Meet and Greet Weekend @ Dream Big: 3/25/16

Its time for another meet and greet weekend!
One of the things I am learning about blogging is how supportive the blogging community is. Meet and greets are great way to find new bloggers to follow–even if you do not blog yourself. You can sign up to follow and get posts sent to your email too! This has been a great community to interact with as a new blogger myself…hope you will click on this link and go through the comments. Bloggers will leave their links to their blogs! Enjoy and happy reading!

Sunday Spotlight on Children’s Books: The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn


ChildrenbookspotlightEver had a child who had separation anxiety? I love to share the story of “The Kissing Hand” by Audrey Penn.

Story summary: It’s hard to say goodbye to your mom or dad. Little ones who have a hard time separating may enjoy this short tale about Chester Raccoon who doesn’t want to go to night school. He is scared about leaving his mommy.


Mom shares a family secret with him that helps warm Chester’s heart…and gives him the courage to go to night school. He knows his mom will be home waiting for him after school.

I love the message of this story and the cute ritual you can do with your own child. Children love rituals–it helps them feel secure and helps serve as a signal for a routine. Read this story with your little one, adopt the ritual or use the story to create one of your own.

Suggested ages: 3-5 years

RELATED: How to Ease your Child’s Separation Anxiety

Using children’s books for easier (and fun!) information sharing

children reading books

Going to the doctor’s office you are likely to get handouts on important health topics. You might have noticed that these handouts are always full of information but is usually in very small font, with A LOT of words that sometime are hard to pronounce and challenging to read.  This can be a problem for families who have a harder time with reading.

There has been a lot of emphasis within medicine to help patients be active participants in their care. Half of the battle is making sure our communication with families is clear, concise and easy to understand. Not just with how we say things, but with the written material we hand out.

In some ways, it is more important to ensure that the pamphlets & handouts are easy to read and understand because  parents will refer to and share this information with other family and friends.

We have explored the use of children’s books to share parenting information.  Why? Because children’s books are written in simple and plain language, have colorful illustrations and can be easily understood.  The bonus? It is sure to be used by parents and children TOGETHER to learn and can be easily read and shared with others.  Even if one parent has a harder time with reading, you can usually follow the storyline through pictures and still grasp the ideas and concepts contained within.

One of my studies published in 2012 tested whether children’s books by author, Stacey Kaye (ParentSmart KidHappy series) could be used in pediatric clinics as a way to share positive parenting information to families. Parents and children LOVED these books! Parents learned different ways of handling common situations through the illustrations and story. Children asked their parents to read it over and over. See the Press Release for a summary of our findings. The full article is published in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics.

Starting this Sunday I will be sharing a book review of some of my favorite children’s books I use or recommend to families.  There are so many wonderful books out there and more titles come out all the time.

Share your favorites for each pediatric or parenting issue when I post reviews so we can chat about your favorite children’s’ books!

Waging war on poverty: pediatricians are going to bat

Almost half of US households with children live at or  below the federal poverty level–incomes below the $23,500 for a family of 4. This means that a large proportion of our children are growing up in homes that are struggling to provide basic necessities.

Poverty has many negative effects on children, including an increased risk of chronic diseases like asthma, obesity and diabetes;  more injuries and poorer social-emotional health. Children in poverty usually enter kindergarten behind  on various developmental domains when compared to same age peers not living in poverty. 

Today the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a policy statement urging pediatricians to screen for poverty and help connect families to community resources and agencies to secure housing, food and childcare.  Pediatricians routinely screen child development, behavior and other issues known to affect child health. So why not make sure families are not struggling with basic resources to ensure each child has a bed to sleep in, access to nutritious and healthy foods and high quality childcare.  While this may be daunting, pediatricians are up to the task because it is the right thing to do.

RELATED: Doctors should screen for poverty during child wellness visits, American Academy of Pediatrics recommends

The US leads the pack with the highest level of child poverty in the developed world. This is unacceptable. We owe it to our children to do what we can to ensure every child gets a strong start.

So the next time you go to the pediatrician’s office, do not be surprised if your child’s doctor asks whether you are struggling to make ends meet at the end of each month. It will soon become part of the status quo.

Battling the myths of ADHD & Taking One Day At a Time

Today’s column by Valerie Strauss “If you can pay attention, you do not have ADHD”–and 9 other misconceptions about the disorder” was a great read.  Ms. Strauss highlights the Top 10 Myths of ADHD by Dr. Ned Hallowell, a child and adult psychiatrist. This list is a good for families of newly diagnosed children or in situations where parents are concerned about the possibility of ADHD and have yet to get confirmation.

I have been in the position of talking to parents, to grandparents, to schools about what ADHD is and what it is not. There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about the diagnosis and treatment options.

Let’s get that out of the way now. “Treatment” does not necessarily imply medication.  However, I know many parents cannot stop thoughts of: “if this is ADHD, then it must mean they will want to medicate my child…” First, as a behavioral pediatrician, I want to say that having the diagnosis of ADHD does not automatically mean your child will need to be on medication. In fact, the first line “treatment” for ADHD is parent training and education.

RELATED: Treatment & Target Outcomes for Children with ADHD (from

Yes, sometimes medications are used in the treatment but educational supports, behavioral therapy and parent training or also part of the plan. These components can be started at any time, may be combined with other treatments. Sometimes treatments are dropped and added on again at later times.

These decisions are made with the family and the team (for example: doctors, teachers, therapists)–and always with the goal of asking, “What else is needed to ensure that the child is learning and doing what he/she needs to be doing every day and doing it as well as can be?”

If you are a parent with a child with ADHD or a parent who is worried that your child may have ADHD, make sure you come prepared to ask questions at each and every appointment. It can be challenging and hard to remember who is doing what since much of the time behavioral conditions require many team players. Your child’s doctor wants you to feel comfortable with every decision that has to be made along the way. They are happy to have you ask questions, no matter how many times or different iterations.

Another thing to remember is that at the time when the diagnosis is uncertain or is new, it can feel like you are all alone and overwhelming. The first step is to take a breath and write down any and all questions. Organize all paperwork and relevant schoolwork in a binder/folder and keep them together. It helps keep things handy when you have to meet yet another new team player. It also ensures that everyone is on the same page. There is nothing more stressful than not knowing which team member to call when things go awry or after a particularly challenging day. See my post “A new handout for ADHD” that I developed and use with families that can help explain some concepts I think is important to think about when a child is newly diagnosed.

The key is to remember to reach out to your child’s doctor if you have ongoing questions. Yes, they can prescribe medications for ADHD, but they can and always will be there to coordinate care and make referrals. They are interested in talking through all treatment options and linking you to great community resources and organizations. This is what the “medical home” is all about.

RELATED: Your child’s medical home: What you need to know


Helpful Resources to Learn More:

  2. http://www.understood. org

Tips on How to Talk with Kids about Guns

After talking with a few parents & colleagues about my last post: “Kids and Guns: It’s about Child Safety” it became clear that a follow up post was needed.  While playdate cards help parents talk to other parents, what resources are there to help non-gun owning families talk to children about guns?

S0, how do you start the conversation with your child if you live in a gun-free home?  When should you bring it up?  Will talking make a child curious? Yes.

Children are curious about EVERYTHING.

RELATED: How I Talk to My Children About Guns

As parents, we talk to children about looking both ways before they cross the street. We talk to them about buckling up whenever in the car. We talk to them about not talking to strangers.

Talking to children about what to do if they ever find a gun or weapon in a friend’s home is just as important. Guns in US homes are common. Reasons vary for keeping guns & weapons:  work, recreation or personal protection.

It is important to help your child be prepared to know what to do.

RELATED: How to End Gun Violence in the US

LISTEN TO THIS: How guns can affect families forever–StoryCorp: Gone with a Gunshot, His Little Sister Remains, Eternally 8

This handout*summarizes some key things for parents to think about before and during talking with children about guns and other weapons. It gives some suggestions on how and when to start the conversation. It also gives parents a reminder to use a matter of fact tone.

Review this handout. Share with your partner, spouse, family, friend. Then talk to your children about guns/weapons. It can help keep yet another child safe from gun violence.

And remember, talk to other parents about guns/weapons in their homes before sending your child over to play.  They will not be offended.

RELATED: Blood on our Hands

*A special thank you to Dr. Mandy Harris and Rebecca Cisneros for talking through this important topic and providing suggestions for the handout!