Parenting and Vaccinations in New Jersey

As the fall season roles in so does the time for flu vaccinations. This is an especially fun subject for parents as we may not enjoy flu shots ourselves but watching our little ones get them is even worse. This year we cannot turn to the FluMist as it has been taken off the table as an option, as it turns out this less painful option is also less effective.

 

In New Jersey the law requires that children in child care services receive the influenza vaccination if they are between the ages of 6 months and 59 months old, but highly recommends it for every child over the age of 6 months. If you want to read an article specific to this point this one published by the New York Times makes some good points.

 

So what is the recommended way for parents to help their children through the vaccination experience?

The number one answer is distraction.

 

10 Distraction Tactics

 

  • Have your child blow bubbles
  • Read a story
  • Sing a song together
  • Have your child count backwards from 10
  • Talk about shapes and colors on the wall or in books
  • Bring an Ipad or Tablet with games or movies for the child
  • Bring a sucker for the child to have while they are getting a shot instead of waiting until after
  • For babies, feed them a bottle or breastfeed while the nurse administers the shot
  • Have a toy such as a pinwheel that a child can play with using only one hand
  • Ask them to talk about their favorite things such as animals

 

These distraction techniques have supportably been shown to be much more effective than trying to reassure a child it will be ok or won’t hurt. Instead try being honest with the child that they are getting a shot and there may be a pinch for a second then it will go away, then proceed to distract. The doctor and nurses should be helpful and honest also, and with a combination of using less painful and quicker techniques the experience should be no problem at all. For those who are anxious about it can request topical numbing agents to help.

Stress and Health in Children

It is hard to deny that in this competitive world our children are asked to do more, give more and be more. The quest for perfectionism (especially in girls) may be doing more harm to our children’s health than we care to notice.

Children’s stress can come in the form of too much to do, events happening in their lives with family or peers, or current media events they may hear about on the nightly news. We also have to be cognizant that some things adults view as not a big deal can make a large impact in the life of a child (for example, what a friend thinks of him or her on social media.)

The physical side of childhood stressors is becoming more known. The Scientist reports that childhood stress can affect the size of telomeres later in life, which could cause premature cellular aging. The Washington Post reports on a doctor who is taking a social emotional approach in her medical practice.

It is more important than ever to open dialogue with our children and determine what stressors are causing them harm before they become physical ailments. We need to connect with young people and teach wellness techniques that fit into their fast-paced world. We have to communicate that relaxation is necessary and not something to be viewed as slacking. We have to model wellness and stop wearing business as a badge of honor so our children can see that self-care is important.

Parents, educators and pediatricians need to recognize and share symptoms that may indicate more than what they seem at face value. We must notice changes in behavior or peer groups, frequent sickness without symptoms or changes in interactions with others. More importantly, we must act as a team to raise a happy, well adjusted child.

The right amount of stress is crucial to our children’s well being and ultimately, their health. Mild stress is normal and often helpful (being nervous before a big test) but real or perceived expectations that lead to an unrealistic quest for perfection can potentially become health problems later in life.

Childhood Obesity Can Have Immediate Consequences, Studies State

While being overweight during childhood is serious in that it often leads to obesity in adulthood, it’s also harmful during the childhood years as well. Two new Danish studies which highlight this fact once again have been released, and it’s a sobering reminder to parents to make sure their child is maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Adult obesity is known to be linked to many harmful conditions, and now childhood obesity has been shown to increase the risk of many harmful conditions, including colon cancer, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, knee and hip pain, and strokes during early adulthood.

This doesn’t even address the fact that being overweight during childhood can contribute to a low self-esteem and poor habits. Insults and bullying from other kids may even lead to weight gain.

Excess weight gain is most typical around the ages of five and six, as well as during adolescence. Birth weight, race, and economic statues don’t seem to play into the picture at all, but early childhood weight gain does. While many parents assume that their kids will eventually “grow into” their weight, this typically doesn’t happen. If anything, most children end up gaining more weight. A 2014 study found that “overweight 5-year-olds were four times as likely as normal-weight children to become obese by age 14”, and 80% of overweight kids between the ages of ten and thirteen will likely be overweight as adults, too.

Dr. Daniels, of the University of Colorado, encourages parents to “limit high-calorie-dense foods, keep sugar-sweetened beverages out of the house and assure that kids eat the right amount of fruits and vegetables and fewer calorie-dense snacks.” He also emphasized the need for physical exercise, and warned against excess TV watching.