Tag Archives: NYU Langone Medical Center

10 Tips For Beating the Winter Blahs

Child in snow
Spring is just around the corner, but many of us are still dealing with the doldrums of winter. While there are lots of things to love about winter, it also means shorter days, less sunlight, colder weather, and more time stuck inside. This is a time of year when many people feel less energetic and possibly a little “blah.” Feeling like you might be in a bit of a winter slump? Here are ten ideas to help you conquer your winter woes.

1. Brighten your world! Winter’s lack of sunlight can cause many people to feel gloomy and sluggish. Get as much natural light as you can. Open the curtains, sit by the window, and enjoy a mood-lifting vitamin D boost from the sun. Decorating your home in light, cheery colors may also help to counteract the dreariness of winter.

2. Make quality zzz’s a priority. Keeping a consistent sleep schedule and getting the right amount of sleep can help you stay energized.

3. Get outside when you can. Being cooped up inside for too long can make anyone feel pretty blah. Bundle up and take an energizing walk in the cold!

4. Exercise! Exercising releases endorphins and helps to decrease stress and anxiety. It can also improve sleep and boost energy. Try a new sport or exercise class. If you’re snowed in, practice yoga, try some workout DVDs, or even have your own private dance party at home.

5. Pump up the jams! Speaking of dance parties, music can be an excellent way to lift spirits. There are tons of potential mental and physical benefits of both playing and listening to music.

6. Eat well. During cold winter months, it can sometimes be tempting to eat the same comfort foods over and over. However, eating a healthy, varied diet full of vitamins and nutrients can improve energy, mood, and overall health.

7. Plan a mini “vacation” and give yourself something to look forward to. This could mean going on an actual trip, but it can also be as simple as planning a special weekend activity close by.

8. Volunteer for a cause that’s important to you. Use your personal interests and skills to make the world a better place. In the process, you can connect to others, build self-esteem, and gain a sense of purpose.

9. Socialize, and not just on social media. Surround yourself with positive people. When you and your friends stick together, the winter blahs don’t stand a chance!

10. Treat yourself! Don’t forget to do something extra nice for yourself once in a while. You deserve it!

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

Janis Atty, MA, CCLS, ATR-BC, LCAT is a child life specialist and creative arts therapist at NYU Langone’s Fink Children’s Ambulatory Care Center, and is part of the Pediatric Celiac Disease and Gluten Related Disorders Program. She helps pediatric patients and their families understand and cope with medical illnesses and experiences. By providing education, preparation, emotional support, and guidance, she promotes positive development and well-being in patients facing a wide range of challenging life events.


Breastfeeding Tips for New Moms

Breastfeeding has proven to have wide-ranging health benefits for infants: breast milk provides essential vitamins, protein, and fat to help babies grow. It is also easier for babies to digest than formula and contains antibodies to help fight off viruses and bacteria that cause illness or infection. Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists strongly recommend the practice. Still, breastfeeding is a personal choice that can be influenced by family support, the personal health of the mother, breastfeeding education, and the necessity for mom to return to work.

These factors can influence different cultural groups in a variety of ways, and the staff at NYU Lutheran Family Health Centers’ Women, Infant, and Children’s (WIC) Program found that in particular, most Chinese moms they saw were bottle-feeding rather than breastfeeding. The WIC program collaborated with the NYU Lutheran Labor and Delivery Unit to provide Mandarin- and Cantonese-speaking peer counselors five mornings a week, to facilitate prenatal discussion with Chinese moms on the importance of breastfeeding. This education resulted in a significant increase in breastfeeding among that population.

We asked two front-line community physicians, Girish Gowda, M.D., a neonatologist and partnering physician with NYU Lutheran’s WIC breastfeeding support program; and Sharon P. Joseph-Giss, M.D., medical director and pediatrician at NYU Lutheran Family Health Centers Sunset Park for Women and Children for their top tips for new moms struggling to make breastfeeding work for them:

  • The first milk produced is called colostrum. It may seem like it’s not enough but it is sufficient for your baby. In fact, it is necessary to give your baby important nutrients and ingredients such as antibodies to fight infection. The full milk supply will take a day or two to begin, so put your baby to your breast—they are getting plenty of nourishment, and more milk will be produced in a couple of days.
  • Breastfeeding improves health for both mom and baby. For mom, it helps decrease uterine bleeding after giving birth. Exclusively breastfed babies have a smaller chance of ear infections and illness, as well as fewer hospitalizations in the first six months.
  • Put the baby to your breast often! Supply and demand is in effect here, and the more the baby suckles, the more milk the body will produce.
  • When your baby is hungry, make sure his mouth opens WIDE, and put as much of the dark part of your breast and nipple in his mouth as possible. This will ensure a good latch. If the baby just suckles the nipple, this will make you sore.
  • You will need to nurse about every 1.5–2 hours. Better yet, nurse on demand! This will ensure good growth for your baby, and ramp up your milk supply.
  • If your baby has six to eight wet diapers per day that means he or she is getting an adequate intake of milk.
  • Be careful of your diet. Foods that give you gas (broccoli, onions, garlic, beans) can give your baby gas as well.
  • You will know that your baby is drinking if you hear gulping sounds and the baby seems satisfied—sleepy and content—at the end of the session. Since there is no way to measure the milk your baby drinks directly from your breast, this is the best indication that she is getting enough.

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

Girish Gowda, M.D., is a neonatologist and partnering physician with NYU Lutheran’s WIC breastfeeding support program.

Sharon P. Joseph-Giss, M.D., is medical director and pediatrician at NYU Lutheran Family Health Centers Sunset Park for Women and Children.

The ABCs of AT: A Primer on Assistive Technology

ssistive technology (AT) can be loosely defined as the use of equipment to facilitate independence in a person with a disability.

Both children and adults can benefit from the many types of assistive technology.

Children’s needs can differ greatly from adults due to the nature of their disability and their educational needs.

Here’s what you need to know about high and low tech assistive technology:

• Low Tech AT is usually less invasive and easy to incorporate. Examples include adaptive pencil grips, large print text, line guides for reading, or a picture scheduling system for a child that has a hard time understanding text or numbers. While these changes are simple, they can make a big difference in independence for everyday tasks such as handwriting and reading.

• High Tech AT refers to complex devices that have a power source. For children, high tech devices are often used for communication impairments and include adaptive hardware or software to access a computer, equipment to participate in leisure tasks, and home automation devices.

• Computer Technology: AT for the computer includes adaptations to hardware or software. Keyboards can be made larger or smaller and keyboard letter keys can be given alternate layouts. A mouse can be adapted to a joystick or trackball, or made to be controlled by the head or eyes. On-screen keyboards, voice to text or text to voice software, and word prediction software can all help to make communication easier.

• Alternative and Augmentative Communication: These are devices that enhance or replace speech when a child is unable to make his or her needs known. Devices like iPads can be used as children’s communication tools with appropriate applications. There are also “dedicated” devices; these are meant for communication only but have accessibility built in for use with head movement or eye gaze.

• Home Automation: With the advancement of technology, it’s much easier for a child with a disability to control his or her environment, including lights, TV remote, fan, door locks, etc. With the use of a simple remote, smart phone, or tablet, a child can access all of the electronics at home independently.

The use of assistive technology can greatly improve the life of a child or adult with a disability or mixed abilities, and the inclusion of accessibility options in mainstream technology makes access of the necessary easier for a person with an AT need.

Want to learn more? Join the experts from Rusk Rehabilitation at NYU Langone Medical Center for a discussion on the use of assistive technology to enhance independence of children outside the classroom:

Date/Time: Thursday, February 25 at 5pm
Location: Ambulatory Care Center, 240 East 38th St., 11th Floor Conference Room

To RSVP for this free lecture, click here.

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

Holly Cohen, OTR/L, ATP, SCEM, CDRS is the Program Manager of Assistive Technology and Driving Rehabilitation at NYU Langone Medical Center’s Rusk Rehabilitation.

NYC Parenting Classes for You, Too!

While our major focus at Kidz Central Station is classes for kids, we also make sure to offer options the NYC parents out there who, like us, need a hand with this whole parenting thing every once in a while. At programs uptown, downtown and in between, there are great NYC parenting classes available, whether you want to get in shape after having a baby, brush up on important safety tips, or learn about the painstaking process of enrolling in preschool. So without further adieu, here are some great programs available right now!

NYU Langone Medical CenterBaby Sitting Happily In Car Seat. One of the best hospitals in NYC, NYU Langone Medical Center offers an array of informative classes to get you through every stage of being a parent—from prenatal to postnatal. Expectant parents can experience a free hospital tour and information session with the Ready . . . Set . . . Baby class, and if you want to brush up on CPR and first aid, there are courses for that too. You can even attend sessions for buckling your little one safely in a car seat—a must for any parent on the go. Bottom line, NYU Langone’s parenting classes cover everything you’d ever want to know about becoming a parent—and if you haven’t read NYU’s weekly expert blog posts, make sure to check them out for parenting topics and tips!


92nd Street Ystandard_fit_yoga_pregnantside_lg. The 92nd Street Y has classes for everything—you have probably seen a wide variety of their kiddie programs on Kidz Central Station. What you might not realize is that they also offer some amazing classes and workshops for new and experienced parents as well—from semester classes you can join for a season to drop-in workshops on various parenting topics. Expectant parents can check out classes like Lamaze Complete Childbirth Preparation and Caring for a Newborn, and newbies to the job can get back into shape with Yoga For Mommy and Baby or learn the basics of breastfeeding with a weekly Breastfeeding Workshop. Even experienced parents have their pick: you can learn how to best navigate the stresses of parenthood with workshops like Planning Your Child’s Early School Years and Motherhood and Your Professional Identity!

JCC ManhattanHappy Young Father is Playing with his newborn baby girl at home, and kissing noses together.  Vintage style color filter.. For Upper West Siders (or anyone nearby!), the JCC Manhattan offers a variety of great classes for kids (swimming, dance, sports, and more) as well as classes parents will definitely appreciate. If you’re new to the whole parenting game and want to meet others in your shoes (and eat!), there’s a Dad’s Meet Up Brunch and a New Moms Breakfast you won’t want to miss out on, as well as weekly parenting sessions ( called Parents Talk: Everything from A to ZZZs) that cover important topics such as baby sleep schedules and safety and first aid. And that’s not all—check out the full selection of parenting classes here!

standard_Postnatal_fitness_group14th Street Y. Whether you want to get in shape or bond with other parents, this downtown program has a class or workshop to meet your needs. Want to tone with baby in tow? There are some awesome fitness classes in yoga, pilates, barre, and more (prenatal yoga too!). Find out the answers to your burning questions about raising a toddler? The Parenting Your Preschool class is a series of informative sessions focusing on preschool age kids. Topics such as helping your child adjust to the demands of preschool, limit setting, language development, and even topics YOU bring to the table will all be covered throughout the semester. Conveniently located in Stuyvesant Town not too far from Union Square, this program draws parents from all areas and neighborhoods throughout the year.

Safety First: Teaching Safety Skills to Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Child holding father's hand
If you have a child with autism, you know that safety skills are a primary concern. Your child can encounter situations every day—like crossing the street—that might pose a risk, or they might engage in dangerous behaviors such as wandering. It can be hard to know where to start when it comes to teaching your children best practices to avoid or how to respond to unsafe situations, but the strategies below can be applied to many common safety concerns that arise. Think about applying these steps to the scenario of your child getting lost in a store.

1. Assess: What is the safety issue? What does your child know about the situation?
Your child tends to wander or get separated when you’re shopping in a large store and you want to create a plan for what to do in that situation. Right now he doesn’t know who to seek help from or what information to give him if he gets separated from you.

2. Plan: Create a strategy for dealing with the safety issue at hand if and when it occurs.
In case of separation, make sure your child knows his full name, parents’ names, home address, and telephone number. If your child has very limited language abilities, he should have an ID card or bracelet with him at all times. If he gets lost in a store, he should go to the person or people you have indicated are safe to go to for help—e.g. police or security.

3. Teach a plan: Talk to your child about how she should behave in the situation.
Speak to your child about what might happen if she gets separated from you at the store. Explain how to respond when people call her name and to listen for an announcement on the loudspeaker. Also make sure she knows who to ask for help and to stay in one place if she can’t find help. Many children with autism respond well to having concrete rules and steps to follow.

4. Model appropriate skills: Demonstrate skills or activities in action using social stories, pictures, videos, and other helpful teaching tools.
Show him pictures online of the types of people he should ask for help (e.g. police, firemen, security). You can demonstrate the steps for him at home: pretend you are a lost child and go through the steps. You can also find videos online that demonstrate what to do when lost in a store.

5. Practice: Practice putting your child in the situation—in a safe, controlled environment—and allow her to practice the new skills in many different natural settings.
When you’re at a store, have your child point out people who could be helpers. Have her repeat what she would say to someone if lost, such as “I can’t find my mom, can you help me?” Then set up a realistic drill. Give the security guard at a store you’re familiar with a heads up that you’ll be practicing. Stay within earshot of your child—but not with her—and have her go through the steps you’ve explained. Generalization doesn’t occur easily, so repeat in a variety of settings with different kinds of helpers to ensure she can demonstrate her skills in unfamiliar situations.

Reward/give feedback: Praise and reward your child when he gets the skill right. You can gradually phase out the reward system as the skill becomes well-learned.
Tell your child how well he followed the steps of your plan, provide additional teaching where necessary, and reward attempts at learning new safety skills.

The most important step is to practice, practice, practice! Not only will it help your child stay safe, but it will help your peace of mind to know he has the skills to manage the situation.

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

Rebecca Doggett, Ph.D. is a clinical assistant professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Child Study Center at NYU Langone Medical Center.

How to Talk to Your Kids about Internet Safety

Internet safety is a complicated and multifaceted issue, in part because a family’s culture and outlook on technology must be considered. As such, there is not necessarily a “one size fits all” method to raise your children with technology and the Internet.

It is important to view the Internet as a tool—in fact, picture a chainsaw. Like any tool you will want to set clear expectations and teach the user safety measures, as well as skills for handling the tool efficiently, and discuss hypothetical situations for what to do if there is an accident or emergency. The same can be said for the Internet and your children. Unlike a chainsaw, however, there is no operations manual for the Internet, so consider the guidelines below as you map out your family’s personal safety manual:

Parenting has not changed. Technology, particularly the Internet, has changed our lives, but it has not necessarily changed the rules of parental engagement! The world may be new, but the problems are not.

Content matters. Setting clear expectations for your child’s Internet use is a necessity. If your child were to play in the neighborhood, you would want to know who they are meeting, where they are going, what they plan to do, and when they will return home. Having that information allows you to set more targeted boundaries. Similarly, becoming more familiar with your child’s Internet use is an important hurdle to overcome.

Learn from each other. As you teach your children how to use the Internet, it will also be your responsibility to learn from them about the ways in which they use it and about dangers they may encounter.

Co-engagement counts. For younger children, be prepared to monitor their use much more closely and use parental controls. Plan to use the Internet together with your young child. I recommend “saddling up” to children when they are engaged in a game or video and to simply participate with them—what better way to learn together? As youth develop through their teenage years, foster more exploration and independence with continued monitoring and coaching of appropriate use.

Role modeling is critical. Take a moment to consider the ways you and other caregivers use technology. Some adults use their phones during dinnertime, and others might use devices in bed before going to sleep. Make sure to talk with other caregivers to establish consistent expectations for what you want to model to your children.

Create tech-free zones. Consider creating tech-free times of day for the whole family! Dinnertime and bedtime are good places to start. Remember that if you frequently use devices during such times you will be hard-pressed to enforce such tech-free zones for your children. Work with other caregivers to make this expectation clear and consistent.

It’s OK for your child to be online. In many ways, the Internet is like a diet. Your children live in a world of screens, and the Internet will only become more integrated into everything they do. Your job is to teach them how to have a balanced diet of educational, social, and entertainment content.

Kids will be kids. There will be missteps, but you must use small errors as teachable moments. Continue to discuss hypotheticals with them; what would you do if . . . ? Be supportive and empathetic and help your child learn from their mistakes.

Most importantly, accept that you are ready to tackle this challenge. Be there with them from the beginning and be ready to learn together as you all navigate the digital landscape as a family.

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

Douglas M. Brodman, PhD, is a clinical instructor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at NYU Langone Medical Center’s Child Study Center. He provides clinical intervention and consultation to families and youth struggling from emotional and disruptive behavioral disorders.

The Art of Arguing: Tips for Handling Parental Conflict around Your Kids

Unhappy Girl At Home With Parents Arguing In BackgroundCarl Whitaker, one of the originators of family therapy, once said, “Conflict should rightly be considered the fertilizer for life. While it is not always fragrant, it’s crucial for optimal growth.” How you deal with conflict is more important than whether or not you have it in your relationship. Parental conflict is a natural part of family life and as a rule ought not to be avoided. All parents (or anyone in a primary caretaking role) argue, and all children learn a lot about how to manage disagreements from hearing and observing their parents. This is simply a fact about family life and childhood.

However, parents may understandably worry about the ill effects of fighting in the presence of their children. Many city-dwelling parents lack the living space to take their disagreements out of earshot, or have young children who can’t be left unattended. And there are occasions where addressing some issue can’t easily be put off until after the kids are asleep (when parents are often exhausted as well). Finding time and space to deal directly with conflictual issues can be a challenge. Below are some general guidelines that can help.

Conflict in front of the kids isn’t in and of itself problematic. What counts is what you are showing them. Are you showing them:

• A way of disagreeing with mutual respect?
• How to listen and take another person’s perspective?
• How to assert yourself without putting the other person down?
• How to regulate your emotions and not be blaming or defensive?

If so, you are providing an invaluable model of how to engage in dialogue in the context of conflict and disagreement. In many ways, this is as important for their development as a stress-free family interaction (though plenty of those are good too!).

If you find that you can’t do any or most of the above, then it is best to de-escalate and table the interaction for another time. This can be difficult, but not impossible. It requires an agreement that either parent can call for a “time-out.”

That person is then responsible for bringing up the issue at a “cooler” time, ideally when kids are not present and both parties have had the opportunity to calm down and collect their thoughts.

•  This shouldn’t be used to avoid the topic. Using this method appropriately will build trust for both parents that important issues will not be dismissed or avoided.
• Finally, resist the urge to enlist kids in your conflict!
• Having to take sides in a parental dispute is highly stressful for a child, so putting a kid in this position should be strongly avoided.
• Children have a right to love their parents equally and ought not to be asked to take sides, directly or indirectly.

What gets talked about in front of kids is, to a large extent, a matter of individual parental values and beliefs. However:

• It is important to take into consideration a child’s level of development and individual sensitivity: e.g. an anxious child may easily misconstrue and overreact to parents arguing about money.
• One should have clear generational boundaries about adult issues that don’t directly concern the children (e.g. parents’ sex life, most financial matters). Arguments about in-laws and other extended family relationships can also be quite stressful for children.
• Either parent ought to have the right to indicate discomfort with the topic area when the kids are present and call for a “time out.”

Parents can have robust disagreements about a variety of topics in front of their children without necessarily causing stress and anxiety. The key here is for parents to do so in a way that shows their kids that that conflict can be managed and even resolved with love and mutual respect.

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

Andrew Roffman, LCSW, is a clinical assistant professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Child Study Center at NYU Langone Medical Center, the director of the Child Study Center’s Family Studies Program, a training program in family and couples therapy, and a member of the Center’s Faculty Group Practice where he specializes in family/couples therapy and individual therapy for late adolescents and adults.

How to Protect Your Child’s Skin This Winter

Litlte girl in a bathrobe and towel
After a balmy fall, winter is finally upon us. It’s time to unpack the mittens, hats, scarves, and sweaters. As parents, it’s also time for us to brush up on our negotiation skills and convince our children to actually wear their coats! The next time you find yourself in a heated discussion with your little one on the necessity and virtues of covering up, remember to protect his or her true primary barrier to the world: the skin.

Our skin takes a beating during the dry, cold winter months. Indoor heat without humidification can make skin prone to drying out. This is particularly true for children with atopic dermatitis (eczema) who tend to make less natural moisturizers and who are at risk for having more eczema flares during the winter.

Managing dry skin involves two guiding principles:

• Avoid irritants
• Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize!

With those two principles in mind let’s tackle some basic questions.

Do baths help or hurt dry skin?
Bathing can help hydrate your child’s skin. The most common problem is forgetting to apply a moisturizer which helps “seal in” moisture. Daily baths are fine. Just don’t overdo it—limit bath time to no more than 15 minutes.

What is the best soap to use?
Dry skin (and particularly the skin of eczema patients) can be very sensitive to irritants. Avoid using perfumed soaps and cleansers—although they smell wonderful, the added fragrances can be irritating. Look for fragrance free, gentle cleansers. If your child has eczema, you may also want to limit the application of the cleanser to visibly dirty areas and areas where dirt likes to hide, like the diaper region, under the neck, armpits, and groin.

How often should I use a moisturizer and which one should I choose?
The skin care aisles in drug stores are overstuffed with numerous products, each of which makes various claims of benefit for the skin.

Unfortunately, there have been no large head-to-head studies comparing all of the different moisturizer options to clearly declare one superior to the other. Therefore, the best moisturizer is the one you actually use! Moisturizers don’t do any good sitting on shelves. Here are a couple of useful tips:

• Avoid fragranced moisturizers if your child has sensitive skin.

• If your child has moderate to severe eczema, the greasier a moisturizer is, the better—ointments and thick creams tend to work best (think of something you have to scoop out of a jar). Apply it to the whole body morning and night.

• Lotions, which typically come in pump bottles, have less “sealant” properties and may irritate the skin of children with severe eczema.

• Try to make moisturizing part of the daily routine and fun. For infants, consider making it part of the bedtime routine and incorporate infant massage. In older children, consider letting them take charge and help them apply their own creams.

When should my child see his or her pediatrician or a dermatologist?
If your child’s dry skin has worsened and has areas of redness, itching, and/or a bumpy rash, he or she may have eczema. A doctor can be helpful in advising you on whether a prescription cream or ointment could be of benefit.

So this season, think of your child’s skin! It has been working hard all year and surely could benefit from tender loving care this winter.

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

Vikash S. Oza, MD, is an assistant professor in the Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology at NYU Langone Medical Center, where he serves as the director of Pediatric Dermatology. He is board certified in both pediatrics and dermatology and sees children of all ages with acute or chronic skin care conditions.


5 Simple Tips for Being a Better Parent in 2016

The start of a new year can be the perfect time to look closely at aspects of your life—relationships, finances, diet, and exercise—and make adjustments if necessary. If being a better parent is on your to-do list for 2016, here are a few tips to get you started:

Talk and listen more . . . about “random stuff”.
If you want to build positive communication between you and your child, talk and listen more, and not just about “important stuff,” like drugs and sex. By the time kids become teenagers—when these bigger issues need to be discussed more regularly—communication patterns with parents are pretty well established. If your kids aren’t used to talking to you about less weighty topics, the bigger ones surely won’t be easy when the time comes to discuss them. Talk about things that will engage them, even for just a few minutes, and even if it’s a subject that’s not as interesting to you. You can demonstrate interest by briefly reflecting some of what they say. This small change can make a big impact on later communication because you’ll want them to be open and communicative when it comes time to tell you about the “big stuff” happening in their lives as teenagers and adults.

Don’t just tell them, teach them.
Many parents express that they often get frustrated with their children when they start feeling like a “broken record” and repeating the same thing over and over. In some situations, it is possible that your child is having trouble meeting particular expectations because he or she lacks the skills to complete the tasks you’re requesting. Many tasks that seem obvious, simple, or self-explanatory to adults are actually quite complex for children given their cognitive levels. To effectively execute tasks like “Get ready for school,” or “Calm down”, children actually require many cognitive abilities to come together in unison (e.g. executive functioning skills such as attention, planning, organization, time management; and emotion regulation skills to manage frustration, etc.). So, if you find yourself telling your child to do something that he or she has trouble with, take a step back and ask yourself if you need to impart additional skills to help your child complete the task.

Set appropriate limits and stick to them.
Kids learn and perform best when they know what is expected of them. If the limits keep changing or are not really enforced, children may come to expect things to always go their way, and we all know that’s not possible. As a result, children may have a harder time in situations at school or with peer relationships when others are not giving in to their demands. Start by setting simple, yet enforceable limits to help your child understand that “such is life,” so to speak.

Carve out time . . . but not as much as you think.
Parents often hear that they need to make more time for their children (and they do), but they may not realize that a little goes a very long way. Sure, it’s nice to carve out time for family activities and vacations, but these require a chunk of time that parents may not consistently have. Believe it or not, many parenting programs recommend a daily dose of just five minutes. Often referred to as “special time,” this is just five minutes of time spent with your child doing something he or she finds fun and interesting without trying to teach, correct, or criticize (unless it’s harmful or unsafe, of course). Remember, the goal isn’t to lead children in an activity; the goal is to follow them and show interest in what they’re doing.

Understand and validate how they feel.
You don’t have to agree with your child’s feelings to understand (and validate) how he or she is feeling. Parents often confuse the two and assume that by saying “I understand how you feel” they are inherently agreeing that their child should feel that way. By simply acknowledging their children’s feelings, parents can help them develop better self-control over time. The first step to regulating emotions is knowing which emotion you’re experiencing and that, although valid, it’s time to cope with it and move on. After labeling and validating the emotion, briefly help to problem-solve the situation, or move on. Eventually your child will too!

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

Yamalis Diaz, PhD is a clinical assistant professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Child Study Center at NYU Langone Medical Center.

Beyond Milk & Cookies: Festive Gluten and Dairy-Free Holiday Treats!

Now Dasher, Now Dancer, Now Gluten-Free Prancer and Dairy-Free Vixen?

If your child has celiac disease or a milk allergy, leaving Santa and his crew the usual milk and cookies on Christmas Eve may be out of the question. How can you best handle these food allergies and stick to your family’s traditions on Christmas Eve?

Eat Like a Reindeer
In the wild, reindeer rely on leafy greens as their main source of food. They enjoy birch and willow leaves as well as grass, moss, fern, and herbs. During the winter, they even dig below the snow using their hooves in search of a bushy plant called lichen, otherwise known as “reindeer moss!” For those with food allergies, leafy greens are gluten and dairy-free, not to mention packed with vitamins A, C, E, and K (essential for growing teeth and bones, a strong immune system, and healthy eyes and skin). Notably, leafy greens are also rich in iron, magnesium, and calcium, significant to those with celiac disease, as levels in some individuals may be low.

Why not include some reindeer food as a side for Christmas Eve dinner and save some for Rudolph to enjoy later? Make your own salad dressing to limit allergens and to encourage your family to experiment with different flavor combinations. For reindeer fare inspiration, check out CHOPCHOP’s Red Radish Salad or put your little elves to work at designing their own gluten-free, dairy-free fodder:

Jobs for Santa’s Helpers

Wash and dry lettuce using a salad spinner Tear leaves and herbs into small pieces
Peel cucumbers Grate carrots
Toss ingredients together Measure olive oil
Squeeze lemons Shake salad dressing to combine in a jar with a lid

Mix and Match Recipe: Reindeer Food
Decorate reindeer food with your choice of greenery and ornaments, then top with your favorite trimmings!

Greenery Red and Green Ornaments               The Trimmings
Baby spinach or Bok Choy Apples 2 parts olive oil plus . . .
Kale Dried Cranberries or Cherries 1 part balsamic vinegar OR
Arugula Pomegranate seeds 1 part Red wine vinegar OR
Boston Lettuce Grapes 1 part Lemon juice plus . . .
  Bell Peppers Pinch of salt
Cherry Tomatoes
Green onions
Pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

Plan a Cookie Swap
Now that you have the reindeer taken care of, what is there to cook up for Santa? Gluten-free, dairy-free baking does differ from baking with wheat flour, milk, and butter. However, in our experience, these baked goods taste just as delicious as the real thing!

Gluten-free baked goods turn out the best if you make your own gluten-free all-purpose flour mixture from a few different types of flours. By including both whole grain and starchy flours, you’ll ensure that the end result more closely mimics wheat flour. For a more detailed explanation, as well as suggestions for a variety of flours to use, check out The Gluten Free Girl and the Chef. If you’re short on time or would rather purchase a gluten-free all-purpose flour mixture, there are many ready-made products available. We have tried both flour routes, and both led to yummy results!

You can use coconut, soy, and almond milk as substitutes for cow’s milk in most recipes, however, since each has a unique flavor, you may want to experiment a bit depending on what you’re baking. Additionally, if a recipe calls for warmed up milk (like hot chocolate), note that soy milk may curdle if heated too quickly or at too high of a temperature. Stick to low and slow! Many recipes for cookies and other sweets call for butter, but if you’re dairy-free, there are some very butter-like alternatives available.

On the night before Christmas, try this favorite gluten-free, dairy-free cookie recipe, or use gluten-free all-purpose flour in your own cookie recipes. To drink, leave Santa a cup of Hot Honey Vanilla Milk (substitute coconut, soy, or almond milk for cow’s milk), or go with a cold glass of a cow’s milk alternative. Now grab your apron, put on some festive music, and show Santa how gluten-free, dairy-free baking is done right!

Jobs for Santa’s Helpers

Measure ingredients Crack eggs
Mix batter Roll cookies in cinnamon-sugar mixture

Recipe: Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Mexican Chocolate Cookies
Makes: 3 dozen

315 gm. Gluten-free all-purpose flour blend
1/2 cup Unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. Cream of tartar
1 tsp. Baking soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 cup Gluten-free, dairy-free butter substitute
1 3/4 cups Sugar, divided
2 large Eggs
2 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Ancho Chile powder (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375° F, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper
2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt
3. Using an electric mixer or a stand mixer, beat the butter substitute and 1 ½ cups of sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes
4. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs, and beat to combine
5. With the mixer on low, gradually add the dry ingredients and mix until incorporated
6. In a small bowl, combine remaining 1/4 cup of sugar with cinnamon and chile powder
7. Using a small ice cream scoop, or heaping tablespoons, form balls of dough and roll in cinnamon-sugar mixture
8. Place about 3 inches apart on parchment lined baking sheets
9. Bake until cookies are set in the center and beginning to crack, about 12 minutes
10. Let cookies cool, and store in an airtight container for up to a week (these cookies also freeze well)

To learn more about nutrition and gluten-free foods, join us in the kitchen and get cooking! Through a partnership with the Natural Gourmet Institute, the Sylvia Center and NYU Langone Medical Center’s S.Q.U.A.S.H. and Pediatric Celiac Disease and Gluten Related Disorders Programs, kids learn to make fun, healthy, gluten-free recipes with professional chefs.  Class is free and open to the public for kids ages 7 to 12. For more information, email celiacdiseaseprogram@nyumc.org or call 646-754-2233.

NOTE: Foods and ingredients listed are considered to be gluten-free and dairy-free as of the date of this blog post, but we always recommend reviewing food labels to confirm, as manufacturing practices may change. Call food companies if you are ever not sure!

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

Jackie Ballou Erdos, MS, RD, CDN, Pediatric Nutrition Coordinator and Director of the S.Q.U.A.S.H. Program (Smart choices, Quality ingredients, Unique, Appetizing, Simple & Healthy) at NYU Langone Medical Center.