Whether it’s the CMTs, the SATs or a middle school math final, the doctors at Willows Pediatrics know that test-taking can cause anxiety in students. In fact, children who are anxious might even perform below their true abilities when taking a test.
According to Sian Beilock, a cognitive scientist at the University of Chicago and the aother of Choke: What The Secrets Of The Brain Reveal About Getting It Right When You Have To, “when students are anxious, their worries use up some of their working memory, leaving fewer cognitive resources to devote to the test.”
The good news is that test anxiety can be easily relieved. A recent article in Time magazine said that having students spend about 10 minutes prior to taking a test writing about their thoughts and feelings—a practice called expressive writing—proved helpful. Students’ test scores significantly improved after engaging in expressive writing.
Another writing exercise asked students to write briefly about something they valued and to describe why it matters to them. This values-affirmation exercise also improved test performance.
In addition, it’s important for students to learn how to prepare for a test. Instead of just reading over notes, they should practice answering questions in the same way they will be posed on a test. As one psychologist in the Time magazine article said, “You would never just read over your lines and show up on the opening night of the school play, right?” It’s the same thing with test-taking.
Finally, never underestimate the power of deep breathing. Relaxing before a test by focusing on breathing and on tensing then relaxing muscle groups can have a huge effect in reducing test anxiety!
If your student has severe test-taking anxiety, please feel free to talk make an appointment for a behavioral consultation. We can also refer our patients to mental-health professionals when necessary.
Willows Pediatrics. We advocate a diet full of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, dairy and whole grains. And while we know that some parents purchase organic fruits, vegetables and meats for their families, we recently learned that organic food is not a nutritionally essential part of a child’s diet.
A new AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) clinical report found that while there are certain benefits to consuming organic products—most significantly the absence of pesticides—these foods are not more nutritious than regular produce. This is the first time the AAP has spoken on this issue.
Here’s what the report concluded:
While organic foods have the same vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, proteins, lipids and other nutrients as conventional foods, they also have lower pesticide levels, which may be significant for children. Organically raised animals are also less likely to be contaminated with drug-resistant bacteria because organic farming rules prohibit the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics.
Regarding the impact of pesticides on children, the AAP said it was unable to make a definitive statement:
“At this point, we simply do not have the scientific evidence to know whether the difference in pesticide levels will impact a person’s health over a lifetime, though we do know that children–especially young children whose brains are developing–are uniquely vulnerable to chemical exposures,” said Joel Forman, MD, FAAP, a member of the AAP Council on Environmental Health and one of the lead authors of the AAP clinical report.
Now that we’ve got a month of school under our belts here in Fairfield County, Willows Pediatrics thought it would be a good time to share some tips for school-travel safety with parents of school-aged children.
We love seeing kids in Westport, Fairfield and other local towns walking, biking and even skateboarding to school! It’s reminiscent of a simpler time, it’s a wonderful way to get the blood flowing (and get the “wiggles” out), and it’s great exercise too!
But here are a few things to remember if you get to school by foot. Read More
A baby’s first tooth is something that most parents will always remember! From the way it changes that cute smile to the teething issues it causes, the eruption of a tooth is a pretty big deal. Yet, with all of the other things parents and caregivers must do to care for a baby or toddler, those tiny teeth are often neglected … sometimes with painful results. Today Willows Pediatrics wants to remind you to brush your child’s teeth.
Believe it or not, dentists across the nation report that they are seeing more preschoolers at all income levels with 6 to 10 cavities or more! And recently the Centers for Disease Control found that the number of preschoolers requiring extensive dental work has increased for the first time in forty years. Several factors may be at work here.
With the end of the school year just around the corner, many families are planning vacations and trips. Whether it’s a road trip to Vermont or a vacation to an exotic locale, Willows Pediatrics thinks there are some safety and health issues you should consider before you depart.
We’ve talked before on the blog about car seats and the importance of making sure your child is safely restrained in the car. But what about flying in an airplane? Are young passengers safe in a parent’s lap?
The Federal Aviation Administration just came out with some guidance. According to the FAA “not all safety seats are suitable for use in an aircraft,” so the website offers information about FAA-approved seats and safety devices like harnesses for traveling with kids. The FAA does not require, but strongly encourages the use of safety seats in children under 40 pounds. And we agree. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently wrote about its support of the FAA’s safety education efforts as well.
Willows Pediatrics offers non-invasive computerized vision testing for children starting between six and nine months of age and up to the age of four. The test, Enfant Computerized Vision Testing, can diagnose eye and vision problems in pre-verbal children and allows for early treatment of issues ranging from “lazy eye” (amblyopia) to more serious eye diseases.
Recently, Dr. Jeffrey Owens performed the test on a six-month baby girl. The results indicated a possible problem, so she was referred to a specialist and eventually to an ophthalmic oncologist at Yale University. She was diagnosed bilateral retinoblastoma, a rare and serious form of cancer. The good news is that the disease has a high survival rate if treated early.
A video about this case is available for you to view at this link: http://youtu.be/Rx-n2CkGo1g. We hope you will take a few moments to watch it. As you can see, the patient, her parents and all the physicians at Willows Pediatrics are thrilled with the outcome.
As warm weather approaches (rather early this year!), we know that kids will be playing outside. Here in Westport and in the surrounding towns, wooded areas are home to deer … and along with the deer come deer ticks. So Willows Pediatrics thought it would be a good idea to review our recommendations on tick bites and Lyme disease today.
We have an excellent article on tick bites on our blog, and we encourage you to read it thoroughly. In essence, we recommend that parents or caregivers do a daily inspection for ticks. The reason daily checks are important is because we know that a tick must be on the body for 36-48 hours to pass any illness to humans. If a tick is promptly found and removed, Lyme can be prevented.
If you find a tick, remove it using tweezers. (We suggest you purchase a pair of fine-nosed tweezers specifically for this purpose.) Grab the base of the tick against the skin with and steadily pull the tick out. Don’t worry if part of the head, or part of a limb cannot be removed, as the disease-carrying portion of a tick is the abdomen. After removing the tick you can keep the bite area clean with soap and water and apply a topical antibiotic for a few days. Read More
Please Note: Even though head lice may be a nuisance, before checking or treating your child it is helpful to remember they don’t cause serious illness or carry any diseases.
What are head lice?
Head lice are tiny insects. They are about 2 mm to 3 mm long. Their bodies are rectangular shaped and usually pale gray in color. Head lice feed on tiny amounts of blood from the scalp. Lice typically survive less than a day if not on a person’s scalp.
When a child has lice, the first thing you may notice is itching, especially in the nape of the neck or behind the ears. If you look, you will probably see nits – these are tiny white eggs and shell casings that are attached to the hair. Nits are oval or teardrop shaped and attach to the hair via a sticky substance that holds them firmly in place. After the eggs hatch, the empty nits remain attached to the hair shaft until they are physically removed. It is also possible to see lice moving on the scalp, but more commonly parents see the nits first. Read More
One of the questions we are asked fairly often here at Willows Pediatrics is, “when is it appropriate to leave my child home alone?” It’s an interesting topic, and one we will address today.
Most states, like Connecticut, do not have laws regarding a minimum age for a child to be left alone. Here’s what our state has to say about it:
Connecticut law does not specify at what age a child may be left home alone. When deciding whether or not to leave a child home alone, a parent should consider the child’s age. Many experts believe that children should be at least 12 years of age before they are allowed to stay home alone. Experts also believe that children should be over the age of 15 before caring for a younger sibling. Read More
If you’re out of town or can’t make it into Willows Pediatrics when your child gets injured or seems ill, there’s a new online tool for you! HealthyChildren.org has developed a KidsDoc Symptom Checker app that may very well become one of your most-used apps.
We like the app because it offers advice derived from clinical protocols … plus definitions of diseases and decision charts about when to call us or to call 911.