Who Will You Wear Gold & Red For?

By Brittany Metcalf, BS, CCLS

red and yellow ribbonsYou may have noticed the gold and red ribbons around the hospital this month. Do you know why they are up? September is Sickle Cell Awareness month and Childhood Cancer Awareness month. As a Child Life Specialist at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital, I have the privilege of working with brave, resilient children affected by these conditions.

Sickle cell is an inherited blood disorder that affects the red blood cells. Normal blood cells are smooth, round, flexible and shaped like the letter “O”. If your child has sickle cell disease, his or her blood cells can become stiff, sticky and shaped like the letter “C”. This can cause a variety of problems: anemia, terrible pain crises, strokes, and organ damage. More than 70,000 Americans have sickle cell disease. The disease primarily affects children of African ancestry or Hispanics of Caribbean ancestry. Sickle cell disease can be managed through medications and red blood cell transfusions.

In the U.S., childhood cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children under the age of 15.  There are over a dozen types of childhood cancers. Here at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital, there is a saying “children are not just small adults”. This holds true for childhood cancers as well. If a child and an adult get the same type of cancer, the child’s treatment will be very different form the adult’s treatment.

Many children now survive thanks to new medications, ongoing studies and research being done. However, less than 5% of the federal government’s total funding for cancer research is dedicated to childhood cancers each year.

What can you do to help these courageous children?

  • Donate blood at your local American Red Cross donation center.
  • The 6th Annual Sickle Cell Anemia Walk-A-Thon is Oct 5th @ noon. This walk raises money for the Upstate Medical Children with Sickle Cell Anemia Fund.
  • The CureSearch walk is on Oct 19th. Registration begins @ 11AM. This walk honors children whose lives have been affected by childhood cancer in the CNY area, while raising funds for childhood cancer research.

Who will you wear gold and red for?






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You Are Not Alone

By Gina Lozito
Child Life Specialist, CCLS

For the past few years, I decided that every year I am going to pick one new and different thing for me to try. As the Child Life Specialist on the pediatric in-patient Hematology/Oncology unit, I am often asking and helping kids to do something they wouldn’t have normally picked to do. Asking kids to hold still as a statue while someone pokes them to get blood or saying “you’ll need to take your medicine that may make you feel sick to help you get better even though you don’t really feel sick in the first place” seems unfair. However, helping a child truly understand what is happening, why it’s happening and how they’re going to get through it can really make all difference in the world to the child.

For parents, having a child in the hospital is something they wouldn’t normally choose to do, too.  In the hospital, every parent is having an experience they would have never imagined could have happened. This goes for any family that has come to the hospital unexpectedly. We ask parents to help us care for their child during a time that, for the parent, is their worst nightmare. If your child has a serious illness or injury, the responsibility that falls to you is unquestionably intense. Nevertheless, parents meet these responsibilities willingly. Most parents say they would switch places with their sick child in a heartbeat. Instead they provide, in every conceivable way, all the help they can to get their child through this situation. For many parents, this may be the hardest thing they have ever done before.

Here are some tips to help you help your child through these tough times:

  1.  Stay organized. Keep all the information, research, and patient education materials you’ve accumulated about your child’s illness in one place, this could be a folder or binder. Make sure you include medications, phone numbers, and insurance information. When you think of questions for your health care team, write them down right away in a notebook so you won’t forget to ask.
  2. Take breaks. It’s necessary to frequently schedule time for yourself, even for just an hour or two. If you can, try to get away from the hospital. Let a family member, friend, or a health care provider stay with your child. Once you are away, that time is yours, don’t feel guilty about how you spend it.  Have coffee with a friend, go shopping, whatever allows you to unwind.
  3. Eat right. Existing on coffee and hospital food can leave you feeling exhausted and run down. If friends offer to bring homemade meals to your home or to the hospital to help out, take them up on their offer.
  4. Let other people help. If someone says, “Is there’s anything I can do…” tell them. Friends and relatives most likely will want to help, but they might not be sure what you need. Make a list of some of the things that may need to be done, such as; mow the lawn, pick up a sibling at practice, feed the goldfish or just come sit with you in the hospital. You will be surprised at how useful it can make a loved one feel when they do something specific to help you and your child.

Ask any parent who has taken care of a sick child and you’ll find out something very important. You are not alone.


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Sing, Dance, and Play to Help Your Child Have Better Days: Music, Brain Development, and the 5 R’s of Early Literacy

By Clare Arezina, MT-BC
Music Therapist

Have you heard of the “Mozart Effect”–the idea that listening to classical music can make you “smarter”? Unfortunately, the Mozart Effect isn’t exactly true: listening to a recording of Mozart may improve how well you can perform certain kinds of tasks temporarily, but it doesn’t seem to make anyone “smarter” long-term. However, recent research in music and child development shows that learning to make music with others can help build social skills, communication, and ability to listen in children as young as 6 months through preschool (Gerry, Unrau, & Trainer, 2012; Strait, Parberry-Clark, Hittner, & Kraus, 2012)—these valuable skills do benefit children in the long run.

In 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) identified the importance of early brain development as a measure for lifelong health. Children without strong relationships and with poor social-emotional-language skills in early childhood (under age 3) are more likely to have difficulty with relationships, education, and even their mental and physical health as they get older. On the other hand, positive relationships and strong social-emotional-language skills can have a positive impact on children’s health as they age. Music can be a great way to build strong social-emotional-language skills!

As part of their initiative for Early Childhood and Brain Development, the AAP encourages parents to work on the “5 R’s” of early literacy with their children to support healthy brain development. Here are some ideas to integrate music into the 5 R’s, adapted from the work of Dr. Rebecca Wellman, a fellow music therapist and specialist in child development:

  1. Read together every day—You can sing your favorite books, or read your favorite songs! There are wonderful books with illustrations of familiar children’s songs (Old MacDonald Had a Farm, Wheels on the Bus, just to name a few) OR books with easy music adaptations (Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See to the tune of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”) OR songs as part of the book (Love You Forever). Singing can help children to learn words in sequence, so music books can help children to anticipate what comes next, and learn to match the letters on the page with their sound.
  2. Rhyme, play and cuddle with your child every day—Making music together can be a great way to spend time playing with your child, whether you’re making the Itsy Bitsy Spider crawl on them, singing along with the radio, or playing with pots and pans in the kitchen. Most songs have rhymes—whether they’re children’s songs, classic rock, pop music, or hip-hop. Play with the rhymes with your child & see if they can “guess” what rhyming word comes next in the song (“Down By The Bay” is a great children’s song for rhyming)!
  3. Develop Routines, particularly around meals, sleep, and family fun—Add music to your routine as a way to let your child know what’s coming next: a song for a car trip, a song for cleaning up toys, and a song for bedtime can help children anticipate what’s coming next: when you hear the song (or when the song ends), it’s time to clean up, get in the car, go to bed, etc. You can make up your own songs, or choose a favorite song and use the recording.
  4. Reward your child with praise for successes to build self-esteem and promote positive behavior—Making music can be a great way for children to feel good about themselves: singing silly songs and making noise with toys/instruments is easy and fun! Try playing along with a song (using toy instruments, clapping, or drumming on a table), then stop suddenly—praise your child when they stop with you (you can also gently help them stop the first few times, until they “get” the game!). As they get older, they can be the “leader”—which also helps to build self-esteem.
  5. Develop a strong and nurturing Relationship with your child as the foundation for their healthy development—Making music as a family can help build strong relationships: with everyone listening to each other and participating in the same activity, it’s a great way to bring people together (kids, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, the neighbors, whoever!). Making music feels good, it’s fun, and if you’re having fun, your kids will too. The more positive experiences you have as a family, the stronger your relationship.

For more information, look to:
American Academy of Pediatrics. Early childhood adversity, toxic stress, and the role of the pediatrician: Translating developmental science into lifelong health. Pediatrics 2012;129:e224. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2011-2662

American Academy of Pediatrics. (n.d.) Key tips: “Building Brains, Forging Futures through Relationships” Available at: http://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/EBCD/Pages/Key-Tips.aspx

Gerry, D., Unrau, A., & Trainor, L.J. Active music classes in infancy enhance musical, communicative and social development. Dev Sci, 2012; 15 (3): 398-407. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-7687.2012.01142.x

Strait, D.L., Parbery-Clark, A., Hittner, E., & Kraus, N. Musical training during early childhood enhances the neural encoding of speech in noise. Brain & Language, 2012; 123: 191-201. DOI: 10.1016/j.bandl.2012.09.001

Wellman, R. Early Brain and Child Development: American Academy of Pediatrics and Music Therapy. Presentation at the Mid-Atlantic Region of the American Music Therapy Association Conference,Scranton,PA, 2013.


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ACT To Prevent Heatstroke!

By Amanda Griffin
Safe Kids Upstate NY Coalition Coordinator, Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital

Never leave your child alone in a car.

With the summer in full swing and many areas reaching record high temperatures, it is important to remind parents and caregivers to never leave your child alone in the car, not even for a minute!  Already in 2013, there have been 20 heatstroke related fatalities.  Heatstroke results when the body isn’t able to cool itself quickly enough and the body temperature rises to dangerous levels.  Young children are at a heightened risk as their body heats up three to five times faster than adults.  On a warm day, cars will heat up quickly, 19 degrees in 10 minutes!  On an 80 degree day the inside of a closed car can quickly reach and exceed 100 degrees.  When a child’s internal body temperature reaches 104 degrees, major organs can shut down, and when their temperature reaches 107 degrees they can die.

Last year, 33 children died and two years ago there were 49 deaths related to heatstroke.  Since 1998, more than 580 children across theUnited States have died from heatstroke when unattended in a vehicle. These heatstroke deaths were the result of:

  • 52% – child “forgotten” by caregiver
  • 29% – child playing in unattended vehicle
  • 18% – child intentionally left in vehicle by adult

These tragedies can happen to anyone, and have occurred when a parent intentionally has left a child in their car to run into the store or when a curious child has entered a vehicle on their own and cannot get back out of their car.  Heatstroke deaths have even resulted when parents unintentionally forget to drop their children off at daycare.  They may have switched their normal routines or encountered distractions and headed directly to their office or other locations instead of their child’s daycare center, as was the case with parent, Reggie McKinnon.

Safe Kids Worldwide encourages everyone to ACT, and provides these helpful tips:

  •  A: Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death by never leaving your child alone in a car, not even for a minute. And make sure to keep your car locked when you’re not in it so kids don’t get in on their own.
  • C: Create reminders by putting something in the back of your car next to your child such as a briefcase, a purse or a cell phone that is needed at your final destination. This is especially important if you’re not following your normal routine.
  • T: Take action. If you see a child alone in a car, call 911. Emergency personnel want you to call. They are trained to respond to these situations. One call could save a life.

For more information on preventing heatstroke visit Safe Kids Worldwide.

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Can You Imagine?

By Beth Kinsley
Child Life Specialist, CCLS

We all have magical powers inside of us. These powers allow us to travel the world in the blink of an eye, transform into someone or something else, and even fly…. It’s called our IMAGINATION! Children will often imagine being an animal or sailing a ship to the moon. Adults may daydream of fabulous vacations or new adventures. Mostly we envision something exciting and wonderful. But sometimes scary and unwanted events occur and our imaginations take us on an unwelcomed trip.

Let’s test your imagination muscles… Imagine yourself in a large building filled with lots of lights and noises. There are people walking around. Some of them notice you, some of them don’t. You’re led to a small room with a bed and given pajamas. People rush in and out of your room. Sometimes they look right past you, sometimes they touch you, and sometimes they hurt you. Everyone talks around you in a strange language. The only thing you can be certain of is that they are talking about you. Suddenly you realize that everyone around you is taller and stronger than you. Now stop. Did you feel safe in this scenario? Or did you feel vulnerable, uncertain, and powerless?

For many children this is how they view the hospital. As nurses and doctors enter the room with the goal of helping the child recover, they touch, poke, and inspect the child. All the while, talking to the adults present in medical terms that the child does not understand.

The child takes all the information they have gathered (these people are stronger than me and poke me with needles, and I heard the word “remove”). Then their imagination begins to swirl. “They are going to cut something off of me!”

Fear not, there is an antidote for this panic inducing imagination. Knowledge. By explaining to the child what will occur step by step in terms they understand, you are leading their imagination in a more accurate direction and calming their fears. Child Life Specialists are hospital workers that prepare children for procedures using pictures, dolls, and medical equipment. Children are encouraged to ask questions and be involved in their care.  By giving them knowledge you are eliminating the unknown. By giving the child a task during the procedure, such as blowing bubbles, you are returning some of the control.

You don’t have to wait until there is an emergency. You can visit the Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital website to learn ways to talk to your child about the hospital.

Let’s do another imagination exercise… Envision yourself as a child back in that building with the bright lights and loud noises. Picture a hospital where pediatric patients are acting like kids. Down the hall from your room is a playroom where other children are exploring. Visualize group activities that include creating, playing, music making, and your imagination. Imagine a place where your magical powers are encouraged to grow while you heal.

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Celiac Awareness Month

By Amy Merwarth, RD, CDN
Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition

May is National Celiac Disease Awareness month!  This is an important time to bring attention to this hereditary, autoimmune disorder that affects the digestive system when foods containing gluten are consumed.  Gluten is found in foods that contain wheat, rye, barley and possibly oats.  Three million Americans are living with celiac disease, yet 83% of individuals living with celiac disease are still undiagnosed!  This is a remarkable improvement from 10 years ago when there were 97% undiagnosed.  Celiac disease affects 1 out of every 141 Americans and 1 in 22 first-degree family members (parent, child, and sibling) and 1 in 39 second-degree family members (aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, cousin, grandparent, grandchild and half-sibling) are at risk for celiac disease.  Your risk may double if your sibling has celiac disease.

Being diagnosed with any disease can be difficult.  Knowing why you haven’t been feeling well can be a relief.  Everyone is affected differently by the symptoms and some people are even free of symptoms.  A 2012 survey found that 35% of people who were at risk for celiac disease had no reason to suspect that the symptoms they were experiencing were due to undiagnosed celiac disease.  Some of the symptoms of celiac disease include: abdominal distension, abdominal pain, anemia, bloating, bone pain, constipation, cramping, dental hypoplasia (enamel missing on teeth), dermatitis herpetiformis (rash), diarrhea, poor growth, fatigue, folate deficiency, foul smelling stools, inability to concentrate, irritability, muscle cramps, osteopenia, osteoporosis, short stature, sleep disturbance, weakness, weight loss and/or vomiting.

If left untreated, celiac disease can increase your risk of other problems such as osteoporosis, osteopenia, infertility, thyroid disease, nutrition deficiencies, multiple food allergies and even certain cancers like lymphoma.  This is why it is important to be screened and tested for celiac disease, especially if you are at risk.  You may want to talk about getting tested for celiac disease with your primary care doctor if you have a family member with this disease and or have symptoms suggestive of this disease.

For more information visit: www.CeliacCentral.org

Grilled Summer Vegetables- Tasty and Gluten-Free!
1 (about 1 ¼ lbs) unpeeled eggplant, sliced in ½ inch rounds
1 (about ¾ lb) zucchini, sliced diagonally in ½ inch rounds
1 (about ½ lb) sweet red pepper, halved, seeded, cut in ½ inch strips
2 Tbsp basting oil
Vegetable Oil

Clean grill with wire brush.  Using soft cloth, coat grill grate lightly with vegetable oil.
Drizzle eggplant, zucchini and pepper with basting oil.  Sear on both sides.
Grill, turning every 1-2 minutes, until both sides are grill-marked and vegetables are knife-tender, 10-12 minutes.

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“Peds to Parents” becomes part of HealthLink on Air radio program

Dr. Cantor during radio showBy Amber Smith, MS
Senior Editor,
Marketing & University Communications

The Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital blog, “Peds to Parents” is joining Upstate’s weekly “HealthLink on Air” radio program, which will air at 9 p.m. Sunday evenings on WRVO Public Media.

For the debut program on May 26, Dr. Richard Cantor, MD, director of the Pediatric Emergency Department, talks about how to avoid several common summertime injuries. For future segments, he and other medical professionals will address a variety of issues of interest to parents and caregivers of infants, children and teens.

The hour-long “HealthLink on Air” program is one way that Upstate educates and informs the Central New York community on matters of health, medicine and science. Since launching in 2006, “HealthLink” has showcased hundreds of experts from the academic medical center, the Syracuse community and beyond, creating a treasure trove of archived interviews which can be accessed at the HealthLink on Air website. In addition to the “Peds to Parents” segments, “HealthLink” also features regular segments, including psychologist Rich O’Neill’s “Check Up From the Neck Up” and registered dietitian Terry Podolak’s “Healthy Eats,” along with “Public Health Today,” from Dr. Donna Bacchi, MD, “What’s Your Emergency?” from Dr. Derek Cooney, MD, and “The Healing Muse” from bioethics and humanities professor Deirdre Neilen, PhD.

WRVO — part of the National Public Radio digital network — can be heard from Cortland to Watertown, and Utica to Geneva.

The program’s producer is Amber Smith, a veteran newspaper journalist who covered health and medicine for The Post-Standard for 23 years before joining Upstate. Linda Cohen serves as host of HealthLink on Air, and a dedicated team from SUNY Upstate’s Educational Communications and Marketing departments provides technical services.

Suggestions for “Peds to Parents” segments or “HealthLink” in general are accepted via email at HLOA@Upstate.edu

How to listen

Tune in 9 to 10 p.m. Sundays on WRVO, on these channels:

  • 89.9 FM & HD Oswego/Syracuse
  • 90.3 FM & HD2 Syracuse
  • 91.7 FM & 99.9 Watertown
  • 90.1 FM & 92.3 FM Hamilton
  • 91.9 FM Utica
  • 90.5 FM Cortland
  • 90.7 FM Geneva
  • 89.9 Norwich

You can also stream the program live from WRVO.org or listen to podcasts available after the show airs on WRVO.org or on Upstate’s HealthLink on Air website.


Listen to the debut “Peds to Parents” segment, Keeping Children Safe in the Warmer Weather, with Dr. Richard Cantor, MD.

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Car Seats and Seat Belts and Kids—Oh, My!

boy in car seatBy Y. Katharine Chang, MD, FAAP
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Division of General Pediatrics

When I was a young child, I don’t think car safety seats existed. For sure, there weren’t many laws about keeping kids safe in the car. Kids sat or played or fought in the backseat, usually without any restraints, or sat in the front seat, often in their parent’s lap. If you’re of a certain age, I bet you’ve hung out with your siblings, cousins and friends in the way back of a station wagon, in a big jumble of kid arms and legs, while the grown-ups drove and chatted up front.

Nowadays, it’s hard to even imagine driving kids around without dealing with car seats. Sometimes, car seats are frustrating and annoying; often, they’re inconvenient; but, they are always necessary.

Car accidents are the leading cause of death in Americans, ages 5 to 24, and the second leading cause of death in children between 1 and 4. The number of deaths from car accidents has fallen in the past 20 years, probably due to improved child passenger safety. Still, nearly half of the children who die in car accidents are unrestrained. Seat belts are really important, but restraining children with a car seat appropriate for the age and size of the child is much more effective (that is, safer!) than just using a seat belt.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has several recommendations, based on the best available evidence, on how to keep children safe in the car. These recommendations are echoed by other safety organizations, such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Safe Kids USA.

  1. Infants and toddlers should ride rear-facing until they outgrow their car seat by weight or by height, or until they are at least 2 years old.
  2. Children who are older than age 2 and/or have outgrown their rear-facing car seat should use a forward-facing car seat with a harness for as long as possible.
  3. Children who have outgrown the weight or height limit of their harnessed seat should use a belt-positioning booster, along with their lap-and-shoulder belt, until the vehicle seat belt fits properly. This typically (but not always) happens when they are about 4’ 9” tall and are between 8 and 12 years of age.
  4. Children who have outgrown their booster seats should always use a lap-and-shoulder belt and not just a lap belt.
  5. Children younger than 13 years should sit in the back seat.

In addition to these recommendations, each state has child restraint laws in place. In New York State, all children under age 16 must be restrained in the car. They need to be in a car seat until they are at least 4 years old. After that, they must be in a “child safety restraint system” (aka booster seat) until they are 8 years old. The state regulations specifically recommend booster seats for children who are 8 years old but less than 4’9” or 100 lbs.  New York State has primary enforcement laws, which means you can get pulled over if the police notice that the children in your car are not restrained appropriately. They do not have to have another reason to stop you.

So, once you know what to do, how do you get it done? Unfortunately, there are so many different types, brands, and styles of car seats out there that the poor parents who are trying to keep their kids safe are left confused and overwhelmed! Once you figure out which car seat to get, then you have to figure out how to install it in your car and how to place your child in it correctly! There are lots of recommendations and advice for that too, but they are beyond the scope of this article.

The bottom line: The best car seat is the one that (1) fits the child, (2) fits in the vehicle, (3) is used correctly, and (4) is used every time. To help you figure this out, it’s wise to have your car seat inspected. Many police and fire departments have members who are certified child passenger safety technicians. To find one near you, you can go to www.seatcheck.org or call 1-866-SEAT-CHECK.

Every year, over 2000 children die in the car accidents. Nearly 30,000 children are hospitalized for injuries sustained in car accidents. We adults—parents, grandparents, friends, pediatricians—need to do everything we can to lower these numbers and to keep our children safe when we drive them to school, to their activities, to the grocery store, to their doctor’s appointments. Keep them rear-facing for as long as possible, harnessed for as long as possible, in a booster for as long as possible and in the back seat for as long as possible!

Safe travels, everyone!

For more information, including local car seat check events, visit:

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Instead of Yelling, Try This!

By Maggie Zick, MS, CCLS
Child Life Specialist

One of my favorite classes in graduate school was Therapeutic Play Techniques for Child Life Specialists. I am not a play therapist, but I use therapeutic play techniques in my work as a child life specialist all the time. I also used a lot of these same techniques before I graduated, when I was working as a nanny in New York City.

Limit setting is one of the most effective and easiest techniques to use in the real world, which I learned from Garry L. Landreth’s book Play Therapy.  What do you do when your children are misbehaving? Yell? Appease them? Try to divert their attention? Some of these techniques might work some of the time; sometimes they’ll make things worse. What all of these techniques are missing is making your child feel heard. Children’s actions are not arbitrary. For a child who’s ability to communicate verbally is not up to par with yours, their actions speak for them. This happens very clearly in children’s play, but can be seen through everyday behavior.

Your child grabs a toy from another child. You yell at her and tell her that taking from her friends is not nice and that she should share. Now your child feels frustrated that she doesn’t have the toy she wanted and that she was not understood.

Your child hits his brother because he fell down. You tell your son not to hit his brother. The behavior may stop, but your son does not feel any better.

A better approach to unwanted behavior includes three easy steps.

1.) Empathize with your child’s feelings.

  • This helps your child feel heard and gives acceptance to her feelings. It is okay to let your child know she can feel mad without giving her permission to act on these feelings. If you don’t first express an acceptance of your child’s emotions, you might be making your child feel as if her emotions are not valid. Sometimes just empathizing with your child will satisfy her and she won’t feel the need to act on it.

2.) Set a limit.

  • Limits should be very clear so that your child understands what is and is not acceptable behavior. Try to keep your language positive and directed towards the behavior, not the child.

3.)  Give your child an acceptable alternative.

  • In the case of the child who takes a toy from another, you could say, “you really wanted that toy, but John is playing with it right now. How about you play with this truck.” For the child hitting his brother, you could respond by saying, “you’re really mad that you fell down, but your brother is not for hitting. You can hit this pillow instead.”

If these three steps don’t work, a fourth step exists: stating a final limit. Keep the language focused on the behavior, not the child. The child should know that they are not the problem, their behavior is. If your child keeps hitting his brother, try saying, “if you choose to keep hitting your brother, you choose to leave the room.”

No child is perfect and neither are techniques in dealing with their behavior. Every parent knows their children best and can tailor their parenting style to their individual child. As always, what works best for the child is going to be what works best for the parent and family.

Landreth, G. L. 2002. Play therapy: The art of the relationship (2nd ed.).  New York,
NY: Brunner-Routledge.


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Healthy Snacks for Kids

By Stacey Meneilly, RD, CDN, CNSC

Because a child’s body is still growing and developing, proper nutrition is crucial. Healthy snacks provide extra energy to fuel the body and can also provide essential vitamins and nutrients. Most children need two to three healthy snacks each day in addition to three meals. Smaller children’s snacks should consist of around 100 calories per snack, while more active teens may need around 300 calories per snack. It is important to pay attention to a child’s hunger cues.

With childhood obesity on the rise, it is necessary to minimize unhealthy snacks, such as cookies, candies, soda and potato chips that add calories while providing little in the way of nutrition. Encouraging healthy snacks for your children has long term benefits because what your child is eating now influences what or how they will eat later in life. Keep junk food out of the house.  If you don’t keep junk food on hand, your child wont be urged to eat it. It is also important to set a good example by choosing healthy snacks yourself.

Think of snacks as small meals. Choose foods from the various food groups, like fruits, vegetables, low fat dairy, lean meats, whole grains and healthy drinks.

Planning ahead can help you make healthy choices. It may be helpful to make a grocery list ahead of time based on snack selections.

Here is a list of some healthy snack choices that don’t require a tremendous amount of planning:

Ants on a Log: simply spread peanut butter on celery and place raisins on top. It’s simple and kids love it.

 Guacamole with whole grain crackers or veggie spears: use whole grain crackers or vegetables like carrots, peppers or zucchini slices to dip in guacamole

 Apples and Peanut Butter: Spread peanut butter on apple slices

 Edamame: Available fresh or frozen, these soy beans are easy to cook

 Pita Pizza Pocket: Cut whole wheat pita in half. Fill each pita half with pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese and pepperoni slices or veggies. Microwave for 30 to 60 seconds.

Pita Chips with Hummus: Use pita chips to dip with your hummus.

Half of a sandwich/wrap with a glass of milk: Prepare a half of a turkey, ham or peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole wheat and serve with a glass of skim or low fat milk.

Greek or Regular Yogurt: served with mixed fruit

Bowl of Whole Grain Cereal: with low fat or skim milk

Fresh Fruit Smoothie: In a blender mix low fat yogurt, fresh or frozen fruit and ice cubes.

Fresh Fruit Kabobs: Place banana, pineapple, kiwi orange and other fruit slices on skewers for a yummy snack.

Raw Veggies and low fat dip: Broccoli, cucumber, tomato, and carrots go well with a low fat ranch dip.

Whole Wheat Pretzels with Peanut Butter

Deviled Eggs:  Try this delicious recipe below for your whole family.
6 hard boiled eggs, peeled and cut lengthwise
1/4 C nonfat plain Greek yogurt
2 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp salt
paprika to garnish

Place the eggs in a pot and add just enough cold water so that they are fully covered, and put on high heat. Cover and bring them to a boil. Then turn off the heat and let them sit, still covered, for 12 minutes. 
Allow the eggs to cool, peel them and cut them lengthwise.
Place the whites on a plate and the yolks in a bowl. Add the remaining ingredients (except for the paprika) to the yolks in the bowl, and mash it all together.
Once mixed, spoon the mixture back into the empty egg whites.  Top with a sprinkle of paprika if desired.

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