Category Archives: prevention

Bullying and Your Child

If you’re a frequent surfer on the Internet, you’ve probably heard the story or have actually seen the video clip of Casey Heynes. Well, for those of you who have not yet seen or heard about it yet, Casey, a 12-year old boy in Australia, is being bullied by a couple of classmates in the school yard. The alleged accomplice to the bully seen on the video clip records as Casey is punched repeatedly in the face and body. After a couple rounds of punches, Casey decides he’s not going to take it anymore and picks up the bully, who coincidentally happens to be smaller physically than him, and body slams him on the concrete. For additional video commentary story, play the embedded video above.

Bullying is a form of abuse that involves act of continually physically and/or mentally abusing another person over a long period of time in order to assert power over a certain individual or groups. Everyone has probably had their fair share of bullies in their youth, and some may even have acted as bullies in their youth. As a parent, you might be quick to conclude that it is harmless, but recent studies indicate that bullying is not to be treated lightly. Research suggests that this type of prolonged abuse can lead to severe psychological trauma in children.

First, how can you tell if your child is being bullied?

Be on the lookout for these warning signs:

  • Damaged or missing clothing or other personal belongings
  • Unexplained bruises or other injuries
  • Few friends or close contacts
  • Reluctance to go to school or ride the school bus
  • Poor school performance
  • Headaches, stomachaches or other physical complaints
  • Trouble sleeping or eating

What can you do to stop the bullying?

  • Encourage your child to share his or her concerns. Remain calm, listen in a loving manner and support your child’s feelings. Express understanding and concern. You might say, “I understand you’re having a rough time. Let’s work together to deal with this.” Remind your child that he or she isn’t to blame for being bullied.
  • Learn as much as you can about the situation. Ask your child to describe how and when the bullying occurs and who is involved. Ask if other children or adults have witnessed any bullying incidents. Find out what your child may have done to try to stop the bullying.
  • Teach your child how to respond to the bullying. Don’t promote retaliation or fighting back against a bully. Instead, encourage your child to maintain his or her composure. He or she might say, “I want you to stop now,” and then simply walk away. Suggest sticking with a friend or group of friends while on the bus, in the cafeteria or wherever the bullying seems to happen. Remind your child that he or she can ask teachers or other school officials for help.
  • Contact school officials. Talk to your child’s teacher, the school counselor and the school principal. If your child has been physically attacked or otherwise threatened with harm, talk to school officials immediately to determine if the police should be involved. Don’t contact the bully’s parents yourself. You might also want to encourage school officials to address bullying — including cyberbullying — as part of the curriculum.
  • Follow up. Keep in contact with school officials. If the bullying seems to continue, be persistent.
  • Boost your child’s self-confidence. Help your child get involved in activities that can raise self-esteem, such as sports, music or art. Encourage your child to build friendships and develop his or her social skills.
  • Know when to seek professional help. Consider professional or school counseling for your child if his or her fear or anxiety becomes overwhelming.

Don’t wait until it’s too late.  Address the bullying issue head on with your child and listen to his/her concerns.  Next try to contact your child’s teacher and/or principal to discuss the issue, and if all else fails, seek professional help.


Thinking of Going Organic?

Do you ever walk through a grocery store, notice all the ‘organic’ food options and wonder what the big difference was besides the higher price?

The term ‘organic’ refers to the way farmers grow their fruits, vegetables, and other produce items that you’ll find at your local grocery. Organic farming excludes or strictly limits the use of manufactured fertilizers, pesticides, plant growth regulators such as hormones, livestock antibiotics, food additives, and genetically modified organisms. In lieu of these manufactured chemicals, natural fertilizers such as manure or compost are used as well as natural organisms to control pests. Furthermore, organic farming promotes healthy use of the soil and is considered more environmentally friendly.

The immediate benefit to you and I is that we are eating fruits and vegetables that are chemical-free, and by buying organic, we’re also doing our part to preserve our environment for our children.

There aren’t any nutritional differences between organic and non-organic fruits and vegetables–an apple would have the same amount of vitamins and minerals regardless of how it was grown. The jury is still out on whether or not there are long-term health benefits of eating chemical-free fruits and vegetables. I personally do not want any additives and chemicals in my food that I do not have intimate knowledge of.

Money doesn’t grow on trees, so if you want the best bang for your buck and want to go organic, buy organic fruits and veggies that have thin outer skins such as grapes and tomatoes. You’re much better off buying the organic versions of grapes, tomatoes, and other produce that have thin outer membranes because they don’t have as thick of a barrier to protect from chemicals. For the thicker-skinned fruits such as oranges and grapefruits, you can save some money and just buy the regular versions. If you go with the regular version, I would suggest peeling off the outer skin before eating.

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

A wise man (Ben Franklin) once proclaimed, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Fast forward 200 years, and the same quote still applies–especially with regard to your child’s health. We live in a world of smart phones, the Internet, busy jobs, and busy schedules. And it becomes increasingly difficult to find extra time out of the day to talk to someone about your child’s health.

Knowledge is a powerful thing as a parent, and there’s no better person to talk to about your child’s health than his/her Pediatrician. Case in point: a 10 minute conversation with your Doctor about establishing healthy eating and lifestyle habits can prevent serious diseases such as Diabetes later on in your child’s life. It’s easier to implement good habits rather than correct bad habits later on in life.

Not only will your child grow up healthier and happier, but you’ll save money and time in the long-term. It’s much easier to instill and enforce healthy habits than wait until your child is affected by a serious illness–hospital bills, continued medical treatments over a lifetime can be expensive.

Take a proactive approach to learning about your child’s health: utilize the Internet as a powerful resource, and when all else fails, talk to your Pediatrician.

Your Child’s Vaccination Schedule

Are you wondering how often you should vaccinate your child, and what vaccines he/she should be receiving, if any? I’ve compiled the table below to give you a good idea of when and what vaccines should be administered based on your child’s age (use the vaccine legend table in the previous post in conjunction):

Age Vaccines
6 wks. – 2 mos. DtaP #1 HIB #1 Prevnar #1 Hep B #1
4 months DtaP #2 HIB #2 Prevnar #2 IPV #1
6 months DtaP #3 HIB #3 Prevnar #3 IPV #2
9 months Hep B #2      
12 months MMR #1 Varivax Prevnar #4  
15 months Hep B #3 IPV #3    
18 months DtaP #4 HIB #4    
2 years Hep A #1      
2.5 – 3 years Hep A #2      
5 years DtaP #5 IPV #4 MMR #2  
10 years Td – adult      
15 years Td – adult      

Note that there are always some mild to moderate side effects associated with any of the vaccines mentioned. It’s important to completely understand all risks before getting your child vaccinated, so call and ask! We’d be happy to talk to you about it.

Vaccine Legend

Vaccine Symbol Protects Against Precautions Possible Side Effects
DtaP diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough Fever control for children with past history of seizure.  Wait to take vaccine if moderately ill. Mild fever, redness, swelling, and soreness (associated with whooping cough portion)
Hep A Hepatitis A Wait to take vaccine if moderately ill.  Do not continue with 2nd dose if child has severe allergic reaction Soreness at injection site, headache, fatigue, loss of appetite
Hep B Hepatitis B Wait to take vaccine if moderately ill. Soreness at injection site, low-grade fever
HIB Severe bacterial infections such as meningitis and pneumonia Wait to take vaccine if moderately ill. < 25% get redness, warmth, swelling at injection site.  Fever and irritability are also possible
IPV Polio Wait to take vaccine if moderately ill.  Do not take secondary doses if child has severe allergic reaction Minor pain, redness at injection site
MMR Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Wait to take vaccine if moderately ill.  Do not take if child has allergies to gelatin (Jell-O) or previous dose of MMR Mild reactions fairly common.  Low grade fever, swelling in neck or cheeks, mild rash
Prevnar Pneumonia, Blood Infections, Ear infections, Meningitis Do not take if severely allergic to diphtheria-toxoid-containing vaccine Redness, swelling, tenderness at injection site, fever, decreased appetite, irritability
Td Booster shot for diphtheria and tetanus See DtaP See DtaP
Varivax Chickenpox Wait to take vaccine if moderately ill. Soreness or swelling at injection site, fever, mild rash, seizure, pneumonia (very rare)

Tips for Raising Healthy Kids

Help your children develop good physical activity habits at an early age by setting a good example yourself.

Practice these heart-healthy habits with your kids:

  • Limit screen time (television, movies, videos and computer games) to less than 2 hours a day.  Substitute the rest of leisure time with physical activity.
  • Plan family outings and vacations that involve vigorous activities such as hiking, bicycling, skiing, swimming, etc.
  • Give your children some household chores that require physical exertion, keeping in mind their levels of strength, coordination and maturity.  Mowing lawns, raking leaves, scrubbing floors and taking out the garbage not only teach responsibility but can be good exercise.
  • Observe sports and activities your children like, then find out about lessons and clubs. Some children thrive on team sports; others prefer individual activities.  Some activities, like tennis and swimming, can be enjoyed for a lifetime and are much easier to learn during childhood.
  • If it’s safe to walk or bike rather than drive, do so.  Use stairs instead of elevators and escalators. Increase the distances you and your children walk.
  • Stay involved in your child’s physical education classes at school.  At daycare, make sure the kids exercise at least 20 minutes a day.  Ask about frequency of classes and activity, class size, curriculum (instruction in lifetime fitness activities as well as team sports should be emphasized), physical fitness assessments, qualifications of the teacher (should hold appropriate certification in physical education and be an appropriate role model for students).  Physical fitness should be measured at the beginning and end of each year, and goals should be established for each child.  Encourage your school board to emphasize skills students can use for the rest of their lives.
  • Discourage homework immediately after school to let children find some diversion from the structure of the school day.  Kids should be active after school and before dinner.
  • Choose fitness-oriented gifts — a jump rope, mini-trampoline, tennis racket, baseball bat, a youth membership at the local YMCA or YWCA.  Select the gift with your child’s skills and interests in mind.
  • Take advantage of your city’s recreation opportunities — from soccer leagues to fun runs.  Check out the various camps or organizations like the Sierra Club that sponsor outdoor activities such as camping, hiking trips and bird watching.
  • Free your infant from mechanical restraints as much as possible. Strollers and playpens are high on convenience but low on activity potential. Try to unleash your diapered dynamo whenever and wherever he or she can safely move around.
  • When your children are bored, suggest something that gets them moving, like playing catch or building a snowman in the yard.

Kids learn by example, and whether you realize it or not, your kids are emulating you so it’s important to set good examples by establishing healthy habits early on.