In It For Health

Where health and psychology intersect

Posts Tagged ‘family’

If McDonalds retires Ronald, perhaps it shouldn’t stop there…

Posted by Dr. Susan on May 19, 2011

A group of medical professionals is calling for McDonald’s to get rid of Ronald, citing the childhood character’s link to the the childhood obesity epidemic. 

There is something wrong with this on two levels. To begin, if we were to get rid of Ronald, why stop there? It doesn’t seem fair to single out one marketing character. Should we also tell Disney, Nickelodeon and every single cereal company that they’re not allowed to use mascots to sell their products? No–this is not the way a democracy works! I’m all for protecting kids against inappropriate marketing, but this goes too far.

Of course we need to protect our kids, and make sure that big business act in the best interest of the public, BUT we also need to place real responsibility on parents to educate their kids about marketing and product placement. Most importantly, parents need to say NO to their children when they don’t believe eating a particular food isn’t healthy or necessary at that moment.

It is always easy to blame someone else; it’s much more difficult to take responsibility. Ronald has been around for many years prior to the obesity epidemic. It’s only in the past twenty years or so that parents have started to be afraid to say NO to their kids–worried that they may have a tantrum, or their child might feel alienated won’t be their friend anymore.  Parenting is not always easy, in fact sometimes it’s downright difficult, but in the end, your child will be a stronger person if you role-model and teach taking responsiblity for one’s own behavior.

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If your kids already complain that you’re too bossy…

Posted by Dr. Susan on May 18, 2011

A CA bill, if passed by the senate,would give parents FULL access to their kid’s social networking account with the ability to request removal of any and all information/pictures etc, that they don’t like, whenever they want. In fact, this bill states that if Facebook–or any other social networking site–were to ignore a parent’s request, they could be fined thousands of dollars, per account.

So, what do you think of this?

My first response was YEAH! finally someone is advocating for kids’ safety online. But the more I think about it, the more I’m not sure. I think it’s a great idea for parents of kids under 18-years to have access to their kid’s Facebook. However, I’m not sure that this parents should be able to leverage such power over their child that the access is forced upon the child. This will ultimately cause such a breakdown of trust between parent and child that no good will come of it–kids will simply go underground with fake accounts. 

Your child needs to know that you are paying attention to their Facebook and that you are concerned about their ‘social media health’. If you are involved, paying attention and discussing your concerns with them, they are much likely to be more wary about what they post online. If you force it on them, you risk losing relationship with them all together, online and off!

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When parents fight, babies don’t sleep

Posted by Dr. Susan on May 12, 2011

When an infant doesn’t sleep well, it can be easy to blame genetics, fussiness, colic and all sorts of other genetic and child-centered reasons–each one of which might, of course be the reason. However, a new study finds that the relationship between mom and dad may be a primary reason that a baby isn’t sleeping well. Specifically, this research determined that the more parents fight with each other, the more likely it is for babies to have disrupted sleep patterns.

This is powerful and important information for parents, because it lets us know that children are impacted by marital discord in so many ways and beginning at such a young age. Therefore, as parents, it needs to be part of the job description to protect kids from arguing and fighting. This doesn’t mean that parents shouldn’t argue with one another–of course this is just a normal part of any relationship. However, it does mean that we need to exercise self-control as much as possible, saving our arguments for when our kids aren’t anywhere near hearing us–waiting for them to fall asleep isn’t good enough! It’s tough being a good parent, but in the end–when our kids are happy and well-adjusted–it’s worth it a hundred times over!

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Parents are ok with underage Facebooking…what’s next

Posted by Dr. Susan on May 9, 2011

A study just out that finds that 17 percent of parents are just fine with their under-13 year old having a Facebook, even though Facebook says you need to be 13 to log on. Of course Facebook doesn’t really have a way to check the age of a user, so aside from those kids who have an undercover Facebook account, preteens have been given consent by their parents.

Most of the parents that I know who allow an underage Facebook  say that they are monitoring, getting their child’s password and otherwise checking for inappropriate online behavior.

They’re missing the point a bit…by allowing your child to lie about his or her age, you’re colluding with deceptive behavior to get around a system that has been set up to protect kids and make sure they behave appropriately given their developmental stage in life.

Let’s think about this a little more. Will you be okay when your child gets a fake ID to drink alcohol at fifteen?…not likely. Will you be okay when your child buys alcohol for a minor once he isn’t one anymore? Or when she cheats on a test in school because she didn’t get caught? Lying or cheating the system in order to do or get something you want right now, even though you should wait for it–or not have it at all–is the message you communicate when you allow your child to do get a Facebook younger than 13.  

Facebook has a reason for making it 13 and up. As a parent you should be supporting, not undermining this rule because it’s not only about Facebook, it’s about your child’s future.

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Online gaming is good for families…really?

Posted by Dr. Susan on May 9, 2011

This new study suggests that when families ‘game’ together, their relationships improve. Ok, I suppose that could be true. If you play online games with your kids, it’s definitely better than NOT playing online with them, and rather just leaving them to online game with total strangers.

But do you really think that parents are playing online games with their kids?? The answer is NO! Either the parents are gaming alone (I see this all the time) and the kids are nagging them to get off the computer to come and throw a ball outside, or the kids/teens are online and would be mortified if their mom or (more likely) dad joined in. And of course, this doesn’t even include all the time kids are online while parents are working, running the home or dealing with the other kids. So the chance that kids and parents are bonding online is…well…let’s just politely say…unlikely!

So, while this study is interesting in theory, it truly holds no really life application. So, instead of making it your goal to game online with your child, the better goal is found in the old and boring traditions…eat a meal together, chat while you’re driving somewhere, clean the car together (pay them if you have to!), or drag out a board game. You’d be surprised how many BIG kids love Apples to Apples!

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Child-Obesity ads gone wild

Posted by Dr. Susan on May 6, 2011

There is a furor about Georgia’s child-obesity campaign which portrays overweight kids, with seriously depressed facial expressions, talking about how bleak their present life is and how bad their future will be, unless they lose weight.

Now, I’m all for shock-value if it gets the job done, but this ad is a problem. To begin, it give ammunition to other kids who bully, or are considering bullying an overweight child. From a kid’s perspective: “If you’re talking about all the negatives that you experience, then why can’t I?” It’s not a taboo subject anymore.

Next, the parents and educators who are not already working on helping overweight children won’t really be impacted by this–they know that this is what the kids look like already–it’s live in front of them! What they really need to see is overweight adults in the ads talking about what it was like to be an overweight kid and still be overweight–and then remind the viewer of the ads to take responsibility for helping the kids.

Using vulnerable kids–those in the ads and the those who will inadvertently become associated with the ads–creates an unfair playing field. The adults need to take responsibility for the problem and of course, the solution.

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Workshop for Moms of Infants

Posted by Dr. Susan on February 4, 2011

I’m going to be conducting a workshop for moms of infants beginning March, 2011 on Long Island. If you are interested, please click on this link. Thanks!

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The grim reality of spring break

Posted by Dr. Susan on April 3, 2010

It’s too bad that it takes a 17-year old with the prospect for a glowing future to remind us how dangerous spring break can be for high schoolers. When Ohio high school senior Matt James (headed for Notre Dame on a football scholarship), fell from a balcony to his death after drinking too much during spring break in Florida, we all stopped for 5 minutes to shake our heads and those of us with high school students were grateful that it wasn’t our kid.

But the thing is that unless you make the choice to supervise your teen on spring, winter and every other break it could just as easily be your kid! There is no specific type…most kids drink; many get drunk–they just don’t tell their parents. In fact, one national study (conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention) found that nearly 75% of high school students have had one or more alcoholic drinks in their life. That’s any kid–your kid or my kid!

Every teen’s life is worth saving, every teen has a glowing future and should have a chance to make better choices when their brain has developed and along with it, their judgment. Until then, it is the job of the adults–parents, teachers, chaperones, even hotel owners, to make sure that teens are well supervised and kept safe: even from themselves.

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The FDA is finally wising up about serving sizes!

Posted by Dr. Susan on February 9, 2010

It’s taken a long time, but maybe, just maybe, the FDA is realizing what I’ve said for years-many food companies are basically con artists when it comes to reporting serving sizes accurately and in a way that truly represents the product. This article explains it: half a muffin is a serving size; six potato chips…really!? They count on consumers looking at the calories and not paying attention to the serving size, and unfortunately, in many cases that’s exactly what happens.

This is not to say that the consumer is without responsibility–we should be more educated and less willing to be duped. But less face it, if we were more disciplined, we wouldn’t be one of the most overweight nations in the world.

Regardless, accurate, realistic packaging should be mandatory! A whole muffin, an entire bottle of juice, a bowl of chips or ice-cream–THIS is a serving size and should be labeled as such, with the calories reflected right on the package. Perhaps when we see what we’re actually eating, not what we wish we were, or would like to pretend we are, we’d stop being one of the most overweight countries on the planet!

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Turn the TV off…seriously, you might die!

Posted by Dr. Susan on January 11, 2010

This study finds that for every hour a day you watch TV, you increase your risk of dying–from any cause–by 11%. For dying from cardiovascular disease, the increased risk was 18%. The study goes on to say that when they compared people who watched less than two hours of TV a day to those who watched more than four, the four-hour watchers had an 80% greater chance of dying from cardiovascular disease.

OK, that’s scary! But the issue is not about TV exactly…it’s about NOT moving your body! The more TV you watch, the more likely you are to be sedentary, the more likely you are to NOT be healthy. You get it, right. So…turn off the TV and take a walk….or some day someone may find you kicked-off in front of the TV, having breathed your last breath. Wouldn’t that be ironic!

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