Stranger = Danger…Except for Santa Claus!

santa-blogKids love Santa! He brings them toys, and has great songs and stories that they want to hear over and over. Children often enthusiastically agree to visit Santa to tell him about their Christmas lists. But parents are then confronted with the dilemma of taking said kids to visit Santa only to have the same enthusiasm replaced with tears. There is no shortage of images on the web of children dressed in their holiday best, howling on Santa’s lap with outstretched arms toward a parent who has abandoned them just out of frame. I also remember being wary of a man entering our house unnoticed as a child, even if he was bringing presents. Here are a few tips for parents who want to help their children enjoy this holiday tradition and maybe even ace that holiday photo.

First, recognize that stranger anxiety is a healthy and expected developmental phase for young children. Toddlers and preschoolers are most likely to fear a visit to Santa. As familiar as the character of Santa becomes for young children through stories, images, and songs it still feels jarring to go up to a large man with a face-covering beard, in a loud red costume, and sit on his lap to have a heart to heart. Try to give your child more control in the situation. You can do this by letting them bring a lovey, decide whether they will speak or not, watch older siblings or friends go first, or letting them walk up to Santa and decide if they want to sit or stand.

Second, let your child know what to expect in advance and give them an out at any time. You can even do this by acting it out with your child during play at home. If your child does not feel overwhelmed by the novelty of the situation, he or she is more likely to handle the experience with less fear. The additional control and trust that is established if your child knows he or she can opt out of the Santa meet and greet at any time will also promote bravery and comfort.

Third, approach the event with your own anxiety in check. If you are worried about how your child will react, if it will go well, or if your child will be polite, that worry will register to your child and make them feel there is something to worry about. For example, if you follow the advice above and give your child an out, mention it but do not repeat it with pressured speech every time the line advances forward. After the 5th repetition of “we don’t have to do this if you aren’t ready,” your child will imagine terrible things they SHOULD opt out of at the front of the line and take your cue. Be relaxed, supportive, upbeat and open to hearing what your child is feeling. If you can take the pressure off your child will be more likely to enjoy him or herself.

Finally, don’t sweat it if your child gets upset when the moment arrives. Usually the fear of Santa disappears as children enter elementary school age with no lasting scars of Christmas’ past. And it’s nothing that can’t be soothed with a hug from you and perhaps a hot chocolate on the way home.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Lauren Knickerbocker, PhD, is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at NYU Langone Health. Dr. Knickerbocker specializes in treating selective mutism and anxiety in young children, ADHD and difficulties with organization and time management, disruptive behaviors, and parent management training. She is also the co-director of Early Childhood Service at NYU Langone’s Child Study Center, a part of Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital.

Benefits of Gifted and Talented Programs

As a NYC parent we have all heard about the Gifted and Talented Programs. The more information we gather the more overwhelming it can be to begin the admissions process for your child. But what are some of the most attractive aspects of the G&T programs? In many cases, the amount of work it takes to get into one of these programs can make parents question if the effort is worth the value. After all, there is technically no official Gifted and Talented curriculum.

Gifted education helps provide options for advanced students and helps students meet their social needs. If you have a gifted child often, a gifted program can help them stay engaged in school. Often times a gifted child in a regular class can face the risk of becoming bored or have trouble engaging socially. After talking to families about their experiences in G&T programs, our education specialists at Bright Kids have found that there are three main incentives for parents to covet Gifted and Talented schools. Firstly, the nature of how the curriculum is presented and administered to the students is a big draw. This aspect coinciding with the peer groups students will encounter in the classroom and the level of rigor in which they are confronted with, are the leading factors in a parent’s desire to for their student to attend and continue to attend a Gifted and Talented school.

Curriculum
What makes the G&T program curriculum unique? Well, there are two different types of New York City Gifted and Talented programs — Citywide and District. As I mentioned, there is no special Gifted and Talented Curriculum in NYC. This is important to keep in mind, because it often means that the quality can vary from program to program. The key facts to remember are that Citywide programs take the standard New York Department of Education curriculum and accelerate it one year. This means that a student entering Kindergarten would begin with the standard first grade curriculum. District programs simply have “enriched” curriculum. This means that the quality of the teachers becomes very important as they are required to account for different learning speeds and styles within the standardized grade-appropriate curriculum. The benefit of this flexible classroom is that if one student is a very advanced reader, but another is not, they will both receive different assignments to accommodate for their varying levels. It also means that most of the students in the class will move at a faster pace than an average classroom. Because of this, students will progress through content much faster and get to more than the standard classroom.

Peer Groups
Another key component of Gifted and Talented programs is the peer group of each classroom. In a general education classroom, student learning levels are often a wide mix. This can cause classrooms to have a slower pace than a gifted education classroom. In some instances, student behavior becomes an issue.

In many instances, gifted children can be prone to tune out learning if they are not challenged or engaged. This increases the risk of social problems or acting out at school. By placing these students in a setting surrounded by other gifted students, they are encouraged to achieve a higher level of success academically. Furthermore, children in G&T programs don’t typically feel the need to hide their giftedness to fit in. Students in such programs often have more confidence and self esteem and have an easier time making friends and socializing. These peer groups create a fair and equal learning environment for students. This helps foster your child’s unique learning abilities to achieve their potential at school, while also helping other students reach their potential.

The process of applying to New York City Gifted and Talented schools can be daunting, but they offer so many educational and social benefits. Bright Kids is here to help you and your family find and gain a seat at the right G&T program for you and your child. Our unique and customizable approach creates a curriculum that is specific to your child’s learning needs. Eliminate added stress and let us help your child.

Learn more at a Bright Kids G&T Open House. RSVP Today.

 

How ‘Slow Parenting’ Can Help Your Family

slowAs a parent, I have lost count of the number of times I’ve heard, “Cherish these moments, children grow up way too quickly.” It’s true. I feel like it was just yesterday that my soon-to-be two-year-old was barely crawling. Yesterday he climbed a full set of stairs alone. I’m sure many of you reading this post can relate.

Today, many families are on a schedule from morning until bedtime, trying to get our children out the door, scrambling to meet job demands, ferrying our kids from one extracurricular activity to the next, grabbing dinner on the run, and squeezing in extra study or practice time. We thoughtfully program many aspects of our children’s lives in hope of giving them every opportunity we think can give them a leg up.

It’s no wonder many of us feel the end of the day comes way too soon and like life is just rushing by. Sound familiar? If so, it may be time to try a “slow parenting” approach to family life. Slow parenting embraces the idea of consciously pausing this constant motion and taking time to relish the special moments that might otherwise pass us by when we overschedule ourselves and our kids.

For example, I recently realized that I was trying to get my curious four-and-a-half-year-old from one activity to the next too fast. As we were heading out for ballet class one day, she said, “Mom, look at this bug on the floor! It’s so interesting. It’s crawling and falling over!” Normally, I would have rushed her out the door, but, with slow parenting in mind, I decided to stop and see what she was talking about, even if it made us late. We sat on the ground for 10 minutes examining this bug together. My daughter had a lot to say about it as she imagined different scenarios. This time together created a memory more special than watching her through a little glass window while she practiced ballet. We still talk about it, and a scrapbook now holds a picture I took of her with the bug.

Slowing down creates space for relaxation and quiet time, something children’s developing brains need to make sense of the world and integrate new information they learn every day. It also gives parents a chance to be mindful of and appreciate some of our kids’ more subtle developmental milestones like problem-solving and conversational skills. And, it gives us new snapshots of time that would have otherwise been ignored and swallowed up by more pressing demands.

Here are some ideas to help you get started with slow parenting:

1. Limit your children’s recreational activities like ballet or soccer to one activity per season, rather than two or three.
2. Make an effort to have sit-down dinners or even cook together on certain days of the week.
3. Prepare for the next day together the night before. This will allow some practice around choices in the evening (e.g., “Which outfit would you like [choice A or choice B]?” or “What would you like as a snack in your lunchbox?”) and more “together time” in the morning, when you can read to your kids, sing a song together on the ride or walk to school, or talk about the day ahead.
4. Rather than cramming weekends with birthday parties and other scheduled activities, spend a plan-free weekend at home and see what happens. We sometimes forget that there is so much to do together in our own living rooms: play family games, read books, or just chat.
5. Instead of rushing from one activity to the next, pause and say, “We are going to skip karate today and take some time to go for a walk,” or, “We’re just going to sit together and play a game.”
6. In the evening, talk with your kids about how their day went. If a book was introduced at school, read it together at home. If a special event occurred in the news, bring it up and see what their thoughts are.
7. Sit outside at night and talk about the different sounds you hear. Quieting down can give rise to important topics that would not naturally come up during an over-scheduled day.
8. Talk to your kids about your own childhood when the pace of life was slower. Share challenges you faced, fun experiences you had, and how you spent your time. Then suggest some simple, “old-fashioned” outdoor playtime: jump rope, toss a ball, play hopscotch.
9. Dial down the technology: turn off the TV, put phones away during dinner, simply be together and talk. Today’s kids are often whizzes at digital devices, but may be uncomfortable socially because they have little practice with back-and-forth conversation.
10. Pause and pay attention while your children are engaged in a project. For instance, if they are drawing, see how they are making sense of that activity and just appreciate who they are at the present moment.
11. Take time to give a hug and receive one. Just breathe your children in.

Slow parenting allows time to connect with our kids in a different, more positive way, and gives us a chance to quiet ourselves and feel less stressed. Today is a great day to start making the most of your time by doing less—together.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Daniela Montalto, PhD, is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at NYU Langone’s Child Study Center, a part of Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital. She is the Clinical Director of the Child Study Center’s Institute for Learning and Academic Achievement.

Could Your Child’s Tummy Troubles Be Celiac Disease?

gluten-freeMy child came to the doctor’s office for constipation and was diagnosed with celiac disease, is this common?

This is a question we get a lot at the Pediatric Celiac Disease & Gluten-Related Disorders Program at NYU Langone Health. Constipation is one of the leading complaints that bring patients to our office, and it is often seen as a presenting symptom for celiac disease in children. Interestingly, a study looking specifically at children with celiac disease in Western NY highlighted that constipation was the second most common presenting complaint at the doctor’s office, following abdominal pain. Luckily for us, constipation usually improves as the inflammation in the small intestines begins to resolve. This is accomplished by being on a strict gluten-free diet.

While the gluten-free diet is absolutely essential for a child with celiac disease, it is highly recommended that patients and their parents work closely with a knowledgeable dietician to ensure that children meet their daily fiber recommendations. This is because fiber is very important for managing and preventing constipation. Although your child has removed a majority of whole grains from their diet, there are many other sources of dietary fiber that we can include such as those found in fruits and vegetables. There is also a variety of fiber supplements that can be used if you feel that making more changes to your child’s diet will not be successful.

Lastly, don’t forget to remind your children to drink plenty of liquids throughout the day! Liquids are very important to keep your child hydrated and to enhance the motility of their intestines. Liquids should be in the form of water and not sugary drinks such as sodas or juice. I always recommend sending your child with a water bottle to school and encouraging them to finish it prior to lunch and then refilling it again for the afternoon.

If you find that your child’s constipation is not resolving with strict adherence to the gluten-free diet please speak to your provider. They will be able to help tailor a specialized plan to manage your child’s symptoms.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Leora Hauptman, MS, RN, CPNP is a nurse practitioner in the Pediatric Celiac Disease & Gluten-Related Disorders Program, part of Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone. Mrs. Hauptman has many years of experience working with children with gastrointestinal disorders and developmental disabilities.

Trick or (Sugar-Free) Treat? The Importance of Limiting Your Child’s Sugar Intake This Halloween

trick-or-treatMany families view Halloween as the biggest “cheat day” of the year, where they can binge on all the candy the kids collect from around the neighborhood. While trick-or-treating and snacking on the candy they collect is fun and exciting for your children, it’s important to remember that a massive influx of candy and sugary treats can often derail the hard work spent on limiting sugar intake the rest of the year. While a small amount of sugar may prove harmless for many kids, the difficulty in managing the sheer quantity the candy in one night is a challenge, and having a plan in place before Halloween night is key in managing expectations for both parents and kids.

-Think about whether you want to limit sugar or avoid it all together this Halloween. Consider that sugar intake increases your child’s risk for cavities, excessive weight gain, and of course belly aches.
-Want to limit sugar but stumped on what to replace it with? The pumpkin—a multipurpose tool on Halloween—is a great, healthy food choice. In addition to painting the outside, you can make use of the pumpkin flesh (or canned pumpkin puree) and seeds to cook with.
—Try sprinkling coconut oil, cinnamon, and nutmeg on pumpkin seeds, and baking in the oven on 400°F until warm and toasty (around 10 minutes).
—Use pumpkin puree to paint scary faces on apple slices and crackers. You might also try using raisins, dried fruit pieces, and peanut butter dollops to create some spooky faces and ghostly shapes.
-Finding a new and improved version of old school trick-or-treating may help with limiting the sugar rush as well. Maybe trick-or-treating this year is a backyard activity with your kids and their friends, or perhaps a costume competition with a few neighbors. Having the kids involved in the planning ramps up excitement and gives them ownership over creating this new tradition.
-Another way to go sugarless this Halloween is to focus on other sources of “treats” and rewards unrelated to food. Offer your kiddo the chance to trade candy in for movie tickets, favorite school supplies, flavored lip glosses or temporary tattoos.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Ayelet Goldhaber, MS, RD is a registered dietician in the Pediatric Gastroenterology Program at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone.

Does Your Baby Have Healthy Hips? (Part 2)

hips

Last week, we began a two-part series that aims to educate parents about hip dysplasia, a common disorder that, if not addressed in early infancy, can lead to serious problems later in life. Our first post discussed what hip dysplasia is and the importance of early detection. This week’s will focus on treatment and prevention.

As a pediatric orthopedic surgeon, I spent 10 years of my career in Mexico City, where my practice was dedicated to hip dysplasia. I operated on about 250 kids a year, very successfully, but if the dysplasia had been detected in time, they wouldn’t have needed surgery in the first place.

Hip dysplasia is an under-diagnosed condition that, if left untreated, can lead to pain, degenerative arthritis, and the need for hip replacement early in adulthood. It occurs due to abnormal growth of the hip joint, resulting in a mismatch in the way the head, or “ball,” of the thighbone fits into the socket of the pelvic bone.

Many people with hip dysplasia are born with it, but it can also develop in babies that are frequently positioned with the legs extended and thighs pressed together, which increases pressure on the hips. Early detection—within the first few months of life—gives kids the best chance for effective and simple treatment.

Treatment for Hip Dysplasia
When looking for an orthopedic specialist to treat hip dysplasia, parents should seek someone who has specific pediatric orthopedic training in addition to orthopedic surgery training. A well-trained pediatric orthopedic surgeon should be able to diagnose and easily treat early-stage hip dysplasia.

Orthotic treatment. In babies younger than four months, treatment generally consists of a simple orthotic called a Pavlik Harness, or a similar device, which is worn for up to four months. The harness consists of two shoulder straps; a belt, which goes around the chest; and two boots that are strapped to the legs. The child can move freely within this soft brace, which positions the hip so components of its joint can develop normally. Parents may feel overwhelmed at first, but once they’ve learned how to use it, they find it very simple to employ. It takes less than a minute to put on, and you can change a diaper while the baby is wearing it.

Surgical treatment. If hip dysplasia is detected after four to six months, treatment becomes more complicated and may include either minimally invasive or open surgery to put the ball of the hip back into its socket. Following surgery, some children require a body cast to hold the hip in the corrected position while the joint heals. Surgical methods are effective, but do not produce good results as consistently as orthotic treatment applied to younger babies.

Tips for Healthy Hips
Hip dysplasia that develops before birth cannot be avoided, but hip-healthy practices can encourage normal joint development and prevent hip dysplasia in babies who were not born with it.
­– Avoid swaddling with the thighs together, a position that is harmful for the hips. They should be in the abducted position (with the legs open) and allowed to move freely.
– If you use a baby carrier, make sure it permits the hips to be wide open, and avoid any that tend to push the legs together and restrict movement. Any kind of baby carrier that allows free motion of the hips is generally considered healthy.
– Visit the International Hip Dysplasia Institute (IHDI) website (hipdysplasia.org), a valuable resource for parents to learn more about hip dysplasia, proper swaddling, and specific products that IHDI deems hip-healthy.

The Bottom Line
If your child does develop hip dysplasia, treating it early with non-surgical methods is ideal. Still, if it’s not caught in time for orthotics, surgery to correct the problem as a young child is better than no treatment at all. In Mexico City, I operated on a girl whose hip dysplasia had been missed until her grandmother noticed a slight limp when she began to walk. We fixed her hip and she has done very well. I recently received a video from the family of her tenth birthday party, and she was running and playing and jumping. She’s a thriving and healthy girl with a near-normal hip that likely will never need to be replaced.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Pablo G. Castañeda, MD, is the Division Chief of Pediatric Orthopaedic Surgery at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone.

Does Your Baby Have Healthy Hips? (Part 1)

hipsThis is the first post of a two-part series that aims to educate parents about hip dysplasia, a common disorder in infants that, if not addressed early, can lead to serious problems later in life.

Many adults with hip replacements might have avoided much pain and major surgery had they simply been diagnosed with hip dysplasia as a baby. Hip dysplasia is the most common congenital anomaly, or a disorder that a child is born with. The condition usually goes unrecognized until adulthood, when people develop degenerative wear of the joint that affects their movement and quality of life. According to the International Hip Dysplasia Institute, approximately one out of six newborns will have some type of hip instability and two to 3 out of every 1,000 infants will require treatment. The good news, however, is that it can be treated easily if it is detected early in childhood.

What is hip dysplasia?
Hip dysplasia occurs when the ball-and-socket hip joint grows abnormally. This produces a mismatch between the head of the femur, or thighbone, which is normally rounded, and the acetabulum, or pelvic bone, the socket into which the head fits.

The ideal time to diagnose and treat hip dysplasia is when infants are younger than four months, when treatment—wearing an orthotic harness—is simple and effective. When detected in older babies, hip dysplasia often requires more complicated treatment, which for some may include surgery.

What causes hip dysplasia?
Several factors can contribute to the development of hip dysplasia. We know there is a genetic component because it tends to run in families and affects nine times more girls than boys. Hormones may play a role, too. It can also be a “packing,” or mechanical, issue, as hip dyplasia is associated with certain womb positions like breech presentation (when a baby is situated to be delivered buttocks or feet first). Being swaddled with the thighs together in the months after birth is a proven and preventable risk factor for developing dysplasia, and therefore is not recommended.

What happens if hip dyplasia is not detected and treated?
If hip dysplasia goes untreated and the hip dislocates, it will result in a limp and leg-length discrepancy, causing pain in early adolescence or young adulthood. Untreated dysplasia is also the most common cause of early degenerative arthritis, which can lead to hip replacement in one’s 50s or earlier. Normal hip joints do not wear with use and will seldom require a hip replacement, barring damage from conditions like hip dysplasia, traumatic injury or rheumatoid arthritis (a joint disease of the immune system).

Why is hip dyplasia usually not recognized until adulthood?
Unfortunately, hip dysplasia frequently goes undiagnosed in part because it is not painful at birth or in early childhood. And the most common and mildest form, called subtle dysplasia, where the socket is just a little too shallow, produces no symptoms at first. Kids develop normally through childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood, but as they grow older, the abnormal wear across the joint develops into early degenerative arthritis.

The next level on the severity spectrum is hip instability, and the most severe form is dislocation. One in 1,000 babies are born with a dislocated hip, where the thighbone is situated completely outside of the joint. Pediatricians are generally good at detecting dislocation, but should they miss it, parents will eventually notice a limp or difference in leg length. But by then, the child is walking and it is too late for early treatment.

How is hip dysplasia detected?
Pediatricians normally screen for this condition with a physical examination. Still, minor or subtle dysplasia is very difficult to detect with just a physical exam. That is why I strongly believe all newborns should have an ultrasound test, which is the best method of identifying hip dysplasia.

Certain countries in Europe conduct universal ultrasound screening in newborns, but current U.S. guidelines do not support it due to concerns about false diagnosis and over-treatment. Ultimately, parents should have a conversation with their doctor the risks and benefits about obtaining such a test for their newborn. Ultrasound is a low-cost and no-risk exam that could save many people from a future of arthritis pain and even hip replacement.

How can I make sure hip dysplasia gets diagnosed and treated early if my baby has it?

Look for signs. Hip dysplasia is usually symptom-free, but sometimes more severe forms cause a clicking sound in the baby’s hips as they move; asymmetry in the fat rolls of the thighs; or an uneven range of motion in the hips.

Know your family history. Tell your pediatrician if your family has a history of hip dysplasia, hip dislocation, or early hip replacement. If Grandma had a hip replacement when she was 55, which is considered young, we know that she most likely had dysplasia in her hip.

Talk to your pediatrician. Ask your pediatrician if they did a complete exam of the hips. You can also ask to have an ultrasound test performed. If asked, most pediatricians will agree to ultrasound. If the pediatrician has any doubt, they should refer your baby to a pediatric orthopedic specialist for further testing.

Stay tuned for our second post on hip dysplasia, which will discuss treatment and prevention.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Pablo G. Castañeda, MD, is the Division Chief of Pediatric Orthopaedic Surgery at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone.

Head of the Class Mom: Shira Lahav

Meet our latest Head of the Class Mom, Shira Lahav—co-founder of Embodied Minds, a public speaking company that helps kids with presentation and self-esteem—and an amazing mom!shira

Why did you start Embodied Minds Public Speaking Consultants?
I am co-founder and consultant at Embodied Minds. I am also a Licensed Creative Arts Therapist, Registered Drama Therapist and a Psychoanalyst in training. During my time working in hospitals, I was leading communication and storytelling groups through drama. I recognized the power of expression and was helping my clients tell their stories in captivating ways, helping them connect with others. During these groups, I found myself guiding my clients therapeutically but also helping them deliver their stories in ways that engage and transmit the meaning to their audience in the most effective way. I enjoyed the process of directing and teaching my clients public speaking techniques. My business partner Leticia and I wanted to take this type of work beyond the hospital walls and so we did.

What is your secret to balancing work and family? Is there a balance?
My secret to balancing work and family life is to constantly remind myself the importance of both and how one feeds the other. If I dedicate enough time to my family, I feel more satisfied during the week, which helps me be more focused and fulfilled at work and vice versa.

I play various roles in my life: public speaking consultant, therapist, mother, wife, sister, daughter, etc. The key is to nurture each and every role and create equilibrium. This includes leaving room for self-care. It is necessary to take care of your own needs while taking care of others. In addition, I find that good time management helps, as well as scheduling quality time with my family between busy workdays. On a more practical note, twice per week I make time to take my daughter to her activities and on the weekends, we always find a fun activity to do together as a family. Additionally, my husband and I go out at least twice per week, whether with friends or on a date. Although babysitting is expensive, date nights are extremely important and we have to keep the romance going between stressful life responsibilities.

Share a funny story that helped you become a better parent and/or better at your job.
Not only am I a mommy to my 2-year-old daughter Lianne, but I am also a mommy to a 5-year-old Shih Tzu named Gizmo. When I first became a mom, I would walk out of the house with my brand new Uppa Baby Vista stroller and would keep getting smiles from strangers. Naïvely and faltered, I thought they were smiling at my baby, but in fact they were smiling at the fact that Gizmo was in the stroller too! Sitting below my baby, with his cute face sticking out of the basket curiously observing everyone around him, my little Shih Tzu found himself the perfect solution so he wouldn’t exert himself or his little paws.

As a result, I’ve learned the importance of multi-tasking and multi-use! Whether using the stroller for my baby and dog, or using the car seat as a spot for my daughter to sit and watch her favorite cartoons, I am always trying to find unique uses for expensive baby gear to make the most of every dollar spent. After all, we must find ways to save up for those “inexpensive” preschools! We also donate a lot, if not money then clothing or baby stuff that we are no longer using. It feels good to be able to help other families.

What has been your biggest challenge and/or greatest reward in the struggle for work-life balance?
Even though I love my job and try to maintain a healthy balance between work and family life I still at times feel guilty that I don’t spend enough time with my daughter. This is probably a result of the pressure of others and my missing my daughter during workdays. At the same time, I know how important it is to teach her that a woman can do both, be a mother and have a career.

What is one thing you wish you knew before you had kids?
That parenting is all about logistics and time management.

If you could give other moms one piece of advice what would it be?
Take other people’s advice with a grain of salt.

QUICK Q’s:

What is your favorite children’s book? “Alice in Wonderland”

What has been your favorite kids’ class?  Ballet Class at City Moves Dance Studio. [Now Midtown Movement and Dance – Ed.]

What is your favorite thing to do with your family on weekends? Go to Central Park and spend time on the lawn and children’s playground.

What is your favorite rainy day escape? The Children’s Museum of Manhattan on the Upper West Side

Learn more about Embodied Minds on Kidz Central Station and reserve your child’s spot now for their Public Speaking and Communications Skills Group, starting in the fall.

A Pediatrician’s “Back to School” Checklist

AdobeStock_52157424As your child is starting a new school year, here are some important things to think about for a smooth and healthy transition for the whole family.

Check with your pediatrician to make sure your child is all caught up on required immunizations and that he or she has had a routine check-up with your pediatrician within the past year.

Notify your school of any medical conditions or special needs that your child may have. Find out if the school requires any forms to be filled out by your pediatrician if your child does require specific accommodations for a medical condition.

Get organized and informed. Ask your child’s teachers if he or she will need any special school supplies. Find out if there are any ways for you to volunteer or get involved in school events. Children often do much better in school when their parents or caregivers get to know their teachers and are involved in school activities.

Re-establish a healthy sleep schedule. Kids often have slightly altered sleep schedules during the summer months due to vacation and other factors. If your children have gotten used to a later bedtime during the summer, gradually move bedtime up by 30 minutes every few nights for 1-2 weeks in anticipation of an earlier bedtime during the school year.

Discuss how you will handle meals during the busy school year. Decide if your child will be eating breakfast and/or lunch that is provided by the school or if you will preparing those meals from home. If your child will be eating meals at school, find out what kind of healthy foods are available. Notify your school of any food allergies that your child may have. Make a list of easy to prepare, healthy snacks that you can have on hand for a quick snack after your child returns home from a busy school day. Some examples of healthy snacks that require little preparation include carrots and hummus, sliced apples and peanut butter, popcorn (lightly salted with no butter), or low-fat cheese and cut fruit.

Make plans for after school arrangements and transportation for your child. Decide if your child will need to be in an afterschool program or look into other after school child care options if required. Plan on carpool arrangements if needed.

Plan to be active! Choose 1-2 extracurricular activities that your child will enjoy participating in during the school year. Encourage your child to find something they will look forward to and feel passionate about. Avoid overscheduling too many commitments during the year.

Help your child work out back-to-school jitters with an open conversation. Talk to your child about how they are feeling about starting the new year, what to expect, and back-to-school safety. Read about how to manage potential concerns such as bullying, stress and burnout, and peer pressure. If you have questions about how to recognize or handle any of these issues, ask your pediatrician.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Madhavi Kapoor, MD, is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone and a pediatrician at NYU Langone at Trinity.

 

The Top 5 Summer Emergencies and What to Do (Part 5 of 5)

bugsWarmer weather invites activities and adventures. But what happens when things go awry? In this special five-part series, the real experts at NYU Langone Medical Center provide valuable tips to serve as your guide. Part 5:

Bug Bites

When outdoors in the summer, avoid areas where insects are more likely to be present, such as areas with stagnant water, uncovered food, or flowers in bloom. Dress your children in long sleeves and pants, avoid brightly colored clothing, and use insect repellent to help prevent bites or stings. For those with severe allergies, always carry an Epipen, if one is prescribed, when traveling to places where you might be stung. Before leaving for any outdoor activities, check to make sure that it is not expired.

Bug bites and/or stings should always be cleaned to help prevent infection. Seek medical treatment if the site of the bite is warm, tender, growing in size, is getting more painful, or, if there is any red streaking, which is a warning of a serious infection.

Dress your child in long sleeves and pants when hiking to prevent ticks. If your child does get a tick bite, do not squeeze the tick to try to get it out. This could actually cause more saliva to be released and could cause an infection. The tick should be removed with tweezers by someone who has experience to ensure that the mouth parts that are attached to the skin are completely removed. After identifying a tick bite, watch for signs of a bullseye rash or fever, which could signal Lyme disease. Call your child’s doctor if you can’t remove the tick or the tick’s head, your child develops fever or rash within 2 weeks after the bite, if the bite looks infected, or if you have any other concerns.

When choosing an insect repellent, look for products such as DEET, picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. With regards to tick repellents, DEET products can be used, but permethrin products–a synthetic insect repellent–are applied to clothing, and are more effective against ticks compared to DEET. Most insect repellents are safe to use on children older than 2 months of age. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children younger than 3 years of age. Products containing more than 30% DEET are not recommended for children. Do not reapply insect repellents due to the risk of toxicity.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Madhavi Kapoor, MD, is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone and a pediatrician at NYU Langone at Trinity.