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Celebrate Reading!

1:30 to read

March 2 is National Read Across America Day, in honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday. What a great idea to promote reading.  While many of our children our engrossed in technology and read on line, I just don’t think it is the same as reading a book!  Call me old school, but I love turning an actual page.

I have just started to enjoy reading to my little grand-daughter, including all of my own favorites. I have pulled out Goodnight Moon, Pat the Bunny (she already likes to feel the soft bunny), The Little Engine That Could, and of course Madeleine.  At 6 months she sometimes seems to be not very interested, but at other times she looks right at you as you read aloud.  Starting good reading habits early on and I am looking forward to many years of reading to her and ultimately with her.

Celebrating Dr. Seuss’ birthday (and Read Across America) while reading with your own family is a great reason to pull out one of his many books.  This year’s selection is “Oh the Places You’ll Go”.  I have given this book as a baby gift as well as a graduation truly spans all ages and endeavors. 

The National Education Association is also promoting teaching children to read patiently.  It seems with so much information available at our finger tips...we all find ourselves quickly perusing one site or article and quickly clicking on the next.  This is a good time for us to all slow down a bit and enjoy some quiet and quality reading time.

Seeing that my middle son is getting married this week, I think it is a great time to read his copy of “Oh the Places You’ll Go” .....a great excuse for a minute of calm before a busy and joyful weekend!  Our family continues to grow...what a blessing.

Your Child

Your Child’s First Day at School


While I may have forgotten a lot of things in my life, I remember my first day of school. I was so excited because I actually recognized someone. Her name was Donna. We’d met in a department store a week earlier. We had both picked out the same umbrella, but there was only one – she said I could have it. We’ve been friends for life.

When my daughter began school, she experienced all the same emotions I had those many years ago; scared, excited and uncertain where to go and what to do next. She found a friend also and they wandered the halls together.

Some school districts have already begun their new school year, but for many kids - the bell will ring in the next couple of weeks.

Children aren’t the only ones that are anxious as the first day rolls around – parents can get quite nervous and have that feeling that their little one is growing up so fast- trust me I know. It’s a normal “things are about to change” emotion.

One tip I’d like to suggest before your little one starts school is to share your own first day memories with your child as well as pictures. It’s amazing how comforting it is for a child to know that their parents did the same thing at their age and lived to tell about it!

To help make the first day of school a little less scary for your child, here are some other tips from

•       Point out the positive aspects of starting school: It will be fun. She will see old friends. She will meet new friends. Refresh her memory about previous years, when she may have returned home after the first day with high spirits because she had a good time.

•       Remind your child that he is not the only student who is a bit uneasy about the first day of school. Teachers know that students are anxious and will be making an extra effort to make sure everyone feels as comfortable as possible.

•       Talk about the kinds of interesting things he will learn in the months ahead.

•       Buy him or her something (perhaps a pen or pencil) that will remind her you are thinking of them while they are at school, or put a note in their lunch-box.

•       Reassure your child that if any problems arise at school, you will help re­solve them. (If problems do occur, get involved as soon as possible.)

•       Find another child in the neighborhood with whom your youngster can walk to school or ride with on the bus. If your child is not going to ride a school bus and you feel it is appropriate, drive your child (or walk with her) to school and pick her up the first day.

•       Encourage him to look for new students in his classroom or in the play­ground, invite them to join the group for a game, and ask them about their interests.

•       After school, show your child some special attention and affection. Give him or her a hug and ask what happened at school. Did she have fun? Did he make any new friends? Does she need any additional school supplies (notebooks, rulers, erasers) that you can shop for together?

In addition to the suggestions listed above, your child may need some extra support if he or she is starting school in a new location. Here are some suggestions to make the transition easier.

•       Talk with your child about his or her feelings, both their excitement and their con­cerns, about the new school.

•       Visit the school with your child in advance of the first day. Teachers and staff are usually at school a few days before the children start. Peek into your child's classroom, and if possible, meet the teacher and principal. You might be able to address some of your child's concerns at that time. She may have no questions until she actually sees the building and can vi­sualize what it will be like. (When you formally register your child in the new school, bring her immunization record and birth certificate; usually school records can be sent directly from school to school once you sign a "release of information" form.)

•       Try to have your child meet a classmate before the first day so they can get acquainted and play together, and so your child will have a friendly face to look for when school begins.

•       Do not build up unrealistic expectations about how wonderful the new school will be, but convey a general sense of optimism about how things will go for your child at the new school. Remind him that teachers and other students will be making an extra effort to make him feel welcome.

•       If your child sees another student or a group engaged in an activity she is interested in, encourage her to ask if she can participate.

•       As soon as you can, find out what activities are available for your child in addition to those that occur during school itself. Is there a back-to-school picnic or party planned? Can he or she join a soccer team? (For community sports programs, sign-ups often begin weeks or even months before the start of the season.)

It’s been many years since my first day at school but I remember it well. Your child’s life is about to change forever, but that’s a good thing-another milestone in life’s progression. Give him or her a hug, wipe away the tears and smile a big smile. Let them know you trust them and are proud of them. Then go ahead and shed a few tears of your own when you’re back in the car. Yes, they are growing up fast. 

Story source:


Daily Dose

Parenting is Hard

1.30 to read

Did you read the online article about a mother selling her 4 tickets to the One Direction Concert on eBay? It seems that it may have been a hoax but the gist of the matter was this “fake” mother was selling tickets that she had purchased to take her daughter and friends to the concert. In the online post, the mother (using some very inappropriate language) said that she was selling her tickets to punish her daughter for her inappropriate behavior. 

I applaud parents who do set boundaries and limits which also means having consequences when children break the rules. In many circumstances taking away something often teaches children a lesson.  I disagree with posting it all over the internet. This is a discussion that can and should happen in the home, between parent and child (of any age), rather than sharing the issue and humiliating their child. 

I often relate a similar story with my own children when talking about consequences with parents. When my boys were about 7, 5 and 2 we had tickets to breakfast with Santa and a parade after that. The older boys had been before and really looked forward to this annual event.  They were at the age that they constantly bickered and fought (often) and it just wore me out. 

The day before the event I told them that if they did not stop fighting they would not go to breakfast with Santa.  Well, it must not have been an hour later that the older two were fighting and I said, “that’s it, you are not going to see Santa or the parade!”  I picked up the phone and called a friend who had two children and asked if she wanted to join us the following day to see Santa.  The following day the 2 year old and I left the house and the 7 and 5 year old starred out the window crying as I backed out of the driveway.  I will never forget those sad faces. I was equally sad as I too loved taking the kids to this annual, but they had just pushed and pushed. They still say they remember that punishment and my friend still has the picture of her kids on Santa’s lap! 

The moral of this is really two fold. A parent’s job is to be a parent and at times it is hard, really hard. But teaching children about consequences for their choices and behavior is one of the most important jobs a parent has. With that being said, humiliating your child is never appropriate, even when you are pushed to the limits.  Being a parent means you can’t resort to acting like your child.

Daily Dose

Parent Teacher Conference Time

What ever parent needs to know before they step into a parent teacher conference for their child.I can always tell when it is school conference time as my voice mails, emails and messages increase and the messages all begin with, “we just came out of Susie’s school conference and need to talk to you”.

Now that school has been in session anywhere from 6-8 weeks, report cards are going home and teachers are having school conferences with parents to discuss their child’s progress. This is really an important time of year to start assessing a child’s progress in school, and to encourage a child to attain their maximum potential with the help of a teacher’s guidance. For younger children who are just starting school, it is important to discuss how a child is learning. Young children may show wide variations in learning, in other words you may see some 4 year olds who are already reading while others are not interested at all and only want to be on the playground. Although some schools “want” their pre-kindergarteners to be reading, not every child’s brain is  “ready to read” at the age of 4-5.  Many of my recent phone calls were from concerned parents who felt as if their child was “already behind”. It is hard to not “worry’ when you have been told by a teacher that your child is not yet reading and “everyone else is”, but many studies continue to show that not all children will be ready to read in pre-K or kindergarten. I think that the most important milestone for a child of this age is that they are being read to every evening and are getting an opportunity to “tell their own stories” even if they are not interested in trying to sound out words. It is really too young to begin testing a child for reading difficulties, as their brain may just not be ready to decode words.  They just need a little more time to see how they progress. The same thing is true developmentally for focus and activity. A preschool child and new kindergartner still want to spend a great deal of their day “playing”. It is very hard to decide what is “hyperactive” in a 4-5 year old who may not be quite ready to sit in a chair and work on pre-reading worksheets, but long to be outside swinging and climbing. A child of this age may not be “ready” to follow 3 different instructions by a teacher who wants them to “put up their backpack, get out their book for reading, and then color the worksheet”.  They may on the other hand be capable of following instructions to “put up their backpack, feed the fish and then go outside to play.” The difference in following instructions may not be due to an auditory processing disorder but rather a child’s different interests at this age. As a child gets older and approaches the 5 -6 year old age many of them will developmentally begin to sound out words or to follow more complex directions or to “sit still “ a little longer. We just need to give some of these pre-schoolers and new kindergartners a chance and watch and wait as they mature. Some may indeed have issues with attention or reading problems or auditory processing problems but the important message is that it is just too soon to “label” them or to test them for learning disabilities. I would also discourage “labeling a child” who has not even started  elementary school. So, when you talk to your teaches this Fall, listen and discuss any concerns your teacher may have,  but don’t be too quick to label  your 4-6 year old  They are still changing and growing  as are their young brains. We seem to be trying to get this age to “conform” and some may just need a little more time.  Have your teacher give you ideas of ways to work with your child at home. Be patient and consistent and let’s see what the next 4-5 months brings when it will be time for another conference. That’s your daily dose for today.  We’ll chat again tomorrow. Send your comment or question to Dr. Sue!

Daily Dose

Dog Flu Is Going Around

1:15 to read

Funny time of year for me to be blogging about flu?  Well, now it is “dog flu” that has been spreading across the United States.  Dog flu is caused by an influenza virus and is a contagious respiratory disease in dogs. There have not been any reported human infections with either of the viruses that cause dog flu.  The viruses are also of the Influenza A variety and cause symptoms similar to those seen in humans including cough, runny nose, fever, lethargy and at times severe respiratory symptoms including pneumonia. Sadly, there have been dog deaths reported due to this infection. 

Because dog flu is a fairly new virus now being seen in the United States, most dogs have never been exposed to this virus.  Due to this, just like new influenza types in humans, most dogs that are exposed (about 80%) may develop dog flu but remember most will have mild symptoms and just require supportive care including extra fluids and rest.

If you are concerned that your dog may be showing signs of dog flu there is a test that your vet may administer ( just like we do flu tests for kids!). Extremely ill dogs, especially young puppies or pregnant dogs may have a harder time handing the virus ( again, does this sound familiar?).

But, the main thing to know is that this flu is not being seen in humans.  There is a vaccine for one of the types of dog flu and the veterinary community it working on other vaccines.

So, no need to worry about the kids and their pet dog!!  Just like your children make sure your dog is up to date on their vaccines, gets a healthy diet, exercises daily, has enough sleep and enjoys lots of family time too. But,  this is a good time to remember that human flu vaccine will begin to be available by the end of the summer. But don’t worry, I will remind you! 

Daily Dose

Santa & The Pediatrician

1:30 to read

Guess what?  I recently had the opportunity to talk with Santa Claus and I discovered that our “jobs” have many similarities.  He was telling me how much he liked this time of year as this is when he really had the time to sit down and talk with the children…often one on one, and many times not within their parents’ earshot, (parents too busy trying to get a cute picture, right?)  He pointed out that children of all ages come to see him, just like a pediatrician.  He too has the little ones who just cry hysterically throughout their time on Santa’s lap, to the school aged children who could happily sit there for hours,  and then the adolescents who may be “made” to sit on Santa’s lap once last year.  Sounds similar to my office.

The other thing that Santa and I had in common is all of the different topics that children feel comfortable discussing with us.  Santa said that not all of the girls and boys that sit on his lap just want to list the toys and gifts that they want for Christmas.  Many of the children have “other” issues that they want to open up about. Santa said that over the years children had confided in him about any number of issues, including parents marital problems, money problems, being homeless and even about abuse.  How is Santa supposed to deal with all of these difficult issues in a 2-3 min “scheduled” lap sitting appointment?  But, Santa did say that he feels the need to be a good listener and that sometimes he has even had to deal with an issue….after hours, once the kids had gone and he could make some calls to the appropriate people.

While I realized that Santa had a difficult job with long hours and lots of people wanting to see him, I did not realize that he had to have a lot of wisdom, empathy and a reassuring voice to let children know that he would not only “work” on getting the toys that they wanted, but that he was also there to help them with other needs.

Who knew that Santa and I would have such a kinship.  I am so happy to know that Santa has had a lot of practice over the years…and knows how to handle so many situations. 

So, when that line to sit on Santa’s lap is moving slowly,  just remember he might be in the middle of a delicate discussion that needs to be tended to before it is your child’s turn.  Santa will listen.  

Your Teen

“See it before you sign it”. Fire Safety for Off College Campus Living


Whether it’s in the spring, fall, winter or summer, many college kids will eventually move to off campus living quarters. Parents and students typically have time to do research on the areas around campus that are for rent. However, there are some fire prevention safety tips that you might not have thought about.

The best advice to help keep your college student safe is… don’t sign on the dotted line until you’ve actually seen the apartment or house.

Why? Because about seven people every year, die in fires in dorms, fraternities, sororities and off-campus housing.

Since 2000, nearly 120 people have died in campus fires, according to a U.S. Fire Administration (USFA).

Off-campus housing tops the list for fires.

Most (94 percent) fatal campus fires took place in off-campus housing, according to incidents examined by USFA between 2000 and 2015.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has teamed up with USFA, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and Campus Firewatch to help get this warning out. Don’t sign a contract for housing until you see it yourself. That goes for Mom and Dad too. See it, take a housing tour and make sure you look for:

#1 Working smoke alarms

Make sure there are working smoke alarms on every level and inside each bedroom. Smoke alarms save lives. Fire sprinklers add lifesaving protection too.

USFA found that smoke alarms were missing or did not have batteries in 58 percent of fatal campus fires. None of the fatal fire locations had fire sprinklers.

#2 Two ways out of each room for a safe escape. Make sure all windows and doors open easily. You need to be able to get out if there is a fire. Two ways out are best.

#3 Campus or off-campus housing that can handle today’s electric power needs.

Laptop computers, phones, televisions and coffee makers take a lot of power. Some older homes may not be able to handle all the electrical demand by today’s students. USFA found that electrical issues caused 11 percent of the fires.

#4 Be in the know.

Make sure that your college student knows how to be responsible around alcohol and smoking. The USFA study found these two things involved in the majority of the fires.

Also, if your child is going to be cooking his or her own meals, a discussion about keeping an eye on the food when it is cooking and avoiding distractions is a necessity.

College is a time of new and exciting beginnings. Be sure to “See it before you sign it” for off-campus housing so that an overlooked danger doesn’t have a chance to bring precious college years to an abrupt and devastating end.

Story source:


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What every parent needs to know about teen suicide.

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