For Good Health, Remember 7-5-2-1-0
Is your family eager to feel great, be healthy and have fun? Good news! Small, simple steps can be the most direct way to a healthy lifestyle. So keep in mind the numbers 7-5-2-1-0. Here's what they mean: Start the day with breakfast 7 days a week. Eat 5 helpings of fruits and vegetables a day. Keep screen time to 2 hours a day or less. Be active for 1 full hour or more every day. Cut down to 0 on soda and sugar-sweetened drinks.
If making all these changes at once seems too drastic, a slow-and-steady approach works great. Tackle these healthy changes one at a time until they become new habits!
Helping a Child Who Struggles With Anxiety
All children have fears and worries sometimes. Many fear the dark, being apart from their parents, and what's expected from them at school. Their worries can usually be eased by a caring adult's friendly ear and warm words of support.
But for some children and teens, their anxiety is severe. Their fears and worries can't be soothed away. Stubborn thoughts disrupt their enjoyment of life and their ability to function. This condition is known as an anxiety disorder - and as many as 20% of kids will struggle with it at some point.
With anxiety disorders, anxiety is both severe and frequent. It's also persistent, sticking with a child over months and years. Some common symptoms include: fears of social or performance situations; fears of losing a parent or something bad happening to them; and refusing to go places and do things due to anxiety's physical effects. Anxiety may center on specific objects such as dogs or bugs, or on a certain situation like getting a shot at the doctor's office. Anxiety can cause headaches and tummy aches, feeling restless and tense, and sleep problems.
Anxiety disorders don't go away on their own. Telling a child to "toughen up" or "get over it" won't help - and may make things worse. The most effective treatment for anxiety disorders is cognitive behavioral therapy, which connects thoughts, feelings and actions. It helps kids build new skills to cope with the situations that cause them anxiety. It also teaches them how to relax and thus prevent the physical problems anxiety brings. In some cases, medicine may be prescribed along with therapy.
There are many helpful books on anxiety in children. For parents, Seattle Children's recommends Helping Your Anxious Child: A Step-by-Step Guide for Parents by Ronald Rapee et al. And for kids, What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Anxiety by Dawn Heubner and Bonnie Matthews.
Dr. Robert Hilt, a child psychiatrist at Seattle Children's, offers this advice to parents who suspect their child may have an anxiety disorder: "If your child has worries that are repeatedly keeping them from being happy and successful, please talk to your child's primary care provider or to a mental health professional, such as a child psychologist, about how to intervene now."
Visit our Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine resources to learn more about anxiety.
Bedwetting Is a Common, Solvable Problem
If you ever wet the bed as a child, you may still remember how upsetting it was. Bedwetting (involuntary urination while asleep) is common, and is considered a problem when children wet the bed more than twice a month after age 5 or 6. To stop it, parents must commit to a plan of action, and never shame or blame a child.
First, understand which type of bedwetting is happening. The first is among kids who have never been consistently dry at night; this usually occurs when the body makes too much urine at night and a child doesn't wake up when the bladder is full. The second type is kids who were dry at night for at least 6 months and start bedwetting again; the cause here may be physical, emotional, or due to a change in sleep.
Your doctor can help you pinpoint the cause and develop a plan, which may include holding back liquids before bedtime, ensuring the bladder is empty before sleep, and waking a child during the night to urinate.
Preparing for Weather Emergencies and Disasters
What's one of the most important things you can do for your family's safety? Create a supply kit and an emergency communications plan, so you're prepared for weather emergencies and other disasters. A big event could happen at any time. So if this task has been stuck on your to-do list, enlist your child's help and take action!
A detailed checklist will help you get started. There are plenty of helpful sources online, including TakeWinterByStorm.org. This guide is geared toward winter storms, but the emergency kit checklist and planning tips pertain to other disasters, too.
Be sure that your family and pets can survive for at least three days with no outside help. Water is most important. Keep fresh, sealed drinking water in your garage or another safe place, so you have a gallon a day for each person and pet. Emergency kits should be portable and ready to go in case of evacuation, so it's smart to use a backpack or a duffel bag for each family member.
Consider buying a pre-made kit that contains the basics, and supplement it with your own supplies. Essential items include: water; nonperishable, ready-to-eat food and a can opener; medicines; a battery- or crank-powered radio and flashlight; extra batteries; sturdy shoes and warm clothing; a blanket, a first-aid kit; a whistle; and cash.
An emergency communications plan is as important as a supply kit. The goal is to know exactly how you'll contact one another and where you'll reunite after an emergency.
To learn more, watch Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson explain how to make an emergency communications planand see her own family's 3-day emergency kit.
Protect Your Baby from RSV
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infects almost all children at least once before they are 2 years old. In older kids it usually causes only minor cold-like symptoms. But it can be more dangerous for infants, and for children who already have heart and lung problems. For infants and toddlers, RSV usually starts with fever and a stuffy nose. As the virus spreads to the lungs, it can cause a hoarse cough and breathing problems. See your doctor if these develop; some infants with RSV need to go to the hospital. Since this virus spreads easily, be sure that anyone who touches your baby first washes their hands. And keep your baby away from crowds and anyone with cold symptoms.
Learn more about RSV, including how severe RSV illness can be prevented with injections for certain infants and children who are at high risk.
How to Treat Minor Burns
Simple first-degree burns caused by brief contact with heat can create redness, pain and some swelling. These minor burns can be treated at home.
DO immediately put the burned part in cold tap water - or run cold water over it - for 10 minutes. Then cover the burn with a sterile gauze bandage to keep it clean and protect it from the air. If the burn is still painful, give your child the proper dosage of a pain reliever like children's Tylenol or Advil.
DO NOT apply ointments or ice, or other old home remedies like butter or egg whites; they can worsen the problem. Seek medical help for chemical burns, or for more serious heat burns that result in blisters or infection.
Visit our symptom checker to learn more about treating burns and other minor illnesses and injuries.
Safety on the Slopes
Keep your skier or snowboarder safe on the slopes with a properly fit snow sport helmet. They reduce the chance of head injuries by nearly half. Choose a helmet that:
- Has a label certifying that it meets ASTM F2040 or CEN 1077 standards.
- Sits level, no more than 1 inch above your child's eyebrows. The back of the helmet should not touch the nape of their neck.
- Has pads that are flush against your child's cheeks and forehead.
- Is snug, but not tight, with the chinstrap fastened and does not shift when your child shakes their head.
Model good habits for your child and wear a helmet every time you hit the slopes.
Learn more about helmets for the slopes as well as bike helmets, including information on helmet giveaways, at MakeSureTheHelmetFits.org.