Can “Man’s Best Friend” be Your Child’s Best Friend??

Last updated on March 3rd, 2018 at 02:09 pm

Best friends by Suzanne TennerAt the end of last month the headlines were about how a four year old girl was killed by a family dog. Last year there was a chilling story about a family dog that drug a newborn out of its crib- not even 24 hours after being brought home. No one knows why in either of these cases.

As a medic, I’ve seen more than my share of dog bite cases including one I will never, ever forget. Decades ago I was sent to transport a child across state to a teaching hospital for experimental surgery. The hope was that they would be able to create a new face for her to replace the one that the family dog chewed off. The father killed the dog on the spot. This did not end well for either human or canine.

I have six dogs so please don’t get me wrong. I’m not one of those anti-dog people. I love dogs and have had them my entire life. Dogs and kids belong together – responsibly. Just like kids and pools, kids and bikes and kids and the internet  -responsibly with parental supervision.

Here are some of my tips for a long healthy kid-pet relationship.

  • If someone (like an adoption professional) says your child and the pet you are interested in are not a good match- listen.
  • Learn about the dog breed you are interested in adopting. Some dogs for example are bred to herd animals- by nipping. Some dogs are just too big and may even pose a suffocation hazard to babies.
  • Socialize your dog to people of all ages and other pets soon and often.
  • Correct (with compassion) unwanted behavior. Dogs aren’t psychic they must be taught what is acceptable.
  • You would never leave your baby alone in a bathtub- don’t leave your baby alone with your pet either.
  • Teach your children and dogs how to interact safely.

Remember those very cute Easter Bunnies? They often like to nibble. Cats have been found in babies cribs blamed for infant deaths- accused of ‘stealing the baby’s breath.’

My life has been so much richer and fuller from having pets in my life. Some of my fondest memories are of my dogs (and yes my children too). Our pets and our children both are depending on us to assure a long, safe and happy relationship.

In Today’s Culture, Can We Raise Strong, Confident Daughters?

Last updated on March 3rd, 2018 at 02:10 pm

A five-year study of 2516 teens by the American Psychological Association found that girls who frequently read those dieting and weight loss articles are far more likely to fast, vomit, or use Strong Confident Daughterslaxatives to lose weight. In fact, the data proved that the more frequently a girl reads those fashion magazines, the more likely she is to resort to extreme weight control behaviors.

These days it’s almost impossible to not hear what Brittney, Lindsay, Paris or some other pencil-slim celeb is up to. Photos of them all to often leaving some nightclub (drink in hand) wearing some highly revealing outfit and unmistaken sexy look are blasted on every news channel and magazine cover.

But have you ever wondered if those young celebrities influence our kids’ values and attitudes? Could those images actually effect how our kids turn out?

The American Psychological Association’s study confirms what many parents feared: All those raunchy, sexy girl messages do indeed have an negative impact on our daughters and are correlated with eating disorders, lower self-esteem, and depression. Not too long ago The Today Show asked me to address what parents can do to counter those negative messages. Here are a few solutions I offered to help us raise strong, healthy, emotionally secure young girls who can buck those raunchy images and come out on top.

  • Get savvy about our new culture. Remove those blinders and take a realistic look at the new X-Rated world. Sexy, raunchy images of girls are everywhere. TV shows push the limits, magazines flaunt photos young party-going girl celebrities, the Internet has no rules, and CD lyrics are darn-right scandalous. But watch out: these days marketers are targeting even our youngest girls. The new “Hooker Look” (I can’t think of a better term) is the hot new fashion. (Did you know that last year seven-to twelve year- old girls spent $1.3 million on thong undies????) Toy makers are designing new long-legged, doey-eyed looking female dolls in slinky outfits ready for the hot-tub for our preschoolers. You do control the purse strings and that remote!
  • Find healthier outlooks. Discover your daughter’s natural passion and talent whether it be surfing, basketball, art, yoga, soccer, and then support her involvement. Those positive activities will help you focus more on her talents and interests, and show her that you value her for her strengths, not appearance. It will also help her develop a stronger identify based on her passions instead of ones borrowed from young, rich celebrities on magazine covers.
  • Tune into your daughter’s world. From television shows, video games, movies, music and Internet sites, stay involved in your daughter’s lifestyle choices. Monitor what she watches and listens to, and who she seems to admire. Doing so will help you understand her values at that moment, as well as help guide your next discussions about your family values. If you don’t like a TV show, movie, CD, video or an outfit explain “Why” instead of just saying, “No.” Your daughter needs to learn how to make wise choices and needs someone (that’s you!) to be her sounding board as well as perspective maker.
  • Downplay popularity and appearance. Girls need to hear messages that convey: “Who you are is far more important than how you look.” So zip your tongue and halt those comments likes: “She’s lost so-o-o-o much weight!”, “I love her hair!”, “I wonder what moisturizer she uses?” “Did you get invited to the birthday party?” Also, watch your gossip and how you talk about other women–especially in front of your daughter. Your kids are scrutinizing your behavior, and they do copy what they see and hear. Always be the example you want your daughter to copy.
  • Don’t forget your sons. Boys, as well, are bombarded by those sexy images and cause unhealthy images of women to develop. What’s more, our boys may think girls even like to be treated as sex objects. Don’t leave your son out of the mix. Talk to him. Counter those messages by giving him the right view of how women do like to be treated. (So says the mom of three boys!)

Sure, the world these days is more X-rated, but parents have always been an excellent counterbalance to sleaze and raunchiness. Remember you really do influence your daughter’s attitudes, values, and self-esteem. Your goal is to help your daughter from the youngest age know she is a person of worth just for who she is, and not for how she looks. Be mindful of that goal, and don’t deviate from it. After all, raising children to be strong and healthy is a 24/7 proposition and in today’s sexually-explicit culture that aim becomes even more challenging.

****************************************************************************************************************************Borba - book cover -parentingsolutions140x180

Dr Borba’s book The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries, is one of the most comprehensive parenting book for kids 3 to 13. This down-to-earth guide offers advice for dealing with children’s difficult behavior and hot button issues including biting, tantrums, cheating, bad friends, inappropriate clothing, sex, drugs, peer pressure and much more. Each of the 101 challenging parenting issues includes specific step-by-step solutions and practical advice that is age appropriate based on the latest research. The Big Book of Parenting Solutions has recently been released and is now available at

Parents: How to Use Antibiotics Safely and Wisely

Last updated on March 3rd, 2018 at 02:11 pm

Since the first discovery of penicillin, antibiotics have been a useful and beneficial tool in fighting a wide variety of bacterial infections. But antibiotics must be used wisely and safely and only used when medically necessary in order to get the most benefit from them. For the last decade Kids and Antibioticsor more, health care professionals have been concerned because antibiotics have been over-prescribed, overused and misused for so long that many of them are losing their ability to fight illnesses. Many types of bacteria have already become resistant to some of the older “first-generation” antibiotics making them almost useless against some illnesses. New antibiotics are being developed but bacteria can adapt and become resistant to them to them too, if they are not used carefully. Doctors are trying to their part to stop antibiotics from being overused by not prescribing them unnecessarily. We can help, too, by learning more about these “miracle drugs” and how to use them properly and safely.

What Do Antibiotics Do?

Antibiotics fight bacteria. (Think of them as “bacteria-busters”!) There are many different kinds of bacteria that cause many different illnesses. Because of the wide variety of bacteria, there is also a wide variety of antibiotics that have been developed to treat them. When your doctor diagnoses a bacterial infection she will determine which antibiotic is appropriate for that particular infection.

If your doctor diagnoses a bacterial infection, ask her if it is absolutely necessary to use an antibiotic. Some bacterial infections can be cleared up without antibiotics when under a doctor’s supervision. For example, antibiotics used to be routinely and automatically prescribed for ear infections in young children. However, research has shown that many of these infections can heal on their own without antibiotics as long as a doctor is monitoring the infection. Talk with your doctor about the necessity of using an antibiotic, the pro’s and con’s of using one versus not using it, then follow her advice and directions.

Not all infections are bacterial. Most common, minor illnesses are caused by viruses. Viral and bacterial infections may share some of the same symptoms but they are very different infections and must be treated differently. If your doctor diagnoses a viral infection, it is unwise to pressure her into giving you a prescription for an antibiotic because antibiotics are useless against viruses. It would be a waste of money and would contribute to the problem of resistant bacteria due to antibiotic misuse.

When You or Your child is Prescribed an Antibiotic

The questions that you need to ask your doctor include:

  • The name of the medicine (both brand name and generic name)
  • The amount to be given (dosage)
  • The times to be given (schedule)
  • Possible side effects
  • Potential drug interactions with any other medicine you are taking
  • When to call or come back in if symptoms have not improved

Be sure that the doctor is aware of any other medications (including over-the-counter medications and herbal supplements) that are being used. If the antibiotic is for your child, ask about the taste and if it can be mixed with juice or food to disguise a bad taste. (We have been blessed with a pediatrician who tastes tests medicines so he can be honest with his patients about whether they are yucky or not. And if he has a choice of what to prescribe, he gives them the best tasting one.)

When You Go to the Pharmacy

Ask the pharmacist to give you written instructions on:

  • When to take the medicine (schedule)Talk to your pharmacist
  • How long you need to take it for (most of the time you will continue until all of the antibiotic is gone)
  • How much to take (dosage)
  • Side effects

Also ask whether or not the medicine:

  • Can be taken with or without food
  • Needs to be refrigerated
  • Needs to be shaken well (if a liquid)
  • Can be mixed with food or liquid to disguise a bad taste

Make sure the name of the medicine and the amount and times to be given on the label match what your doctor told you. Liquid medications need to be measured precisely, ask for a measuring device if you don’t have one. If other medications/supplements are being used, tell the pharmacist and ask about drug interactions. Some medications can be dangerous when mixed.

Taking or Giving the Antibiotic at Home

When giving or taking the antibiotic at home, make sure to stick as closely as possible to the scheduled times. If a dose is missed, do not double dose. If it is almost time for the next dose, then do not take the skipped dose, just take the next one on time. If it is still a few hours until the next dose, take the skipped one and then adjust the time to take the next one accordingly. If two or more doses have been skipped, call your doctor for instructions. Always call the doctor or pharmacist if you have questions.

Be sure to use a medication measuring cup, dropper, or oral syringe for liquid medications. Kitchen teaspoons and tablespoons can vary widely so don’t use them to measure medicine. (I wonder how many times we got the wrong dose when our moms gave us medicine using kitchen spoons?) Do not cut pills in half or crush them unless you have been told to or have checked with the pharmacist first because it could alter the effectiveness. Do not mix the antibiotic with juice, milk, or anything else to make it taste better unless the pharmacist says that it is okay to do so because certain antibiotics have to be taken on an empty stomach. Also, calcium and vitamin C can lessen the effectiveness of some antibiotics.

Always finish all of the prescribed antibiotic unless the doctor has instructed otherwise. Just because the symptoms may be alleviated after a few doses and you feel better, it does not mean that the infection is completely gone. Not finishing an antibiotic allows the remaining bacteria to learn how to adapt to the antibiotic and become resistant against it.

Side Effects

Common side effects of most antibiotics include: mild diarrhea, nausea, abdominal discomfort, and headaches. All antibiotics have the potential for side effects but that does not mean that every person will have the same ones. Most of the time, side effects are mild. If you have side effects that are moderate to severe, contact your doctor or pharmacist. Don’t stop using the medication without checking first. If your doctor instructs you to stop taking the medicine before it is finished, throw out the remaining amount. Do not save it for another illness.

Storing Antibiotics

Keep antibiotics (and, of course, all other medications) out of the reach of children. Put them in a cool, dry, dark, safe place or if it needs refrigeration, put it on the highest refrigerator shelf. Bathroom medicine cabinets are exposed to too much humidity which can lessen the effectiveness of some antibiotics.

If you have leftover antibiotics in your medicine cabinet, do not use them. Using or giving an antibiotic to one person that has been prescribed for another person can be very dangerous, even life-threatening. You would not have a full course of treatment and the antibiotic may not even be effective against the specific bacteria causing your illness. Instead, ask your pharmacist how to properly dispose of any leftover antibiotic. Do not throw any medicine in the trash because small children and pets could have access to them there.

When All the Medicine is Gone

Hopefully you will be feeling much better by the time you have finished all of your antibiotic. If, however, your symptoms haven’t cleared up and you are still feeling sick, call your doctor. She may want you to come back in for a re-check visit or she may call in a different, stronger antibiotic for you.

These guidelines are of a general nature and not intended to replace the advice and supervision of your physician or pharmacist.


Last updated on March 3rd, 2018 at 02:11 pm

Your beloved child is in a school situation for the first time and you’re just as proud as can be that there were Bitingno major hitches and life goes on in a relatively uncomplicated manner. You’ve received good reports from his/her teachers and you have looked over the Picasso-like paintings and drawings he/she has faithfully brought home to you. Life is good!

Just then word reaches you. He/she has done what??? Did you say bite someone in the class? You ask with incredulity. That just can’t be, not our little baby; it has never happened at home… unless you count the time he/she bit the dog’s tail and received a growl as a reward and warning at the same time. But there it was just wagging in his/her little face, and what’s a little person going to do, commands to the pet do not even work when the adults try to enforce Rover’s poor manners. A bite seems to get a lot of attention from the pet and parents alike- seems like a good plan!

In fact, biting another individual does indeed get a lot of attention and a certain amount of infantile pleasure at having the capacity and strength to cause such an immediate reaction. Gee, just can’t think of anything that works better; of course a dirty diaper can get a similar reaction but not as dramatic, and when you consider the discomfort of sitting in that mess for a period of time before it is noticed, it sure isn’t the best method. So, call it readily accessible weapons, or the need for immediate gratification, but your child has found out the age old secret and is trying it on some unsuspecting child of his or her approximate size and strength.

OK, that’s the facts, now what can you do about it? Well, the first thing is not to bite back- we would expect that of the dog but not of a parent. After all if he/she urinated on you just after dressing for the day would you turn around and reciprocate? Of course not so we need to develop a method that is civilized, explanatory, and requires some punishment if it persists.

First of all, I’ve found that you need to catch the child in the act, but if my experience holds true, the little devil will attempt this at home at some point. There are no studies to support my method of dealing with this issue except the good responses I receive from parents who are only too happy to stop this habit- FAST! There must be an immediate loud, forceful verbal “NO” (which it is almost impossible to suppress) followed in short order by a light flick to the side of the lips/mouth with one of your fingers. I’ve found this to be shocking enough for an immediate release to occur, but not forceful enough to cause any local damage. Your child will get the picture fairly quickly that this behavior is certainly something that should not and will not be repeated. Stick with it parents, it won’t take long and the problem will be gone.

Pediatric Safety Announcement

Last updated on March 3rd, 2018 at 02:10 pm

Dr Joseph Skoloff-bio picPlease join us in welcoming pediatrician Dr Joseph Skoloff to the PedSafe Expert Team!

Hollywood shows us a family dealing with Aspergers on Parenthood

Last updated on March 3rd, 2018 at 02:12 pm

Tuesday night I got to watch NBC’s Parenthood, based on the Ron Howard film of the same name. With a cast of wonderful actors the show examines the intertwined lives of of one family and airs on Tuesday nights at 10pm. In last night’s episode one of the adult siblings learns that NBC's Parenthoodhis son Max has Aspergers Syndrome. While the show will not give you any new information on the disorder it is a wonderful window into how the boy’s behavior affects his family. His older sister seems a bit jealous of all the attention he gets, yet she is the one who knows how to best manage him. His father wrestles to understand that this is a permanent condition and that he can’t just be “cured.” His mother seems to be preparing for what she knows will be a long, hard road. His uncle uses it as an excuse to juggle girlfriends.

The episode mentions some treatment options and therapies when the overwhelmed parents visit another couple with an Aspergers child and pokes fun at how hard it can be to get in to see some specialists. To watch the episode go here. Next week’s episode will feature some of the issues Max has with school.