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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.

Posted by on in News
141008EPA foodallergies-smDoes your child have serious food allergies? Here are some steps to ensure they are safe at school:

  1. Submit an updated, written Food Allergy Action Plan. Take one to school to keep it on file there, and share it with your child’s teacher and front office staff.
  2. Discuss the food allergy with the cook at school. Even if you pack lunches for your child, the chef will appreciate knowing students who have a problem with food allergies.
  3. Take a fresh EpiPen to keep at school. Bring the EpiPen Jr., or EpiPen for bigger kids, and be sure multiple staff members are trained in the proper use.
  4. Have a conversation with your child. Talk to your children about the food(s) they must avoid, and review common symptoms of their allergic reaction. Be sure they are not afraid to tell their teacher if they think they ate a dangerous food, or if they are having symptoms of an allergic attack.
  5. Consider buying your child a Medic Alert bracelet to alert others of their serious food allergy.

Every child should feel safe and comfortable at school. Kids with food allergies need an extra level of protection. If you have questions about food allergies and your child, please contact us at Eugene Pediatric Associates.
140909EPAvirusblog-smHospitalizations for severe respiratory infections in children are climbing at some U.S. hospitals because of confirmed cases by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of human enterovirus D68, or EV-D68. As yet, Lane County has no confirmed cases.

There are more than 100 types of enterovirus infections, with 10 to 15 million cases every year. EV-D68, however, is less common. Small clusters of EV-D68 were reported in the United States in 2009 and 2010.

Last month, hospital officials in Kansas City, Missouri, and Chicago contacted the CDC after finding higher than usual numbers of admissions due to respiratory infections. The CDC then confirmed 19 of 22 specimens from Kansas City hospitals and 11 of 14 specimens from Chicago were EV-D68. The strain is not new.

The CDC continues to investigate possible clusters around the country, and testing is ongoing, said Anne Schuchat, M.D., director of the CDC National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, in a CDC telebriefing held yesterday.

Who’s affected and how?
Children from six weeks to 16 years, and with a median age of 5 years, have been most affected by the current outbreak, especially those with a history of asthma or wheezing. Some children have been admitted to intensive care units. At Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, for example, officials called in extra providers to help care for an unprecedented influx of children needing intensive care.

The onset of symptoms can be quick. Within hours, typical cold systems have turned into breathing difficulties, sometimes accompanied by wheezing, cough, rash or fever. Some EV-D68 infection can be serious but rarely result in neurologic illness, including meningitis.

What can I do?
Your pediatricians at Eugene Pediatric Associates urge you to take the following steps:

  • Remain calm. This is not a deadly virus, like Ebola. Supportive care is helping many of the sick kids in the Midwest get well.
  • Keep sick children with rashes and bad coughs OUT of school and daycare.
  • Call us to discuss your children’s illness if they have a bad cough, fever, body aches or shortness of breath. We can help you decide what to do next.
  • Keep up your kids’ washing regimen. Enteroviruses are spread by close contact with infected persons or by touching contaminated objects. Thoroughly wash your kids’ hands and faces and change clothes when they get home after being around lots of other people.
  • Be mindful about swimming pool hygiene. Enterovirus infections also can be spread by fecal–oral routes.
  • If your child has asthma, make sure you have rescue inhalers that are up to date and your child gets a flu shot this month or next.
And remember: Even though this newsworthy virus isn’t prevented by a shot, please immunize your children against influenza, which kills more people every year than all vaccine-preventable diseases put together! FLU SHOTS SAVE LIVES.