Parentelligence Blog

9/11

Jennifer Wojciechowski

 The 10th Anniversary of 9/11 happens on Sunday. There will be much coverage in the news and online. As parents, we need to be prepared for questions and we might need to censor how much exposure our children receive about the events on 9/11/01.

Lunchbox Battles

Jennifer Wojciechowski

In order to be successful in school, our children need fuel. School lunches can be tough. We have to balance what is healthy and what our child will eat. There’s also the distraction factor.  They have 20 minutes and a cafeteria or gym full of other kids who are all talking and eating.  The distraction is enough to delay nutritional intake past the time when lunch is over. (To see what I'm talking about, Try to fit in a lunchtime visit to your child’s school sometime. Prearranged with your child and the office. You'll be amazed.)

So, we need something tasty and quick and easy to prepare, but nutritionally sound and easy for our kids to eat quickly.

A birthday and a backpack

Jennifer Wojciechowski

As school starts, I am reminded of my youngest child’s first day of kindergarten.  The poor child had 5 stitches in his right heel from an unfortunate accident with a metal door plate.  He turned 6 years old a few days before school started and he was using a walker which gave a little extra stability than crutches.  He was standing in line with the other kids outside the kindergarten room.  All the parents were standing a couple of paces away from their kids  anxiously awaiting the bell to ring.

My husband and I were old hats at this as he is our third child.  The backpack was full, the emergency card was signed and his lunch was packed.  We did our part and now off he went.  I had a moment of misty-eyed “My baby is growing up” motherly emotions, but it passed and off we went to spend the day alone, childless and enjoying it.

In the afternoon, we returned to pick him up and the teacher was standing next to him.  As we walked up, excited to see him and hear how his first day of school went, the teacher stepped up to talk to us.  (Now after two other boys, I took this as a sign that there was a ‘talking to’ in my youngest son’s future.)  The teacher hugged me and said, “Thank you so much for preparing him for school.”  She had spent the day with kids yelling, misbehaving and jumping on the furniture.  My son, confined as he was because of his foot, was patient but helpful.  He waited until someone was available to help him to get his lunch or binder.  He waited until he was called on.  We couldn’t have been prouder of our son.

I hear so much about schools needing to do better.  They have tests to measure how the teachers are performing and there’s more and more scrutiny on the schools’ performance.  But what about the parents?  Where is the accountability for the parents to prepare their children?

We’ve created Head Start to try and catch the kids earlier in order to better prepare the kids for school, but preparing for school starts years earlier.

Here are a few things that parents can do to prepare their children for school:

What's life without a little song?

Jennifer Wojciechowski

Most of us have heard about the studies that show kids who study music:

      Can score higher on standardized tests, such as the SAT;

      Can help develop problem-solving and math skills;

      Develop their brains in areas that non-music studying kids don’t;

      And a whole slew of other beneficial things...

But music also releases serotonin and dopamine to give us the same sort of feeling of pleasure that come from eating chocolate.  It can make us happy.  There’s nothing like that good feeling when the perfect song pops up on the radio or on our iPods/MP3s.

This is important in our stressed out world of today.  We’re stressed about work, chores, bills, economy, blah, blah, blah.

So how do we get more music into our children’s lives?  And how do we cultivate an appreciation for music, not just a rebellion?

More than the ABC’s

Jennifer Wojciechowski

What is it that compels adults to “do the right thing”, or “go out of their way”, or “go above and beyond”?

There are those people that are outstanding in their jobs or in their interpersonal relationships with friends, family, and even strangers.

This is that interconnectedness, or sense of community that some of us feel towards our fellow human. We respect our fellow man and respect the plight that they are on.

Social sciences are looking at how spirituality effects our health. Spirituality does not automatically mean religion. Spirituality is the way you find meaning, hope, comfort and inner peace in your life. Many people find spirituality through religion. Some find it through music, art or a connection with nature. Others find it in their values and principles. And some adults I know still find it with their parents.

As humans, we have 4 different parts to us that need nurturing and development. We have our physical, intellectual, emotional, and social/spiritual parts. When we see an amazing athlete who is also well-spoken and intelligent; who is a caring well-adjusted person, we tend to appreciate the wholeness of the person. For some athletes, they spend too much time developing the physical part and can neglect the rest (which is why we had/have “no pass, no play rule” in schools).

As parents, we have a responsibility to nurture the whole of our children. We know that we need to read to them, help them get the exercise they need, and emotion coach, teach them to be nice to their playdate but sometimes we neglect the spiritual side.

There are ways to help develop your child’s spiritual side:

Baby blues or something else?

Jennifer Wojciechowski

Most women start planning for their baby’s arrival as soon as they get pregnant, and even sometimes before they’re pregnant. There are clothes to buy, toys to pick out, car seat to decipher. We start sorting out a birth plan. We often hear about how the first few weeks can be difficult, but we don’t realize the truth until we live it.

The changes our bodies go through during the pregnancy is incredible, but what happens afterwards is astounding. There are physical changes (lochia, involution, hemmorhoids, etc.). There are hormonal changes (drop in estrogen & progesterone, increase in prolactin). Psychological changes such as, “I’m a mom” and “That’s my baby”. (There can also be the overwhelming feeling of love towards the baby or sometimes it can take women several days to feel like the baby is really theirs. Both are completely normal and both can be shocking.)

Now let’s add on sleep deprivation.

In our culture, within a few days of childbirth, we are back home with the baby, maybe partner is there, maybe they had to go back to work quickly, but we’re alone or with one support person and trying to take care of a newborn while experiencing all these changes at once.

It’s no wonder we get the blues.

“Baby Blues” are normal. Approximately 85% of new moms get the blues and dads and adoptive parents can get them, too. The blues usually goes away or starts to get better by 3 weeks or so. As we pass the blues, we start to feel better and are beginning to adjust to the ‘new normal’.

There are things we can do to lessen the risks of more serious postpartum mood disorders:

It Is Time

Jennifer Wojciechowski

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week next week, I’d like to talk about the issue of feeding a baby. You’ve probably heard the statistics on the benefits of breastfeeding but, I’d like to talk about the history of breastfeeding, how formula fits in, and tolerance.

Over the last century or more, women have been searching for an alternative means to feed their babies, rather than breastfeed. We’re too busy or we want our Independence. Unfortunately, maybe the mother died during childbirth or the baby was adopted. Then there’s the sexualization of the female breasts which has caused some people to turn away from breastfeeding or to persecute those who choose to breastfeed.

Prior to 1867, there were limited ways for a baby to be fed. The mother could breastfeed, family members or a ‘wet nurse’ (a breastfeeding surrogate nanny), or there was the milk from a nonhuman mammal such as a cow or goat. The latter two options did not prove very successful because of the difficulties for the baby to digest the milk.

A ‘formula’ developed in 1915 based on nonfat cow’s milk, lactose, oleo oils and vegetable oils became the basis for modern, commercially prepared infant formula. Although there have been improvements to infant formula over the years.

As parents, we make 100’s of decisions everyday. There are some that are easier than others, like whether we want to wear pants or a skirt, high heels or flats. We get so used to making decisions that oftentimes we don’t even realize we’re doing it.

Some decisions carry more weight....

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Jennifer Wojciechowski
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