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The Children's Wellness Blog

Why Children’s Wellness Center Knows Families

April 15, 2016

At Children’s Wellness Center (CWC), we take great pride in being a small pediatric practice here in Atlanta/Dunwoody area and though we may be a little biased – we certainly have some of the BEST patients around. Like we just mentioned, we may not be a giant practice of pediatricians but the healthcare that we’ve been able to provide to parents and their children over the years is extremely important to us and something that we genuinely enjoy doing on a daily basis. For us, we wanted to start a practice that focused on health, wellness, and family.

Many of our patients have been with us literally from the start of their life and we have been fortunate to virtually watch them grown into bright and shining young adults. Choosing a pediatrician for your child is already a big decision so we are the ones that are grateful for having the chance to be parent’s first resource in times of need and even in the in between. If asked why Children’s Wellness Center knows families, while we each may have our own responses, we can all agree that it’s because we get it. We’re parents ourselves and have been EXACTLY where some of you have been or will be as you get to watch your child grow.

Often times, parents can become frustrated with the notion that they’re just a number in a system or disappointed that they are never able to fully establish a trusting, long-standing relationship with their child’s pediatrician. This is not what we see as beneficial for parents and their children. We do our best to make sure you stick with your same provider, even when booking last minute, same-day appointments (while we can’t guarantee this 100% of the time, we sure do try our best to make sure you’re not bounced between different providers each visit). For us, the idea that the best possible medical care, a partnership must be fostered between the physician and family became our practices’ main philosophy. Family not only in the sense of the parents who bring their kids in for routine well-child visits, help with illnesses, or advice on some of the perils of parenthood, but family in the sense of an ever-growing Children’s Wellness Center family.

Preparing Your Teen for College

April 13, 2016

Preparing Your Teen for CollegeGraduation day for high school kids can be one of the biggest days of their life. For parents, it can be a big transition as it is for teens but that’s understandable – you devoted 18 years to shaping your children into the wonderful people they are and it’s now time to let them go forth and start the next chapter in their life as independent adults. While there isn’t a lot the Children’s Wellness Center team can offer as far as tips for parents on how to deal with this phase in life, take comfort in knowing you’ve given your child all of the tools they need to succeed in college. Here’s what we suggest for preparing your teen for college and perhaps ease your mind as they venture away from home.

Get your teen vaccinated.

Depending on the state and school your teen attends, certain vaccinations may be recommended or even mandatory before being able to officially start school. The meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MenACWY) is recommended to protect teens from meningitis which is a rare infection that attacks the membranes that cover the brain and the spinal cord. Meningitis can be deadly and extremely contagious. Caused by a bacterial or viral infection somewhere else in the body meningitis is commonly transmitted through close contact (like coughing and sneezing) so living in dorms puts kids at higher risk as they’re constantly exposed to others. We recommend checking with your health care provider to discuss getting vaccinated to help your teen stay healthy. Other common vaccinations that pre-college teens typically receive help to fight against human papillomavirus (HPV), whooping cough (pertussis), tetanus, and flu.

Encourage healthy habits.

The biggest challenge a lot of teens face when they get to college is balancing their newfound “freedoms”. From having a pre-planned school schedule that is followed by sports and after school activities, homework, dinner, sleep, and then repeat. When they get to college they are making their own schedules, eating what/when they want, making time for social activities, and even integrating into new groups of friends. Sleep, exercise, and proper nutrition are keys that will help your teen succeed so make sure they have all the encouragement and necessary tools in place to help them make smart decisions – because parents aren’t always going to be there to offer those friendly reminders!

As an adult, we should be getting 7-9 hours of sleep daily. When we’re tired, we can become stressed out, irritable, and have difficulty concentrating on the things that deserve our undivided attention. It can also lead to increased risks of developing chronic diseases and conditions as they continue to grow (like diabetes, obesity, depression, etc.). With 24 hour dining hall options and a plethora of tempting food items that can add unhealthy amounts of fat, sugar, and salt into the mix. Regular exercise also has many health benefits and at least 2.5 hours a week of physical activity can do the trick; not only does it help to keep the mind fresh but also helps to combat the “freshman 15”.

Educate your teen.

There may be a lot of new experiences your teen is introduced to during their time at college. Two biggest concerns our parents share are their worry their child will get involved with using harmful substances (underage drinking and drug use) and engaging in sexual activity. There can be a lot of unnecessary pressure that teens put on themselves to fit in and subsequently peer pressure plays a large part in a teen’s participation in underage drinking so that they’ll better fit into a group. College drinking is already so widespread across the nation that it is sometimes thought to be the normal experience teens have – but this doesn’t mean that it is any less important or dire. Having a conversation with your teen about the dangers of binge drinking, drunk driving, and long-term health effects in advance can certainly help encourage your teen to make smarter decisions when they’re on their own.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), nearly half of the 20 million newly diagnosed sexual transmitted diseases (STDs) each year are among the youth, more specifically the 15-24 year old category. Unprotected sex puts any one at risk of infection, and while many of these STDs are treatable, not all are curable or detectable. Untreated STDs can have long term effects like pelvic disease, infertility, chronic pain, etc. – encouraging your teen to practice safe sex (whether abstinence or the use of condoms) is just as important to their safety as reminding them to pay attention to their surrounds when walking alone at night, or remembering to turn off the stove after cooking.

Teens are going to experiment with many different things over their lifetime and while we may not be able to monitor every aspect of their lives once they’ve moved out for college, we can equip them with the tools they need to make sound decisions on matters that could have long-lasting effects long after their college years.

Talking to Your Teens & Preteens about Underage Drinking

April 1, 2016

Talking to Your Teens & Preteens about Underage DrinkingDo you remember the first time you tried an alcoholic beverage? Think about how old you were – perhaps it wasn’t until you were 21 or maybe it was much younger, like in your teens or pre-teens part of life. Seems the age at which our kids experiment with alcohol is getting younger and younger these days so it’s definitely a topic parents shouldn’t brush under the rug. Kids in their teens may not be the best at listening to mom and dad’s advice all the time, but the consequences of underage drinking should be reason enough to make it happen! Kids are already exposed to more adult material on television and on the internet, so being proactive parents can help encourage your teen to make responsible decisions when faced with underage drinking. Sure it can seem like a difficult subject to approach but it doesn’t have to be. The Children’s Wellness Center pediatricians get it – we’ve all had our own experiences when we were younger and we have worked with a lot of parents and their teens to encourage a healthy dialogue about alcohol. Check out our tips for talking to your teen about drinking and ways to inspire them to think before they act:

  • Block off some time – talking to your teen should feel relaxed and natural, not forced. As some of us may know, teens and preteens can have an uncanny ability to tune out parental advice if it feels too preachy. Make good use of one-on-one time, like during car rides or during meal prep, to open up the alcohol dialogue. To really be effective, don’t try to cram the subject into just one conversation but instead make it something that is discussed often so you can reaffirm your expectations of your teen when it comes to them potentially involving themselves in underage drinking.
  • Use real life scenarios – you may notice that teen drinking related accidents tend to get a lot of media coverage and more parent advocates are speaking out on the dangers of teen drinking. Use these types of tragedies to lead into discussions with your teens about drinking. Be prepared, however, to discuss your own personal experience with alcohol should your teen have questions about your younger years. By sharing negative experiences that you went through, it will possibly resonate louder and better help illustrate the importance of making sound decisions themselves. Be candid about why you chose to drink, what the consequences were, and how your outlook may have changed after the experience.
  • Spare no consequence – have you discussed the consequences your teen could face if they choose to drink? As a parent, it’s a good idea to spell out your expectations when it comes to your children and being in an environment where alcohol is present. Explain the loss of privileges to them as expected in your household and make sure they are clear on what will happen if they break your rules. If a situation arises where they are caught drinking, be sure to enforce your rules and consequences or your teen may not take your idle threats seriously in the future. Be sure to also not spare a mention of what could also happen outside of the home. Alcohol-related fatalities (whether from alcohol poisoning or drunk driving), increase in sexual activity that could lead to unprotected sex and potentially life-threatening illnesses or sexually transmitted diseases, stunted brain development, and potential for alcoholism concerns as they get older.
  • Lead by example – just as a toddler is quick to mimic the behaviors and speech of adults from keen observation, teens are just as easily influenced by our actions as well. If you drink around your teens, do so in moderation and explain why and how it’s appropriate for adults to drink – as long as it’s responsibly. Staying healthy and promoting proper habits like diet, nutrition, and exercise can be complimentary to your efforts because you can interject talks of alcohol into these types of healthy habit lessons.
  • Stay invested – the best way to stay informed with your child’s after school activity is by forming a strong relationship with them early on. If your child tends to keep to themselves you may not be aware of the stress or peer pressures they face on a daily basis and sometimes they may not want to share. Checking in frequently to see what’s going on with their friends, in school, and in their social life will encourage them to share anything and everything. They just want to feel like they’re supported and are able to live up to the expectations we have as parents. Getting to know your child’s friends and their parents can be helpful as well – if your teen’s friends are drinking, or live in a household where parents are more liberal in their views on underage drinking, there is a good chance your teen is more likely to drink (because hey, everyone’s doing it right?). Staying on top of their activities and knowing the type of supervision present can help mitigate them being in a situation that could put their wellbeing in jeopardy.

If you notice your teen’s behavior changing, like mood swings, inconsistent health complaints, or increased behavioral issues at home or at school, talk to them about what’s going on to try to get to the root of the issue. For teens that you suspect may have alcohol-related concerns, contact your pediatrician, counselor, or trusted healthcare provider who has worked with underage alcohol problems before it becomes a greater issue. Just remember, it’s never too late to start talking.

Tips for Feeding Your Picky Eaters

February 25, 2016

Tips for Feeding Your Picky EatersLet’s face it – kids can be quite resilient when it comes to having their own opinions regarding their food. While it shouldn’t be expected for your little one to love exotic food dishes at a young age, introducing new foods to children can become a power struggle for picky eaters. Even though feeding time can seem like a battle ground for parents, all of the Children’s Wellness Center pediatricians have kids ourselves and have a come up with a few tips for feeding your picky eaters that we have found helpful over the years!

Lead by example. Children are really good at observing and emulating the words and actions of adults, so setting a good physical example when eating with your children can only serve to further encourage healthy food choices throughout their life. Mealtimes should be a fun occasion where you can spend some quality time away from the television and enjoy each other’s company. If you show disdain for a particular food item or share negative sentiments about the taste, your children may pick up on the behaviors associated with the negativity (ie. not finishing their food or not even giving the dish a try and just assuming they won’t like it either). Just remember that they’re always watching and their growing minds are like sponges, soaking everything up in the process, so teaching proper nutrition at a young age is great for long-term success.

Make mealtime fun. Getting your kids involved in the meal prep portion can get them more excited and willing to experiment with their food. Part of the fun of cooking is being able to take frequent taste tests and this is a great way to have them at least try it alongside you. Let your kids feel important in mealtime decisions by having them help decide what vegetables to pair with the meal (do they want green beans or do they think cooked carrots would taste better?) or what fruit to mix in the salad for dinner. If you are the kind of parent that likes to plan healthy meals on a weekly basis, create a clever menu and have the kids help plan what is for each day. Whatever you do, never force your child to eat. As parents, we never want our kids to go hungry but breaking bad eating habits are going to be much harder if you cater to their behavior. Instead, be sure to make it clear that what’s on the table is the only option for their meal and if they don’t want it, there’s a chance they could be hungry without finishing their food. As much as their sad faces may tug at your heartstrings, don’t cook them separate food from everyone else or an alternative afterwards.

Get creative. Obviously small children aren’t necessarily going to benefit from fun food designs because infant food introduction doesn’t include a five-course meal, but older children can certainly find this method appealing. Time challenges can factor into the presentation of meals but think about a child’s likelihood to get excited for a heart-shaped sandwich versus the same square sandwich that’s served at lunchtime? Yes, carving an apple to mirror a cute kitten takes time (kudos to you if you’re that skilled) but there are a lot of pans, cooking utensils, food decorations, etc. that could make meals more fun for them. If it becomes a staple for enjoyment, they’re less likely to focus on what they “don’t like” and more on the novelty of eating Mickey Mouse shaped pancakes piled high with fruits.

The key to dealing with picky eaters is patience and lots of positive reinforcements. Remember, it’s just a phase and eventually your child will outgrow this type of “food defiance!” Don’t be hard on yourself as a parent though, yes your child needs a balanced diet with fruits and veggies to get the energy they need to grow up strong and healthy, but they’re kids and have such energetic minds of their own. With a little guidance from their trusted role models, mealtime can be made fun again.