In today's live Parent Chat at noon we are looking forward to tackling the wide range of questions we've received from parents and teens. We will be talking about issues ranging how to best respond when a child slams a door during an argument to how to help your child be less lonely at school.
Whether you have a question about your child's social, academic or physical health, you can post in our chat here, and we'll try to help find some answers.
Dr. Kathleen Berchelmann is a homeschooling mom of five children and works as an ER pediatrician with St. Louis Children's Hospital.
You can post your questions here now or during the chat or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Look forward to talking to you soon.
Welcome! We have a ton of great questions submitted today. Let's get started...
Miles, I feel you pain! Most kids need encouragement to read. There are many great ways to encourage summer reading... here are a few that have worked for us:
- limit screen time. Once they are board enough, the book starts to sound OK.
Libraries and schools usually have incentive programs for reading over the summer, which is basically a bribe or reward to get kids to read when they don't have to. Sometimes these programs don't motivate reluctant readers because the incentive doesn't matter to them. Consider creating your own incentive involving something you know your child really cares about or wants.
- require an hour a reading a day, provide consequences if it is not done (no screen time), and provide rewards if it is done.
- Go to your library and sign up for the summer reading program and start reaping the rewards.
- Read TO your kids. Often I will start by reading a book aloud to my children, and then I find they pick it up and finish it.
- Talk to your kids about what they are reading.
Also, think about the things that your child is naturally interested in..whether it's video games or sports, and look for reading material involving these topics. It doesn't have to be an book, per se. Your child can be rewarded for reading magazines, graphic novels or stories on iPad.
Also, be a good role model. If you set aside time when you and your child are both reading, he is more likely to do it.
I'm going to let the expert, Dr. B., tackle this. Then, I'll share a few tricks I used when my child was that age.
It's common and quite normal to dislike the pediatrician's office-- especially when you are three! I would talk to your daughter before you go, prepare her with iPad games like Toca Doctor, and watch shows like Daniel Tiger Goes to the Doctor.
You can even go to the office for a "visit," just to talk to the staff and talk about what happens, without having a true visit. Call the office and I'm sure they will be happy to set this up.
It's can be nearly impossible to 'reason' with a child when they are overcome by fear or panic.
Also, give your child a reward after going to the doctor. Sometimes I give big rewards, especially after Kindergarten shots. For example, once I took a child to the Chesterfield Mall to ride merry-go-round.
So, the prep work is important, but so is working with the dr's staff.
Our pediatrician's office never had the doctor give the shots. Only the nurses did that. It helped the child separate the doctor's face from the immunization.
You also have to be a bit stern as a parent when it comes to going to the doctor. Make it clear that there is no alternative-- no amount of fit-throwing is going to get you to change your mind. Once your child is at the office and throwing a fit, don't give in and coddle her. It's usually best to be loving but stern and promise rewards when done. Support the staff in getting her care completed.
Remember, countless parents have had a child who will not let a doctor check their ear to see if there is an infection or let a dentist fill a cavity. It's part of parenting to realize that not every experience in life is fun, but our children can be brave, especially if it's a question of their health.
Always give a reward when the visit is over, even if your child threw a fit the whole time. This is different from the parenting advice I usually give. You want to show your child that you understand how stressful the doctor's office is. She WILL be going back, so it's best to get her used to the idea.
Holding a child, even an holder child, carrying a treat in your purse or talking about other fun things are other techniques.
I'm not sure there is any one exact age that is right to start sleep-away camp, but rather I think of it in terms of signs of maturity. Can your child sleep overnight at a friend or relative's house without fear? Do they get stressed out by social events or find them energizing? Can your child pass the swim test that many camps require? Some problems like bedwetting, bullying, and fecal soiling can make camp more stressful than fun.
Here are some questions to ask yourself: How does your child handle sleepovers at friends' houses? I would look at easing into a sleepaway camp option, starting with one close to home and with few days, rather than a week, hundreds of miles away.
Also, does your child have a friend going to the same camp? I would gauge the child's interest and enthusiasm before investing a ton of money into something.
Michelle, your question has been hotly debated among experts at the American Academy of Pediatrics, and I don't think there is one right answer.
I used to drink chocolate milk after a long run while I as training for a race. So, I think this depends on rest of her diet and activity level.
You may want to compare the amount of sugar in one serving of flavored milk to the amount of sugar in a serving of yogurt she is likely to eat.
How much sugar is in the rest of her diet? How much chocolate milk does she really drink in a day?
Chocolate milk, for example, is a “sometimes food” as part of a healthy grade-school diet. But in the lunchroom, kids are permitted to choose flavored milk daily. Flavored milk is high in sugar, but for some children it is the only way they will get Calcium. Other calcium sources aren't perfect either-- cheese is high in fat and yogurt can be high in sugar (and sometimes fat, too). Kids who refuse to drink white milk probably aren't eating tons of broccoli or vegetable sources of Calcium.
Consider adding a small amount of other flavors. For example, a few drops of Vanilla extract and a teaspoon of honey.
I wish my children would drink milk, but they don't drink it plain or flavored. So, I stock up on string cheese.
In our house we just took away all the flavored milks altogether. They never get them except occasionally at restaurants and special occasions. When my kids attended public school I did not permit them to buy milk because I knew they would pick the flavored milk and then skip their veggies. Instead, we made sure our kids got their two eight-ounce servings of milk at home at breakfast and dinner.
I have an article on different kinds of milk that I will link at the end of this chat.
Some people are introverts, and that's normal. But you should get involved if your child doesn't have a single social activity with another child -- a friend -- this summer.
Some kids are more introverted, and that is OK. It is fine to just have one or two friends. Is your daughter distressed by her social situation or happy about it? Introverted kids and kids with a few good friends rather than many acquaintances are often more prepared to resist the peer pressure of adolescents.
Consider offering to plan an outing for your daughter and one or two friends. For example, a trip to a state park, the Art Museum, or the Botanical Garden. Help your daughter build a few friendships... that is all she needs.
Does your child have a friend she will talk to in school or eat lunch with at school? Ask her teacher when she's back in school. Reach out the parents of that child and ask to coordinate something. You can invite the mom and child to get together and do an activity, such as movie or visiting a painting place, because it may be less intimidating to have something to do.
You have to help your child take some social risks.
It's also powerful to help your daughter make friends in different spheres of life-- for example, some friends from school, some from extracurricular activities, some from your family friends.