Tag Archives: parenting style

Reacting to an autism diagnosis: what’s next?

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Snoring linked to behavior problems in children

Children who snore or who have other sleep-related breathing problems are more likely to have behavioral problems years later, says a new study to be published in the April 2012 issue of Pediatrics.

Researchers asked a group of parents about their children’s snoring, mouth breathing, observed apnea and behavior, starting at age 6 months and then periodically until age 7 years.

By age 4, the children with sleep-disordered breathing were 20 percent to 60 percent more likely to have behavioral difficulties. By age 7, the likelihood jumped to 40 to 100 percent.

The worst symptoms were associated with the worst behavioral outcomes, meaning that the kids who faced more serious sleep-related breathing problems also tended to be more likely to struggle with behavior issues.

Study authors conclude that sleep-disordered breathing early in life can have a strong effect on behavior later in childhood.

Kids who have these difficulties may miss out on critical periods of brain development that researchers believe take place during deep sleep.

The study findings suggest that these symptoms may require attention as early as the first year of life.

Dr. Mark Brown, pediatric pulmonologist at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, and a member of the Arizona Chapter of the AAP, weighs in on kids and snoring:

 When should a parent be concerned about snoring?

  •  When a child can be heard snoring outside of their room.
  • When a child has disrupted sleep with short “pauses, snorts, or gasps” in their sleep.
  • If the child is having behavioral problems, a short attention span and problems at school.
  • If the child, especially an older child, frequently falls asleep during the day (i.e. in the car, during a TV show or movie, while reading).
  • In severe cases, there can be difficulty with weight gain or obesity, or high blood pressure.

Is a little light snoring okay?

Light snoring without any of the above associated signs/symptoms may be “normal.” If there is any concern, the parent should consult with their child’s primary care physician.

How do you know when snoring needs medical attention?

 If any of the above signs/symptoms are seen or if the parent is unsure about the significance of their child’s snoring they should consult with their child’s primary care physician.

RAK Archives: More on the consequences of too little sleep, and what families can do about it.

RAK Resources on respiratory issues: Take a Deep Breath by Dr. Nina Shapiro

Find out what technicians at the Sleep Center at Cardon Children’s Medical Center learn by watching children sleep:


Kids who are bullied less likely to be physically active

Children who are bullied by their peers endure great emotional pain and suffering.

Staying active has emotional benefits, too. Courtesy YMCA of the East Bay, Oakland, CA

But a new study, to be published in the March 2012 issue of Pediatrics, found that children who are ostracized, even for brief periods, are significantly more likely to choose sedentary over physical activities.

Researchers asked children between the ages of 8 and 12 to play a virtual ball-toss game. They were told that they were playing the game online with other kids. In some of the sessions, the game was pre-programmed to exclude the child from receiving the ball for most of the game.

In the other sessions, the child received the ball one-third of the time. After the game, the kids were given a choice of any activity they liked. They were then monitored by a device that measured physical activity.

The researchers found the kids who were excluded were far more likely to choose an activity that did not require physical effort.  They concluded that being ostracized may reinforce behaviors that lead to obesity in children.

Even though this study seems small, it is important, says Dr. Farah Lokey, a member of the Arizona Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Children who are prone to being bullied and then ostracized in school every day tend to spend more time at home and less time participating in activities with other children.

And that can damage self-esteem. “The key to getting these children active, and feeling good about themselves, says Lokey, who practices at Southwestern Pediatrics Gilbert, “is putting them into activities where they can shine on their own and meet like-minded individuals.”

Individual sports such as golf, swimming, and tennis can provide these opportunities, Lokey adds. “These sports not only allow them to become experts in the sports by learning these skills but definitely help their self- esteem and pride.”

Sports like Karate and other self-defense activities encourage treating others with respect. That keeps the concept top-of-mind for children.

When to worry

Younger school-age children typically begin their school years with a sense of excitant about learning and making new friends. But if a child seems suddenly less enthused and more fearful around school, or develops separation anxiety, that could be a red flag that bullying is going on, says Lokey.

Some children will show physical problems with no diagnosable cause, such as a tummy aches – but maybe only on the weekdays, not on weekends. Sleep problems or anxiety in social situations can also be indicators.

With older children, behavior can become more aggressive and defiant, says Lokey. Grades may suffer, and parents may notice a change in appearance as well as a tendancy to seclude themselves from others.

 What to do

If parents do see sudden changes, they should speak to school officials and enlist the help of school counselors. Lokey says that pediatricians can be a great resource when parents have questions about these behaviors.

A child’s physician can talk to their patient in confidence and offer to speak with school counselors if needed. “Bolstering confidence and self-esteem in the children we pediatricians treat,” says Lokey, “is one of our main goals.”

If dad is depressed…the kids are affected

When parents are depressed, the children who live with them are affected.

Those were the recent findings from a new study to be published in the December issue of Pediatrics (online November 7).

Researchers looked at a sample of 22,000 children living in two-parent homes.  They found that the risk of a child having emotional or behavioral problems were greater if the mother, rather than the father, showed depressive symptoms.

But having two parents with depressive symptoms was associated with a dramatically increased rate – 25 percent – of children with emotional or behavioral problems, as compared to 6 percent of children who had neither a mother nor a father with depressive symptoms.

Maternal depression has well-documented effects on the mental and physical well-being of children. More research is needed on the effect that depressed fathers may have on their children.

It is estimated that one in four men in the United States suffer from depression. Most never receive treatment.

How do you know if dad is depressed?

Depression has many signs and symptoms. In men, three of the three of the most common signs are pain, risk taking, and anger. Find out more.

Developmental delays on the rise

Developmental disabilities among children are on the rise, according to a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Researchers found that disabilities among children increased by 17 percent between 1997 and 2008.

They estimate that in the year 2008, the number of children with a developmental disability reached 10 million – or around 15%.

The study, “Trends in the Prevalence of Developmental Disabilities in U.S. Children, 1997-2008,” in the June 2011 issue of Pediatrics (published online today, May 23), analyzed data on children aged 3 to 17 years from a nationally representative sample of U.S. households.

Parents were asked to report the diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, autism, seizures, stuttering or stammering, moderate to profound hearing loss, blindness, learning disorders, and/or other developmental delays.

Study authors found the prevalence of any developmental disability increased by nearly 3% over the 12-year study period.

Among the disabilities on the rise were autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and other developmental delays.

Moderate to profound hearing loss showed a significant decline.

Boys had a higher prevalence overall and for a number of select disabilities compared with girls. Hispanic children had the lowest prevalence for a number of disabilities, and low-income families and families with public health insurance had a higher prevalence.

Study authors suggest the findings show the need for health, education and social services, including the need for more specialized health services that meet the needs of these children.

What do you do if you think your child may be developmentally delayed?

Consult your pediatrician if you have concerns about your child’s development, says the CDC. An additional resource, the National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center, lists early intervention programs by state.

For Arizona listings, check the NECTAC information listed here.

Read more on developmental delays and screening from the CDC.

How do I love thee? 14 ways to show a child of any age

It’s a day for candy, chocolates, and pink heart-shaped cookies, all sweet ways to show you care on Valentine’s Day. The American Academy of Pediatrics shares the following tips for parents on how to show love for children – babies to teens and beyond — every single precious day.

1.     Use positive words. Avoid using sarcasm. Children often don’t understand it, and if they do, it creates a negative interaction.

2.     Respond promptly and lovingly to your child’s physical and emotional needs. Banish put-downs from your parenting vocabulary. Listen to your child when he/she wants to talk with you even if it’s an inconvenient time.

3.     Set a good example at home and in public. Use words like “I’m sorry,” “please,” and “thank you.”

4.     When your child is angry, argumentative or in a bad mood, give him a hug, cuddle, pat, secret sign or other gesture of affection he favors and then talk with him about it when he’s feeling better.

5.     Practice non-violent discipline. Parents should institute both rewards and restrictions many years before adolescence to help prevent trouble during the teenage years.

6.     Be consistent. Allowing children of any age to constantly break important rules without being disciplined only encourages more rule violations.

7.     Spend time alone with your young child or teen doing something she enjoys. Send a Valentine’s Day card to your older child or teen.

8.     Mark family game nights on your calendar so the entire family can be together. Put a different family member’s name under each date, and have that person choose which game will be played that evening.

9.     Consider adopting a pet. Especially for those with chronic illnesses and disabilities, animals can nurture physical activity, enhance positive attitudes, and offer constant companionship. A dog or cat can become a treasured confidant, giving a child a safe place to talk about feelings.

10.  Invite your child to cook or bake with you. Involve him/her in the entire process, from planning menus to shopping for ingredients to food preparation and serving. Eat together as a family as much as possible. Good food begets good conversation.

11.  Provide the resources your child needs. It is never too early to begin reading to your child. Avoid TV in the first two years, monitor and watch TV with your older children and use TV time as conversation time with your children. Limit computer and video games.

12.  Take your child to the doctor regularly for preventive health care visits. Keep him safe from accidents, provide a nutritious diet, and encourage exercise. Teach your child to respect and care for his/her body.

13.  Help your child foster positive relationships with friends, siblings and members of the community. Your child needs your steady support and encouragement to discover his strengths. He needs you to believe in him as he learns to believe in himself. Loving him, spending time with him, listening to him and praising his accomplishments are all part of this process.

14.  Say “I love you” to children of all ages. It’s never too late.