5 reasons we shouldn’t joke about kids with food allergies

5 reasons not to joke about food allergiesManaging food allergy in schools remains a challenge. There is little evidence to guide school officials in managing and balancing both the needs of the 8% of children with food allergy, as well as the children without food allergy. Recent data from the March 2014 C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health demonstrated that there is no clear parental consensus on how to manage such issues. Striking a balance that allows all parties to feel their needs are validated is a tremendously difficult task, but mutually acceptable solutions are accomplishable.

In this light, recent comments made by elected a Clawson, Michigan school board member at their November Board of Education Meeting are disheartening and inappropriate. The board member suggested that students with food allergies “should be shot” as a means of accommodating their health concerns. Obviously, she was joking, but the comments were insensitive. Food allergy is not a laughing matter, and these children should not serve as a target of derision. Here are a few reasons why food allergies must be taken seriously within the education community.

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Empowering young adults to own their healthcare

Teen transition to adult healthcareFrom the day your child was born, you’ve most likely been managing every aspect of his or her healthcare — scheduling appointments, filling prescriptions, making sure immunizations are current. As your children get older, it’s important that we as parents play a role in empowering young adults to own their healthcare.

Start early

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the University of Michigan Health System recommend that young adults transition to adult care between the ages of 18 and 21 years old. Start preparing for this transition when your child is 14 or 15. Help your child understand his personal and your family’s health history. Have him fill out any health history forms under your supervision so you can discuss any health history.

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Building a better relationship with your teenager

building a better relationship with your eenIf you live in a home with one or more teenagers, at times you may feel like you are hostage to their moods. While it may be easier to retreat to the peace and quiet of your locked bedroom or give in to their behavior just to not further rock the boat, there’s no need to allow a teenager to control the home. It takes some work to build a better relationship with your teenager, but the payoff is worth it.

Teenagers engage in arguments because it is a strategy that works for them on many levels. Don’t kid yourself, teens have figured out that if they argue with parents they can make it very aversive for parents to follow through. In fact, research shows that the more aversive they make it; the less likely parents are to ask teens to do chores or follow through with consequences in the future.

In other words, teens argue because they get something out of it.

If nothing else, they get parent’s eyes to bug out of their heads and steam to come out of their ears, which for some reason teens find amusing. For all of these reasons (and more) it is very unlikely that teens will be the person to back down, or walk away, from a conflict. Teens are more likely to relish in the back and forth of an argument and propel it into a terrible conflict — one that likely started from something as simple as request to put away a pair of shoes. Don’t allow yourself to be party to that escalation.

An argument with a teenager can be like a grease fire and every word exchanged is like fuel on the fire. It takes two (or more) to keep this fire going, so often the best approach is to walk away. That doesn’t mean the teenager wins and you lose. It means you are smart enough to recognize that in that moment, you are not going to accomplish your goal by continuing to argue.

The goal as a parent is to deliver attention in another setting, a positive one, as opposed to giving teens attention during these arguments that ultimately serve to create bigger problems. Parents are often fooled into thinking that teenagers just want to be left alone. Trust me, it is not true, they still have “attention tanks,” you just have to know how to fill them up properly. One way to fill up these tanks is to establish a “date night/afternoon” to spend one-on-one time with your teenager. The idea is to fill up their attention tanks during this time so they will be less likely to try to fill them through engaging you in a big argument. Additionally, parents tend to be more comfortable walking away from conflict when they know they can have some quality time with their teen at another time.

There are some specific rules parents should consider when spending positive time with their teens during date night. First of all, parents should try to relax and keep it light during these one-on-one times. This is not your opportunity to “parent” or lecture them about all the things they do wrong, and what they really need to be doing or thinking about. During the date night it is best to resist the urge to “parent” and recognize this time for what it is — an opportunity to build a strong relationship with your teen through listening. Listen and keep the conversation positive. Your goal is to create a time your teenager enjoys so he or she will want to spend more time with you. Talk about neutral subjects — sports, fashion, television shows. Don’t overreact, don’t criticize and don’t jump to conclusions. Listen more than you speak.

You can also consider parallel activities that you both would enjoy. Take a day trip, go to a ball game, take a class together, go to a movie…The more you can fill your teenager’s attention tank with positive interactions, the less you may find yourself hostage to a teenage temper tantrum.

Teen/Parent “Date Night” Dos and Don’ts

DO…

  • Keep your mouth closed
  • Keep your sense of humor
  • Keep your ears open (listen for subtle messages)
  • Make positive comments
  • Keep your emotions and nonverbals positive
  • Try to understand the teen’s perspective

DO NOT…

  • Lecture
  • Mock what is important to your teen
  • Jump to conclusions about the teen’s ideas or attitudes
  • Criticize
  • Overreact to negative statements by your teen
  • Personalize or focus on differences between your and the teen’s perspective (“what is the world coming to” & “when I was growing up…”)
Take the next step:

blake lancasterBlake Lancaster, PhD, is a Licensed Psychologist and a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Child Behavioral Health at the University of Michigan Health System. He received his Ph.D. in Child Clinical Psychology from Western Michigan University, and completed his internship and post-doctoral training at the Munroe-Meyer Institute at the University of Nebraska where he also served as a junior faculty member from 2008 through 2012. His clinical practice focuses on providing behavioral health services in primary care pediatric settings using the integrated behavioral health co-location model. This integrated approach allows for delivery of empirically-based treatments for a wide variety of behavioral health concerns that arise in primary care pediatric settings (e.g., sleep problems, toileting issues, ADHD problems, anxiety, depression and general behavior problems).

best children's hospitalsUniversity of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital is consistently ranked one of the best hospitals in the country. It was nationally ranked in all ten pediatric specialties in U.S. News Media Group’s “America’s Best Children’s Hospitals,” and among the 10 best children’s hospitals in the nation by Parents Magazine. In December 2011, the hospital opened our new 12-story, state-of-the-art facility offering cutting-edge specialty services for newborns, children and women.

 

What new moms want to know about feeding a newborn

feeding your newbornYou’re home with your sweet bundle of joy and probably have more questions than answers. It won’t be long before you notice a trend – in those first few days and weeks it’s all about what’s going into the baby, and what’s coming out. We want to make sure your baby is healthy and gaining weight.  Here are some general guidelines to help you during those first days and weeks of feeding a newborn.

Breastfeeding your baby

Breastfeeding is a great source of nutrition for your baby, but it’s also a tremendous opportunity to bond with your newborn. We encourage moms to try breastfeeding. While some mothers and babies immediately get into a breastfeeding groove, most take a little more time and need some support to successfully breastfeed. Mott offers a Breastfeeding Support Clinic and lactation consultants to help. If you choose not to breastfeed or if for whatever reason it doesn’t work out, don’t worry, bottle feeding is also a great option.

How do I know if my baby is getting enough to eat?

The best way to monitor that is to track the number of wet diapers each day. Continue reading

Baby’s here, and so are the “Baby Blues”

what moms should know about the baby bluesHaving a baby is one of the most joyous occasions of one’s life, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t also come with emotional ups and downs. More than half of all new moms will experience postpartum “blues” about three to four days after delivery. Baby blues are caused by sleep deprivation and hormone fluctuations and typically pass in about one to two weeks.

To help cope with the baby blues, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Eating well helps, as does getting sleep. Try to sleep when the baby does. Limit well-meaning visitors who may be more of a burden than help for the first several weeks. If you had a c-section, realize that your baby blues may be exacerbated by the stress hormones released while your surgical site heals.

For the first few weeks after baby is born, focus on the fundamentals — eating well and sleeping (for both you and the baby). Spend time bonding with your baby and don’t worry if the house gets dirty or you haven’t showered for a day or two. By the time the baby is six weeks old, life will settle down a bit, and it will settle down even more so by the time he or she is four months old. That’s a relatively short time period to just focus on the fundamentals of caring for yourself and your baby.

Some women have more than the baby blues, they have post-partum depression. Continue reading

Looking for better tests to identify kids with Prediabetes and Type 2 Diabetes

Finding better diabetes testsAs a pediatric endocrinologist, I see many overweight or obese children who are referred for evaluation of prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.

You may be asking, what is type 2 diabetes? It’s the type of diabetes that is associated with carrying excess weight. Only adults used to develop type 2 diabetes, but now unfortunately more and more kids are getting the disease as well.

And what is prediabetes? It’s a condition where individuals don’t have high enough blood glucose levels to be classified as having diabetes, but have a much higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the future compared with other kids.

Pediatricians often refer overweight and obese kids to specialists like me for evaluation of these conditions, but they all don’t necessarily need to see us. The problem is that it’s currently hard to distinguish a child with a high BMI who is at risk for developing diabetes from one who is not; if we knew which tests could best identify kids with prediabetes and diabetes, we could save some patients the step of seeing a pediatric endocrinologist, and get the ones who DO need to see a specialist in for an appointment sooner. The challenge is all about getting the right kids to a specialist at the right time, thereby making our healthcare delivery system more efficient and providing better care to those who need it.

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