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Posts for tag: Lifestyle

January 28, 2019
Category: Featured Articles
Tags: Lifestyle  

Every parent has witnessed their child having a temper tantrum at one time or another.  They are a normal part of development and happen most between the ages of 1 and 3 years of age.  Temper tantrums are very common prior to and around the time of language development, as children that aren’t fully verbal cannot yet say what they want, feel or need. Tantrums can be an easy way for them to try to get what they need. They can be as short as 20 seconds or go on for hours.  They may include: crying, screaming and yelling, stamping feet, rolling around on the floor and breath holding spells.  

When to Not Ignore Your Child’s Temper Tantrum

  1. If your child is physically at risk of harming him or herself
  2. If your child is in danger of hurting someone else during a tantrum such as hitting, kicking or biting

How to Help your Child Avoid Tantrums

  • Give plenty of positive reinforcement - Get in the habit of catching your child being good and reward them with praise and attention for positive behavior
  • Try to give toddlers control over little things - Offer minor choices such as “Do you want this shirt or that shirt?”  “Do you want an apple or banana?”  This will allow your child to make choices but choices that you are okay with.  
  • Try to limit “No” - Keep off-limit objects out of sight and out of reach helping to make struggles less likely and also limiting the use of “No”.  Make sure your child understands the importance of “No” and know that the more you use it, the less effective it becomes. 
  • Distract your child - Take advantage of their short attention span by offering something else in place of what they can’t have.  Start a new activity to replace the frustrating or forbidden one or take your toddler outside or inside to simply change the environment. 
  • Consider the request carefully when your child wants something - is it outrageous?  Maybe it isn’t.  Choose your battles. 
  • Know your child’s limits - When your toddler is tired or hungry, don’t take them grocery shopping or try to squeeze in one more errand.  It can also be a bad time to give kids a toy that is too advanced for them as they could get frustrated when they don’t understand why thaeycan’t get it to work. 

Do’s and Don’ts During Tantrums

  • DO stay calm - children learn by example!  If you stay calm, your child is more likely to do the same.  Get down on their level so you are eye to eye at arms distance and talk to them in a quiet, soothing voice.  Empathize with them and let them know you hear them and understand why they’re upset. Calmly but firmly tell your child what to stop doing and what to do instead for example, “Anna, stop screaming right now and speak in a nice voice.”  When he or she does as you asked, praise your child. 
  • DON’T give in - you don’t want to reward their behavior.  If throwing temper tantrums leads to your child getting their way, get ready for tantrums to become a regular occurrence
  • DO distract - getting your child to focus on something else might help them to soon forget why they were so upset in the first place
  • DON’T overreact - try to understand why your child is frustrated.  Take a deep breath (or several) and know that this too, will pass.  
  • DO set expectations - Before taking your child to a public place like a store or restaurant, talk to them about proper behavior.  Try to give them 3 simple rules you’d like them to follow in the store or restaurant and if they do them, reward them with such things as an extra bedtime story.
  • DON’T bribe your child - this is the same as giving in
  • DO teach better ways - encourage your child to use words to describe their feelings.  Keep in mind that giving rewards for good behaviors work much more effectively than punishing bad behavior.  
  • DON’T worry about what others are thinking - almost every parents have been through the same thing!  Know that your child’s tantrum doesn’t mean that you are a bad parent.  

What Do I Do if the Tantrum Happens in Public?

If a tantrum occurs in public, use planned ignoring if possible.  If this is not possible, find a safe place to sit with your child such as a park bench and tell your child they must sit quietly.  Wait beside your child (without talking) until they have been quiet for 30 seconds.  

When Do I Set a Time Limit?

Rather than setting a specific time limit on how long your child needs to calm down, tell your child to stay in the room until he or she regains control.  This will empower them to understand that they can affect the outcome by their own actions.  However, if the time-out is for a tantrum PLUS a negative behavior (such as hitting), put your child in a 1 minute per year of age time-out. 

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

Know that temper tantrums get better after the age of 3 although, they don’t go away entirely.  As kids mature, they gain self-control and tantrums will usually stop on their own as they learn to cooperate, communicate and cope with frustration.  

Contact Your Child’s Healthcare Provider If:

  • You often feel angry or out of control when you respond to tantrums
  • You keep giving in
  • The tantrums cause a lot of bad feelings between you and your child
  • You have questions about what you’re doing or what your child is doing
  • The tantrums become more frequent, intense or last longer
  • Your child often hurts themselves or others
  • Your child seems very disagreeable, argues a lot and hardly ever cooperates


New Year’s resolutions are great for kids and teens as they sometimes need to make these promises to themselves and you, in order to organize their goals for the coming year.  


Here are some great tips to help your child choose specific, achievable resolutions to set them up for success in the New Year.  


First, start off by explaining what a resolution is and giving examples of ones they have set in past years.  You don’t want your child to feel like something is wrong with them now; instead, frame the conversation as something that could be done better.  If your child suggests well-intentioned but vague ideas like “be healthier” try to help them develop those ideas into tangible actions that can be done every day such as “spend 30 minutes outside every day”.


Next, make sure to remember that resolutions should always be discussed in a positive way.  For example, their resolution should be worded, “I’m going to do this…” instead of “I’m going to STOP doing this…”


Some Great Pediatric Resolutions Include:


Healthier Eating - Target an area you and your child need to improve upon and discuss why it is important.  If you want to eat less fast food, talk about what you are going to eat instead.  Or if your child is trying to eat more vegetables, agree on a specific number for the day or week. 


Examples of some specific New Year’s Resolution in regards to healthier eating:

  • “I’m going to drink two glasses of milk each day instead of soda or juice”
  • “I’m going to eat two pieces of fruit at lunch each time”

More physical activity (exercise) - this is always a good resolution but keep in mind that the work “exercise” can be boring.  Try to make it sound fun so your child is more likely to stick to it such as: 

  • “I’m going to join a soccer team” 


Screen time - It is not enough to simply say “we are going to decrease screen time”.  Quanitfy how much you and your child will reduce and what they will be doing instead such as: 

  • “I’m going to limit screen time to 30 minutes per day and read before bed instead of watching TV”


Social Resolutions - A social resolution should always be tailored to your child and an area where they would like to improve upon. 


Great examples of these are:

  • “I’m going to do one random act of kindness a week”
  • “I’m going to talk to one person at school I’ve never met each week”


Helping around the house - Committing to chores is always smart as it makes kids feel needed and useful.  Plus, you’ll get a little help around the house!


Examples of these resolutions include: 


  • “I’m going to set the table for dinner every night”
  • “I’m going to make my bed every morning”


Educational resolutions - Learning new skills is always a great resolution and can be a great source of family time. 


Examples of these include: 


  • “I’m going to learn how to make chocolate chip cookies”
  • “I’m going to learn how to speak Spanish”


Family time - commit to spending more time as a family!

  • “We’re going to have game night every Saturday”
  • “We’re going to eat dinner together every weekday”


Don’t forget, that when it comes to resolutions, it is important for you, the parent, to lead by example and don’t be afraid to adjust your goals along the way if they’re becoming stale or if you actually accomplish them!


Check out this great podcast on RadioMD by Dr. David Hill on helping your child keep their New Year’s Resolution!


November 06, 2018
Category: Featured Articles
Tags: sleep   Lifestyle  

From infants and toddlers to school-aged children and teens, one of the most common questions we get is how much sleep should my child be getting?  While it's true that sleep needs vary from person to person, there are some very reasonable, science-based guidelines to help you determine if your child is getting the sleep he or she needs to grow, learn and play!

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) provides some helpful guidelines regarding just how much sleep children need at different stages in their development.  Don't forget though that these numbers reflect TOTAL sleep hours in a 24-hour period, this includes naps

Do These Numbers Surprise You?

It's important to remember that all children thrive on a regular bedtime routine.  Regular sleep deprivation can result in difficult behaviors and health problems such as: irritability, difficulty concentrating, hypertension, obesity, headaches and depression.  Children who get enough sleep have a healthier immune system and better school performance, behavior, memory and mental health!!

As a parent, it’s important to encourage healthy habits, including exercise, in your youngster to help enforce that physical activity becomes as much a part of their routine as eating and sleeping.  


Teach your child that sports such as cycling (always with a helmet!), swimming, basketball, jogging, walking briskly, cross country skiing, dancing, aerobics, soccer and other sports when played regularly, are not only fun but also promote health.  


Physical activity is important for all children as it helps to:


1.  Increase Cardiovascular Endurance


Did you know that more Americans die from heart disease than any other ailment!  Physical activity can help improve your child’s fitness, make them feel better and also strengthen their cardiovascular system helping to protect against heart problems.  


How you many ask?  Aerobic activity can help the heart pump more efficiently, helping to reduce the incidence of high blood pressure.  It can also help raise the body’s level of HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol that removes excess fats from the bloodstream.  


But I thought cardiovascular diseases were thought to be illnesses of adulthood?  Fatty deposits have been detected in the arteries of children as young as three years of age and high blood pressure is present in about 5 percent of youngsters, making it important to make physical activity part of your child’s routine from the beginning!


How much activity should my child be getting?  It is recommended that children in their middle-years get twenty to thirty minutes of physical activity, at an increased heart rate, at least three times a week.  Make certain that each session of exercise is preceded and followed by a gradual warm-up and cool-down allowing muscles, joints and the cardiovascular system to ease into and out of vigorous activity, helping to ensure a safe workout.  


2.  Improve Large Muscle Strength and Endurance


As physical activity becomes a part of your child’s routine, your child’s muscles with become stronger and they will be able to exercise for longer periods of time, as well as help to prevent future injuries, as strong muscles provide better support for the joints.  


What are some exercises my child can do?

Modified sit-ups (knees bent, feet on the ground) can help build up abdominal muscles, increase lung capacity, and protect against back injuries.  

Modified pull-ups (keeping the arms flexed while hanging from a horizontal bar)

Modified push-ups (positioning the knees on the ground while extending the arms at the elbow)


3.  Increase Flexibility


In order to be well-rounded in terms of physical fitness, children need to be able to twist and bend their bodies through the full range of normal motions without overexerting themselves or causing injury.  Although most people lose flexibility as they age, this process can be repressed by maintaining suppleness throughout life, beginning in childhood.  


Stretching exercises are the best way to maintain or improve flexibility and should be incorporated into your child’s warm-up and cool-down routine.  


How should I instruct my child to stretch?  Your child should stretch to a position where they begin to feel tightness but not pain and then hold steady for twenty to thirty seconds before relaxing. Instruct your child not to bounce as they stretch as this can cause injury to the muscles or tendons.  


4.  Maintain a Healthy Weight


Did you know twelve percent of children in their pre-puberty years are overweight!  Physical activity can effectively burn calories and fat and reduce appetite.  Ask your provider to help determine whether your child has a healthy percentage of body fat for their age and sex.  


5.  Reduce Stress


Stress that is unmanaged can cause muscle tightness contributing to headaches, stomachaches and other types of discomfort.  Getting your child physically active teaches them to not only recognize stress in their body but also healthy ways to manage it.  Exercise is one of the best ways to control stress helping your child to experience less stress-related symptoms than their sedentary peers.  


With school back in session, it’s important to start your child’s year off on the right foot!  This not only includes helping your child get a good night’s sleep, but also making sure their body is fueled with healthy food. Including protein in your child’s breakfast is an important part of helping to prepare them for the first half of their school day.  

We know that you can’t also be with your child making sure they are eating well, but packing a healthy and wholesome lunch can go a long way in making sure your child is ready to learn.  

Follow these easy steps in making your kid’s lunch healthy and nutritious:

1.  Get your Kid Involved

  • Give your kids healthy food options from each food group and let them make the final decisions on what goes in their lunch.
  • Help your child make a list of favorite healthy lunch items to post on the refrigerator.
  • Take your child to the grocery store and let them help to choose what goes in the cart (to a certain extent).  This will help to promote feelings of responsibility and empowerment.
  • Designate a part of your kitchen as the “lunch packing station” and spend time with your kids the night before helping to get their lunch ready for the next day.

2.  Pack Healthy Foods and Keep it Fun

  • Turn healthy foods into fun foods by using cooking cutters to make shapes out of bread, deli meat, cheese, or a melon-baller for fruit.
  • Create a theme for the day and have all the food in their lunch relate to a theme.  For creative lunch theme ideas, visit ParentMap.
  • Steer clear of proceeds food that tend to have nutrients stripped out and extra sugar added. Instead include: whole wheat bread or tortillas, lean proteins like turkey and chicken, low-fat dairy such as yogurt and cheese sticks, fresh fruits and vegetables, and dips that contain healthy fats such as hummus, guacamole and nut butters.

3.  Make Sure to Incorporate All the Food Groups

  • Use MyPlate as a visual to help you structure what should go into your child’s lunch.  

4.  Encourage Hydration

  • Skip sweetened beverages.  Did you know a 12 ounces can of soda can contain up to 10 teaspoons of sugar and many fruit juices may have much more than that!  Instead, pack low-fat milk or water.
  • It’s recommended that school-age children drink between 6-8 cups of water per day (even more in hot weather or if their activity level is high!).
  • Let your child pick out their favorite water bottle and encourage them to drink the whole thing at least twice at school.
  • If the “flavor” of water is too boring for them, throw in a few pieces of frozen fruit to sweeten it up – and keep it cooler.

With these tips in mind, you and your child are ready to start the school year off on the right foot. Good luck and happy packing!!