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Discipline-325Parenting toddlers and young children is a hard job! Even the most even-tempered mom or dad can lose their cool when a rambunctious three-year-old acts up. What is a parent to do when their young child does something unacceptable? Here are my thoughts as a doctor and a mom:

•    Don’t hit or spank your kids. Hitting children, especially boys, teaches them that violence is OK. There is significant research that supports the concept that physical punishment does NOT work and can cause long-term damage to a child’s self-esteem, behavior and one day, their own parenting.

•    Pick your battles with your toddler. If your 1-, 2- or 3-year-old violates a safety rule or shows aggressive behavior, you must respond. But less serious behavior, albeit annoying or disrespectful, can be fixed when your child is older and he or she can better understand these concepts.

•    Praise good behavior. When a child receives compliments for behaving well, they remember it, just as they remember being disciplined for bad behavior. Once they know how much better praise feels, they will be more likely to behave well in order to receive it.

•    Make time-outs effective. When your toddler is aggressive or acts out dangerously, immediately say in a firm voice, “No hitting (or insert other unacceptable behavior). Time-out.” Then, walk your child to a safe place, like a crib or empty playpen, and leave them there, shutting the door behind you as you go. The rule of thumb is one minute of time-out per year of age, but I suggest that a time-out last as long as it takes for this isolation to bother your child. Kids who are sensitive may cry immediately, which means the point has been made.

•    When time-out is over, don’t make a toddler apologize. They’re too young to grasp this concept. Just say, “OK, time-out is over.” Then move on.

•    Never lock your child in their room or put them in a dark closet or scary place. This is extremely dangerous and it can damage your child’s trust in you and the world.

•    When you are too upset to deal with your child, give yourself a time-out. Walk away from the situation and give yourself a few minutes to breathe and calm down. Once your raw anger has melted away, return to deal with your child.  

Remember, they’re only toddlers for a few brief years. Keep a sense of humor and know that better days will follow the hard ones. If you need help with your young child’s behavior, please talk with your pediatric team at Eugene Pediatric Associates. We’re here to help.

Posted by on in News
Solutions1I’ve been spending some time reflecting on a troubling trend unfolding around us.

In a previous blog, I shared my thoughts on recent national and international violence, unrest and families in crisis—it seems as if the world has gone mad. I’ve also become anxious and disheartened watching our own beautiful community follow suit.

I believe our societal decline is due to multiple factors: technology gone awry, an acceptance of violence, loss of common kindness, excessive focus on our own selfish needs, and a lack of a moral compass.  

When I think of how I as an individual can affect change on a global level, I feel helpless. I do, however, believe that we can all work together to take back our little corner of humanity. In our own lives, in our families, in our schools and workplaces, we CAN make meaningful changes. But it must be purposeful. And it probably won’t be easy.

Making positive changes to alleviate problems and heal the broken relationships around us begins with:

•    Getting rid of some of your technology. I’m serious. What did you do before you had a smartphone? You were fine. Do we really need to check our email 50 times a day? No. Do we really need to send 2,000 texts a month? Again, no. One mom told me her son gave up his iPhone for Lent and she said, “For 40 days, he was the nicest kid I’ve ever known.” This technology stuff may be entertaining, but it’s addictive so let’s rein it in. Start with small changes. I am making a personal pledge not to take my smartphone on family vacations. What pledge are you willing to make?    

•    Simplifying your family’s life. Giving up activities and obligations to allow more time to just be together is not easy, but the benefits will outweigh the loss. Use the extra time together to talk—really talk. Discuss your thoughts, your goals and your beliefs.   

•    Choosing happiness, positive thoughts and kindness. What we say, what we watch for entertainment, and how we let our minds wander has a direct impact on us. I believe happiness is a choice and we need to actively seek it. It’s hard when we are surrounded by lots of negativity, especially as of late, so we all have to work on having a positive attitude.

•    Becoming a giver more than a taker. Volunteer. Help others. Donate. There are thousands of ways we can give back to society and raise up others. We need to do regular activities with our families that benefit people around us, instead of spending so much time thinking about what we want for ourselves.

•    Believing. If you are a person of faith, worship more often and include the kids. Don’t just sit and listen to the sermon from the back row; become actively involved in your church. If you’re not into organized religion, talk with your children about your own beliefs about what’s right and wrong. Give the kids and yourself things to believe in, reasons to cherish life, and ideas about future directions they can take that will be positive and help the world.  

•    Supporting charities that support families. Now more than ever, our local community needs to support organizations that work to address mental health issues and drug and alcohol addiction. We need to offer a hand, whether it be financial assistance or volunteer hours, to groups that inspire better parenting, happier people and healthier minds.

The time is now. We need to act together to make a positive difference in our community. Please share your ideas, too. Together, I believe our power for good in the world is far greater than we can even imagine.

Posted by on in News

151124ProblemsWhen I was growing up in Eugene, violent crimes were nearly unheard of, but recently it seems like murders and other horrific offenses are becoming commonplace on the front page of our local newspaper.

We’ve seen multiple young children who’ve been badly abused. A number of our teenage patients have attempted suicide these past few months. We’ve experienced a flood of kids suffering with anxiety or depression who come into our office accompanied by parents in crisis.  

Something has shifted in our community, and I’m worried. I’m sharing my thoughts with you in the hopes of starting a dialogue that will lead to solutions. Why is there so much pain and suffering in our community? And what can we all do collectively to reclaim a peaceful, healthier city?  

As a pediatrician, watching kids and families over the last 20 years, I’ve made a few observations:

•    Kids and adults spend too much time absorbed in technology. The average teen spends more than 8 hours a day in front of a screen, but less than 10 minutes talking to their parents. Many studies have shown that the brains of young children do not develop correctly when they live in cyberspace. According to research, the number of hours a day a teenager spends engaged with technology is directly proportionate to symptoms of reported anxiety and sadness. Screens are replacing our time together and parents and children are drifting apart.

•    The pace of life is too fast. It used to be that you called someone, left a message and received a call back the next day. You had breaks in your day that allowed you time to think, to reflect, to give thanks and to plan. We are now constantly deluged with emails, texts, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, tweets, and many other forms of input and interruptions. And we’ve come to believe that our responses are supposed to be immediate. I am not convinced the human brain was designed to tolerate this much information, this fast.

•    Violence and rudeness have become a normal part of society. So much available information is too graphic, intense, and negative for kids—and often for adults—to stay in a positive frame of mind. Back in my day, we were introduced to Space invaders, one of the earliest and graphically simple video games where the goal was to defeat waves of aliens with a laser cannon. Compare that to Call of Duty, today’s wildly popular series of first-person shooter games that has been criticized for glamorizing violence. Look at the content of TV shows like SpongeBob SquarePants and Modern Family, as well as movies, books and other forms of social media. Unkindness, disrespect and sarcasm have replaced good manners.  

•    Our society is increasingly self-oriented and negative. Instant gratification and material wants have replaced the thread of volunteerism and community service of my grandfather’s generation. Complaining and whining about trivial matters has, in many ways, suffocated our ability to recognize our blessings and to be thankful for them.

•    Faith, a sense of a higher purpose, and appreciation for the value of life has waned. I’m not just talking about religious faith—which certainly offers a framework for making good choices to many believers—I am talking about kids and families who appear to be without a guiding moral compass.  

We must also support programs that seek to help people and families stricken by mental illness, and drug and alcohol addiction. And we need to support programs that address social afflictions like homelessness and food insecurity.

In an upcoming blog, I will share my own opinions about ways we can work to change these worrisome trends. But for now, I invite you to share your own thoughts about what’s troubling our society these days. My hope is that we can start a conversation that can potentially lead to positive change in our community. God bless us as we seek to heal our community - somehow.

150729NewProvidersWhen we see a need for new providers,  I personally seek out the best-qualified professionals. But it's not enough for providers to be great at what they do—their hearts have to be fully committed to our mission in caring for kids and families. It's a fundamental quality that caregivers must possess to join us at Eugene Pediatric Associates and Thrive Behavioral Health.

I asked our new speech-language pathologist, Erica Meter, to send me a paragraph explaining why her job is important to the well-being of kids. I am writing a grant proposal to support the expansion of Thrive and I was looking for information to include.

This is what Erica wrote:

“I am fortunate to be able to say I love what I do. Being a speech therapist is not just a job, it's an opportunity to change lives in a positive way and have my life changed, too. The little blessings that walk through my door every day are just that—blessings. I am reminded of this constantly. I want to share the story of twin girls who touched my heart in a very special way.

Born at 28 weeks gestation, they fought every day to survive.  While they were in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, I supported them by teaching their parents successful feeding techniques. When the twins were able to leave the NICU, I thought it was the end of our journey together. Fast forward three years later and I was blessed again to see these two miracles and their parents sitting before me. One of the girls had recently been diagnosed with moderate to severe autism and speech/language delays, the other with speech/language delays, as well as sensory processing disorder. That day marked the beginning of our second journey together.

Their mother shared how desperately she wanted her autistic daughter to acknowledge her, interact and communicate with her. At the start of therapy, the only world that existed for the little girl was her own. Instead of wanting to play, she would rather dance and hum in front of the mirror. Instead of playing with her sisters, she preferred lining up books and placing letters in alphabetical order. She was in her own world, and that worked for her. But her mother wanted to be part of that world, and the day I started seeing her, was the first day we began to discover more about the world her daughter lived in.

With patience and suggested interactions to try at home, the little girl began opening doors to let us in. Now, 18 months later, she is speaking two and three word phrases. She calls her family members by name to get their attention. She performs for what we call "social attention" and waits for you to look at her. She makes requests using words and pictures for support when she needs them. But most of all, she is learning to be part of her family's world and starting to enjoy being there.

Her twin sister, who is also making tremendous progress, is now just slightly below the developmental expectations for her age, and she loves that her sister wants to play with her. The twin’s older sister is a wonderful teacher and loves that she gets to play, too. Their parents worked every day to learn how to fit into their daughter's world instead of forcing her to be part of theirs. This is only one of the many stories that remind me why I do what I do. Because behind every smile, laugh, or tear, there is a child waiting to be embraced, loved and discovered. I'm so lucky to be a part of that!”

By the time I finished reading Erica’s words, the tears had already begun to flow.

Erica is amazing, just like every one of our providers at Eugene Pediatrics and Thrive Behavioral Health. They were handpicked for their positions because of their commitment to families and for recognizing what an amazing opportunity it is to care for children in ways that are, for many families, life-changing.

Posted by on in News
141111questions smFor whatever reason, my hair is a frequent subject of questions from my young patients. Here is a collection of some of the questions I have fielded about my hair, along with my honest answers. Most of these questions were asked by 5 and 6-year-olds, whom I love for their openness and direct approach.

Q: Who does your hair in the morning?
A:  I do my own hair in the morning.  

Q: Do you cut your own hair? The only time my hair was that short was when I cut it with my school scissors.
A:  Once when I was a kid, I did use my school scissors to cut my hair, but I don't do that anymore. (My hair stylist is Helen Wegener at Willow Hair Salon and she is truly amazing. She's from Australia, and worked in Los Angeles before moving to Eugene with her family. I would honestly travel a thousand miles for her scalp massage. She is funny, talented and kind, and she functions both as my hair stylist and therapist.)

Q: Why is your hair so yellow?
A:  Because yellow is the color of the sun...and if it weren't, my hair would be totally gray. And I was blonde as a kid, so I figure it makes sense.

Q: Why do you have boy hair?
A:  Okay, now this question bothered me a teeny bit because one of Dr. Romanoski's patients asked it, and Dr. R has even SHORTER hair than I do. So, I dragged Dr. R into a room and asked this little kid which of us looked more like a boy. Somehow, even though my hair is longer and I am three inches shorter than Dr. Romanoski, I apparently look more boyish to a 5-year-old. Not fair.

Q:  How do you make your hair all swoopy like a tidal wave?
A:  Product. Lots of product. (Pureology Root Lift, Privé Detailing Pomade, and a good dose of Kevin Murphy hairspray) My husband jokes that my head is probably flammable—a thought I don't like to consider after watching Michael Jackson's hair catch on fire in his music video years ago.
Tagged in: Children Dr. Bradshaw