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[Marriage Research]   [Money Sense in Teenagers]   [Newborn Skin]   [Nightmares and Sleepwalking]   [Puberty: Physical Changes]   [Religion: What Does the Research Say?]   [Sex Education]   [Sleeping Child]   [Smoking by Parents]   [Stuttering]  

MARRIAGE RESEARCH
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In the past some people had suggested that marriage would soon be gone forever.  One rarely hears those thoughts anymore. Research and experience have shown the need for good marriages for the sake of the partners, their children, and society as a whole.

Research shows that marriage is different from mere cohabitation where the commitment level is generally lower, the violence and sexual infidelity higher, the chance for separation many times higher, and the commitment to their children, particularly from the father, is lower.  A wedding is a public admission of their desire to stay together, to work hard for each other, and to care deeply for their children.

Physical Advantages

Married people live longer than unmarried or divorced persons even if they subsequently remarry. Married persons appear to take better care of themselves by going to their doctor more frequently, avoiding drugs and alcohol abuse, and decreasing high risk behaviors such as drinking while driving. Apparently, the commitment to a family for a lifetime powerfully influences the spouse to care for himself for the sake of the other family members.

Married people have sexual affairs at a very low rate which protects them from sexually transmitted diseases, certain cancers, sterility, pelvic inflammatory disease, and AIDS. Married persons also tend to eat significantly better than unmarried people by having diets lower in fat and higher in fiber. Older married persons tend to be healthier as they age and tend to stay out of the nursing home longer.

Mental Health Advantages

According to research, married people have less stress. Having another adult partner who one can count on (more so than cohabitation) means that the natural difficulties that arise in life can be shared. Depression is less common in married persons as is suicide. Insofar as depression and stress often lead to various addictions, marriage protects against those as well. The anxiety of being left by a sexual partner is lower in married persons. People who are cohabiting or sexually-involved singles often have doubts about how long their partner will be with them. These doubts are usually confirmed by the disappearance of their "common-law" spouse one day.

Financial Advantages

Married people tend to have higher salaries and better lifestyles than single persons. This is especially so if the single person has children. Getting married is the fastest way to get off welfare or other government aid. Married people tend to perform better in jobs, are perceived as being more stable, are less likely to miss work for unexcused absences, or take sick time. The better financial circumstances seem to be related to a long term outlook, planning ahead, gaining extra education, and the desire to improve life for their children.

Advantages for Society

A stable marriage is an asset for society. Children benefit when parents stay together. Less physical and mental illness means fewer health care costs, less absence from the workforce, and greater productivity. The higher financial benefits of marriage mean less drug abuse, crime, and welfare. Married parents lead to stable marriages in children, so society also benefits in the future.

 

MONEY SENSE IN TEENAGERS
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Teenagers are fully aware of the power of money, but may not be aware of some of its pitfalls. Your son or daughter is an adult in body size, in thinking ability, but is lacking in experience.  Even experienced adults make financial mistakes; help him or her learn these principals to minimize the chances of these problems.

Principles to Teach Older Teenagers:

  1. She needs to understand that money is connected to work. Do not simply give her all the "toys" she wants. She needs to earn at least a portion of the items unless it is her birthday or Christmas.
  2. He needs to know that mistreatment of his possessions has consequences. If he breaks a possession through carelessness, do not immediately go and replace it.
  3. Teach her that money is connected to relationships to people in her life. If she uses all of her  money to buy things for herself, so that she has no money for her sister's birthday, do not give her money to buy presents until she has worked for most of it.
  4. Show him that credit is not free. For example, tell him that buying something for $100 now on a credit card actually costs more than $150 when paid out over time.
  5. Show her that quality matters in work and earning money. The best way to show this is that her allowance should be tied to performing certain tasks. This work needs to be completed well, not in a mediocre fashion. So if one of her tasks is to clean the kitchen and she does a poor job in the evening, then wake her up 30 minutes early to finish the job in the morning.
  6. Encourage him to put off immediate gratification of his desires, by you contributing financially to things he wants to buy. So if he wants to purchase a video game, tell him you will buy the video game  when he gives you half the money toward its purchase. This encourages him to save and avoid spending all his money on low cost items.
  7. Teach her that waiting for sales and calling around to different stores can help stretch her dollar.
  8. Always include the taxes and other hidden costs (financing, shipping and handling, etc.) when calculating how much something he wants costs.
  9. Begin allowing her to see the adult costs that you have to pay,  particularly ones that she can affect such as electricity (her use of lights, air conditioning, washer, etc.), transportation (fuel, car insurance, car payment, and repairs), and fees for activities (piano lessons, sports camps, and visits to amusement parks).
  10. Show him how much cheaper and healthier it is to eat at home.
  11. Within these guidelines, she should have the freedom to spend her money as she wants even if you believe she wants to make a foolish purchase. Advise her against purchasing that poorly made blouse, but let her buy it and suffer the natural consequences of her choice when it quickly falls apart.
  12. Have him set aside 5-10% of his money each month to give for presents, to give to the poor, or your church. By doing so, you will let him experience that "it is more blessed to give than receive."

 

NEWBORN SKIN
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General Information:

Newborns have very sensitive skin and have many different unique skin rashes. Your baby may have a very red color to the skin due to his high red blood cell count. If your baby becomes cold he may become pale or mottled-blue in appearance. After about one week your baby's skin will become dry and flaky.

Newborn Rashes:

  1. Acne of the Newborn- About 30% of newborns will develop small red bumps or neonatal acne. This rash begins at about 2-3 weeks and lasts for several months. It is not necessary to treat with anything since nothing helps and this will improve on its own.
  2. Rash Related to Drooling- Most babies have a rash on their chin or cheeks caused by drool containing food and a little stomach acid (from spitting up) coming into contact with your baby's sensitive skin. Place an absorbent diaper under your baby's face at nap time and wash her face with water after feedings.
  3. Erythema Toxicum- More than 50% of babies develop this rash after one or two days. The rash appears as multiple red bumps with a white swelling in the middle that look like insect bites. They tend to be numerous and are harmless, resolving after 2 weeks.
  4. Birth Trauma- During a difficult delivery a baby can show signs of skin trauma. Your baby may have bruises, scrapes, forceps marks, a malformed head, swelling of the scalp, and scratches or puncture wounds where a scalp monitor may have been placed. All of these resolve over days to weeks without problems in almost all cases.
  5. Milia- Almost half of newborns have little white bumps that occur on the face and especially the nose. They are blocked-off pores that will open up spontaneously in the next few weeks.
  6. Mongolian Spots-These are bluish gray birthmarks found in most American Indian, Oriental, Hispanic, and African-American babies. They are mainly found in the lower back and buttocks, but can occur on any area of the body. They usually fade by 2 to 3 years of life although some remnant can remain until adulthood.
  7. Stork Bites- More than half of newborns have rashes that are pink, flat rashes called capillary hemangiomas occurring over the bridge of the nose, the eyelids, and the back of the neck. Almost all of these clear by 2 years of age and they are completely harmless.

Newborn Skin Care

Bathe your baby with mild soap and water every other day using sponge baths before the cord has fallen off. You do not need to wash inside the vaginal area. After your baby has a wet diaper simple use warm water to clean her bottom. Mild soap can be used for dirty diapers. Do not use baby wipes until one-month-old.

Shampoo her hair once or twice a week with a nonstinging baby shampoo. Do not use oils or greasy substances on the skin since they can block the pores and cause a rash. Clean the umbilical cord several times a day with alcohol to keep it dry and reduce the number of bacteria. Cut the nails while the baby is asleep. Round off the fingernails to reduce scratches, but cut the toenails straight across to prevent ingrown toenails.

 

NIGHTMARES AND SLEEPWALKING
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General Information:

Nightmares are common in children from about 6 months of age and older. The infants will cry until someone comes to comfort them while preschool age children will usually come to their parent's room when they have a nightmare.

Everyone dreams each night; nightmares are thought to help the mind process issues important to the particular age of the person. Toddlers usually dream about separation from their parents, preschoolers about monsters and the dark, and school-age children about real dangers. Scary movies can sometimes result in frequent nightmares. Night terrors are a strange variation of nightmares where your child is scared and agitated but cannot be wakened or comforted and is talking wildly with her eyes wide-opened. She may see objects in her room as threats including her parents. Night terrors last 10-20 minutes in children 1 to 8 years of age and unlike nightmares your child cannot remember the event. Night terrors tend to be inherited and are thought to be nightmares during deep sleep usually within two hours of bedtime. Sleepwalking is an inherited disorder occurring in about 15% of children 4- to 15-years-old usually within two hours of bedtime. The child's eyes are open, but blank and the child is not as coordinated as he is during daytime, but will try to perform purposeful acts like changing clothes, turning on the lights, or opening doors.

Treatment:

  1. For nightmares, reassure and hold your child and sit with her until she is ready to go back to sleep. Put a nightlight in her room and leave her door open for her reassurance. Talk to her about her nightmare during the day and reassure her that many children have nightmares. Make sure that she is not watching scary movies that are increasing the frequency of nightmares. For particularly severe nightmares, it is OK for a parent to sleep in the room with the child.
  2. For night terrors, turn on the lights and speak calmly and quietly to your child and try to get him to go back to bed. You will not be able to wake your child and he will likely pull away from you if you try to hold him. Protect your child from injuries such as falling down stairs, cutting himself on broken objects, or running into walls. Tell grandparents and other late babysitters about his tendency to night terrors. For children with frequent night terrors, waking the child for several nights in a row right before the night terrors usually occur may lower the tendency for them to happen.
  3. For sleepwalking, gently direct your child back to bed after taking her to the bathroom since she may need to urinate. While accidents are unusual with sleepwalking, try to protect her from hurting herself especially by keeping her from going outside or into the kitchen where dangerous objects are kept. Put gates on stairwells, locks high up on doors, and do not let your child sleep in the top of a bunk bed. An overly tired child is more prone to sleepwalking so put him to bed at a reasonable time. If sleepwalking is frequent, wake him up 15 minutes before the time he normally sleepwalks for several nights in a row to see if that will reduce the sleepwalking.

 

PUBERTY: THE PHYSICAL CHANGES
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Teenage Girls:

Girls usually develop earlier than boys.  The usual order of development is 1) increase in height, 2) early breast development, 3) growth of pubic and axillary hair, 4) slow widening of the hips, 5) first menstruation (periods), and 6) continued widening of the hips. A girl will have usually reached her adult height within a year of her first period. She will continue to have a little more breast development and will continue to have her hips widened for several years more.

Concerns:

  1. Time of Development - It is normal for a girl to begin breast development by her 8th birthday or even a little before. Later development in smaller girls is common. If a girl has no secondary sexual characteristics by 14 or 15 years of age, this may be abnormal and needs to be investigated.
  2. Acne - One of the costs of puberty is acne but it is usually milder in girls than boys.
  3. Breast Development- Many girls worry that their breasts are of different size or look different. Girls often begin development on one side first, but usually the size and shape of the breasts are similar eventually.
  4. Being Overweight and Eating Disorders- Many people are genetically programmed to be heavier and for those people weight loss is difficult but not impossible. Weight loss takes time. Exercise and reducing total calories moderately will result in a weight loss of about 1-2 pounds a week. Many girls are convinced by looking at thin, models that this is the normal weight for a woman. But these models exercise many hours a day, have usually been surgically changed, and often are anorexic or bulimic. Tell your daughter that she looks good at a normal weight not the artificial weight of the supermodels.
  5. Moodiness- She may have dramatic mood swings over small matters especially from 12 to 14 years of age. Be patient with her; she is adjusting to many changes and the moodiness decreases by 15 years.

Teenage Boys:

Boys develop later than girls and their changes other than increase in size and a deepened voice are not as evident as in girls. The order of changes for boys is 1) rapid growth in height, 2) an increase in the size of the penis and testicles, 3) growth of pubic and axillary hair, and deeper voice, and 4) an increase in muscle size. The growth in boys starts later and continues over a longer period of time than girls. They tend to become more aggressive during this time as a result of the increase in testosterone and the need to demonstrate their masculinity. This can be curbed into sports and other healthy pursuits.

Concerns:

  1. Small Size - It is more difficult for a boy to be the small person in the class than it is for a girl. If your son is very small compared to the rest of his class, tests can be done that will make sure that his development is normal. It is a good idea to try to develop some "manly" skills for your small son such as shooting, woodworking, building objects, science projects, automobile mechanical work, etc. Also help him develop personality skills such as a generous spirit, speaking or writing skills, music, etc.
  2. Acne- Acne is usually worse in boys than girls, but is readily treated in most cases.
  3. Weight Problems- Eating disorders are much less common in boys, although the rate is increasing. Too many teens are overweight usually due to too much food and too little exercise. Many boys spend too much time with TV or video games and so avoid getting the exercise they need.
  4. Moodiness- Boys tend to be quieter than girls as they adjust to the changes in their body and social life. You may think that it is a rarity to have him say more than one word at a time to you. This will normally improve when he is an older teenager. Be available for him when he needs to talk on those rare occasions.

 

RELIGION: WHAT DOES THE RESEARCH SAY?
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Active involvement with church or synagogue is a healthy life choice, according to scientific research.  Research in the last 10-15 years has documented the benefits of active participation in religion. Most of these studies have examined Christians, either Protestant or Catholic, and a smaller number of studies have investigated Jewish believers.

Active participation in religion has been shown to be much more beneficial than mere belief alone. Active participation is usually defined as attendance at worship or a prayer meeting, but has also been defined as frequent reading of Scripture or frequent prayer. A few of the benefits of religious participation include the following:

Physical Health Benefits of Religious Participation:

  1. Longer life
  2. Lower blood pressure
  3. Fewer cancers of many types
  4. Fewer cases of sexually transmitted eases
  5. Less sterility
  6. Fewer surgeries
  7. Quicker recovery if one has surgery
  8. Better recovery following heart attacks
  9. Better overall health ratings
  10. Less risk-taking behavior

Mental Health Benefits of Religious Participation:

  1. Less stress in one's life
  2. Better able to handle stress when it comes
  3. Less chance for depression
  4. Fewer cases of suicide
  5. Less alcohol abuse
  6. Less drug abuse
  7. Less fear of dying
  8. Stronger sense of purpose in one's life
  9. Fewer problems with anxiety and other mental health problems
  10. Fewer problems with addictive personality disorders

Social Benefits of Religious Participation:

  1. Happier marriages
  2. More fulfilling sex lives
  3. Lower divorce rate
  4. Higher status jobs and higher income in employment
  5. A larger group of friends and support persons
  6. Higher quality of friendships
  7. Better relationship with parents
  8. Better relationship with children
  9. Lower chance that children will become delinquents
  10. Less likely that children will become pregnant or abuse drugs or alcohol

 

SEX EDUCATION
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Few phrases strike terror into the heart of an otherwise perfect parent than the words . . . sex education. Studies show that parents are much more comfortable with their child's school or their pediatrician teaching about sex than themselves. Yet you have already been teaching them about sexuality since they were very little. And you are the most important person to teach them what they need to know.

  1. Preschool Sex education actually begins at a very young age as your child watches his mother and father interact, be affectionate, and resolve conflict. He knows that girls and boys are different by 2 years and is usually very proud of his or her gender. If he sees a girl baby undressed, he might think she looks funny, but will still be fascinated. Answer all of his questions in a straight-forward, simple manner. If you begin at an early age teaching him this way, it is usually not difficult to go into more detail later.
  2. Early Grade School Age- Children continue to be fascinated with gender differences and your child may begin having crushes on classmates. An occasional kiss may be exchanged and she may even show him her privates if he shows her his. This is harmless as long as it is not repetitive and the children are within a year or two of each other in age. Studies show that this is an important age for children to learn from their parents about healthy affection or unhealthy behaviors (such as spousal abuse) because both the good and the bad are often carried as models into adult life. Seeing two animals mating in nature may be a good way to introduce "baby-making."
  3. Preteen Years- At 10 years of age, she needs to know the basics of sexual intercourse and about menstruation. This is necessary at this age because she is being exposed to all sorts of sexuality around her in the billboards, TV programs, and in the movies. It is impossible to completely shield her from that exposure and so she needs to be protected by the information that you give her.
  4. Teenage Years- The research on sex and the teenagers clearly shows that it is unhealthy physically, psychologically, and socially for them to be sexually active. Even if teens did not become pregnant or acquire sexually transmitted diseases, sexual activity is not a good idea for teenagers because of the strong association with school problems, family conflicts, drug and alcohol usage, depression, and suicide.
  5. In Girls- Protect your child by teaching her at a young age that sex is to remain in marriage and continue to encourage her to wait. The costs of sexual activity are higher for girls and they need to understand the possible consequences of sterility (through sexually transmitted diseases), pregnancy, and single motherhood.
  6. In Boys- Your son needs to be taught that he also has consequences to being sexual active and that if he fathers a child, he will likely pay child support for 18 years. He should understand that his girl friends have feelings and can be deeply hurt by his treatment of them as sexual objects only.

Do the Following:

  1. Teach her sex education from an early age by treating your spouse with respect and affection.
  2. Answer his questions starting before school age about where babies come from (but just generally).
  3. Teach her that her bathing suit areas are private so that not even relatives can touch her there.
  4. Teach him that his bathing suit areas are private and not even relatives can touch him there.
  5. Make sure she understands the basics of sexual intercourse from 10 years of age.
  6. Teach him from 10 years that sex is safe and fulfilling in marriage and is often costly outside of marriage.
  7. Teach her by 10-years-old about menstruation (periods).
  8. Teach him in junior high that girls are to be treated well and treated with respect.
  9. Teach her to protect herself from predatory older males (who are several years older than she is).
  10. Teach them that waiting on sex is the healthy choice; research shows parents teaching this does make a difference.

 

THE SLEEPING CHILD
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Some of the most common concerns during infancy and early childhood center around sleep schedules and sleep behavior. Sleep at night consists of various sleep cycles, including brief periods of awakening. The amount of sleep needed varies greatly from child to child. The average amount of sleep needed per age is:

Age

Nighttime Sleep

Daytime Sleep

0-4 mo.

5 hr.

three or four, 1-3 hr naps

4-6 mo.

8 hr.

three, 1-3 hour naps

6-15 mo.

8-12 hr.

two, 1-3 hour naps

15 mo. to 3 yrs

8-12 hr.

one, 1-3 hour nap

Initially, normal newborns are used to being very near their mothers. Parents of babies less than 4 months need to be responsive to their infant's cries at all hours. These young babies require more comforting than older babies, and sleep schedules are only slowly established. Keep your baby's room dark and quiet at night, and do not talk or play with your infant during sleep time. Do not awaken your infant at night for feedings unless otherwise instructed by your doctor. At 4-6 months old, your baby no longer requires feedings at night. This is the age at which most infants begin to sleep all night, or at least 8 hours. Breast-fed infants may take a little longer than bottle-fed infants to sleep through the night. Also, after 3 to 4 months of age, your baby knows that her parents are caring and responsive to her needs, and does not need to be picked up every time she cries. Do not let your baby fall asleep in your arms before bed, because she then will expect to fall asleep in your arms when she wakes up in the middle of the night. Increased night awakenings may also occur with an illness and between 6 and 12 months during the time that your baby fears being separated from her parents.  Try to avoid bad sleep habits at these times.

Tips to help your infant of 3 to 4 months and older sleep at night:

  1. Remove his crib from your room.
  2. Keep a regular schedule for daytime and nighttime sleep, and establish a consistent bedtime ritual, meaning follow the same pattern every night before you put her down to sleep.
  3. Put your baby to sleep at the first sign of drowsiness, not when he is overly tired.
  4. Put your baby in her crib drowsy, but awake.
  5. Do not change his diapers during the night unless soiled or you are treating a bad diaper rash.
  6. Help her attach to a security object (such as a blanket, stuffed animal, or a certain audiotape) to ease her sleep transitions.
  7. Do not leave a bottle in his crib with him since this can cause ear infections and cavities.
  8. When your baby cries out during sleep, wait a few moments to see if she will return to sleep. If not, go in and check on her, speak briefly and in a soothing voice without removing her from her crib. Repeat every 10-15 minutes. She needs to learn to go back to sleep without being picked up.
  9. If your baby's sleep difficulty is associated with fever, fussiness, a worsening cold, or other signs of illness, please call your doctor for an appointment during office hours.
  10. Recommended reading: Solve Your Child's Sleep Problem by Richard Ferber.

 

SMOKING BY PARENTS
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A high percentage of mothers quit smoking while pregnant because of the dangers to her developing baby. However, many of these women return to smoking after her baby is born. For the sake of your child, many reasons exist for you to remain a nonsmoker.

Immediate Benefits of Remaining a Nonsmoker Include:

  1. Your baby will have a lower chance for colds.
  2. Your baby will have a lower chance for ear infections.
  3. As your child ages she will have fewer problems with allergies and asthma.

Long Term Benefits of Remaining a Nonsmoker:

  1. Your child's father is more likely to stop smoking if he does smoke.
  2. Children of nonsmoking parents have only about one-third the chance to take up smoking compared to the children of smoking parents
  3. Your health will be better (fewer colds, pneumonia, and serious illness including cancer, heart disease, and strokes), making your time with your child of a higher quality and longer lasting.

While it is important to teach your child to take care of his body by avoiding smoking, drugs, and excessive alcohol, research shows that your child is much more likely to be influenced by your example than by what you tell him. So teaching him that he should avoid smoking or chewing tobacco does not work well if you use tobacco yourself.

 

STUTTERING
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General Information:

It is normal for children to repeat words and mispronounce words as they are beginning to speak between 18 months and 5 years of age.  A more severe repetition of words with hesitation and pauses in speech, found four times as often in boys as girls, occurring especially when a child is tired or has a fear of talking is true stuttering.

Repeating words or syllables occurs because the mind can form words faster than the child can speak them. The child may then become tense as he tries to correct the problem especially if he is corrected by parents or other adults. As he becomes more tense the stuttering will become worse which then causes him to lose confidence and stutter more. Mild stuttering usually resolves in a few weeks to months if handled properly. Mispronunciation of words usually goes away slowly over 1 to 2 years. Severe stuttering can take a long time to resolve if it is not treated.

Treatment:

  1. Encourage conversation- Sit down and have a pleasant, relaxing conversation with your child at least once a day.
  2. Do not correct his speech- Correction at this point will increase the chances of your child feeling pressured so that he might develop worse problems with his speech.
  3. Do not interrupt his speech- Give him ample time to finish his sentence and do not allow siblings to interrupt either.
  4. Do not ask your child to repeat himself or start over- Try to determine what your child wants by questions or guessing not by making him repeat what he has to say.
  5. Do not ask your child to slow down when speaking- Try to serve as a model for leisurely speech and try not to act in too much of a hurry when talking to him.
  6. Do not label your child as a stutterer- Also do not discuss his speech problems in front of him.
  7. Ask other adults to not correct your child's sppech.

Call Your Doctor If:

Call Your Doctor1. Your child is stuttering and is not improving, especially if he is more than 5 years of age.
2. Your child also has facial grimacing or tics.
3. Your child has become fearful about his speech even as you have tried to prevent that.
4. Your child's speech is markedly delayed or hard to understand when he is 3 years of age or older.
5. Your child has not improved with these suggestions and it has been more than 2 months.

 

 

The information contained within this website is no substitution for timely medical care.

Feel free to copy the information on this web site and give to friends and family. Contact Dr. Glenn Wood at
Carousel Pediatrics (512) 744-6000 We are located at 7112 Ed Bluestein Blvd., #100 - Austin, TX 78723

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