Positive Talk with Children
Positive talk with children can be elusive. Often, we get lost in the busy "to do list' of our lives. When our children don't follow directions or listen to us, we fall into the usual negative talk. "Stop that now." "Don't touch that." "Leave me alone." Arguments, yelling, and fighting can take place.
It's impossible to stop all the frustrating times with our children. However, remembering that sometimes we can change our reaction or approach, can prevent us from feeling bad. And positive talk prevents some of the negative feelings our children develop from constant negative talk. In addition positive talk with children involves the crucially important skill of listening. Other important aspects of positive talk with children include remembering that you're talking with a child, asking questions, acknowledging feelings, teaching alone time, giving praise, and making apologies.
Remember That You're Talking with a Child
Talk to children at eye level. When children are always looking up, especially when they've done something wrong, this is intimidating to them. Plus talking at eye level shows your children you have some respect for them.
Speak simply. A short sentence can go a long way. Responding to questions or misbehavior with one simple sentence will help a child stay on task and understand more clearly. Avoid a lecture. Avoid going on and on. At some point, they aren't listening.
Offer two choices, either of which you approve. When children are given options, it encourages independence. When you approve of either of the two choices that you offer, it creates an opportunity for happiness and not frustration. For example, "Would you like to eat peaches or pears?" They still may want chocolate chip cookies, but you have not asked them, "What do you want to eat?" which incorrectly leads them to believe they can pick their meal or snack.
Ask questions only if you want your child's opinion/answer. Asking, "Are you ready to go now?" gives a child the impression that if they are not easy, then you will wait. If you are not willing to wait, then tell them, "It's time to go now," so that there is no confusion. This allows them to know that there are times when their opinion matters. Accordingly, it lets them know that other times you are the one in charge, making the decisions.
Listen To Your Child
Stop and listen. We are often busy. Day in day out, there's a lot to do. There's laundry, meals, dishes, hosehold cleaning, work outside the home, family needs, and more keep us busy. However, none of those tasks help us to listen. Intentionally making the time to listen to our children can have a huge impact. There are techniques on how to listen to your child that can be learned easily. Our children can learn they are important by our interactions with them, not just what we do for them.
Set aside a time to listen. When we don't have the time to talk, then it's good to be honest. We can let our children know that, "Right now is not a good time for me to talk with you. I want to hear what you have to say. I'll make some time to talk with you later." Remember to tell your child a specific time when you will talk. then stick to your word. That way they will respect your time. And they will still feel important.
Repeat or restate what you heard. Often, we hear what our children said, but we interpret it incorrectly. Other times, when we repeat it to them, and they realize that they misspoke. This encourages our children to develop great communication skills.
Ask open-ended questions. "How are you feeling?" allows our children to express whatever is on their mind. "You didn't like that, did you?" limits what they will say. sometimes we need to hear all aspects of what their thinking, so that we can best help them.
Ask specific questions. If there is a specific issue, open-ended questions may not give a parent the answer needed. "What was your favorite part of today?" "What upset you the most?" "Did you understand what you learned in math class today?" These are some examples of questions that allow our children to narrow the conversation enough so that they know their specific positive or negative emotions and experiences are important. You are less likely get short answers, such as "Good," "Okay," "Bad," which are conversation enders.
Feelings Are Important
Encourage all feelings. It's okay to feel sad. We often say, "Don't be sad," as if it's a bad thing. This is hard to watch. Sometimes children just need to be held until the emotion passes and/or they express their feelings. Instead of pushing away unpleasant feelings, they will learn how to deal with their emotions, making them healthier children. Encouraging our children to feel their emotions gives them mental strength as adults too.
Share your feelings. "You made me sad when you lied to me." "I had a hard day at work today." This teaches them to think of others. It also shows them you are human too. However, make sure you keep this simple, as a child can easily be overwhelmed by adult emotions and their wish to please their parents. You want to share your feelings without making them feel responsible for your complete happiness.
Teach Alone Time
Teach our children to play by themselves. This will encourage independence which is essentially for their growth and development. It will also allow parents to act independently while getting our own tasks done.
Teach children that parents need alone time too. If you've ever been interrupted while on the toilet by your child, then you know the importance of your alone time. Shouting, "Leave me alone!" is not pleasant. Our children don't like it, sometimes getting their feeling hurt. And we don't feel good about ourselves afterwards. Explaining to our children that we need "alone time" for a certain amount of time and to carry out a specific task is important. Our children will model after what we do, not just what we say. They will learn from us that our time is valuable which will lead to the eventual realization that their time is valuable too. It also teaches them that they are not the center of the universe. We will not stop to fulfill their every need every moment of the day. It teaches them that there is a time and place for everything. Lastly, it also teaches them to appreciate everyone's need for alone time. In addition, this helps teach them to be considerate of other people's time. This form of positive talk with children explains actions and validating our children.
General praise is good. "Good job!" is a form of positive talk. However, it leaves some room for interpretation. What exactly made it a good job?
Specific Positive Praise is better because it is an improved form of positive talk with children. Let them know exactly what behavior or speech that did that you liked and why you like it. This helps encourages positive behavior, and decreases negative behavior, improve self-esteem, and improves the parent-child relationship. "I like how you sat quietly and completed your homework," is more likely to result in the child repeating the same specific behavior.
Admit when we are wrong. There are times that we have gone too far. We have said something that we shouldn't have said or did something we shouldn't have done. Children seem to know exactly how to overwhelm us when we are already overwhelmed. Simply saying, "I'm sorry. I was wrong to say/do that specific behavior." Then offer the change you'll make next time. "I'm sorry I yelled at you. Next time, I will tell you to stop playing video games or else I will turn off your device." In addition, consider asking our children what consequence they would like for their behavior. Usually kids know what they've done wrong. They will come up with an appropriate consequence. This is self empowering because they came up with the consequence. This helps our children know what to expect and the consequences of their action if they don't listen.
Apologize simply. "I'm sorry. You were right and I was wrong. And I'm so sorry." This validates our children. They learn that they have good behaviors. Then learn their parents are human, make mistakes, and apologize when appropriate. They also learn that it's okay to make mistakes. No one is perfect. In addition, parents are role models on how to apologize when we make a mistake.
• Winning Ways to Talk with Young Children by Virginia State University, Cooperative Extension Service - Dr. Valia Vincell, Child Developmental Specialist.
• 25 Ways To Talk So Children Will Listen by Dr. Sears
• 20 Ways To Talk So Your Kids Will Listen by Robert Myers, PhD
Coming Out To Your Doctor - Difficult & Private
Coming out to your doctor may be difficult, especially for if you are a teen. Often, a teenager comes out with a million thoughts running
through their head. Will my doctor accept me? Will my doctor help me? Does my doctor understand me? Will my doctor tell my parents/keep my secret? According to poll conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, 18% of all LGBTQ Americans refrain from seeing a physician for fear of discrimination.
What If I'm Scared of Coming Out to My Doctor?
Coming out to you doctor may feel very scary and unsafe. Consider asking your doctor if their office is a safe office where acceptance is commonplace. Whenever the LGBTQ child is suffering, the most important thing I can say to them is, "You are safe. You are safe here." Because every child is special. After all, one of the best gifts a pediatrician can give to any child, especially the LGBTQ child/teen is letting them know they are special and wonderful just as they are. It is not my job to help the child/teen figure out their sexual orientation. It is my job to make them feel comfortable enough so that I can help them with any health issues they may have to date.
Come Out When You Are Ready
Coming out to your doctor can help you in many ways. However, given the difficulty that this may involve, you may want to consider calling your/any doctor's office first to ask if they care for any LGBTQ patients. Remember, you don't have to give your name out at the first call. Ultimately, this may help you feel more comfortable and ready.
How To Come Out To Your Doctor
There are many conversation starters you can use, such as "There's a conversation I need to have with you" or "How do you handle patient confidentiality?" Consider telling the doctor in a matter-of-fact way. Chances are, you are not the first LGBTQ patient they have ever had. Follow up with a prepared list of questions that you have for your appointment. There is a "Do Ask, Do Tell" brochure that may help answer questions about coming out to your doctor. It is also important to know that there are laws that protect you and your doctor, so that your information is kept private. Ask about confidentiality will make you feel safe as well. In addition, you may consider bringing a friend, partner, or family member for support.
Doctors Can Offer Support in Many Ways
I've had teens come out to me as their doctor, some have been painful to witness. Painful for me, because it incredibly hard to see someone suffer and be in such tremendous emotional turmoil and/or physical pain) for simply saying their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. In the past, I reassured a transgender child in the midst of an immediate, intense, and severe panic attack by continually repeating, "You are safe. It's okay. You are safe here. You don't have to talk about it, but if you do, I'm here for you." I have had patients who became successful adults with great careers who thanked me for accepting them because I was the first person they came out to or that I cared for them and their issues with compassion and maybe even some tough love. Most recently, I held and rocked a child that I cared for over 15 years until they stopped their uncontrollable shaking because they couldn't face themselves and their sexual orientation. That child motivated me to write this blog. I want to help other LGBTQ youths know that they don't have to suffer, that their doctor can help them. Chances are your doctor cares and wants to help you in your journey to physical and mental health and peace.
Do I Have to Tell My Doctor I'm LGBTQ?
It's best if you do tell your doctor. Your doctor can't give you the best medical care if he/she doesn't know that you are a LBGTQ person. A doctor needs to know a patient's sexual orientation, gender identity, and sexual activity history, to best help that patient and their medical and psychological needs.
Medical Help & Disease Prevention Available
Sexual history will help me test for, diagnose and treat STDs. Also, a pediatrician or internist will be able to teach you how to prevent HPV and offer the HPV vaccine to prevent this cancer and wart causing disease. In addition, if you are HIV negative, but at high risk for developing HIV, then your doctor may start PrEP medication. What is PrEP? Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is Truvada, which is a daily pill that when taken helps prevent HIV in people who are high-risk by up to 92%. Your doctor may start this medication, if you agree to take it every day and follow-up with appointments every three (3) months. Consider bringing a List of Top Ten Issues LGBTQ People Can Discuss with Their Doctor with you to your appointment. In addition, if you are a transgender youth or adult, your doctor, yes, even your pediatrician, can refer you to a specialist for hormonal treatment.
Psychological Help Available
A doctor will also be able to make some psychological recommendations, if needed. LGBTQ teens are more likely to suffer from anxiety, depression, have increased risk of suicide, abuse, may need referral to a psychologist, a psychiatrist, and/or a support group, like the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA), and GSA Network. GSA is a student-led or community based organization. GSA is an important resource on social media on Twitter (@GLSEN) and Facebook. GSA Network is also a resource available on Twitter (@GSANetwork) and Facebook. Local support groups area usual available for GSA and GSA Network on social media and in as clubs many schools. Lastly, your doctor is a source of support, simply be accepting you and caring for you.
Doctors Willing to Learn LGBTQ Issues & Needs
Your doctor may be comfortable with caring for you as a LGBTQ patient. However, we are not classically trained to care for LGBTQ patients, so there usually is a learning curve. However, if your doctor says, "I don't know how to care for that issue, but let me do my research; I'll get back with you on that particular issue," then you have a great doctor indeed. A doctor that's willing to learn, cares for you, and is honest is the best kind of doctor.
Additional Resources for LGBTQ Teens & Parents
• Coming Out: Information for Parents of LGBTQ Teens is a helpful resource from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
• How To Support Your Child Who is Questioning Their Sexual Orientation by Everyday Feminism which includes definitions of many LGBTQ+ terms.
• Transgender Children & Youth: Understanding the Basics by the Human Rights Campaign.
• Sexual Attraction & Orientation by Kids Health.
Are There Test Anxiety Strategies That Can Help?
Yes! There are many test anxiety strategies on how to deal with test anxiety. First, I'm going to review the causes, the symptoms, and who gets it before I discuss what test anxiety strategies to use for managing test anxiety.
What is Test Anxiety?
Test anxiety is a feeling someone gets before or during test taking. It is a type of performance anxiety, that occurs when someone is typically concerned about getting a good outcome. The result is physical and psychological symptoms that occur before or during tests. Test anxiety can negatively affect learning and performance. The good news is there are test anxiety strategies on how to deal with it.
What Causes Test Anxiety?
It is caused by fear of failure, poor test preparation and/or problematic test taking history. There is pressure to perform at your best level. This can motivate the test taker. However, it may also create fear of failure. Good test preparation is important for a good test result. It is also important to prevent test anxiety. A calm test taker tends to know they've studied to the best of their ability. They also tend to have studied over time, and not in just a few days or at the last-minute. If the test taker has had a history of negative experiences with test or poor grades on test, this can also cause anxiety on future tests.
What Are Symptoms of Test Anxiety?
Symptoms are physical, emotional, and/or behavioral. They range from mild or very intense.
The physical symptoms may include: headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fast heart rate, fast breathing rate, feeling like you can't breathe. If the anxiety is severe enough, a panic attack may occur. When someone is having a panic attack, it is generally very debilitating. A panic attack can make a person feel paralyzed internally or externally, like they can't move, can't talk, & they may feel like they're having a heart attack.
The emotional symptoms may include crying, feeling fear, feeling sadness, and helpless.
The behavioral symptoms may include negative self talk, inability to think clearly, and inability to function.
Who Gets Test Taking Anxiety?
- Worriers - If your child has a tendency to worry, he/she is more likely to suffer from test anxiety. Even if your child is prepared, your child's worrying could cause test taking anxiety.
- Perfectionists - If your child aims for self perfection, then he/she is more likely to suffer from test anxiety. Even if your child does wll in school, the very thought of getting questions wrong, or getting less than an A, leads the perfectionist to have test taking anxiety.
- Unprepared People - If your child has not learned the subject matter, not practiced with classwork/homework, and/or studied the material, then he/she is more likely to suffer from test anxiety.
How To Manage or Prevent Test Anxiety ?
There are many ways to help your child manage, prevent, and/or minimize test anxiety.
Talk About It
- Ask your child what's making your child feel nervous.
- Talking about their feelings make children have less anxiety. Stay calm too as this helps your child stay calm as well
- Accept mistakes
- This can be a part of you child's life lessons. Teaching your child to handle things when the outcome is not what they expected will help them in life, not just in test taking.
- Boost your child's confidence.
- Tell them how wonderful they are. Ask them to give themselves compliments. What do they like about themselves? About their great brains?
- Always offer support.
- Remind your child that you are always there. Sometimes, they don't want a solution. Sometimes being a listener is all he/she needs.
Review Studying Habits & Test Prep
- Have your child practice on sample tests.
- Having experience with what the test will feel like will prevent anxiety.
- Focus on test preparation.
- Establish a routine for studying and preparing for the upcoming test is very helpful. Studying a little bit at a time, over a set time period. It is usually better than craming it in the day before the test. It also also for better retention of the facts.
- Learn your child's best study habits.
- When does he/she study best? Is it morning, afternoon, or night?
- Does he/she need breaks?
- Could hunger be slowing his/her learning/studying? Consider snack breaks in between studying.
- Does he/she need to do something physical or move around in between studying.
- Review test taking strategies.
- Teach your child what to do if they are stuck on a test question. If they can't answer one, then teach them to mark the question and move on. They can get back to it later.
- Help your child feel their best the day of an exam
- Review all methods and test after the test is complete.
- What were your child's strengths on the test? Where are their weaknesses? How could he/she have improved test prep? What did he/she do that was just right? What can he/she do again the next time? Or do differently? Ask them to evaluate this with you.
Sleep & Screen Time
- Find your child's best number of sleep hours.
- Does your child need eight (8) hours a night? Ten (10)? Twelve (12)? Try to make sure they get their best sleep before tests.
- Monitor your child's screen time.
- If your child has too much screen time, especially at night, or the days or week before an important test can do more harm than good.
Relaxation, Guided Meditation & Affirmations
- Practice relaxation techniques.
- Deep breathing
- Taking a bath
- Listening to relaxing music
- Create art. Drawing and/or coloring is fun and relaxing.
- Play a board game that's fun with the family the day before the exam.
- Watch a funny movie with your child. Sometimes, laughter is the best medicine.
- Use Guided Meditation.
- I recommend and use, I Am Peace, by Susan Verde. This is a wonderful book. It is geared for children. I think it's a great book for any age. The last page has a Guided Meditation. I've read this out loud to my son while he is lying down with his eyes closed. I must say that both he and I are relaxed at the end, every time.
- The Balloon
- Follow the Leader
- Use Affirmations
What Are E-Cigarettes (E-Cigs)?
E-cigarette cancer chemicals have increased in teens. Before we get into the details, let's review the background of E-cigarettes. E-cigs are electronic cigarettes that have liquids that contain many chemicals including nicotine, and fruity and other flavors. They are battery-powered and mimic cigarettes, but don't have the smell of smoke. The liquid changes into a vapor due to the heat in an e-cig. Hence, it’s also called “vaping.”
What is Juuling?
There is a new teen trend called “Juuling.” Juuling is an e-cig that is thin, looks like a flash drive, and charge in a USB port. A juul produces less smoke which disappears more quickly. Hence, teens are able to juul at school and home without parents’ knowledge. In comparison to smoking cigarettes, one juul pod (cartridge) has as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes.
What are the Signs if Your Teen is Juuling?
The signs of e-cigarette smoking & juuling are:
- Increased thirst
- Sore throat
- Caffeine sensitivity - they decrease their caffeine intake.
- Higher rates of pneumonia
E-Cigarette Cancer Causing Chemicals
They’ve been advertised as a safe alternative to cigarettes. They’ve also been advertised as an aid to stopping smoking. Since e-cigs don't burn tobacco, they don't burn the same amounts of tar ans carbon monoxide. However, e-cigarettes are unsafe, contain high levels of nicotine, and do not help in smoking cessation. E-cigs and juuls have many cancer-causing chemicals (acrylonitrile, acrolein, acrylamide, benzene and ethylene and propylene oxide, and crotonaldehyde).
Study Showed E-Cigarette Cancer Chemicals Increased in Teens
In a recent study of 100 teens from the San Francisco Bay area by the University of California-San Francisco study: 67 teens used e-cigs only, 16 used both e-cigs and conventional cigs and 20 didn't smoke or vape at all. Urine and salivary gland fluids tested positive for cancer-causing chemicals in teen smokers. It revealed that teens who used e-cigs and cigarettes had three (3) times higher amounts of these e-cigarette cancer causing chemicals in their body fluids as compared to the teens that used only e-cigs. It revealed that the teens that used e-cigs only had three (3) times higher amounts of these e-cigarette cancer causing chemicals in their body fluids as compared to the teens that didn't smoke at all. Lastly, the study also showed that teens who used fruit-flavored e-cigarettes had significantly elevated levels of acrylonitrile as compared with those who used other flavors, such as menthol.
Is Advertising Increasing E-Cig Usage by Teens?
The CDC has reported that teens view ads for e-cigarettes more than before; the exposure increased from about 69% in 2014 to about 78% in 2016. Retail stores have exposed teens to e-cigs the most in comparison to other ads like those found on TV, internet, or magazines. Since studies show that ads for tobacco products show increased use by teens, it is very likely that ads for e-cigs are also increasing use among teens.
FDA Sued for Delay in E-Cig Regulations
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and its Maryland chapter, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, four other public health groups and five pediatricians filed a lawsuit against the FDA for delaying submission product-review applications for cigars and e-cigarettes until August 2021 and August 2022, respectively. This leaves children at increased risk of cancer and other negative side effects from e-cigs.
Learn & Talk About the Risks of E-Cigarettes with Your Kids
It is important to learn all about the signs, symptoms, and risks associated with e-cigarettes. The U.S. Surgeon General has created a website with lots of information about e-cigs and how to talk to your kids about this. Remind them to respect their bodies and care for themselves. Positivity goes a long way. Talk to them today about e-cigarette cancer in teens.
Sexual Abuse by MSU’s Former Dean on Medical Students
On Tuesday, March 27, 2018, William Strampel, former dean of Michigan State University's (MSU) osteopathic medical school from 2002 to 2017, was arrested Monday evening and taken to jail on four charges — one felony and three misdemeanors. He was charged with sexual assault and sexual harassment against four (4) former medical students at MSU. He also failed to deal appropriately with complaints about Larry Nassar. The Michigan Attorney General’s Office has an ongoing investigation of the role others at the school may have played in crimes committed by Mr. Nassar, the former MSU and USA Gymnastics physician accused by more than 250 girls and women of sexual abuse.
In January 2018, Former U.S. Olympics Medical Doctor, Nassar was sentenced to 175 years for sexual abuse of over 250 female athletes. Prior to that he was sentenced to 60 years jail time for ownership of thousands of images of child pornography.
How did he do so much to so many young girls and ladies? He sexually abused over 250 girls and women. Surely, people knew. Now, Strampel, his ex-boss at MSU Medical School has been charged with sexual assault and harassment of female medical school students. Nassar was USA Gymnastics' national medical coordinator since 1996 until he was fired in 2015. In April 2014, when Amanda Thomashow, a MSU student, complained about Nassar's sexual abuse of her on campus, Mr. Strampel stopped Nassar from treating students for two (2) months, then came up with protocols, in order to prevent the same "misunderstanding" from happening again. However, Strampel never told anyone at MSU or the authorities the accusations, Nassar's conduct, or Strampel's plans. In August, only two (2) months later, another woman complained again. Nassar admitted he didn't follow any of Strampel's guidelines.
One has to wonder why? Simply, Strampel admitted to Michigan State police and the FBI that he never followed up to see if Nassar was following the protocols. Protecting MSU's reputation may have indeed had something to do with it. However, Strampel was also protecting himself. Authorities have since found evidence to Strampel’s own crimes on his work computer. Allegedly, investigators found about 50 photos of pornography, many of them he solicited from MSU students Also, shockingly, a video of Nassar performing “treatment” on a young female patient. So Strampel knew all along, but did nothing to stop, prevent, or report it. Clearly, he was protecting himself.
Female Gymnastics Athletes Accuse Nassar
Mr. Nassar's sexual abuse of female athletes was not limited to USA Gymnastics, it also included his time spent with the USA Olympic team at Karolyi Ranch (now closed, former US Women's National Team Training Center and a US Olympic Training Site), MSU, Twistars gymnastics club in Michigan, his office, and his home, sometimes while parents were in the room. He'd explain that his intravaginal therapy was medical treatment for their hip and physical injuries. However, even if there weren't hip injuries, he would still perform his intravaginal treatments. He also didn't use exam gloves.
Female Gymnastics Athletes Resist Nassar’s “Treatment”
These young girls felt uncomfortable with his treatments, but didn't know that it was sexual abuse. They didn't want his treatments anymore. Mattie Larson gave herself a head injury in order to avoid going to Karolyi Ranch. She was abused from the time she was 14 years old for five (5) years until she retired in 2011 at 19 years old. Olympic Gold medaist, Aly Raisman was one of many young women who confronted Larry Nassar in court prior to his sentencing regarding the sexual abuse. She had spoken in a most compelling, strong and determined manner. The video of Aly Raisman's court speech is compelling beyond words. Other Olympic gold gymnasts, Simon Biles and Gabby Douglas state they were abused by Nassar as well. Lawsuits by Aly Raisman and another olympic gymnast, McKayla Maroney have been filed against MSU, USOC, and USA Gymnastics.
First Male Gymnastics Athlete Accuses Nassar
On March 2, 2018, Jacob Moore became the first male athlete to accuse Nassar of sexual abuse. How many other men will follow? Time will tell; but I wouldn’t doubt that there’s many more. He and his sister filed a lawsuit against, stating they were sexually abused and harassed by Nassar. Moore, his sister, along with 200 women filed a federal lawsuit against Nassar, USA Gymnastics and MSU. Moore states that Nassar brought Moore to his basement treating his shoulder injury with genital and pubic acupuncture.
Fallout from the Scandal
In the fallout of the scandal, many more people in position of high authority in their perspective organizations have resigned, been suspended, or fired. Their involvement, lack of action, suppression of information, ability to ignore and look away, essentially helped Nassar commit his many crimes against these ladies. MSU's President Lou Anna Simon and Athletic Director Mark Hollis, USA Gymnastics Board of Directors’ Chairman Paul Parilla, Vice Chairman Jay Binder and Treasurer Bitsy Kelley all resigned after Mr. Nasar'sNasar's sentencing. USA Gymnastics suspended former U.S. women’s national team coach John Geddert, the owner of the Twistars. US Olympic Committee (USOC) CEO Scott Blackmun resigned as well. How many more will fall? Undoubtedly many more will fall. Wait and see.
Talking to My Patients About Sexual Abuse?
It is important to talk to both our daughters and our sons about sexual abuse. It’s important to discuss details. Of course, age appropriate conversations need to take place. As a pediatrician, whenever it’s time to examine genitalia, I’ve always done so with the parent/trusted adult in the exam room. I talk with children about feeling safe when a parent or a trusted adult is around, that know one should look at you, touch you, or touch your private boy/girl parts, mouth, or bottom alone, not even a girl doctor like me.
How Do I Talk with My Kids about Sexual Abuse?
On a personal note, we have had this conversation with our son several times since he was seven (7) years old. The talk has changed over the years. As his body self-awareness increased, suddenly, I realized I was only discussing his “front” genitalia. One day, I asked my young son, “What if someone wants to touch you butt? What if they want to put something in your mouth?” Shockingly, his young self said, “Okay.” I had to teach him that it wasn’t okay. Does Mommy or Daddy every put anything in your mouth? Your butt? Then, he realized it wasn’t okay.
Nowadays, I talk with him directly about Larry Nassar, how he groomed these girls and the boys, the horrible secrecy, the bravery of the girls and the boys who tell their stories. Frankly, he needs to know that these monsters exist, that they don’t look like monsters, that their friendly at first, until they trap you. But they can be stopped. He can avoid them, and needs to talk about them just like these women and young man did.
I’ve also taught him that if he sees something happening to someone else, he needs to say something. Children sometimes don’t want anyone to know what they’ve seen. They may not feel safe. They may not feel their parents can be safe if they tell. So, it’s important to let them know that abuse can be reported anonymously by calling 1-800-FL-ABUSE. Silence is dangerous.
How to Talk About Sexual Abuse with Your Children
It is so important to talk with our children about sexual abuse. These brave young girls, women, and young man have helped open doors to this conversation. No one ever thinks it will happen to their children. Usually, it's by someone the child knows, as opposed to a total stranger. In fact, the sexual abuser usually grooms them to make them feel special. The MeToo Movement showcases exactly how important it is for parents to discuss sexual abuse with their children. It is an uncomfortable discussion. But it’s never enough conversation. Repetition over the different ages is crucial, as children’s understanding increases with age. Parents are the key. Reading the AAP article about sexual abuse can help you start this conversation, recognize risk factors, and prevent sexual abuse from happening to your children. Talk about it, the abuse you talk about today may be the abuse you prevent tomorrow.
Gun Violence in America & March for Our Lives
America had a truly historical moment on Saturday, March 24, 2018. The March For Our Lives was led by the student survivors of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, FL. There were 800,000 teens and adults who attended the March in Washington, DC. Many more attended in cities across the U.S. to demand change in gun laws and talk about gun violence in America.
A March led by our minors is amazing. Even more amazing is that they included all others affected by gun violence in America, including domestic gun violence victims, police gun violence victims, and more. This was not just a march to stop school shootings and school violence. They made a statement that "Enough is Enough".
They were also incredibly articulate. In an era when so many think children are just children, it was wonderful to see them show the world that our American children can stand up for themselves, provide valuable statistics to support their positions, and be able to address our Congressional leaders with words and action. They are stating that when they are eligible to vote, that they will vote based on this sole cause. Many don't believe they will follow through on their actions. However, many don't realize that once your voice has been heard, you are a force to be reckoned with always.
Students Speak Up
Several students stood out. Emma Gonzalez spoke and stood in silence for about 6.5 minutes to honor to victims of the Marjory Douglas High School shooting on February 14, 2018. This was less than the duration of the school's shooting. It was symbolic of the time that students and teachers died, were injured, and were hiding in fear. The silence was deafening and powerful.
Samantha Fuentes, another Parkland school shooting survivor with gun wounds on both legs and shrapnel on her face stood up for herself and her friend, Nicholas Dworet, who died and would've turned 18 years old on the day of the march. Overcome with emotion, she vomited behind the podium and persevered with her speech and led the crowd in a Happy Birthday song to her beloved dead friend. She was courageous and empowered. David Hogg, another survivor stated, "The people in power are shaking." The most popular chant at the march was "Vote Them Out."
Young Children Speak Too
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s granddaughter, 9-year-old, Yolanda Renee King, spoke as well, stating, she dreams of "a gun-free world, period." And 11 year old, Naomi Wadler, stood for the disproportionate number of black females killed by guns. She said, "For far too long, these names ... have been just numbers. I'm here to say 'never again' for those girls, too." There are many more amazing children that made their voices heard. Undoubtedly they are coping with tragedy in many ways. This is their chance to cope and have an active role in shaping and owning their future.
Gun Law Changes the Students Want
The students have detailed explanations in their "Manifesto to Fix America's Gun Laws," as listed in their words, in their guest editorial in the Guardian. These are the nine (9) gun law changes they request, as written by the editorial staff students of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas newspaper, the Eagle Eye:
- Ban on semi-automatic weapons that fire high-velocity rounds
- Ban accessories that simulate automatic weapons (e.g. bump stocks)
- Establish a database for gun sales and universal background checks
- Change privacy laws to allow mental healthcare providers to communicate with law enforcement
- Close the gun show loophole and loophole for second-hand gun sales
- Allow the CDC to make recommendations for gun reform
- Raise the firearm purchase age to 21
- Dedicate more funds to mental health research and professionals
- Increase funding for school security
Democracy at Work
This march shows how a democracy works. It shows that everyone can use their voice. It has empowered many of our youth for the future. The future is in our children. Wait and watch because gun violence is only the beginning for these children, these future lawmakers, these activists; their future has so much more ahead!
Flu Season Today?
As of the end of December 2017, the flu season is officially moderately severe. The flu is widespread in 46 states. This is up from 36 states in the previous week. The U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) research reveals that flu hospitalization is about 3 times higher than it was in the same time period in 2016. In addition, the flu season started earlier this year than it did in 2016. During the same time period in 2016, only 12 states had reported widespread activity, as compared to 46 states this flu season. This pretty much matches what I’ve been seeing in our office in Florida. About 3 weeks ago, we began to diagnose multiple children with the flu every day.
Why is this Flu Season Severe?
This season’s dominate flu strain is an Influenza A strain, H3N2, which is a particularly severe and causes more symptoms than other strains typically do.
What Are Flu Symptoms?
Flu symptoms typically include a fever and nasal congestion at a minimum. Other symptoms may include weakness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, body aches, and more.
What To Do If I Think I Have the Flu?
If you are feeling sick with flu-like symptoms, you may want to consider going to see a doctor, especially within the first 48 hours of your illness. Your doctor may be able to prescribe an anti-viral medication against the flu, Tamiflu, which is effective in preventing worsening symptoms of the flu by stopping its replication. However, if you’ve been sick with the flu for more than 48 hours, Tamiflu is not effective.
I Have the Flu. Now What?
Follow your doctor’s instructions. Drink plenty of fluids. Rest. Stay home. Do not go to work, school, religious gatherings, or other community gatherings or events. By going out, you increase the risk of spreading the flu. In addition, as the flu weakens the immune system, if you go out, you place yourself at risk for contracting a secondary bacterial infection, such as pneumonia, sinusitis, or an ear infection.
How Do I Prevent Myself From Getting the Flu?
Good old-fashioned hand washing is helpful, as flu droplets may linger on countertops and other objects. Hand washing prevents many other common infections as well (https://drsilvatotstweensandteens.com/2013/01/new-norovirus-highly-contagious-virus.html).
The good news is that the CDC reports that this season’s flu vaccine strains are a good match to the live flu virus strains that are circulating (http://bit.ly/2CLWaCZ). That means the flu vaccine is providing good protection against the flu by preventing the flu so far.
The best course of action is to make sure you and your children get the flu vaccine. It’s not too late. No one knows exactly when the flu season ends. From the looks of it, it will probably continue for another few months. There is still time to protect yourself. Get the flu vaccine at your doctor’s office, health department, school, or pharmacy today.
A 9 month old infant girl from Connecticut was found to have lead poisoning. Doctors discovered that the young infant had a high lead level during her routine physical exam.
According to a report (http://bit.ly/2wBf8LJ) by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) on August 31, 2017, her blood lead level of 41 micrograms per deciliter of lead was much higher than acceptable. According to CDC, an acceptable blood level is up to 5 micrograms per deciliter.
Investigators reviewed the home in detail. Although there was lead paint on two of the windows in the home, the infant girl was not able to reach those windows, so she couldn't have contracted lead poisoning from them. In addition, the her 3-year-old and 5-year-old siblings didn't have lead poisoning, so the windows were not the source of the lead.
The baby girl's parents bought her a homeopathic magnetic bracelet to help with teething pain. She had used the bracelet for teething relief, chewing on it, causing her to ingest the lead. The homeopathic community believes magnets help with healing. Tests on the beads of the bracelet revealed that it contained 17,000 parts per million (ppm). According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), for the most part, products containing 90 to 100 ppm are considered safe.
Chewing & Lead Poisoning
Please be careful with items that your child may chew on. Sadly, each year, there are recalls on children's jewelry due to high levels of lead and cadmium poisoning (https://drsilvatotstweensandteens.com/2010/02/cadmium-jewelry-poisoning.html). Infants and toddlers place objects in their mouths as part of their development and natural curiosity. They learn about their world orally, in this fashion. Depending upon the lead level in a child's body, lead poisoning has long-term consequences including, but not limited to lower IQ, speech delay, behavior problems, seizures, and death. Treatment does not necessarily reverse the negative effects of lead on the brain and body.
Routine Physical Exam & Lead Testing
Please remember to follow-up with your pediatrician for your child's physical exam, as so much is done at these visits, including lead level testing, if recommended. Consider buying a lead surface test kit for your children's toys or objects they may place in their mouths, as lead poisoning is a nightmare for any family to handle whether from teething bracelet or toys.