindlon, author of Too Much of a Good Thing: Raising Children of Character in an Indulgent Age. “You’re reinforcing his bratty behavior.”
Angel-building response: “There are two ways to approach it,” says Kindlon, who teaches child psychology at Harvard University.
First, plan ahead, and second, plan a response.
“Make a deal with them beforehand – you are going to buy them something and it’s only going to cost $5,” says Kindlon. “Or tell them, ‘I’m going shopping for your cousin and this is not for you.’ Give them structure beforehand so they’re not caught off guard. Then, if they still explode in the store, ignore them, say you are not going to listen anymore. Then you leave the store and take them with you.”
The Car Ride
You have 300 miles in front of you when your youngest explodes in a temper tantrum that rivals the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius.
Brat-building response: “If you just start yelling and screaming at her, it’s not going to help,” Kindlon tells WebMD. “And a major mistake most parents make is to give the child an ultimatum, like ‘If you keep this up you’re not going to watch TV when you get home.'”
But even though their tantrum continues ad nauseam, the TV goes on when the family gets home because the parent is beaten down.
“This teaches a child that the best way to get what they want is to behave like a brat,” says Kindlon.
Angel-building response: “Plan ahead,” says Kindlon “Bring snacks, games, and things to keep them entertained in the car. If that doesn’t work, help them understand the consequences of their behavior. Again, with the ultimatum, if you use one, stick to it: ‘If you don’t stop behaving this way, you don’t get to watch TV when you get home.'”
The Lack of Respect
Your kid just called you a name, or talked back, or showed you some all-around lack of what Aretha Franklin likes to call R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
Brat-building response: “If you sink to their level and use the same language back at them, you’re modeling bad behavior,” says Kindlon. “You’re teaching them the wrong way to deal with something and someone when you’re upset.”
Angel-building response: “Dock a kid fifty cents on their allowance when they use a tone of voice or an inappropriate word you don’t like,” says Kindlon. “Maintain your cool. Show mature behavior, and give them consequences for their bad behavior.”
You just sat down to dinner with your husband and three kids at a local restaurant when the outbursts start.
Brat-building behavior: “What happens is there is talk of punishment and threats at the restaurant, like ‘I’m going to take way your play date on Sunday,’ or ‘No TV for a week,'” says Paul Donahue, PhD, director of Child Development Associates in Scarsdale, N.Y. “Punishments don’t work as well as a rewards, or the threats are idle because the kid knows that the parent won’t take away their TV.”
Angel-building response: “Before you get to the restaurant, tell your child what you expect in terms of behavior,” says Donahue. “If your behavior is good, here is what privilege will come your way, whether its dessert at the restaurant, or that they get to watch a movie when they get home.”
Kids need to understand that their privileges are based on their behavior, explains Donahue.
While I’m not suggesting you bribe your kids or take them to Toys ‘R’ Us because they sit at the dinner table, they need to understand that the things they enjoy are privileges and they can have those things if they behave well,” says Donahue. “Kids have to have an understanding that good behavior is expected, and if they behave well, good things will come their way.”
The Morning Routine
It’s hard enough for you to get out of bed at 6 a.m., let alone get your two kids out of bed. Should you let them sleep late, just this once?
Brat-building response: “Sometimes kids come downstairs in the morning, they watch TV, they get around to eating their breakfast, they get dressed, the process gets delayed, mom or dad gets frustrated and angry, and maybe they make the bus, maybe the don’t,” says Donahue. Better yet, the whole routine starts over again the next day.
Angel-building response: “Kids shouldn’t come down and watch TV or play a video game first thing in the morning,” says Donahue. “It’s like saying you get to have this fun experience before you get dressed, brush your teeth, or do your work. You have to take care of your responsibilities first.”
As your child gets older and wiser, his pile of homework grows – as does the frustration you feel in making sure he gets it all done.
Brat-building response: “We want our kids to do well in school, and yet we are not clear that homework takes precedent over a play date or after-school activities,” says Donahue. “So then the homework gets left until after dinner, and then it’s diminishing returns: they’re tired, and it’s getting much more difficult to get them to do it, and they don’t have incentive to get it done.”
Angel-building response: “There needs to be a reasonable structure for homework,” says Donahue. “Say to your kids, ‘At 3 p.m. you get to play, but at 4 p.m., you sit down and do your homework.’ It’s especially important in most families that homework get done before dinner. Set the structure in place so when they are older and they have more activities, they know they still need to get homework done before dinner.”
No matter the scenario, here are tips for dealing with parenting pitfalls:
Mean business. “Speak to your child like you mean business, and send clear messages when you’re communicating with your kids,” says Donahue.
Stick to your guns. “The toughest thing is to have endurance,” says Donahue. “Stick to your guns, even when the kids are whining and pushing your buttons. Kids know that if we have a history of not sticking to what we say, they’re going to push and push. Have the endurance and the strength and the energy to keep up with them.”
Plan ahead. “Parents have to do a better job of helping kids to anticipate the behavior that is expected of them beforehand,” Donahue tells WebMD. “When you’re in the middle of a situation, you’re busy and rushing and don’t think about it, and then things can get out of control.”
Take care of yourself. “Sleep more, exercise, and take care of yourself,” says Donahue. “Parenting is extremely exhausting work.”
When to seek help for anger management and control
If your anger is still spiraling out of control, despite putting the previous anger management techniques into practice, or if you’re getting into trouble with the law or hurting others – you need more help. There are many therapists, classes, and programs for people with anger management problems. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. You’ll often find others in the same shoes, and getting direct feedback on techniques for controlling anger can be tremendously helpful.
Consider professional help if:
You feel constantly frustrated and angry no matter what you try.
Your temper causes problems at work or in your relationships.
You avoid new events and people because you feel like you can’t control your temper.
You have gotten in trouble with the law due to your anger. Your anger has ever led to physical violence.
Your anger has ever led to physical violence.
Therapy for anger problems. Therapy can be a great way to explore the reasons behind your anger. If you don’t know why you are getting angry, it’s very hard to control. Therapy provides a safe environment to learn more about your reasons and identify triggers for your anger. It’s also a safe place to practice new skills in expressing your anger.
Anger management classes or groups. Anger management classes or groups allow you to see others coping with the same struggles. You will also learn tips and techniques for managing your anger and hear other people’s stories. For domestic violence issues, traditional anger management is usually not recommended. There are special classes that go to the issue of power and control that are at the heart of domestic violence.
If your loved one has an anger management problem
If your loved one has an anger problem, you probably feel like you’re walking on eggshells all the time. But always remember that you are not to blame for your loved one’s anger. There is never an excuse for physically or verbally abusive behavior. You have a right to be treated with respect and to live without fear of an angry outburst or a violent rage.
Tips for dealing with a loved one’s anger management problem
While you can’t control another person’s anger, you can control how you respond to it:
Set clear boundaries about what you will and will not tolerate.
Wait for a time when you are both calm to talk to your loved one about the anger problem. Don’t bring it up when either one of you is already angry.
Remove yourself from the situation if your loved one does not calm down.
Consider counseling or therapy for yourself if you are having a hard time standing up for yourself.
Put your safety first. Trust your instincts. If you feel unsafe or threatened in any way, get away from your loved one and go somewhere safe.
Anger isn’t the real problem in abusive relationships
Despite what many people believe, domestic violence and abuse is not due to the abuser’s loss of control over his behavior and temper. In fact, abusive behavior is a deliberate choice for the sole purpose of controlling you. If you are in an abusive relationship, know that couples counseling is not recommended – and that your partner needs specialized treatment, not regular anger management classes.
Anger management tip 1: Explore what’s really behind your anger
If you’re struggling with out-of-control anger, you may be wondering why your fuse is so short. Anger problems often stem from what you’ve learned as a child. If you watched others in your family scream, hit each other, or throw things, you might think this is how anger is supposed to be expressed. Traumatic events and high levels of stress can make you more susceptible to anger as well.
Anger is often a cover-up for other feelings
In order to get your needs met and express your anger in appropriate ways, you need to be in touch with what you are really feeling. Are you truly angry? Or is your anger masking other feelings such as embarrassment, insecurity, hurt, shame, or vulnerability?
If your knee-jerk response in many situations is anger, it is very likely that your temper is covering up your true feelings and needs. This is especially likely if you grew up in a family where expressing feelings was strongly discouraged. As an adult, you may have a hard time acknowledging feelings other than anger.
Clues that there’s something more to your anger
You have a hard time compromising. Is it hard for you to understand other people’s points of view, and even harder to concede a point? If you grew up in a family where anger was out of control, you may remember how the angry person got his or her way by being the loudest and most demanding. Compromising might bring up scary feelings of failure and vulnerability.
You have trouble expressing emotions other than anger. Do you pride yourself on being tough and in control, never letting your guard down? Do you feel that emotions like fear, guilt, or shame don’t apply to you? Everyone has those emotions, and if you think you don’t, you may be using anger as a cover for them.
You view different opinions and viewpoints as a personal challenge to you. Do you believe that your way is always right and get angry when others disagree? If you have a strong need to be in control or a fragile ego, you may interpret other perspectives as a challenge to your authority, rather than simply a different way of looking at things.
If you are uncomfortable with many emotions, disconnected, or stuck on an angry one-note response to everything, it might do you some good to get back in touch with your feelings. Emotional awareness is the key to self-understanding and success in life. Without the ability to recognize, manage, and deal with the full range of human emotions, you’ll inevitably spin into confusion, isolation, and self-doubt.
Anger management tip 2: Be aware of your anger warning signs and triggers
While you might feel that you just explode into anger without warning, in fact, there are physical warning signs in your body. Anger is a normal physical response. It fuels the “fight or flight” system of the body, and the angrier you get, the more your body goes into overdrive. Becoming aware of your own personal signs that your temper is starting to boil allows you to take steps to manage your anger before it gets out of control.
Pay attention to the way anger feels in your body
Knots in your stomach
Clenching your hands or jaw
Feeling clammy or flushed
Pacing or needing to walk around
Having trouble concentrating
Tensing your shoulders
Identify the negative thought patterns that trigger your temper
You may think that external things — the insensitive actions of other people, for example, or frustrating situations — are what cause your anger. But anger problems have less to do with what happens to you than how you interpret and think about what happened. Common negative thinking patterns that trigger and fuel anger include:
Overgeneralizing. For example, “You always interrupt me. You NEVER consider my needs. EVERYONE disrespects me. I NEVER get the credit I deserve.”
Obsessing on “shoulds” and “musts”. Having a rigid view of the way things should or must be and getting angry when reality doesn’t line up with this vision.
Mind reading and jumping to conclusions. Assuming you “know” what someone else is thinking or feeling—that he or she intentionally upset you, ignored your wishes, or disrespected you.
Collecting straws. Looking for things to get upset about, usually while overlooking or blowing past anything positive. Letting these small irritations build and build until you reach the “final straw” and explode, often over something relatively minor.
Blaming. When anything bad happens or something goes wrong, it’s always someone else’s fault. You blame others for the things that happen to you rather than taking responsibility for your own life.
Avoid people, places, and situations that bring out your worst
Stressful events don’t excuse anger, but understanding how these events affect you can help you take control of your environment and avoid unnecessary aggravation. Look at your regular routine and try to identify activities, times of day, people, places, or situations that trigger irritable or angry feelings. Maybe you get into a fight every time you go out for drinks with a certain group of friends. Or maybe the traffic on your daily commute drives you crazy. Then think about ways to avoid these triggers or view the situation differently so it doesn’t make your blood boil.
Anger management tip 3: Learn ways to cool down
Once you know how to recognize the warning signs that your temper is rising and anticipate your triggers, you can act quickly to deal with your anger before it spins out of control. There are many techniques that can help you cool down and keep your anger in check.
Quick tips for cooling down
Focus on the physical sensations of anger. While it may seem counterintuitive, tuning into the way your body feels when you’re angry often lessens the emotional intensity of your anger.
Take some deep breaths. Deep, slow breathing helps counteract rising tension. The key is to breathe deeply from the abdomen, getting as much fresh air as possible into your lungs.
Exercise. A brisk walk around the block is a great idea. It releases pent-up energy so you can approach the situation with a cooler head.
Use your senses. Take advantage of the relaxing power of your sense of sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste. You might try listening to music or picturing yourself in a favorite place.
Stretch or massage areas of tension. Roll your shoulders if you are tensing them, for example, or gently massage your neck and scalp.
Slowly count to ten. Focus on the counting to let your rational mind catch up with your feelings. If you still feel out of control by the time you reach ten, start counting again.
Give yourself a reality check
When you start getting upset about something, take a moment to think about the situation. Ask yourself:
How important is it in the grand scheme of things?
Is it really worth getting angry about it?
Is it worth ruining the rest of my day?
Is my response appropriate to the situation?
Is there anything I can do about it?
Is taking action worth my time?
Anger management tip 4: Find healthier ways to express your anger
If you’ve decided that the situation is worth getting angry about and there’s something you can do to make it better, the key is to express your feelings in a healthy way. When communicated respectfully and channeled effectively, anger can be a tremendous source of energy and inspiration for change.
Pinpoint what you’re really angry about
Have you ever gotten into an argument over something silly? Big fights often happen over something small, like a dish left out or being ten minutes late. But there’s usually a bigger issue behind it. If you find your irritation and anger rapidly rising, ask yourself “What am I really angry about?” Identifying the real source of frustration will help you communicate your anger better, take constructive action, and work towards a resolution.
Take five if things get too heated
If your anger seems to be spiraling out of control, remove yourself from the situation for a few minutes or for as long as it takes you to cool down. A brisk walk, a trip to the gym, or a few minutes listening to some music should allow you to calm down, release pent up emotion, and then approach the situation with a cooler head.
Always fight fair
It’s okay to be upset at someone, but if you don’t fight fair, the relationship will quickly break down. Fighting fair allows you to express your own needs while still respecting others.
Make the relationship your priority. Maintaining and strengthening the relationship, rather than “winning” the argument, should always be your first priority. Be respectful of the other person and his or her viewpoint.
Focus on the present. Once you are in the heat of arguing, it’s easy to start throwing past grievances into the mix. Rather than looking to the past and assigning blame, focus on what you can do in the present to solve the problem.
Choose your battles. Conflicts can be draining, so it’s important to consider whether the issue is really worthy of your time and energy. If you pick your battles rather than fighting over every little thing, others will take you more seriously when you are upset.
Be willing to forgive. Resolving conflict is impossible if you’re unwilling or unable to forgive. Resolution lies in releasing the urge to punish, which can never compensate for our losses and only adds to our injury by further depleting and draining our lives.
Know when to let something go. If you can’t come to an agreement, agree to disagree. It takes two people to keep an argument going. If a conflict is going nowhere, you can choose to disengage and move on.