co-sleepingWhen you become a parent, you are making crucial decisions on an ongoing basis regarding the health and happiness of your child. One of those decisions, as common as it may sound, is regarding where your child sleeps and it’s a wildly debated topic.

A parent can decide to co-sleep with their baby – which means having your newborn sleep in bed with you or next to the bed in the same room. However, the high risk associated with sleeping with your child in the bed with you as a parent or caregiver is often considered too high of a risk to take.

Instead of actually sleeping in the bed with your newborn, bassinets are a wonderful option. A new parent can make co-sleeping work for them without the newborn actually sleeping in the bed. Co-sleeping benefits can be achieved by placing a bassinet next to the bed instead. One statistic on co-sleeping indicated that there were 8,207 infant deaths from 2004 to 2012 in 24 states, and 74% of those deaths occurred in a bed-sharing situation.

Some may argue that co-sleeping reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). However, you gain more risks when putting the child in the bed with you. By simply putting the newborn in a bassinet next to the bed, rather than in the bed, you are decreasing the risk factors of two sleeping adults possibly suffocating the newborn accidentally while in bed with him or her. The American Academy of Pediatrics says sleeping in the parent’s room, separately, on a safe surface (such as a crib or bassinet) lowers SIDS up to 50%.

The US National Library of Medicine states that co-sleeping is popular, even though there are risks involved. In 2012, a study was done on bed-sharing between parents and newborns and the occurrence of co-sleeping doubled from 1993 and 2010 from a mere 6% to 13.5%. Why do parents still co-sleep?  Studies show that babies can get a boost in development from sleeping with their parents. Keep in mind this feeling of added security is also believed to happen when the newborn sleeps in the parent’s room, safe and secure in a nearby crib.

Another reason to co-sleep is for mothers that breastfeed. Breastfeeding can be easier when the baby is in the room because newborns are eating around the clock. However, even if your baby is within arms reach in a crib nearby, you can breastfeed with ease, if you chose to do so.

It’s true: being a parent can be exhausting, especially with a newborn! Co-sleeping often disturbs a parent’s deep sleep because of the worry that your newborn is sleeping right next to you in the bed.  Your sleep is imperative to your well-being, especially now that you have a newborn you are caring for every day and night.

Think about the ABC’s of Safe Sleeping, found at the website pathways.org:

A –  Alone. The newborn sleeps alone. Not with you in the bed. This is good for the first six to twelve months of an infant’s life.

B –  Back. The baby sleeps on their back with nothing interfering. Such as a back pad, blankets, and covers or toys.

C –  Crib. Your infant needs to be sleeping somewhere, and a crib or bassinet is your best option.

Deciding to co-sleep is a decision between you and your partner. But it’s important to understand the significance of setting up a good routine for you, your baby and your entire household. If you have questions or concerns about your newborn’s sleep schedule or co-sleeping, contact Dr. Kellow or Dr. Shaw and we’d be happy to discuss what’s best for your beautiful, new family member. Give us a call at 618-235-2311 or contact us here.

protect your child from dangerous online behaviorThe Tide Challenge is one of the most dangerous internet challenges that may have influenced impressionable children in decades. The challenge began by viral videos surfacing of teens biting into the pod, with the detergent running down their face and into their bodies. The trend started in late 2017, still circulating the internet today.

The Tide challenge, of course, was incredibly dangerous. There have been hospitalizations, deaths, and cases of children nearly losing their lives…all because kids wanted ten minutes of fame on YouTube or other social media outlets. The incredible danger of putting one of the colorful detergent-filled packs into their mouth, then biting down, seems unthinkable. As adults, we know that the pod bursting with harmful chemicals into the mouth and into the digestive system of children is a ridiculous way to get attention.

Although this particular video challenge is in the past with new containers being introduced and parents being placed on high-alert, there are always other “challenges” making the news.

Other challenges that have swept the internet include the Kylie Lip Challenge, the Ice and Salt Challenge, the Cinnamon Challenge, and even more recently—The Bird Box Challenge. Based off of the popular movie by the same name, kids are putting on a blindfold and completing their daily activities like working, cooking, and even more dangerous—driving.

Protecting your children from dangerous behaviors they may be exposed to is imperative to their well-being. As parents, there are things we can do to make sure an internet challenge doesn’t turn into an internet tragedy.

There are ways to limit the dangerous videos they view going viral on YouTube. On most devices, you can remove the “YouTube” permission entirely. Another option, allowing them to use “YouTube Kids” solely, protects children from the unfiltered “YouTube” website, often not filtering the videos showcasing harmful behaviors.

Another social media platform, Snapchat, is where some of the wilder challenges can spread, with no trace found. This platform shows the message with seconds to spare, only to disappear moments later. Many Snapchat channels can be viewed showcasing celebrities and their escapades, other area youths doing “day to day” activities, and more. Filtering is non-existent, and often kids add friends to their Snapchat groups they hardly know. Monitoring this app is important and having discussions about what is appropriate is always a crucial step in communicating with our children about social media. If you are asking yourself if your child is too young for Snapchat, he or she probably is.

It’s also important to communicate with other parents as well as school administrators about what your child may be watching online. Even doing a quick “online search” of the latest social media crazes is easy to do. By far, the best way to keep your children safe is by talking to them about the benefits and pitfalls of social media. Make sure they know keeping their privacy online is a key safety step. Never use their full name, phone number or address without a parent’s permission. Don’t open emails from people they don’t know, and never respond to hurtful or disturbing messages. Talking to your children is one of the most important things you can do. By understanding and asking what is going on in their lives, they are more likely to communicate with you any issues or concerns.

If you would like to learn more, please contact the Association of Childcare Physicians by calling (618) 235-2311 or by visiting our website. Dr. Kellow and Dr. Shaw want your children to stay healthy and safe, learning practical lifestyle behaviors that they can use for a lifetime.

Should I Give My Kids Supplements?Fruits, grains, protein and vegetables are all a part of the classic “food pyramid”. A newer representation of this handy graphic, called MyPlate, can be found at www.choosemyplate.gov offering an easy reminder for all of us to eat healthy. A variety of foods offer our children the vitamins and minerals needed to maintain active, healthy lifestyles. And, eating right at an early age will only help to develop young taste buds in children – cravings that prefer a diet with limited sugar and a lot of natural, healthy goodness found in the MyPlate guidelines.

We all know the importance of eating a well-balanced diet, but then reality sets in. Late night practices, slept-through alarms, and rushing from point A to point B can make ensuring your children always receive the healthiest options more difficult. With fast food drive-throughs and skipped meals, how do we make sure our children are receiving the nutrients they need to thrive? That’s when supplements may need to be considered as part of your daily routine.

If your child is a picky-eater or maintains a poor diet, supplements may make sense. Other reasons supplements can be used include incorporating them into the diet of children that follow a vegetarian or a vegan diet. Integrating vitamin B12 would be beneficial since it’s only found in animal-based proteins. Some celiac diseases also put children at a higher risk for deficiencies, making supplements a wonderful option for them.

The best option? Strive for a well-rounded diet. A balanced diet includes dairy (or dairy alternatives), fruits, veggies, grains and proteins like eggs, nuts, and poultry. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, most of our children simply do NOT get enough iron and enough calcium. Some foods that offer iron include beef, pork, turkey, beans and spinach. Why is iron important? It builds strong muscles and helps to produce red blood cells. If your child is lacking iron, you may notice they are tired, are more anxious, and become ill more often. Calcium found in dairy products, spinach and broccoli helps grow healthy bones and if children don’t get enough of it, they could suffer from poor growth and osteoporosis as they age.

Other supplements typically important in a child’s development include Vitamin D, A, and B. Vitamin D is important because it controls the absorption of calcium and helps grow strong bones and teeth. Kids that consume less than 32 ounces of Vitamin D may need a supplement to meet those recommended amounts. Vitamin B helps with metabolism and energy, and Vitamin A helps with normal growth for healthy skin, eyes and resistance against infection.

Unsure if your child would benefit from a supplement? It’s best to check with your child’s doctor and discuss options. Taking large amounts of vitamins, for example, can prove to be more harmful than beneficial. Thousands of children are taken to the ER each year because they have consumed too many vitamins, usually unsupervised. Although children’s vitamins in chewable, gummy-form are more desirable to take, sometimes children can treat their consumption like candy. It’s best to always administer any vitamins to your child and keep the bottle on a tall, hard-to-reach shelf to be safe. Ideally, getting vitamins and minerals through food and drink should be your ultimate goal for a happy, healthy lifestyle.

Have specific questions about your child’s diet or other ways to incorporate healthy eating? We are happy to help! Deciding to incorporate supplements, like a daily vitamin, into your child’s diet may make sense but it’s important to discuss it with one of our pediatricians first. Learn more by contacting the Association of Childcare Physicians by calling (618) 235-2311 or by visiting our website. Dr. Kellow and Dr. Shaw want to make sure your child learn healthy eating habits as a foundation for an overall healthy lifestyle!

child clinically depressedChildren, like adults, can experience “the blues”. For reasons unknown, all of us may feel sad, depressed and not like ourselves at times. For older children, hormones may be surging so irritability and mood swings can happen when least expected. If you find that your child is displaying depression symptoms that don’t seem to go away after a couple weeks, interrupting normal activities for an extended period of time, it may be time to schedule an appointment with your doctor to find out if your child is clinically depressed.

Symptoms

Some typical symptoms of depression that may surface requiring your attention, include:

  • Irritable mood, seemingly depressed, mood swings
  • Problems sleeping or ability to focus
  • Trouble at school, lack of interest in school and failing grades
  • Feeling angry or irritable
  • A feeling of worthlessness
  • Sadness and/or crying fits
  • Lack of interest in friends and activities
  • Lack of energy
  • Decreased self-esteem
  • Change in eating habits
  • Suicidal thoughts

If your child is feeling depressed, it’s important to seek help and let them know that they didn’t do anything wrong. It’s also common for children to be diagnosed with depression and an anxiety disorder at the same time, based on research by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, or ADAA.

Typically, there are two types of depression. One is considered major depression and the other is called dysthymia. When major depression happens, it can last over two weeks and can occur more than once throughout your child’s life. Traumatic events can trigger depression in a child (or an adult). Dysthymia is not as severe but instead considered a chronic form of depression that can last for up to two years.

When parents are depressed, their children are at a great risk for depression. Depression can affect people of all ages and genders, however; girls are more likely to develop depression during their adolescence years. Unfortunately, studies indicate that about 80 percent of kids with an anxiety disorder and 60 percent with depression are not getting treatment, and this can lead to suicidal thoughts.

Treatment options for depression.

Treatments for depression and anxiety can often be treated comparably and at the same time. If you believe your child is depressed, it’s extremely important to get help and not ignore the symptoms. Most children, over time, find great success managing their symptoms after receiving professional guidance.

Two of the most effective treatment options for children with anxiety include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and medication. CBT is a “talk-therapy” that has been proven to treat depression and anxiety disorders. With this type of therapy, the child can use techniques to manage and reduce their anxiety with skills they’ve learned during their sessions. Skills learned include replacing negative thinking patterns with positive ones and learning the difference between “realistic” and “non-realistic” thoughts. CBT is generally a short-term treatment with sessions lasting about 3-4 months but the benefits learned from this type of therapy can be long-term.

Another successful treatment includes medication. Prescription medications can be useful and used in conjunction with talk-therapy sessions. Research indicates that a combination of CBT and an antidepressant worked better for children ages 7-17 than either individual treatment used alone. The use of medication can be used short or long term, depending on the child’s symptoms and how well they improve using medication combined with therapy.

Need more information about childhood depression, symptoms and treatments? The Association of Childcare Physicians can help. Rebecca Salah, MA, LCPC, has joined our office as a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor. Ms. Salah has experience working with children and adults of all ages, specializing in areas including depression, anxiety, PTSD, grief, substance abuse and more. Learn more about Ms. Salah at http://childcarephysicians.com/about/ or call us to schedule an appointment at (618) 235-2111.

Educational ToysAmazon recently announced the toys they anticipate being the hottest for Christmas this year. The Good Housekeeping team also weighed in on which toys are going to be the most popular. Based on their recommendations, we’ve accumulated the top 10 educational toys for kids that you may want to find at your local stores or online before they disappear.

Crayola Color Chemistry Set for Kids
For $24.97, this set from Crayola transforms your child into a scientist thanks to the 50 experiments. Adult supervision is recommended.

Melissa & Doug Examine and Treat Pet Vet Play Set
This vet kit is for ages 3 and older, offering a wide-variety of veterinary tools for $25.49. The Good Housekeeping toy experts liked that this set helps kids practice empathy and caring while they play.

Melissa & Doug Scoop and Serve Ice Cream Counter
This fun-filled ice cream scoop set is priced at $39.95 and is great for hand-eye coordination and also creative play. The 28-piece wooden set includes an ice cream counter, eight ice cream scoops, six toppings, two cones, cup, scooper, tongs, wooden spoon, and six $1 bills so kids can learn the basics about running an ice-cream shop with their friends.

Ozobot Bit Coding Robot
Ozobots are award-winning robots that can teach your kids about coding through coloring on a tablet. Depending on the colors and designs they use, the Ozobots will follow commands. Whether it’s Evo or Bit, these app-connected robots get kids coding and loving robots with the stroke of a marker. Prices start around $46.

Kano ‘Harry Potter’ Coding Kit
Thanks to the release of Fantastic Beasts 2, a ton of new Harry Potter-inspired toys are hitting the market in 2018. This STEM option teaches kids to code a wand that responds to their movements. Priced at $99.

LEGO ‘Harry Potter’ Hogwarts Great Hall Building Kit
Harry Potter lovers and kids aged 9 and up will love this building kit! For $99.99, this Hogwarts building kit was a huge hit. It comes with a potions room, treasure room, sorting hat, and the Mirror of Erised so they can take Harry and friends on their wildest adventures yet.

Osmo Genius Kit
For $89, the Osmo Genius Kit is a good excuse for screen time. The kit offers up fun games on the iPad to promote math, spelling, and other learning skills. There are a many positive reviews circulating around this hot toy, but some parents do think that the ads were a downside.

littleBits Avengers Hero Inventor Kit
Another STEM toy, Good Housekeeping loved the variety of projects offered in this Hero Inventor Kit.  With 18 projects, your kids will likely enjoy this toy for the long, winter months. Some of the more advanced projects even let them practice coding. This kit is priced at $149.00.

LEGO Boost Creative Toolbox
This kit won the 2017 Good Housekeeping Toy Award last year and is believed to be another hot toy for this upcoming holiday season! For $159.95 and for kids aged 7 and up, this LEGO toolbox is packed with over 840 LEGO pieces as well as a move hub and interactive motor.

Cozmo
Coding is a hot toy topic for this holiday, and Cozmo is one toy that will help kids fall in love with it! If your kids are new to coding, this friendly robot will let them explore and interact, play games and more. Cozmo is for kids 3 years and up, priced at $179.99.

Are you ready to start shopping for the perfect educational toy this holiday season? View the complete list at that highlights toys at all price points and all ages. Happy Holidays from all of us at the Association of Childcare Physicians!

childhood obesityWith school starting up and schedules becoming packed, many families return to familiar routines. For some, this can mean a routine of chaos. With school, extra-curricular activities, and sports, you and your family may find yourselves in a rush and begin neglecting the healthy lifestyle you were able to maintain with more ease during the summer months. With everything you have going on, how do you keep an eye on your child’s nutrition?

It’s no secret that adolescent and childhood obesity is a serious problem affecting our youth today. In fact, childhood obesity has more than tripled since the ‘70s. An NCHS Data Brief shows that 1 in every 5 school age children struggles with obesity. It is possible that obesity can be brought on by lack of guidance in nutrition, a fast-food lifestyle, and lack of exercise.

So, what can you do to ensure the health of your child?

One of the best things you can do for your child is to demonstrate and enforce a healthy lifestyle for the whole family. Meal times are a great place to start this positive change. A good idea would be to practice portion control and healthy choices during meals.

A portion is the amount of food that ends up on the plate. Portions should be determined from the serving sizes on food labels. Serving sizes, however, are not always accurate to what you should be eating, but rather are a way to show nutritional information per a set amount for the food. It may be acceptable to have a larger portion of vegetables than the suggested serving size and not acceptableto have a larger portion of a processed food suggested by the label.

USDA’s “MyPlate” is a great starting template for kids to learn portion control. MyPlate divides a plate into fourths. One fourth should be used for protein and another fourth should be used for starch or a whole grain. The remaining two can be filled with vegetables or a mix of veggies and fruit. It is very important that the sections aren’t spilling over into each other and are not piled high off the plate. MyPlate gives a good visual for what you should be eating as well as help in preparing healthy, well-balanced meals for your family.

Although MyPlate is a good visual, many children as well as adults still struggle with understanding and visualizing recommended portion sizes. Eyeing a proper serving size without physically measuring it can be tricky. An easy way to help visualize portion sizes is by relating them to familiar objects. For an example, compare 2 tablespoons of peanut butter to the size of a ping-pong ball, 3 ounces of beef or chicken to a deck of cards, and 3 ounces of fish to a checkbook. This helps children and even adults understand what their plate should look like, and helps you know how much to cook and place on your family’s plates. More helpful comparisons can be found here.

Here are some extra tips to help you and your children with practicing healthy portion control.

  • Have three healthy meals each day with two healthy snacks in between.Avoid skipping a meal so you don’t overeat at the next meal, and don’t force yourself to eat if you don’t feel hungry.
  • Don’t encourage a “happy plate.”Forcing children to finish their plate even if they feel full teaches them to ignore their body’s signals of hunger and fullness.
  • Serve your meals on smaller plates.Smaller plates make the meal look much bigger and fulfilling than it would on a large plate with lots of space.
  • Slow down at meal times. Rushing through meals causes you to eat too quickly and delays the feeling of fullness. This can cause you to eat more than intended.
  • Keep the food off the table.Make your plates in the kitchen and take only your plates to the table. This will help you think twice about wanting seconds.

If you notice your child has an exceptionally hard time eating proper portions and practicing a healthy lifestyle, don’t hesitate to consult any of us at the Association of Childcare Physicians. If you think your child may be on track to being overweight or obese, contact your physician before the situation progresses further. We would be happy to assist you in determining what a healthy weight for your child should be as well as giving recommendations on their diet and exercise. Call us at 618-235-2311.

concussionAlthough children are pretty durable in all the tumbles they take, there is one injury that should always be taken very seriously: a head injury. A fall, a softball to the helmet, or a collision on the soccer field could all result in a concussion and should be closely monitored. Because concussions can take a few days to present symptoms, it is important to know what to look for and observe your child’s behavior and routine after a possible concussion in order to begin the recovery process as soon as possible.

Regardless of how the concussion occurred, the signs to look for fall into four categories and should be examined by a medical professional.

Cognitive-Your child can seem confused, disoriented and easily distracted. Your child may also show signs of memory loss and may be slow to respond to questions.

Physical-Headaches, dizziness, nausea or vomiting and loss of consciousness are post-concussion symptoms. Your child may also have balance issues, blurred vision, poor coordination and sensitivity to light or noise.

Emotional-Nervousness or anxiousness can be expected, as well as sadness or mood swings and inappropriate behavior.

Sleep- Having a concussion can lead to sleeping problems like difficulty falling asleep, frequently waking up throughout the night, fatigue or tiredness during the day or the inability to be awakened.

It’s important to note that children with concussions heal much more slowly than adults. The effects of a concussion can last weeks or months in children and can heavily interfere with school and social activities. If your child is having severe symptoms, it’s very important that they see a doctor immediately in order to make sure the head injury isn’t more serious than a concussion.

If your little athlete suffers a concussion, he or she should stop playing immediately. Your child should absolutely not return to any physical activity on the same day the concussion occurred. Even if the symptoms appear to go away soon after the injury, they cannot re-enter the game. Your child should be restricted from physical and cognitive activity until they are fully healed. They must be cleared by a healthcare professional before resuming normal activities.

For athletes, there is a general recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics for return-to-play protocol. It advances in a step-wise fashion, and athletes must wait 24 hours between each step. Should symptoms arise, the child must wait an additional 24 hours before repeating the previous step and moving on. Here are the recommended steps for recovery:

  • Complete physical and cognitive rest while symptoms are present
  • Light aerobic activity after symptoms subside
  • Participate in sport specific activities with no head impact
  • More complex, non-contact drills
  • Full contact practice
  • Normal gameplay

The best way to begin recovery is to rest and relax for at least a few days. Excessive physical and cognitive rest is unnecessary, though. Give it a few days, and although it may be difficult at first, ease back into normal cognitive tasks. For children, returning to school can be fairly difficult, so it may be best for you and your child to make a short-term plan for the school day. This plan may include more frequent breaks when doing homework and additional time to complete exams and other assignments.

Children should be focused on returning to school before returning to sports and should take everything in moderation. If your child is believed to have suffered a concussion, you can make an appointment at Association of Childcare Physicians by calling (618) 235-2311 or by visiting our website.

boost your immune systemMost of the time, our immune systems work quite well to keep us healthy. It does a wonderful job regulating itself and doesn’t necessarily need that much help. As we prepare our kids for school and the upcoming fall and winter months, it’s helpful to understand that there may be times when our immune system weakens. Our lifestyle can impact our immunity, so here are some handy tips to make sure we are doing everything we can to boost the immune system when surrounded by germs.

Medically speaking, the main components of our immune system include lymph nodes, tonsils, spleen, bone marrow and thymus. We are still learning about the intricacies of the body’s immune response, but we do know to function well the entire system is a balancing act. Researchers have investigated the effect of factors like our diet, exercise and environmental stress on our immune system.

Want to keep your immune system healthy? Make sure your family has adopted a healthy lifestyle. Things like eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Vitamins A, C, and D, minerals and zinc play an important role in our immune systems. When we eat a balanced diet, there’s no need to take extra vitamins or minerals. Our busy schedules sometimes make it difficult to prepare proper meals and eat well. In that case, consult with our staff on recommendations for daily vitamins for your child.

In addition to a healthy diet, regular physical activity contributes to our overall wellness. When our children get home from a full day of learning, they may be tired and ready to play on their gaming systems. Set limits on how much screen time is allowed, and encourage family walks, bike rides and outdoor play-time after school, explaining that fresh air revitalizes a body, kickstarting energy better than screen time! The benefits of exercise is just another reason after-school sports can be so important for your child’s wellness routine. Exercise promotes efficient blood circulation that keeps the cells of our immune system “on the move” and successfully doing their job.

The days of “sleeping in” over the summer months are gone, and our growing children require an adequate amount of sleep to thrive, stay healthy, and learn each day at school. Lack of sleep is just one more reason our immunity can become compromised, so make sure your child gets plenty of it! Sleep deprivation over time can lower the response of the immune system while deep sleep strengthens it. Visit sleepfoundation.org to find average sleep requirements for your child, depending on their age. You can also ask one of our doctors what is recommended.

Stress reduction is another way to boost immunity. When we feel stress, we suppress our ability to fight illness and disease. Experts have found that reducing stress can prevent illness and types of infections. If your child is feeling overwhelmed with school work, schedules, and their social circles, make sure you offer him or her the support they need. If you notice that your child seems depressed or overly stressed for an extended period of time, contact our office so we can help determine the next best steps.

If you have other questions about your child’s health and wellness, contact our office. Kicking- off the new school year in style, with a healthy routine, will be beneficial for your child and your entire family. Remember: the best thing you can do is set healthy examples for your children.

Need to schedule your child’s physical or health screening? Give Dr. Shaw or Dr. Kellow a call at 618-235-2311. You can also visit us online at http://childcarephysicians.com/.

schoolSummer is quickly coming to a close, with a new school year just around the corner. Once the kids are back in school, time seems to fly by even faster. Between practices, homework and extracurricular activities, it seems hard to even find time to breathe. And when time gets tight, your health is often the first thing neglected. But it is important for both you and your children to keep a good diet, get enough sleep and stay organized throughout the year. Read on for tips to keep your family’s mental and physical health in check this upcoming school session!

Keep a good diet

When your family gets busy, it becomes much easier to run through a fast food restaurant or grab a bag of chips instead of making a healthier meal or snack. Eating healthy while on the go is possible; it just requires a little more planning.

Your kids will snack on what you make available to them, so opt for healthier options like granola bars, nuts, string cheese and yogurt. Buy lots of fruits and vegetables that your family enjoys, then wash and package them into snack bags as soon as you get home so they are ready when you need them. Pair with to-go packages of ranch dressing or peanut butter for an extra punch of flavor.

Healthy meals require the same kind of planning. Every weekend, sit down and decide what your family will have for dinner in the upcoming week based on your nightly schedule. Purchase your groceries based on that meal plan and do as much prepping as you can when you get home from the store. Slow cooker meals are a great option because they can be set in the morning and ready when you get home from work.

Get enough sleep

The key to “catching Zs” is training your brain to expect sleep at certain times—and then listening when your brain tells you to sleep. In order to make the most of your time asleep, it is important to keep a good sleep schedule. Your body cannot function well by “stocking up” on sleep on the weekends and barely sleeping during the week; it is better to aim for 8 to 10 hours of sleep each and every night. Encourage your kids to create a bedtime routine (like washing their face and reading a book) and do it every night before bed. This will signal to their brains that it is time for sleep, making it easier for them to fall asleep quickly.

Once your body settles into a sleep schedule, it is important to stick with it. On the weekends, try to wake your children within 2 and 4 hours of their weekday wake up time. This will keep their body clock in check. During the week, make sure your children manage their time well during the day so they can go to sleep around the same time each night. Set a time every evening for your kids to do their homework so they are not tempted to procrastinate and do it in the middle of the night.

Stay organized

The school year comes with many responsibilities and activities that can become overwhelming if you don’t stay organized. Depending on your personal preferences, either purchase a paper planner or download a planner app on your phone to keep track of family events and children’s activities. Encourage your children to keep their school planner updated with homework, projects and tests so they don’t fall behind in their classes.

When purchasing school supplies for your kids, buy each of them one binder for every class, preferably each a different color. Have them keep their notes and assignments for each class separated in the different binders so they will be less likely to misplace items. Each quarter or semester, help your kids clean out their binders and recycle any papers they no longer need.

Chances are, each of your kids are involved in at least one extra curricular activity or sport, all requiring different equipment. Set aside one bag for each activity and have your child keep all of his or her equipment for each activity in the assigned bag. If everything stays in the bag, it is easy to grab as they’re walking out the door and reduces the chance of them forgetting a shoe or shin guard.

If you notice that your child is having an extremely difficult time eating healthy, getting sleep or staying organized, contact your family physician, as it may be a sign of a more serious disorder or illness. If you have questions about keeping your children healthy during the school year, please give Dr. Shaw or Dr. Kellow a call at 618-235-2311.

 

 

online safetyToday, children are using the Internet at younger and younger ages. As exciting as this new technology is for young kids, it often raises safety concerns for parents. The Internet provides many social-learning and educational opportunities for children young and old, but the Internet is also a safe haven for child predators and identity thieves. It is important to equip your children with online safety knowledge to make smart and safe decisions on the Internet when they are young so they will carry those skills with them through their teen years and adulthood.

When children are first starting to use the Internet, parental controls are the best way to ensure they only see what you want them to see. Each Internet service provider (ISP) has their own parental controls, but most allow parents to block kids from viewing certain sites as well as monitor which sites their children visit. Bookmarking your children’s favorite websites to the taskbar makes it easy for kids to find what they want and keeps them from ending up on a site they shouldn’t use. Some websites and online programs also have their own parental controls. For example, Netflix allows users to create separate profiles for children that block their access to certain adult shows. Additional parental control software can be downloaded to a computer for even more protection. Some parental control programs charge users money, but a lot of great software can be downloaded for free, such as Kiddle and Qustodio.

Although there are many avenues for parental control on the Internet, social media is a different story. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) gives parents control over the information websites can collect from users under the age of 13. Although this act was implemented to protect children, it has also created the avenue for websites to forgo parental control options in favor of simply prohibiting children under the age of 13 from creating a profile without parental consent. For example, Snapchat and Instagram have no parental controls within the app. It is best to block kids from downloading these apps until they are 13, and have extensive discussions with your child about the dangers of communicating with strangers on social media.

If your kids are on these platforms, it is important that they keep their accounts set to private. This setting ensures that only people whom your child approved can see their posts or send them messages. Stress to your kids to only accept users who they know and trust. If a profile seems sketchy or unfamiliar, do not accept their follow request. Snapchat recently launched a map feature on its app that allows users to see their friends’ locations in real time. To turn this feature off, make sure your child’s profile is in Ghost Mode.

In the digital world we live in, it is status quo to share almost everything about our lives on the Internet. When your child enters the world of social media, it is crucial that they know what things are okay to share and what information should remain private. For example, kids should never share their address or phone number on a public post. Just as you have told your children not to talk to strangers in real life, make sure they know that rule is just as important to follow on the Internet. There are many online safety classes and videos that can supplement the conversations you have with your child about staying protected on the Internet.

Trying to keep your children off the Internet is impossible, no matter how hard you try. Although there are parent control settings and programs to monitor your children’s Internet history, communicating with your child about their online activities and educating them about Internet safety are the most important and effective ways to keep him or her safe on the Internet. You cannot control everything your children see online, but you can raise them in a way that prepares them to handle most any situation life throws at them—even on the Internet!

 

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