Help prevent your teen from playing risky games

Prevent your teen from taking unnecessary risks

Some games are riskier than others and it’s hard for teens to tell the difference.

Remember playing “Truth or Dare” as a kid? Some of the dares were silly, some potentially embarrassing, but some were downright risky. Now our children are playing potentially dangerous games. How can you prevent your teen from taking unnecessary risks?

To understand why kids would play risky games such as the Cinnamon Challenge or the Laughing Game, let’s step into the mindset of a teenager. Don’t let their adult-like appearances deceive you. Based on what we know about teenage brain development, teens are more likely to misinterpret or mislead social cues and emotions and to engage in risky behavior. Even though your teens may be taller than you, their deductive reasoning skills are not fully developed until around 25 years old. They have difficulty thinking through long term plans.

Take a simple example of studying. If they stay up very late studying, they do not consider that this will cause impairment in cognition the next day and consequently they are forced to stay up even later to understand class material. Further, because teens also are impulsive, they will typically check their cell phones multiple times while studying, which further pushes off bedtime. Days later, when it comes to taking a test in class, their cumulative sleep deprivation leads to poor focus and poor memory retrieval.

Applied to more dangerous situations and coupled with peer pressure, even a “good teen” may take unnecessary risks. Teens truly believe that they cannot die. Even if they know others who have died, they don’t think it can happen to them. So they may be more likely to run across a busy street, try getting high off of a friend’s Adderall, or drive distracted while checking social media on their phones.

Teen peer pressure + immature teen brain = disaster potential.

As parents, you do have some power to prevent disaster. You can teach your teens the tools you have acquired through the years to help them consider all potential consequences of their actions.

Here are some ways parents can teach:

  • Tell kids to pause first before playing any game. Think “What is the worst that can happen if I play the game, win or lose?” If the worst case scenario is severe injury or death, DON’T PLAY THE GAME. Remember that kids feel invincible.
  • Teach directly by allowing kids to take small risks. Like we’ve said before, hold tight, but remember to let go. If your child chooses not to study for a test in school, then let them fail the test. However, make sure they study for the final exam.
  • Teach indirectly through anecdotes, either from your own childhood or events you hear about. For example, your kids might not consider that the beach they visit with you every summer can hold danger. Tell them about the family I know who lost their teen to drowning while swimming too far and was caught in a riptide on an unguarded beach.
  • Teach kids that you cannot always save them. You cannot magically can save them if they get hit by traffic on a dare.
  • Know where your kid and your kid’s friends are developmentally and supervise accordingly. Volunteer to host the gatherings where a game may occur. Hint: Go down into the basement often with food-the kids will be happy to see you and you can be a better spy.
  • Keep ’em busy so that they do not play risky games simply out of boredom.
  • Give your kid a way out of an uncomfortable situation. Let them know they can always say, “I can’t, my parents would kill me.”

Unfortunately life is not all fun and games. Remind your kids that playing Monopoly or video games is not the same as taking real life risks.

Julie Kardos, MD and Naline Lai, MD
©2018 Two Peds in a Pod®

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Coughing out germs? Natural remedies for kids

It would be nice to have some natural remedies for kids when they "cough out germs."

“coughing out germs”

Recently a 6-year-old patient handed me this drawing of “a person coughing out germs.”

The artwork reminds us that a cough can be a good thing. A cough dislodges mucus from the airway and can help prevent pneumonia.

However, coughs can spread germs and make kids feel plenty uncomfortable.  And, frustrating for parents, many over-the-counter medicines are not recommended for kids.

Looking for natural remedies for kids? Look no further than your kitchen.

Julie Kardos, MD and Naline Lai, MD

©2018 Two Peds in a Pod®

 

 

 

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Non-screen based holiday gift ideas for children of all ages

non-screen based holiday gift ideas

Holiday gift ideas!

From toddlers to teens, use of tablets, smart phones, and game systems abound. With Black Friday fast approaching, it’s easy to run out of non-screen based holiday gift ideas.

In our gift ideas post, we suggest presents for children of all ages, from newborn to teen. You’ll find non-screen based fun gifts to encourage your children’s motor, intellectual, and emotional growth.

If you really run out of ideas even after reading the post, you can just wrap random objects in layers of wrapping paper and have your children unwrap them. Maybe it’ll be as intriguing to your kids in real life as on YouTube.

Happy shopping!

Julie Kardos, MD and Naline Lai, MD

©2018 Two Peds in a Pod®

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Can’t fall asleep? Relaxation techniques to quell anxiety

relaxation techniques

I love kids who worry. If they didn’t worry, they wouldn’t care, and if they didn’t care, nothing would ever get done. But sometimes, those worries grow bigger than your child and threaten to engulf them. Like any skill, you can teach your child to calm their mind and settle their emotions. Helping them with relaxation techniques as they fall asleep will translate into the ability for your child to calm themselves during the day.

When your child was a baby you would rock them, sing to them, and maybe give a pacifier. But now that they are older, other calming modalities are available. Continue Reading

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How to get rid of Halloween Candy

How to get rid of Halloween Candy

After the fun

You poured out all of your two liter soda bottles, replaced all of the potato chip snacks with fruit, and signed up all of your children for winter sports.  Just when you thought your family’s exercise level and food choices were perfect, along comes Halloween, that fabulous candy-filled holiday, to thwart your efforts. Here are some ways to keep the Halloween candy deluge down to a trickle:

-Buy back the candy with toys or money. The Halloween Buy Back Program was started by dentist Chris Cammer in 2005. Traditionally, dentists buy back candy from kids and usually send the candy to United States troops. Find local participating dentists and learn more about the program here.

-Have the Sweet-Tooth Fairy or Switch Witch™ come overnight, pick up the candy, and leave a present behind.

-Let your children know Halloween (and most holidays) lasts only one day. Live it up on Halloween, then dump the extra sweets into the trashcan the next day. If you hear whining, remind them that until summer, holidays come at a pace of about once a month. Additionally, they may attend an awful lot of birthday parties in between. A parental saying you can recite is, “It’s not a treat if you have something all the time.”

-If you decide to keep a small bag of candy around, watch out, your children will want to eat some daily. Candy becomes an ongoing “must have.” Instead, designate a day of the week that you will let them have some candy such as Candy Friday or Sweet Saturday. If the kids whine for candy on any other day of the week, you can say, ”Sorry, it’s not Sweet Saturday.”

-One parent told me she discourages her kids from eating too much Halloween candy by making their dental appointments on November 1—the day after Halloween.

As final justification for getting rid of the abundance of candy after Halloween, Dr. Kardos and I have heard more than a few parents say, “If I don’t get the candy out of my house, I’ll be the one who ends up eating it all.”

Now, that’s a scary Halloween thought.

Naline Lai, MD and Kardos, MD
© 2018 Two Peds in a Pod®

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Oh no, it’s the back to school cold!

back to school cold

Mr. Germ was excited to join the class this year as mystery reader until he saw the hand sanitizer on the back to school supply list.

Your child went back to school a couple of weeks ago, you’ve been to back to school night, and now, right on time, many of your children have… THE BACK TO SCHOOL COLD. What to do with this cold?

Whether caught from the toddler room or from the middle school hallway, most back to school colds look the same. Your child will start with a day of extra grumpiness or vague complaints about feeling tired or having a sore throat, followed by a runny nose Continue Reading

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What’s that red mark on my child’s face? Picture puzzle of the day

 

spider angioma

A red mark on your child’s cheek appears just like the one above. Can you wait to ask the pediatrician about it at their next check up? Yes, you can wait. The spider-like pinkish mark is aptly named a spider angioma. Also called by other names such as spider nevus or spider telangiectasia, the marks are composed of fine blood vessels in a radiating pattern close to the skin’s surface. When pressed, they momentarily disappear (blanching). Although in adults they can be associated with pregnancy or liver disease, having one or two is common in healthy children. Since they are harmless and often resolve in their own, we usually leave them alone.

There’s also a type of red mark called a cherry angioma. You can probably guess what shape those marks take.

Julie Kardos, MD and Naline Lai, MD
© 2018 Two Peds in a Pod®

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Hooray! United States flu vaccine is here!

should my child get the flu vaccine?

Fight the flu! Vaccinate!

It’s time for your child’s yearly flu vaccine!

Why get the flu shot? Vaccinate against influenza (the flu) not only to avoid missed school days, but also to avoid hospitalizations and death. Last year in the USA, 172 children died from flu. You may not have heard about these fatalities because more sensational news tends to overshadow news about illness. We wish the news would inform that the vast majority of kids who died from flu had not received the flu vaccine. In addition, about half of the children who died from the flu were previously healthy and without underlying medical problems. Excluding the 2009 flu pandemic (H1N1), last year’s flu deaths represents “the highest reported since influenza-associated pediatric mortality became a nationally notifiable condition in 2004.” Kids younger than 5 years old have the highest flu complication rate of all children, so even if they do not yet attend daycare or school, bring your little ones in for a flu vaccine. Vaccinate your school-aged kids as well, for they spread the flu to more folks than any other age group.

Does it help to wait to give the vaccine? What if the vaccine wears off before flu season ends?
Continue Reading

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