Friday, December 30, 2011

Preventative Means

Watching morning T.V., a beloved past-time of mine on friday morning, I heard about some controversial new advertisements targeting the use of Meth (Methamphetamine Drugs).  Darren Aronofsky, from the movie "The Black Swan", directed several of the Meth Project Foundation ads, and I must say they are VERY graphic.

The Meth Project Foundation was established by businessman Thomas M. Siebel in 2005 in response to the growing Meth epidemic in the U.S.  The Meth Project is a large-scale prevention program aimed at reducing Meth use through public service messaging, public policy, and community outreach. Central to the program is a research-based marketing campaign and community action programs designed to communicate the risks of Meth use.  The Meth Project is funded by a grant from the Thomas and Stacey Siebel Foundation.

These scare tactics and threats do not usually work on current drug users.  The ads motto, "Not even once", aims to target potential users rather than current users..  The ads are very well done, very shocking and unforgiving.  I debated whether or not to embed one of the videos here, but I decided against it because of its graphic nature.  I do, however, encourage you to search on YouTube and tell me what you think.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Two weeks ago, I was asked about the right time to say "no" to a child.  Most recent opinions about this seem to suggest that delaying saying "no" has many benefits, most importantly providing a positive and nurturing environment for the child.  This is certainly something to think about.  I, however, do think that saying "no" will not have any detrimental effects on the child's upbringing even at an early age.  In fact it can be useful.  We have to keep in mind that is it CRITICAL to give children an alternatives as often as possible, and use "no" when it is regarding something potentially dangerous/serious.  For example, if your child is playing with your phone, we can simply redirect him by saying "This is mummy's not yours, but here's your toy, while you hand your child something that belongs to him.  If the child was trying to touch the fire/heater, saying "no" is appropriate.  Explain why whenever possible.

When we are talking about parenting, we very often have to also talk about reality and practicality and not just ideals.  Does that mean we are not providing our very best? Not at all!
Your young child would have heard "no" from you or others even if it not directed at him/her.  Furthermore, in interactions with other adults, your child may have been told "no" directly.  Thinking about cognition and the development of linguistic awareness, it makes more sense that we associate from an early age a relationship between the word "no" and its meaning.  Children thrive within a structure and within a predictable environment, and some limitations are necessary.

Allowing the child to hear the word "no", will also teach the child about assertiveness.  You would have taught your own child how to express his disdain or refusal.  I can probably hear some "oh no's" from you readers right now, but again, an expressive child will be more successful and independent than a non-expressive child.  When children start saying "no" this is the ideal time to teach them about choices and consequences.

Do you remember our earlier post about discipline (here)?  Remember that video of the boy during the tantrum?.  These types of tantrums can be seen in very young children; even younger than the expected "terrible twos" stage.  When structure is in place and some rules are implemented, the tantrums can be dealt with more efficiently.

So what is our summary?

  • Saying "no" can be beneficial.  It builds structure and differentiates between dangerous and non dangerous behavior.
  • Saying "no" also provides children with predictability, which makes them feel safe.
  • Try to give alternatives whenever possible instead of "no" for very young children.
  • For older children: Keep giving alternatives and show your child how to correct their own mistakes.
  • Saying "no" teaches children about assertiveness and allows them to express negative emotions.
  • Give children choices and teach them about consequences.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Holiday Reflection...

As the New Year approaches and the festivities of the holidays commence, many of us start thinking about the past year…. The difficulties, surprises and pleasures we have had.  Some of us make lists and others resolutions.  It is important to reflect and deflect in any way you find useful.  Dr. Marilyn Price-Mitchell suggested in an article in Psychology Today that parents keep these two resolutions:
  1.      Be a positive role-model
  2.      Help my kids believe in themselves

What wonderful resolutions! They are not easy, and they are not straight forward, but they are very important.  To help you with these resolutions, I ask you to think about your own experiences this year, as an individual and as a family.  Learn from the mistakes, and celebrate the successes… Think about the important things (including people, events, activities, etc) in your life, and how much time and love you dedicate to these things.  Remind yourself and others around you that you deserve love and deserve to be happy.  Believe in your self and your children will follow...  Feel positive about your life and the positivity will transcend to your family...

Here is a song which is perfect for our little post today…

This holiday season I wish you all Love…

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Eating your way to health

After checking Oleana Blog's post about our government school lunches (which look horrible!), I remembered the REMARKABLE project that Chef Jamie Oliver headed both in the U.K and U.S.A. to change school lunches. Because of his efforts, he was the 2010 TED Prize Winner. His speech was touching, inspirational and educational. Please take the time to see the whole video... I know it's quiet long.  Kuwait's population struggles immensely with very high rates of obesity and diet related diseases.

Several of our earlier posts have been dedicated to the cause (see our September entry)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Adoption Read-y

Recently I posted about a very important but often undiscussed issue: Adoption.  After consulting with Om Wahabi, a wonderful mother of two gorgeous adopted children, I provide you with her recommended reading list...  I also encourage those of you who are interested in knowing more about adoption locally to check out "Special Mothers" page on Facebook.

Please do feel free to share your own experiences and suggested reading...

1. Found , Jennifer Lauck
2. Attaching in adoption, Deborah D. Gray
3. The Primal Wound, Nancy Newton Verrier
4. 20 Things Adoptive Parents Need to Succeed, Sherrie Eldridge
5. Making Sense of Adoption, Lois Ruskai Melina
6. Twice born, Betty Jean Lifton

Found , by Jennifer Lauck

Attaching in adoption, by Deborah D. Gray

The Primal Wound, by Nancy Newton Verrier

20 Things Adoptive Parents Need to Succeed, by Sherrie Eldridge

Making Sense of Adoption, by Lois Ruskai Melina
Twice born, by Betty Jean Lifton

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Marriage Survival 101

 A new post to share by Jennifer Ludden from the SHOTS blog...
To Keep Marriage Healthy When Baby Comes, Share House Work 

As many couples can attest — and lots of research backs this up — marital happiness plummets with the arrival of a baby. Sleepless nights, seemingly endless diaper changes and the avalanche of new chores that come with a newborn leave little time for the intimacies of marriage. It's a situation ripe for mental stress and marital discord.

In fact, the strain is so well documented that, as the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this year, a growing number of mental-health professionals now advise pre-emptive relationship counseling for expectant parents.

But in a survey of 2,870 married couples, the National Marriage Project of the University of Virginia found that more than a third of them buck the trend, managing to stay happy through the emotional, physical and financial strains of new parenthood. So, how do they do it?

Not surprisingly, the report finds sexual satisfaction and a sense of commitment top the list of traits that lead husbands and wives to say they are "very happy" in marriage. No. 3 is "generosity," defined as:

"the virtue of giving good things to [one's spouse] freely and abundantly," and encompasses small acts of service (e.g., making coffee for one's spouse in the morning), the expression of affection, displays of respect, and a willingness to "forgive him/her for mistakes and failings."

Further down the list: shared housework. That's right, both mothers and fathers are more likely to report they are "very happy" when housework is "shared equally." So presumably, asking your husband to do the laundry (or your wife to change the light bulb) can be good for your marriage. Though harking back to generosity, perhaps it's better if each volunteers to take on the task.

The survey is a joint project of the National Marriage Project and the Institute for American Values, conservative groups that promote marriage. Their report also finds — as many surveys have shown — that more devoutly religious people often rank themselves happier. Another recent study attributes this effect to the social networks that religion can foster.

Strikingly, the National Marriage Project finds a big jump in marital happiness among couples with four or more children (which, as the researchers note, is likely a pretty self-selecting group.)

Or, there's a simpler strategy: patience. Contrary to popular perception, evidence suggests marital bliss rebounds with the empty nest.

Sitting comfortably...

Did these car seats grab your attention? Are you expecting? Or is your little baby looking for a "big boy" seat?  

Click here to find out how you can get 10% off ALL of these wonderful Maxi-Cosi Seats from Just Kidding (Dubai).

Offer expires at the end of December... HURRY!

Monday, December 12, 2011

International exchange...

Last week I attended the 1st International Conference on Learning Disabilities and ADHD in Kuwait.  It was a 2 day event hosted by Center for Child Evaluation and Teaching (CCET) and the Kuwait Association for Learning Differences (KALD).  The turn-out was wonderful! Around 2,000 people were registered to attend the lectures, and the international lecturers were truly top notch.  Here is one article from Arab Times (online) which reviewed the conference, for you to have an idea about what topics were tackled.

‘Need To Ensure Students With Learning Disabilities And ADHD Remain Part Of Society’Acting Health Minister Represents The Amir At The Confab
KUWAIT CITY, Dec 4: “We must keep in mind that individuals with Learning Disabilities and ADHD are often vulnerable members of the population and it is our duty as parents, educators, healthcare professionals and the entire community for that matter, to protect them, ensure they remain integrated in society and assist them to become productive and contributing members,” said Dr. Hilal Al-Sayer, Acting Health Minister in his speech, as he represented the Amir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah at the opening of the First International Conference on Learning Disabilities (LD) and Attention Deficit/Hyper-activity Disorder (ADHD) Sunday at the Regency Hotel in Kuwait.

The two-day conference with the slogan “The Future Unites Us” under the patronage of HH the Amir was organized by The Center for Child Evaluation and Teaching (CCET) and the Kuwait Association for Learning Differences (KALD) and attended by delegates and experts on the relevant fields from across the world as well as teachers, educators in public and private schools, students and parents interested in learning about the latest development in the field of LD/ADHD.

In his speech preceded by the Kuwait national anthem and a recitation of the Qur’an, the Chairman of CCET, Abdullah Sharhan welcoming participants to the special needs conference, stated that the event which was timed to coincide with the worldwide celebrations of the International Day of the Disabled, will focus on learning disabilities as one of the most important and commonest types of disabilities negatively affecting individuals’ ability to read, write, compute and focus on school and academic achievement, which leads to their inability to contribute fully and positively to society because they are not able to benefit from the mainstream educational services provided by the state.

Sharhan added that the conference will concentrate on awareness, training, assessment and intervention in addition to building bridges and links between public and private sectors, governmental bodies and civil society organizations in a scientific ambience that is targeted to benefit children with LD and ADHD.

In his capacity as the representative of the Amir, Dr Al-Sayer commended the organizers of the event, saying that he was impressed by its scope and agenda as well as the impressive list of delegates who have gracefully accepted the invitation to come to Kuwait to attend, share knowledge and experiences.
Al-Sayer further stated that events of this nature, not only raises awareness in the community of the unique needs and challenges faced by parents, educators, administrators, policy makers and children themselves, but also serves as an example of the type of forum required to address and overcome them. The acting health minister, added that people should always bear in mind that individuals with LD and ADHD are often vulnerable populations and it’s the duty of parents, educators, healthcare professionals and the entire community for that matter, to protect them, ensure they remain integrated in society and assist them to become productive and contributing members of society.

The importance of the conference lies in its ability to establish social harmony between civil society organizations and governmental and non-governmental organizations. It is also a demonstration of Kuwait’s leadership in providing better services to students with LD and or ADHD including assessment, therapeutic programs, training session and educational projects, said Faten Al-Bader, Director of CCET.
Commenting on their motivation for organizing the conference, Director of KALD, Amal Al-Sayer said that the initiative for the event comes from their belief in the role of civil society organizations in achieving the objectives of the recent development plan for Kuwait approved by the Amir. She added that the basis for the development of an educational system for the disabled depends on the cooperation between governmental and non-governmental institutions.

Conference day one saw 13 different sessions and workshops given by many experts, with the first session being conducted by Dr. Gavin Reid, an eminent Educational Psychologist from the United Kingdom who has written extensively on LD and ADHD. Reid’s lecture which focused on the identification of literacy and learning needs of students with LD, also highlighted on how these needs can be transferred from an assessment protocol to classroom teaching.

Next lecture was by Shannon Green, an international consultant on learning and literacy difficulties who gave an insight into how to bridge the gap between parents and schools and how effective communication can be achieved and what strategies  can be used to by parents and teachers to establish the link. On his part, Professor Charles Haynes focused on early diagnosis and teaching for pre-literacy skills while Professor John Everatt’s session discussed reading comprehension in children with LD.

As a demonstration of the interactive nature of the conference, parents were given the opportunity to clarify the diagnosis and methods of evaluation of LD and the ways to cope with it. A number of workshops were also given to clarify the concept of Dyscalculia (math learning difficulties) and the importance of identifying the types of the condition as well as students suffering from it.

The sessions and workshops are in tune with the conference’s main objectives which include clarifying the role of institutions working in the field of LD and ADHD, provision of knowledge for governmental and non-governmental institutions as well as educational institutions. The objectives also include the provision of the latest services and learning environments for students with LD and or ADHD as well as share experience and expertise in the areas of diagnosis and treatment of the condition.

Mama, I need to go!

Potty training is a part of parenting that many dread, as it can be messy and exhausting, but once mastered provides huge relief.  An interesting article from Healthy Children provided information on the emotional development needed for toilet training.  Many parents just assume that by a certain age the child has to be potty trained.  It is very important to remember that each child is different, and these emotional indicators can help in easing the toilet training process for you and your child.  Observe your child's general behavior and his/her behavior towards potty use, keeping in mind these four aspects:

  1. Self Mastery- The desire to control one's own functions and environment.
  2. Resistance- The desire to control physical functions and environment.
  3. Desire for Approval- Basically your child's desire to get your approval and imitate behavior.
  4. Social Awareness- Looking at your child's desire to be like others.
For the full article, click here.

Not Santa but Eggbert?

Who is Eggbert? Found out by clicking here.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Below is a beautiful video I would like to share with you... This is the beginning of a wonderful journey for one family in Kuwait. Adoption is a choice many people make, but very few speak about...
To know more about this family, and learn more about adoption in Kuwait visit the following blog:

The Other Voice: Little man's grub

Today's The Other Voice post is by the wonderful Noor Al Zabin...

Following the notes I shared with you regarding organic baby food and their availability, I thought I’d share some tips in preparing fresh food that I have tried with my child that could be of help.

Once a baby is set on a 4/5 meal plan (breakfast-snack-lunch-snack-dinner) is it’s important to ensure that the meals that you prepare are wholesome, fresh and varied.. Babies’ palates are clean and virgin to any tastes and preferences and it is as you go along that they start to develop their likes and dislikes. With that in mind I feel it is very important to introduce different tastes and flavors early on to avoid major dislikes in the future. Here are a few foods that you can try including with your cooked meals:

1)    Tofu: A fantastic source of protein, calcium and iron.. This would make a great alternative to meats a few times a week and its quite bland so babies usually don’t mind it mixed with their usual vegetables

2)    Quinoa: Packed with protein, vitamins A.C, B1 and B2. This could be cooked and added to vegetable and meat meals.

3)    Lentils: I make sure my little one has lentils with vegetables a couple of times a week on his meat-free days… Lentils are high in six minerals, fiber, protein and B vitamins.

4)    Vegetables: Be adventurous within boundaries. Include vegetables you might usually not have at home but know are very nutritious. Parsnips, broccoli, squash, cauliflower, asparagus, avocado, spinach and beetroot all make regular appearances in my little one’s diet.

5)   Fruit: As recommended by our pediatrician I avoid tropical fruit (mango, pineapple, strawberries) during the first year to minimize risk of any allergic reactions. That mentioned, it’s beneficial to ensure fruits are a part of the daily program such as bananas, grapes, oranges, pears, apples, peaches, plums.

As with any new food introduced to babies, it’s important to try each new food with caution looking out for any allergic reactions. After all every baby is different...

"The Other Voice"- Is our contributing authors post.  If you would like to contribute, email me at for approval, editing and eventual posting:)

Abused Child = Combat Soldier?

Powerful new study...

How Abuse Changes a Child’s Brain

The brains of children raised in violent families resemble the brains of soldiers exposed to combat, psychologists say.
They’re primed to perceive threat and anticipate pain, adaptations that may be helpful in abusive environments but produce long-term problems with stress and anxiety.
“For them to detect early cues that might signal danger is adaptive. It allows them to react, to try and avoid the danger,” said psychologist Eamon McCrory of University College London. However, “a very similar neural signature characterizes quite a few anxiety disorders.”
In a study published Dec. 5 in Current Biology, McCrory’s team used functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, to measure blood flows in the brains of 43 children exposed to violence at home as they looked at pictures of sad or angry faces.
Previous studies have shown that abuse affects kids’ brains; as they grow up, abused children become adults with high levels of aggression, anxiety, depression and other behavioral problems. But according to McCrory, the new study is the first to use fMRI to study the form of those changes.
“Understanding the neural mechanisms might give us clues as to how someone’s future might be shaped by their experience,” McCrory said.
His team compared fMRIs from abused children to those of 23 non-abused but demographically similar children from a control group. In the abused children, angry faces provoked distinct activation patterns in their anterior insula and right amygdala, parts of the brain involved in processing threat and pain. Similar patterns have been measured in soldiers who’ve seen combat.
Another recent study found that depression in people who were abused as children is especially difficult to treat. McCrory hopes future work will give a more complete picture of abuse’s neurological effects — and, perhaps, the effects of interventions that help children heal.
“Can children change in response to an act of intervention? To a better home environment? We’re quite optimistic that’s the case, that this is reversible. But that’s something we need to test,” McCrory said.
Image: D. Sharon Pruitt/Flickr
Citation: “Heightened neural reactivity to threat in child victims of family violence.” By Eamon J. McCrory, Stéphane A. De Brito, Catherine L. Sebastian, Andrea Mechelli, Geoffrey Bird, Phillip A. Kelly, and Essi Viding. Current Biology, Vol. 21 No. 23, Dec. 6, 2011.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Tea with me?

I promise it will be friendlier than this

Good crisp morning...
  I wanted to use this forum to get some feedback on a new idea I have.  One of my wonderful regular clients had suggested that she groups 2-3 of her friends who have children of similar ages to talk about parenting in general.  I absolutely love this idea, and would like to take it further.
  Support groups and group sessions are a wonderful way for people to exchange ideas, build connections, and find comfort in realizing "I am not alone".  This will most likely be a once/week morning session to begin with, and the topics/age group would change monthly.  Let me know what topics might interest you by commenting below or emailing me directly (  If you are interested to know about these sessions once they start, do say so in your comment/email and I will keep you updated.  I am hoping to start offering the group sessions in January or February.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Apps & Autism

An interesting article from The New York Times.
I have not personally tried any of these applications, but they have been reviewed 
by professionals, adults with Autism and parents with children with Autism...

November 29, 2011, 11:47 AM

Finding Good Apps for Children With Autism

Leo Rosa, son of Shannon Des Roches Rosa, of Redwood City, Calif., plays with Spot the Dot, an educational app for the iPad that has been shown to work well with children who have autism.Shannon Des Roches RosaLeo Rosa, son of Shannon Des Roches Rosa, of Redwood City, Calif., plays with Spot the Dot, an educational app for the iPad.
The Apple iPad has been hailed as a savior for assisting children with autism spectrum disorder or other special needs. It was portrayed as a minor miracle in a recent segment on “60 Minutes” and has been found to help even the very young quickly learn.
Anecdotally, teachers, parents and therapistsdescribe the profound difference that apps for Apple and Android products have made in helping autistic children develop skills. IPad programs have provided a means of communicating for some children with autism who cannot speak or have language delays. Other apps help children learn to handle social situations that can be stressful, like crowds at malls. And many programs can help develop fine-motor skills, which promote functions like writing or manipulating small objects.
Sami Rahman of Houston said that his son, Noah, 3, who has cerebral palsy, was woefully behind in fine-motor skills, speech and cognitive skills before he began therapies and intervention programs. But in four months, the apps he used — along with sessions with therapists and teachers — have put him ahead of the curve in all these areas, Mr. Rahman said.
The iPad “has lowered the cognitive base you have to have to interface with a computer,” Mr. Rahman said. “You touch it, and something happens.”
But as is the case with so many categories of apps, it’s daunting to know where to begin when sorting through the thousands of programs available. “There are so many apps, and not all of them are great,” said Shannon Des Roches Rosa of Redwood City, Calif., whose son, Leo, 11, has autism.
To that end, several good Web sites have been created to review special-needs apps. Most of these sites are not driven by advertising nor do they receive referral fees for recommending apps:
iPad Apps for Autism A Google docs site maintained by Ms. Rosa that grew out of a project she did for the Hollyrod Foundation. The apps she has reviewed and recommended are classified into categories like art, language and music. Jordan Sadler, a professional speech therapist in Chicago, and Corina Becker, an adult with autism, are among the main reviewers. Among the developers she recommends are InjiniToca BocaDuck Duck Moose andOceanhouse Media. “Specific companies produce great apps,” Ms. Rosa said.
Other sites she recommends for app listings include Technology in (Spl) Education, which includes a list of free and discounted apps, and Speech-Language Pathology Sharing for language development. The site, a program of the Easter Seals, lists more than 700 apps but includes about 60 that have been professionally reviewed. The reviews are all done by a special education teacher or certified therapist, many of whom are a part of the Easter Seals network. Mr. Rahman and Cristen Reat, who has a son with Down syndrome, co-founded the site to help identify useful apps. The reviews and categories are organized based on skills learned rather than what disability or diagnosis is targeted. “It’s really for all ages,” said Ms. Reat. “We know stroke victims and people with Alzheimer’s who are using our Web site.” This site, which stands for Apps for Children With Special Needs, features 500 video reviews done by Gary James of Oxford, Conn., who has a son with autism and a daughter with epilepsy. He says he has reviewed some 5,000 apps, but only lists reviews of apps that he believes do what they promise. If an app passes that test and is listed, developers can pay to be on the home page of his site. But that revenue does not cover all the costs of operating the site, he said. This database contains over 400 apps for iPad/iPhone and nearly 70 for Android. The site was started by Francesc Sistach and his wife, Susana Vila, who live in Spain. Iván Soriano, another parent of a child with autism, is also a main reviewer. Mr. Sistach says the app he finds most interesting is See.Touch.Learn, an app based on Applied Behavior Analysis, a common early intervention therapy for autistic children. “This app can complement expensive one-to-one sessions with a therapist with self-learning sessions using a tablet,” he said.
The site also includes Spanish and other foreign language apps. “Many U.S. developers are forgetting that there are many, many users in other countries, and they only publish their apps in English.” Mr. Sistach said. “ We encourage all developers to translate their apps to other languages, and we are even helping some of them in this process.”

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

It shouldn't hurt to be a child...

Apologies for the delay... The past two weeks have been exceptionally busy.  Last night I gave a lecture on Child Abuse at the Kuwait Medical Association by the invitation of Kuwait Child Rights Society.  I will not present the full powerpoint here, but I will share the summarized list of preventative tips I found from the American Academy of Pediatrics:
*** Please note that even though the wording presented here by the American Academy of Pediatrics seems to suggest that abuse only happens to girls (using she/her), boys are just as likely to be abused. (I doubt that the AAP had meant to be gender specific)
  • Teach your child about the privacy of body parts, and that no one has the right to touch her if she tells the individual not to do so. She should understand that some touching is "good" but some is "bad”.
  • In early childhood, parents can teach their children the name of the genitals, just as they teach their child the names of other body parts. This teaches that the genitals, while "private" are not so private that you can't talk about them.
  • Sit down with your child and explain various situations that might indicate that a possible child molester is making advances.
  • Tell a child that a molester or abductor may offer her alcohol or drugs to reduce her inhibitions.
  • Tell your child that threats from a molester or anyone else are against the law—"If you tell your mother what we did, I'm going to hurt/kill her"—and to tell you immediately about them.
  • If your youngster is in a position to do door-to-door solicitation—perhaps selling Girl Scout cookies or collecting money for a newspaper route—have an adult go with her. Warn your child that she should never enter someone else's home unless an adult accompanies her. (More appropriately for us would be “Girgai’an time)
  • Investigate whether your youngster's school has an abuse-prevention program.
  • Monitor the activities at your child's child-care facility or summer camp. Participate in these activities whenever possible.
  • Spend enough time with your child that she does not feel the need to seek the attention of other adults.

Let us all work on implementing child protection laws and building a supportive infrastructure in Kuwait

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Separation-Anxiety... Overcoming the Disorder

As aforementioned in my previous post, separation anxiety as a normal life stage first develops at about 7 months of age; once a baby understands that his or her caregivers do not disappear when out of sight (object permanence). That leads to the baby developing a true attachment to those adults. Normal separation anxiety is at its strongest at 10 to 18 months and gradually subsides, usually by the age of 3 years. Normal separation anxiety may result in parents having trouble with their babies at bedtime or other times of separation, in that the child becomes anxious, cries, or clings to the caretaker.

Separation anxiety disorder is a mental health disorder that begins in childhood and is characterized by worrying that is out of proportion to the situation of temporarily leaving home or otherwise separating from loved ones. Four percent to 5% of children and adolescents suffer from separation anxiety disorder. The symptoms/signs of separation anxiety include:

  • Repeated excessive anxiety about something bad happening to loved ones or losing them.
  • Heightened concern about either getting lost or being kidnapped.
  • Repeated hesitancy or refusal to go to daycare or school or to be alone or without loved ones or other adults that are important to the anxious child.
  • Persistent reluctance or refusal to go to sleep at nighttime without being physically close to adult loved ones.
  • Repeated nightmares about being separated from the people who are important to the sufferer.
  • Recurrent physical complaints, such as headaches or stomach aches, when separation either occurs or is expected.

Tips on how to help your child overcome separation anxiety:
  • Try not to punish your child for continuing to suffer from the symptoms, but rather reward your child for small victories.
  • Allow your child, in the beginning, to try to achieve those small victories in your presence. Attend some classes with your child, the child may initially want to be on your lap, then is able to sit next to you, and later you may wait outside the classroom, until the final goal of complete separation is achieved.
  • Allow your child to have a symbolic reminder of you and the home.  Pictures or a favorite toy may be utilized as a transitional object and can have a calming effect on your child.
  • Try to prepare your child for upcoming separations whenever possible, as sudden separations may be very difficult in the beginning.
  • Try separations for a brief period of time.  Gradually increase time and distance.
  • When you tell your child that you are going…Go! Do not stall, or repeat goodbyes.  Your child may then become clingy and irritable.
  • Honor time commitments to your child (especially older children).
  • Plan fun activities in advance so you allow the child to anticipate positive outcomes once you are reunited.
  • Simple relaxation techniques can help your child overcome his/her anxiety.  Try teaching the child simple exercises like taking a deep breath or counting to 10. 

Separation-Anxiety... A fact

I think most parents have done this at one point or another...  Do not worry! It is not completely traumatizing and damaging to sneak off, but from a developmental and parental stand-point, it is MORE effective to address the issue and teach your child how to handle separation (rather than delaying the inevitable).  It is true, however, that sneaking off may increase anxiety, or prolong the period of separation anxiety for your child. 

Separation-Anxiety...A definition

Separation anxiety is a normal developmental stage experienced by a child when separated from the primary caregiver. It typically manifests itself as crying and distress when a child is away from a parent or from home.

As time goes by and a child learns to feel safe in a new environment and secure that a parent or caregiver will return after an absence, anxiety over separation should fade.
The typical sequence of child development and parent/child attachment is as follows:

  • First few months: Babies don’t differentiate much among caregivers and usually can be calmed by any loving person, regardless of relationship. This is why new parents often get more emotional the first time they leave an infant with a babysitter or at day care than the baby does!
  • 7-14 months: By about 7 months, babies realize that there’s only one Mom and/or Dad, but they don’t have a sense of time, so even if parents step into the next room for a minute, all the baby knows is that they’re gone, and they’re going to cry or cling or do whatever it takes to keep that from happening. This phase is often called “stranger anxiety,” because even the happiest child becomes shy or fearful around everyone but the primary caregiver, and generally peaks before 18 months.
  • Toddler/preschool years: Children can be anxious and become emotional when a parent or primary caregiver leaves but can be distracted by activities with the caregiver or other children.
  • By age 5: Most children are secure enough to be left with a babysitter, family member or dropped off at school without distress.
Young children exhibit many different behaviors when they are anxious, including:
  • Crying or whining
  • Clinginess (holding hand or leg, wanting to be held, hiding behind parent)
  • Shyness
  • They may become more silent or reclusive
  • They may be unwillingness to interact with others, even if they are familiar (other parent, grandparent, friend)

Situations such as moving to a new home, a change in caregiver, or the birth of a new sibling can trigger or exacerbate separation anxiety.

Normally, separation anxiety is the temporarily distressing result of something all parents want to maintain: bonding with their children. Babies bond to primary caregivers, and then realize their own selfhood, but this happens before they develop a sense of time or learn to trust that an absent caregiver will return. This is why they become anxious when the parent or guardian is not around. As children develop a sense of safety and security in their homes and with their parents, they begin to realize that people can leave and return, and gain confidence that caregiver who promise to come back will in fact come back.  With that realization, separation anxiety fades.

Keep an eye out for an upcoming post that will tackle Separation-Anxiety Disorder and how to overcome it...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

No snooze... They lose...

A super cute entry in Motherload, a New York Time's parenting blog, caught my attention and I wanted to share it with you... I am not supporting this mother's solution, but I do understand it.

Lying to Get My Children More Sleep

This weekend I set all the clocks back. About 7 on Sunday night (which was feeling a whole lot like 8 to me and four cranky children), I set them forward again. But not all the way. About half an hour. Just enough to give the children a little edge on what’s always a sleepy week without my having to declare an early bedtime — and then listen to a chorus of complaint. I admit it: I lied, or at least, I created an atmosphere in which a lie was implied. But it was all for an excellent cause.
For every sleepless parent out there, there’s a sleep-deprived child, and there’s no “mother’s little helper” drug for the child who isn’t getting enough rest. Instead, there are a whole host of troubles associated with shortened sleep hours for children from preschool through adolescence.
A 1998 study of high school students found that students who received poor grades went to bed later and slept less on average than students who got A’s and B’s. I’ve seen other research suggesting that 6- and 7-year-olds who slept only eight hours a night did not perform as well on tests of their academic performance as those who slept nine hours or more. And although that study considered only a relatively small number of children in Spain, I can testify firsthand that the 5-, 6- and 7-year-olds in my home who sleep less than nine hours do not perform as well on tests of cooperation and familial cohesion. Children who have slept well are easier to be around. They bounce back more easily from crushing blows, like an empty box of Cheerios. I don’t have any doubt that they’re doing better in their classrooms and on the playground.
But sometimes, in the midst of busy schedules and family activities, I forget to do a sleep check. Like most of us, I sleep less than I’d like, and I’m more accustomed than I ought to be to “powering through” after a late night. Without even realizing it, I impose the same choices on my children (minus the coffee). It takes something like Jennifer Moses’s article “Waking Up to Young Kids’ Sleep Troubles” in the weekend’s Wall Street Journal to remind me that while my children may cheer my decision to stay an extra half-hour at the Sunday night family party or indulge the desire to put off homework until after dinner, those things have consequences that they can’t fully appreciate. They’re as desperate for good sleep as the mothers reaching for Xanax that I wrote about earlier on Monday. They just don’t know it.
So Sunday night I sprung forward, a few months early, in the name of not just an earlier bedtime but a peaceful version of the same. No one noticed, in spite of the fact that I didn’t change the clocks by their beds. Or if they did, while crawling, clean and warm and tired, under their covers, they didn’t say anything. Tonight it’s back to normal, which will require me to remember (and enforce) the fact that if they need to go to sleep at 8:30 p.m., they need to go brush their teeth at 8 p.m., not 8:29 p.m. Tricking them into bed (like tricking them into eating vegetables) may get them more sleep, but it skimps on the message that sleep is important. Honesty is surely a better policy. But my little subterfuge was awfully effective. Four cheerful children were up on time and even a little early for school. And I felt better, too: with the children filed away, I was in bed earlier, with no loss to my treasured wind-down time. “Bedtime Savings Time” struck me as a win-win. I’m filing it away for future use.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Another Shot

Sharing another interesting article from SHOTS entitled : 

By Nancy Shute

Children today are growing up fast — so fast that they're now being told to have their cholesterol tested before they hit puberty.

The new recommendation to test all children for cholesterol at ages 9 to 11 comes from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. The goal is to reduce the risk of heart disease in adulthood. But the new recommendation runs counter to the advice of another federally-funded independent panel, which says routine screening isn't needed before age 20.

"The more we learn the more we realize that the atherosclerosis process really begins early in life," says Steven Daniels, chair of the panel that wrote the new guidelines, and a pediatric cardiologist who chairs the department of pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. The earlier in life cholesterol risk can be identified, the premise goes, the easier to keep it under control.

Pediatricians were already supposed to be doing cholesterol tests in children who are obese, have diabetes or have a family history of heart disease. But after studies found that those screening tools weren't catching some grade-schoolers with high cholesterol, the notion of universal screening gained traction.

Kids won't like it, because it requires a blood draw, and that means a needle. But the test won't require a special visit; it will be part of regular well child visits. The new guidelines are endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics is publishing them Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

But the new recommendation isn't universally endorsed. Some doctors think the call for universal screening is overkill, since only about half of children with high cholesterol will go on to have that problem as adults. And researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last year that in many children, high levels of LDL cholesterol corrected themselves by the next office visit.

A 2007 recommendation from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a federally-funded group that sets practice guidelines, says there's not enough evidence to recommend universal screening under age 20.

Daniels says that universal screening is intended to find children with very high LDL cholsterol, the "bad" kind, is 190 milligrams of the stuff in each decliter oof blood. Overall, less than 1 percent of children would be candidates for treatment with statin drugs, he says. "I don't think it's likely that there will be overtreatment."

More likely is that Mom and Dad will need to get serious about exercise eating healthy. Daniel says: "It gives them a stronger rationale for working hard on making the home the healthiest environment that it could be."

Even though statins have an enviable safety record in adults, no studies have been done on the implications of putting children on statins for the rest of their lives. That's why today's recommendation gives some physicians pause.