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How to Help Your Kids with Goal-Setting

January 1st marks the annual tradition of setting new year’s resolutions. Taking the opportunity to adopt a healthier lifestyle sets a great example for your kids. But the act of setting goals itself is a healthy life skill you can teach them.

Goals for Self-Esteem

Think about your own experiences with goal setting. When you set unrealistic goals, you’re less likely to succeed, and that can make you feel bad about yourself. Setting realistic goals makes you more likely to succeed and feel good about yourself.

Think about your experiences with failure, too. We all want our children to succeed, but everybody faces setbacks. Practice pursuing goals, and you learn how to deal with failure without feeling bad about yourself.

Children need to develop resilience, perseverance, flexibility, and ambition. These life skills arise from participating in activities that are both challenging and enjoyable. Whether it’s cooking, dance, sports, art, invention, programming, or building that insane Lego set they got for Christmas, encourage your kids to set resolutions and teach them ways to stick with it!

Setting Healthy Resolutions

One of the most popular new year’s resolutions is to lose weight or get in shape. Children learn from their parents and older relatives. Because of this, it’s important to keep a healthy perspective when setting goals about dieting and exercise. Avoid fad diets, respect your limits, and know that healthy bodies come in many shapes and sizes.

Adults often set self-improvement goals, such as being more mindful, getting organized, reading more, or becoming more involved in the community. You might want to include your whole family in some resolutions. For example, you can encourage everyone in your family to eat healthier. But don’t forget to let kids choose their own goals, too.

Keeping Expectations Real (And Dealing With Quitters)

Parents, it’s okay if your children frequently change their minds about what they want to do in their free time. Yes, it can be frustrating to switch from soccer to dance to karate in the course of a semester, but it doesn’t mean your child lacks motivation or commitment. They’re growing fast and exploring different interests.

If they want to quit, ask why. Let them know you want to hear if someone is hurting them or making them feel uncomfortable. If those aren’t the reasons they want to quit, the conversation can turn to either problem-solving (“You want to quit because it’s too hard? What about if you try a more beginner level?”) or simply understanding that they’ve moved on. When you invest in an activity for your child, hold them accountable to attending a certain number of lessons, or responsible for finishing out one season.

When it comes to long-term, difficult goals, encourage your kids to dream big and work one day at a time. Break long-term goals into measurable short-term gains to keep the momentum going. Remind them that good is better than perfect. The pressure to be the best at something (or everything!) can create stress, which results in a range of health issues; but a healthy drive to succeed relies on good self-esteem. So, when setting goals, encourage children to be specific, realistic, and accountable. Keep that shining goal in mind when dealing with stress and setbacks along the way, and let them know you’re proud of them.

Have a happy, healthy new year!

Posted in Blog on December 27th, 2017

7 Ways to Help Hospitalized Children

During the holidays, and when we’re considering our New Year’s resolutions, we think about ways that we can help people in our communities. If your child has ever had to stay in the hospital, you know the stress and fear that comes with the territory. Families with children in the hospital deal with financial and logistical challenges in addition to facing health issues, providing care, and coping with grief.

Whether you have had personal experience with children in the hospital, or simply wish to learn more about helping children and their families, Phoenix Children’s Hospital provides several ways to get involved.

Hold a fundraising event. Bring people together for a race, a bake-off, a talent show, a flea market – anything that raises money can be donated to nonprofit hospitals like Phoenix Children’s. Get your work, your religious organization, or other community groups involved.

Volunteer at the hospital. People over the age of 16 who are in good health can apply to be volunteers. Jobs for volunteers include teaching, tutoring, answering family’s questions, transporting patients, assisting with therapy and rehab, and more.

Join a charitable group. There’s no need to start from scratch with community organizing. Check out the groups you can join to help hospitalized kids.

Donate blood. Donating blood helps people in your community and beyond recover from injuries and illnesses. Blood has a limited shelf life, so there is always a need.

Donate items. Books and toys help children learn, develop, and bond with their families and friends. Hospitals have donation guidelines for health and safety, because children may have special diets or medical concerns.

Donate money. Do your research when donating money. In addition to supporting nonprofit hospitals directly, you can also help by donating to foundations. Rare diseases seldom receive grants or federal funding, and charitable foundations fill in the gap.

Learn from families. When people face difficult situations, we often don’t know what to say. We fear saying the wrong thing. A good way to avoid this is to reach out and listen compassionately to parents of children in the hospital. Give them an outlet, and ask how you can help. Could you prepare a meal, or do some household chores?Sometimes, simply being there is the best you can do.

Posted in Blog on December 20th, 2017

New Breast Pump Cleaning Guidelines from CDC

The CDC recently released new breast pump cleaning guidelines after reviewing the case of an infant girl whose death was caused by infection from contaminated breast milk.

Although these cases are rare, the CDC decided there was a need for these guidelines because they found a lack of education for new mothers on proper cleaning. Breastfeeding your baby has great health benefits, and 81% of mothers start breastfeeding their babies at birth. Of course, there is no shame in formula feeding, and at times it may be medically necessary. We believe the vast majority of mothers want to do what’s best for their babies, and encourage mothers to breastfeed if possible.

Working mothers routinely pump breast milk. Mothers with more flexible schedules may still experience times when they need to pump in order to relieve pain, increase production, or stock up for time away from baby.

Cleaning Bottles and Pump Accessories

Whether you breastfeed or formula feed, do not wash bottles and nipples in the kitchen sink with the regular dish sponge. Instead, use a clean bowl or basin and a scrubber designated for breast milk dishes only.

Rinse items immediately after use. Do not soak, since still water is a breeding ground for bacteria. Wash your hands, then wash the items in hot soapy water. Rinse under running water and air dry on a clean towel (do not rub dry with the towel). Sanitize with a commercial sanitizer or in the dishwasher.

Cleaning the Tube

The tube should not need to be cleaned, because only air passes through it. If you spot milk or mold in the tube, throw it out and use a new one.

Cleaning the Pump

Wipe the pump with a sanitizing wipe before use.

Always wash your hands before pumping, and before handling pump accessories.

You can view or print out a fact sheet on breast pump cleaning in English or Español.

Posted in Blog on December 13th, 2017

Child Deaths in Arizona Rising: What You Can Do

As pediatricians, it’s certainly not our goal to create more stress and give you more reasons to worry about your children. However, a recent report reveals that of the 800 child deaths in Arizona last year, 330 could have been prevented. What caused these preventable child deaths?

Car Crashes

Defensive driving is a must to keep your own family and everyone else on the road safe. Choosing vehicles with high safety ratings also helps prevent crashes, and mitigate damage when they do occur. For children, following carseat guidelines saves lives. When in doubt, ask your pediatrician and get your carseat inspected for proper installation.

Unsafe Sleeping Conditions

Sleeping guidelines change as the pediatric community gains more data about unsafe sleeping. That’s why it’s really important to adhere to the latest guidelines on infant sleep safety, even if you did things differently with your older children, or planned to do things differently before learning the latest guidelines. Make sure babysitters and any other caregivers who might put your child to bed understand the importance of safe sleeping.

Other Preventable Causes

We constantly educate parents about not leaving children in the car. It’s hard to believe until you’re an overtired, stressed out parent yourself, but it’s all too easy to forget that your child is still in the backseat.

Practice pool safety and bath time safety to prevent drowning.

Suicide caused 47 deaths of Arizona minors in 2015. Learn the signs of depression and anxiety, and work with counselors and physicians to help your child through difficult times. Suicidality develops over time, so early and consistent treatment is the best prevention.

Cases of death due to abuse and neglect rose. If you suspect a child may be in danger because of abuse or neglect, call 1-888-SOS-CHILD. If you struggle with high levels of stress and feel it may affect your parenting, or if you are living with an abusive partner, please get help.

Posted in Blog on December 6th, 2017

Pros and Cons of Virtual Assistants for Kids

This holiday season, virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Home, and Microsoft’s Cortana might be on your family’s wish list. With every new technology that changes our lives comes worry about how it may affect our children. And because technology comes out faster than long-term research studies, we don’t really know how virtual assistants will affect kids in the long run.

That said, there’s no reason to panic. The advice we do have stems from our understanding of child development.

Privacy Concerns

Parents, pediatricians, and child advocates pressured Mattel to cancel plans for a device called Aristotle, which would have collected data from children and stored it in the cloud. With any device that functions on artificial intelligence, data collection allows it to “get to know” users in order to better respond to their preferences. However, children have a tendency of divulging information without a filter, and even innocuous information raises concerns when it becomes public.

Understanding Devices Are Not People

When I was a very young child, I assumed that live bands played inside the car radio. Very young children are working on their grasp of reality. That’s why video games need to be age-appropriate, if played at all. The functions of parenting cannot be fully replaced by any technology. Virtual assistants can give mom and dad a break by answering a child’s torrent of questions, but they cannot teach everything a child needs to know. Also, if the child develops an emotional attachment to an AI unit, it cannot reciprocate love and warmth.

Developing Social Skills

Have you ever been rude to an automated phone menu? Frustrated by the lack of helpful customer service, you might say things to the robotic recording that you (hopefully) would not say to a person. Even then, you know that you’re being  rude, you just rationalize it. A child is still learning manners, and if he or she speaks rudely to a virtual assistant, it will not behave differently. Correction has to come from the parents. The virtual assistant does not have feelings that can be hurt, but once your child goes to day care or school, he or she will be interacting with people. Developing conversational skills with the help of a virtual assistant has some limits, and that’s where parents must step in.

On the other side of the coin, virtual assistants sometimes have trouble recognizing words spoken by young children. It’s important for children to feel heard and understood, so if they are growing frustrated with their robot friend, it could be that their words are lost in translation. Real people are able to work together to achieve understanding.

As always, moderation and attentive parenting are key. Not all TV shows are the same; 30 minutes of Curious George benefits your child while giving you a break, but 2 hours of The Walking Dead? Not so much. Likewise, letting your child converse for a little while with the AI while you’re half-listening in the next room: probably safe. Letting the AI babysit your child: not at all safe. Any time a new technology comes out, trust your gut while you wait for the official medical recommendation. Learn about the potential risks, and make house rules that everyone understands.

Posted in Blog on November 30th, 2017

Kitchen Safety for Kids

For many families, the holiday season means lots of cooking and baking. Holiday traditions often take place in the kitchen over mixing bowls and hot stoves. Your children will likely enjoy helping you make cookies, pies, side dishes, appetizers, meals, and whatever other delicious dishes are on the holiday menu. And, since schools are no longer offering home ec classes, teaching your kids how to cook while practicing food safety falls on parents and guardians.

Preventing Burns and Kitchen Fires

You can print out this flyer from Safe Kids Worldwide, which put together a nice checklist of fire safety and injury prevention tips. If you have small children, you already know their curiosity knows no bounds. Keep them away from hot surfaces, and keep pot handles and cords out of reach.

Preventing Falls

Little helpers should carry only manageable amounts of items. If anything spills or splatters, teach them to clean it up immediately. Wet floors are dangerous floors. A clean kitchen also discourages pests and bacterial growth. Prevent spills in the first place by alerting each other like the pros do: say “behind you” or “corner” to prevent collisions in a busy kitchen.

Preventing Cuts

Your child’s readiness for learning knife skills depends on their personal development and your willingness to teach them. Always supervise children, teach knife safety, set a good example, and know first aid in case of an emergency.

Food Safety

Before handling food, wash hands with soap and warm water. Prepare raw meats and proteins separately from vegetables. Check the temperature of refrigerated and cooked food, and check the shelf life of ingredients and leftovers. When it comes to licking the batter, the important thing to understand is that not all raw eggs contain salmonella – but there’s really no simple way to tell which ones do until you’re suffering a tummy ache! So, avoid batters containing raw eggs.

Finally, keep yourself safe too. If your child is more of a hindrance than a help in the kitchen, set them up to play elsewhere while you juggle pans and appliances and sharp tools. Plan ahead to come up with age-appropriate tasks so that when your young child inevitably wants to help, they can make themselves useful doing something relatively harmless. Need to unwrap candies for a dessert recipe? That’s a perfect job for a willing kid cook who isn’t ready to handle more hazardous tasks. For older helpers, peeling potatoes is a safer task than chopping onions. Use your discretion and your knowledge of your kids to delegate tasks, and never leave them unsupervised in the kitchen.

Posted in Blog on November 20th, 2017

What Does My Child’s Cough Mean?

It’s that time of year when parents start getting notices from schools about the latest contagious diseases going around the classroom. Young children have trouble communicating their symptoms, and infants and toddlers require you to interpret the symptoms yourself. If you have worries or doubts, you can visit the pediatrician or bring your child to urgent care. As you get used to what sounds normal and what sounds odd, you may worry less and feel more confident in your ability to care for your child.

Coughs that Might Mean Trouble

Croup, also known as a barking seal cough, is usually caused by a viral infection. It may be accompanied by a fever, and should be treated with fluids and rest. Call your child’s doctor if it doesn’t improve with treatment, or if the fever rises to dangerous levels and does not respond to treatment.

Whooping Cough, also known as pertussis, causes coughing fits that worsen over time and leave your child short of breath. A single coughing fit might be due to sinuses draining or an irritant in the air, but multiple fits that worsen over time and keep your child awake at night could indicate whooping cough. Whooping cough requires urgent treatment.

Coughs that Probably Aren’t Emergencies

Wet Coughs, also known as productive coughs, sound like hard work because your child’s coughs are effectively pushing excess mucus out of their system. They may experience some nausea or soft stools if they swallow phlegm or if their sinuses are draining.

Dry Coughs indicate an irritated respiratory tract. This can be due to dry air, allergens, secondhand smoke, asthma, or an infection of the lower respiratory tract. Try placing a humidifier in the child’s room, and remove irritants such as dust and smoke.

The common cold sometimes takes weeks to clear up. If your child’s symptoms aren’t improving after several days, it could be a persistent cold, or it may indicate allergies, asthma, or a secondary infection.

Posted in Blog on November 10th, 2017

Alternative Vaccine Schedules Affect Routine Checkups

Parents concerned about vaccine dosages sometimes opt for alternative schedules. They know vaccines are beneficial, but are alternative vaccination schedules better for kids?

A recent study explores how vaccine refusal (including requests for alternate schedules) affects the doctor-patient relationship. Trust is difficult to measure, but the effect of trust on quality of care cannot be underestimated. Doctors who trust their patients are more satisfied with their jobs, and patients who trust their doctors are more likely to report symptoms and other crucial information. They’re more likely to ask questions and receive quality answers.

Unfortunately, a number of celebrities and charlatans have undermined the relationship of trust between pediatricians and parents. Parents have a right to know what ingredients are used in vaccines, and doctors would readily give them all the information about risks and benefits even if we weren’t legally required to do so. The problem arises when parents don’t trust that information.

20% of pediatricians fire patients who refuse to administer vaccines on the standard, evidence-based schedule. Pediatricians have to protect the health of all their patients, and unvaccinated children pose a serious risk to very young infants and children who are unable to receive vaccines.

Yet even pediatricians who accept alternative vaccine schedules and/or vaccine refusal face obstacles to providing care. The study found that parents who choose alternative vaccine schedules are less likely to bring their children in for routine care. Routine visits cover more than just vaccines. At a routine pediatrician appointment, your child receives preventative screenings and you receive information about your child’s overall health and developmental stages.

Please feel free to bring any concerns about vaccines to your pediatrician. Ultimately, as the parent, you want to make the best health choices for your child. We understand that, and we hope you trust us to guide you when it comes to medical decisions.

Posted in Blog on November 1st, 2017

How to Deal With the Halloween Candy Stash

Between Halloween and Día de los Muertos, November starts off with quite the sugar rush. In America, kids already get high doses of sugar from regular foods like peanut butter and jelly. The health risks of too much sugar for kids include obesity, tooth decay, diabetes, and lack of nutrients needed for long-term health, like calcium.

The mountain of Halloween candy can overwhelm even the sweetest-toothed kid. So, here are some tips for dealing with the surplus without being a total buzzkill:

  • Store candy where you can monitor how much is being eaten, and where kids will be less tempted to dip into the supply.
  • Participate in a buyback program at your local dentist’s office.
  • Send nonperishable items to soldiers overseas.
  • Use the candy as favors at upcoming birthday parties, or use it to fill a piñata.
  • Offer to buy candy from your child in exchange for books, toys, or games.
  • Have your child pick out a piece of candy to eat with their lunch or after dinner each day.
  • Donate to shelters, nursing homes, children’s hospitals, or other community centers where people will appreciate a treat.
  • Bring extra candy into your workplace to share with people who are “too old” to trick-or-treat.
  • Save nonperishable candy for your December advent calendar – many nonreligious families and families who do not celebrate advent still count down to Christmas, Hanukkah, or New Year’s with these fun wall hangings.
  • Use some of the candy to do science experiments or crafts – the results may not be edible, but they’re still fun!

As your family works through the candy stash, make sure to prepare healthy, filling meals so your kids are less likely to fill up on candy. They might claim to have an extra dessert stomach, but as doctors, we know this to be false.

 

Posted in Blog on October 31st, 2017

Halloween Safety Tips

When you have kids, you want Halloween to be spooky, but not scary. Here are some safety tips to keep your children and kids in your neighborhood safe and healthy:

Before trick-or-treating:

  • Choose costumes that fit well. Adjust hems so children won’t trip, and opt for headwear that doesn’t reduce the child’s ability to see.
  • If you’re handing out candy, clear your front walkway and porch, and make sure it’s well lit.
  • Test make-up, hair dyes, and face paint for allergic reactions in advance.
  • Feed your children a healthy, hearty meal so they’ll be less inclined to binge on sweets.
  • Secure your pets so they can’t get to the door. The stream of visitors will likely drive them nuts, so keep them and the children safe by separating them from the action.

When trick or treating:

  • Practice pedestrian safety. Drivers should take special care to watch for trick-or-treaters. Do your part by making kids visible with reflective materials, glowsticks, and flashlights.
  • Only visit well-lit houses.
  • Always accompany children, even if (especially if!) they are trick-or-treating in a group.

After trick-or-treating

  • Do a quick candy check. While contamination or deliberate tampering is extremely rare, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
  • Sort candy and remove items your children are allergic to. Consider donating candy they don’t like.
  • Set a good example by moderating your own candy intake.
  • Come up with and stick with a plan for regulating the amount of candy your kids can eat. Every family is different, so here are some ideas to come up with a winning approach. [link to other blog you assigned]

For more tips, check out this video from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Posted in Blog on October 24th, 2017