Good afternoon, everyone!
For many of us in the St. Louis area, it's yet another snow day. I want to share our video of the week which talks about an outdoor science experiment that many people did last time it got this cold:
Thanks for posting. We had the same question last week, and both Dr. B and I handled this situation with our own children in different ways. My daughter missed the cut-off age and would have been much younger than her peers. I wasn't sure whether to push her a year ahead because she was academically ready. We decided to keep her with her age group, and it was a wise decision because of emotional maturity. I think you should consider three factor: academic readiness, emotional and social maturity and long-term consequences. If she is academically ready, and she seems to be on target with her peer group and emotional development, I'd follow the guidance of the Parents As Teachers educator.
We would ALL like to know when the flu season ends! Sadly, I cannot predict the future. But, looking at past flu data from the CDC, influenza usually falls off in Feb. or March, just in time for diarrhea season...
The CDC website also says: The timing of flu is very unpredictable and can vary from season to season. Flu activity most commonly peaks in the U.S. in January or February. However, seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October and continue to occur as late as May.
It's not too late for a flu shot! We are still seeing LOTS of flu in St. Louis, and the vaccine will protect you. In fact, this year's flu vaccine has been shown to be very effective against this year's flu virus.
We tend to hear lots of media reports at the start of flu season, especially in areas where there are lots of deaths attributed to flu, but just because it's out of the headlines doesn't mean it's still not going around.
Dear John, I cannot speak for every physician, but most pediatricians will tell a teen that they are conducting a drug test. Of note, most of the drug tests offered in a regular doctor's office or ER are based on urine. This test will only tell you if a child has taken a drug very recently-- the time window varies based on the drug. So, if you think your child is actively affected by a recreational drug this can be a useful test. But if you want to know if they have used a drug in the past days, weeks, months, you need hair testing. This can be done by commercial labs such as "Any Lab Test Now."
It's still a good idea to take your child to their pediatrician if you have concerns that they may be using drugs. Your pediatrician will likely offer to privately see the child, without a parent, and talk to them about what's really going on.
They can offer counseling, education, and testing for the kinds of risk factors that go along with drug use, such as depression, mental illness, and sexual activity.
John, I can understand your desire to get an answer to something that may be worrying you without having to "accuse" a child or get into an argument about it. I like Dr. B's suggestion about scheduling an appointment for the doctor to talk to the child without the parent present. It might lead to a more frank conversation.
Dr. B...If you do have a private conversation with a teen about possible drug use, are you bound to keep that private or can you discuss that later with the parent?
Usually we try to help the teen to tell the parents everything that is going on. I come up with a plan, such as counseling, and often an "immunity deal," such that the child is not punished as long as they participate in the drug counseling. I hook patient and parent up with drug abuse resources and schedule a follow-up. I often find that tobacco smoking goes along with drug use, and it's important for parents to let their kids smoke cigarettes while they try to kick the drug habit.
It's very rare for kids to totally refuse to tell their parents about their drug use, especially after I have had a conversation with them and come up with a plan they agree with. By the time a child comes to see me, they know that their parents already have a clue about their drug use. But, if the child totally refuses to tell parents, and I feel they are in a life threatening situation, I can tell the parents without the child's consent. I have only had to do that once in my career.
The terms emotional and social readiness do seem really vague, and it's not as simple as checking off a list of whether a child knows his or her ABCs, etc. Here are some questions to ask yourself about your child that I found an a kindergarten readiness page: Does my child get along well with others?
Does my child work well individually and within small and large groups?
Has my child had positive relationships and experiences being in a group away from home and familiar adults?
Does my child show appropriate social and school behaviors?
Is my child able to separate from me easily in new situations?
Does my child follow rules?
Does my child cooperate and share with other children?
Does my child interact with other children appropriately?
Does my child enjoy being around other children?
Children have a high rate of success in Kindergarten if they can interact positively with a group of peers. Social skills such as sharing, taking turns, compromising, approaching unfamiliar children, and problem solving will facilitate an easy transition and successful year.
If you're not sure your child is socially and emotionally ready for kindergarten, consider having a conversation with your pediatrician. Determining kindergarten readiness is a part of our pre-kindergarten well-child visit. You could also have a conversation with the counselor, principal, or kindergarten teacher at the school she will attend.
Also, you mentioned that your child is in the PATs program. I remember when we were in that program, they had a checklist they did on a wide array of skills, from gross motor to fine motor to emotional, etc. They were able to plot the responses on a bell curve to give me an idea of how my child compared to other children his or her age. Try calling your PAT teacher and asking if they can tell you how your child compares to other kids here age in these area. After all, they see hundreds of children in this age group.
If you are too tired, this is not a symptom to simply ignore. You MUST be seen by a doctor. It can be a sign of many serious yet treatable illnesses, including thyroid disease, cancer, and depression. Too often thyroid disease and cancer go unnoticed because people attribute their fatigue to the stresses of daily life.
Dear Anna, I remember going to my OBGYN for an appointment when my baby was 1 and my daughter was 3. She asked how I was feeling, and I just started crying BECAUSE I WAS SO TIRED ALL THE TIME. It turns out my thyroid levels were low, my iron was low and I need to supplement both. I also put off seeing a doctor because I everyone told me it was normal to be tired. But, extreme exhaustion day after day is not normal. Please make an appointment today. Right now.
Sleepover can be a sensitive topic in some households. We didn't let our children sleep over at any friends house until they were about 9 years old. And even then, the very few sleepovers that have been allowed have been only at the houses of parents we have known for many, many years. I've talked to the parents openly about things that concern me, like parental supervision, what happens if the children are mean to one another (or one child is left out) and whether or not there are guns in the house. Basically, my children know that a sleepover only happens at a friends house once or twice a year.
And, we have had the same issue with a younger sibling who feels left out when the older one is allowed to spend the night before the younger one is. We try to make it a very special night for the younger child by going out to eat with just him and then letting him pick a movie we all watch together.
One of the best ways to approach the question of sleepovers is to find like-minded parents who are also conservative about whether their child is allowed. It makes it much easier when the other child has similar house rules.
I asked some parents whose children are very involved in different youth sports. The age depends on the sport your child might want to play. For example, because hockey requires a specialized skill (skating) in order to play the game, my editor suggests a child needs to be involved by age 6..and really no later than 9, if you want them to be able to compete on the best teams. The age of around 9 came up a few times from other parents, too.
In a sport like soccer, however, a child who is athletic, there maybe a little more leeway if they don't join a team until 3rd or 4th grade. But, if your goal is just to have a sport your child plays for fun, you can find places that will group "older" beginners together.
Teen relationship break-ups can be extraordinary painful, and I think, as parents, we can underestimate their pain. It sounds like you are doing all the right things, but you need to give it time. Also, talk to your daughter about her sexual relationship with her boyfriend. Often this part of the break-up doesn't get discussed, but sexuality bonds people together more closely, especially early sexual encounters. Your daughter may need your love and understanding in this area.
It takes time for hurt feelings to heal, even as an adult, let alone for those experiencing their first heartbreak. I think it's great that you are being supportive and trying to keep her busy and engaged. You can also encourage her to invite her close girlfriends over. It's easier to dwell on the hurt when you are alone. Try taking an activity together, like yoga or running. The endorphins are a natural mood lifter. Even though it may be the last thing your child wants to do, she will actually feel better afterward. And it's easier to go to the gym with a friend.
Start with baby steps when it comes to teaching socialization skills. Offer a small reward (or praise) for smiling back at someone when they say hello. Or try creating a play situation with her dolls or pretend play with your child where you pretend to be someone she's never met before. It takes some children longer to open up around other people.
It's normal for four-year-olds to be shy and/or anxious around strangers. In fact, it's actually a bit healthy. You wouldn't want her talking to just anyone! Try practicing talking to adults with good manners and good eye contact. Talk through it at home, have her practice with you. Then have her practice with a grandparent or other adult she knows well. Eventually, she will get to the point where she can talk to an adult you introduce her to. But it takes a lot of time, practice, and maturity.
I would encourage (and make plans) with other friends for your child besides this one child. Having just one "best friend" makes your child too vulnerable to that one person's whims and fancies.
I tell my kids they can have lots of best friends. Exclusive friendships are actually easier for kids than the more advanced social skill of managing group relationships. But, they have to learn how to be a friend within a group.
If your child sounds like she is unhappy more often than she is happy in this other girl's company, I'd talk to the teacher about also encouraging other another friendship elsewhere.
Great chat. Thank you for the insightful answers, Dr. B.
Look forward to chatting again next week.
Thanks! See you next week!