Are You a Drama Mama? Know When to Back Off

Last updated on March 3rd, 2014 at 10:57 pm

Your child has a fight with a friend. She’s in tears; you’re furious and ready to defend her. But should you? In this age of helicopter parenting, it’s hard not to step in when you see your child in a social dilemma. But that’s not always the answer.

“In recent years, I’ve seen a trend of mothers confronting other mothers – by phone or email, or in person – to resolve their kids’ social issues; I call it ‘Mama Drama,’” says Joyce Marter, a psychotherapist and the owner of Urban Balance LLC in Chicago. “It’s problematic on several levels: It not only crosses boundaries, but also prevents kids from developing coping skills and learning that it’s not a perfect world where everybody always gets along and gets included.”

Laurie Zelinger, a child psychologist and the author of Please Explain Anxiety to Me! Simple Biology and Solutions for Children and Parents, agrees. “Social slights occur and recur throughout life,” she says. “You lived through them, so your child deserves the opportunity to live through them too.”

Here are some common kid dramas your child may face, and how to help her survive them – without being a drama mama.

Drama: Your second-grader is hurt because she didn’t get invited to a classmate’s birthday party.

Solution: Don’t call the birthday child’s mom and demand an invite for your child. Not only is this rude, but it also puts the mom in an awkward position if she has limited space or money for the party.

Instead, help your child deal with her disappointment by sharing your own sadness about times when you were left out of parties or clubs. Remind her that she didn’t invite the entire class to her last birthday party, and, if the classmate isn’t a close friend of hers, point that out. Finally, suggest a get-together with her true pals. “The real problem might be that she needs more social interaction,” says Marter.

Drama: Your son complains that no one plays with him at recess.

Solution: Talk to your child about being excluded, and make supportive statements – “I bet you never expected that to happen” – to validate his feelings. “If you ask too many questions, you’ll sound like a detective and put him on the defensive,” cautions Fred Zelinger, a child and family psychologist in Cedarhurst, N.Y. “You’ll end up getting less information than you would in a normal parent-child conversation, where he tells you something and you respond with a comment.”

Call or email his teacher, explain the situation and ask if she’s noticed anything that might be causing the problem. Maybe your child is being left out because he doesn’t play fair or gloats too much when he wins. “You can’t force other kids to play with him at recess, but you can coach him on his behavior and how to engage a different group of kids,” says Marter. “Urge him to be assertive and say things like, ‘I want to play this game too.’”

Drama: Your 10-year-old is on the outs with her BFF — whose mom just happens to be a good friend of yours.

Solution: Since you’re close with the other mother, it’s OK for both of you to help the girls resolve their differences, according to Marter. First, ask your daughter what caused the rift, keeping in mind that she’s telling only one side of the story. Be supportive – “It hurts when your friend is mad at you, doesn’t it?” – and suggest she try a heart-to-heart to end the fight.

From there, discuss the issue with your friend – without placing blame on anyone: “It’s hard to watch our girls go through this. It’s probably just a misunderstanding. Let’s get them to sit down and work it out.” Says Marter: “Give your child the tools she needs to have an effective conversation with her friend, but don’t have the conversation for her.”



Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 02-17-2014 to 02-23-2014

Last updated on March 2nd, 2018 at 02:28 pm

twitter thumbWelcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world.

Each day we use Twitter to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and other caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we may miss something, but we think overall we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for our friends and colleagues who are not on Twitter (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 15 events & stories.

PedSafe Headline of the Week:
College football recruiter says scholarship offer was nixed because of athlete’s Twitter posts  http://t.co/9F2V8RSlbl Parents please share this with your kids!

Eating Issues and Kids with Special Needs

Last updated on March 2nd, 2018 at 02:30 pm

The "I'm Not Eating This" FaceSo many parents and caregivers struggle with issues surrounding food, with special needs kids and typical kids as well. For some kids the issues are medical so they require a specific diet, or they have a condition than includes low muscle tone. For others it’s a sensory thing, so they will only eat crunchy foods, or white foods, or the rules may change daily. For other kids it may be a control issue, and refusing food or demanding certain foods can be the only thing way they feel they can influence their world.

Whatever the underlying reason (and of course there may be more than one at the same time), the issues usually fall into two separate categories; getting kids to eat more, and getting kids to eat less.

All kids need to eat healthy foods and get all their vitamins, minerals and nutrients. Supplements and nutritional drinks can fill in the gaps for both kids who seem to exist on nothing as well as those who seem to only allow junk food to pass through their lips. My own child survived on Pediasure for years, but we never stopped encouraging actual food and expanding on her diet.

Both types of kids seem to be fairly picky about their eating. Pizza, chicken nuggets and hot dogs may be the only dinners that get their approval. Buying or making the healthiest versions is a good bet, so that each calorie will be full of nutrients and not just preservatives and chemicals – but something is always better than nothing, especially for the kids who need to eat more. For those who need to less, veggie-covered pizza is more filling than plain cheese pizza, and a salad eaten before the all white-meat chicken nuggets may keep the child from asking for seconds. At my house we have a strict veggies first policy. We also demand that a second helping of veggies is finished before a second helping of anything else. But we are mean at my house (LOL). Sometimes the veggies even appear as an appetizer while my ravenous children suffer through the torture of waiting for me preparing dinner. It’s amazing what will get eaten when a child is truly hungry.

All kids can benefit from a little undercover food. Fruits and veggies that might be refused (usually loudly) can be smuggled in undetected in many ways. Of course smoothies are a great way to slip in lots of ingredients, as well as protein powders. Pureed popsicles are also good, especially here in the hot weather. I got away with steamed, pureed cauliflower added to boxed mac and cheese and shredded zucchini in marinara sauce for years. Sadly, as my kids got older they also got wise to my tricks. Zucchini muffins, however, are still a big hit.

I grew up in a house with a VitaMix, which is a high-powered combination of a blender and a food processor. This workhorse is perfect for making your own nut betters or flours if you have specific dietary needs. It also makes killer smoothies and soups, and can even heat the soup. Check the customer reviews for great usage and cleaning tips.  Nowadays we have a Magic Bullet, which is great for individual servings and smoothies as well as some chopping  chores. The Nutri Bullet is an entire juicing system.

Fruitn_Cheese_Snack_MixThere are ways to sneak calories other than veggies into food for kids who need to bulk up. Try buttering bread before making a sandwich, or pair a favorite food with a new one to expand the child’s repertoire so it isn’t overwhelming – there is something familiar and comforting on the plate. Stick with whole milk, cheese and cottage cheese even if you swear by skim. I knew a mom who always served sandwiches with dip – salad dressing or veggie puree. Added calories and a bit of sensory fun, too! Food presented in a fun way or in fun shapes may also get gobbled up easier than the same old sandwich.

Both kids who need to eat more and kids who need to eat less should be involved in the food in the house. Take a trip to a local farm or a local farmers’ market so the child can see, feel, smell and taste the varieties. Getting to choose an item may make it seem more appealing on the table. Gardening is also great and lets the kids watch the growth and maturation of the fruits and veggies.

There are food and eating therapists who use exposure therapy and rewards. I heard of one that had a cute, friendly dog in the room – if the child licked the new food he or she got to pet the dog. Her patients made great progress and the dog got a lot of attention! There are also eating groups where kids come together to try new items in a fun atmosphere. If there is a control issue between you and the child then he or she may have more success with food away from you. My child is a social eater and is more likely to try something new if we are out at a restaurant or at a party. Then I can observe what she likes and try to make it for her at home. It takes about 6 exposures to a new food before a picky kid with actually try it, sort of how they naturally desensitize themselves, so try to be patient.

A nutritionist can also help. There may be a biochemical reason a child craves a certain food constantly. Get allergy tests done, too, especially if your child is avoiding an entire food group. Again, for older kids, it seems to help to hear advice from someone other than mom.

Food issues can be frustrating for everyone, whatever challenges they face. Try not to make mealtimes a battle; these kids have enough struggles in their daily lives.

Got a specific question about your child’s eating? Post it below!

Disclosure: this article contains affiliate links, fyi After all, a girl and her kids have to eat. Also, I am not a nutritionist so I am not giving anyone medical advice. Check with your pediatrician for any dietary questions.

His House Burned: Now He’s Trying to Keep Your Family Safe

Last updated on February 25th, 2014 at 11:34 am

Junk Drawer batteryOn April 21, 2011 Dave Miller survived an extraordinary and terribly painful experience – he watched as his house burned down.  The cause – something he never would have suspected: his old 9-volt batteries.

Ironically the fire was the unintentional result of an act he (like many of us) performed regularly to keep his family safe: every Daylight Savings Time he replaced the batteries in his smoke detectors.  According to Dave, after installing the new batteries, he had placed the old 9-volt batteries in a paper bag to take to recycling and stored them in the garage. That is where the blaze began.

Here is Dave’s story…

According to the official fire report, the loose batteries came together and shorted.  Unfortunately, with 9-volt batteries it doesn’t take much – especially since the positive and negative terminals are located on the same side and so close together.  For those of you that read this and wonder how is this possible (like I have to admit I did upon first reading this), according to an advisory issued by New Hampshire’s Fire Marshall, and echoed by firefighters and insurance adjusters around the country, the danger is in fact, very real.  Junk drawers are an especially volatile environment. 

According to Grandview, MO, Fire Department Chief Chuck Thacker a 9-volt battery can easily spark and fuel a fire, especially in the inviting environment of a household junk drawer. “There’s all the other stuff; car keys, whatever else in there,” he said. “If the conditions get right, you touch something against the two contacts, then you could have a heating event.” The chief said it only takes one metallic object; something like a paper clip, key or bit of steel wool touching the battery’s posts to fuel a fire.

For Dave Miller, batteries in a paper bag that got bumped by a laundry bin resulted in a house that burned down.  And a message that he is on a mission to pass on to other families:

There’s only one safe way to dispose of a 9-volt battery. Place a piece of electrical tape over the terminals so that they’re completely covered. What takes a few moments could save your home, or your family’s lives.

Other key fire safety messages he hopes you will share with your family are posted on his kidsandcharacter.com website:

  • Get out and stay out – this is your number one goal in a fire!
  • Every second matters. Don’t waste time gathering belongings – they aren’t worth your life.
  • Make sure every exit is clear.
  • Know two ways out of every room.
  • Fire extinguishers are tools for escape only. If a fire is larger than a small trash can, a fire extinguisher won’t put it out.

One final thought:  

…on its packaging, battery company Energizer suggests that travelers cover battery terminals with insulated tape.

 …on that note, I think I will be taping all my future batteries before disposal.  What about you???  

Your Stay Healthy Guide for Common Kid Ailments

Last updated on August 30th, 2015 at 03:05 pm

Your kids may come home from school this winter with something more worrisome than homework: sniffles, tummy bugs and even (ick!) lice. Now that students are cooped up in overheated classrooms all day, schools can be breeding grounds for any number of ailments.

Sick day TLCYou probably can’t avoid sick days entirely; according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the average schoolchild gets 8-12 colds and 1-2 cases of diarrhea in a year, and the Centers for Disease Control reports an estimated 6-12 million head-lice infestations per year among 3-11 year-olds. But there are steps you can take to minimize the risks and keep your whole family healthier, such as washing your hands often, eating right and staying up-to-date on vaccinations. And don’t give in when the kids beg to stay up a little longer: “Getting enough sleep helps your immune system fight off whatever might be coming your way,” advises Rebecca Jaffe, MD, of Wilmington, Delaware, a fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians.

If you want to know about staying healthy, steering clear of the typical list of school yard sicknesses and the best way to treat them, here are the health facts about five common contagions:

Colds and flu

Cause: Viruses.

Symptoms: Stuffy nose, sneezing, mild sore throat and cough for colds; fever, aches, severe cough for flu.

Spread by: Droplets on hands or released into air by coughs or sneezes.

Prevention: Use a tissue to sneeze, cough or blow your nose; discard immediately and wash hands. Teach kids to sneeze into their elbow if there’s no tissue handy. Don’t share cups, water bottles or utensils.

Treatment: Rest and fluids. Give antihistamines and non-aspirin pain medications for colds; antiviral meds for flu if prescribed by your pediatrician. (Antibiotics are only effective against bacterial infections such as strep throat.)

Gastroenteritis (stomach flu)

Causes: Virus, bacteria or parasites.

Symptoms: Diarrhea, vomiting; may include fever, headache, chills.

Spread by: Contact with infected person or contaminated food or beverages.

Prevention: Frequent hand-washing. Disinfect surfaces your family touches often – doorknobs, keyboards, etc. – as well as the kitchen counter and other areas used for food preparation.

Treatment: Bed rest and an oral rehydration solution to prevent dehydration; gradually give bland foods such as toast, bananas and applesauce. See your pediatrician if your child runs a high fever or if vomiting and diarrhea continues for more than a day. Keep your child home until she’s been symptom-free for 24 hours.

Conjunctivitis (pinkeye)

Causes: Virus, bacteria, allergies.

Symptoms: Reddish eye and lower lid, itching, discharge and painful inflammation.

Spread by: Contact.

Prevention: Wash your child’s hands frequently and warn him not to rub or touch his eyes. Don’t share towels or washcloths.

Treatment: See your pediatrician for a prescription eye ointment.

Infectious skin rashes

Causes: Rashes can be caused by bacteria (impetigo), a virus (fifth disease) or mites (scabies).

Symptoms: Itchy, oozing blisters (impetigo); reddish rash on face and body (fifth); intensely itchy pimple-like rash (scabies).

Spread by: Impetigo and scabies can be spread by touching the infected area or handling the affected child’s towels or clothes; fifth disease is transmitted by saliva and mucus.

Prevention: Frequent hand-washing and use of tissues; avoid sharing towels.

Treatment: Varies by type. For impetigo, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics, antiseptic soap and bandages; for scabies, prescription creams; for fifth disease, acetaminophen or ibuprofen as needed.

Head lice

Cause: Red-brown insects about the size of a sesame seed that live and lay whitish eggs (nits) in human hair. Unpleasant as they are, lice don’t spread disease, and having them doesn’t indicate poor hygiene.

Symptoms: Itchy scalp, especially around the ears or nape of the neck.

Spread: Head-to-head contact.

Prevention: Discourage children from sharing hats, combs and other hair gear. Tie back long hair in braids or ponytails.

Treatment: Ask your doctor to recommend an anti-lice shampoo and follow instructions carefully. Use a fine-tooth louse comb daily for a week to remove any remaining bugs and nits. Wash clothes, hats, bedding and stuffed animals in hot water and dry on a high setting. Ask your school nurse when your child can return; some schools have a “no-nit” policy, but the AAP says there’s no need to keep children home if they have no active lice



Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 02-10-2014 to 02-16-2014

Last updated on March 2nd, 2018 at 02:31 pm

twitter thumbWelcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world.

Each day we use Twitter to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and other caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we may miss something, but we think overall we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for our friends and colleagues who are not on Twitter (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 15 events & stories.

PedSafe Headline of the Week:
**MAJOR RECALL ~3.8M Graco child car seats – 11 models from 2009 -2013 – due to buckles that may not unlatch & could trap child  http://t.co/UYE5AJ0vJx