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Tag: Willows Pediatrics

Building an Early Literacy Toolkit

A favorite memory for many parents is reading aloud to their young children. But more than just a family routine or ritual, early and shared reading promotes early brain development and builds emotional bonds between parents and children during the critical early childhood years. Reading out loud, right from birth, is the foundation of your child’s literacy and a springboard for their future reading skills.

The Academy of Pediatrics has developed an Early Literacy Toolkit with ideas and suggestions that parents can adopt to support their child’s literacy. There is a toolkit for each critical age range in early childhood, infants up to 11 months, one year olds and two year olds. The advice in each toolkit takes advantage of the developmental stages at each age, so that parents can not only have fun, but do the most age appropriate activities to prepare their child for a life long love of reading and learning. Read More

Willows Pediatrics Talks About Helping Students Reduce Test-Taking Anxiety

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.

Travel To And From School Safely With Advice From Willows Pediatrics

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

The Mouths Of Babes: Willows Pediatrics Talks About Pediatric Dental Health

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.

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Tips from Willows Pediatrics for Traveling Safely With Your Family

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.

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Computerized Vision Testing At Willows Pediatrics Can Make A Big Difference

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.

Willows Wants You to Know About Tick Bites & Lyme Disease

Tick Bites

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

A “Symptom Checker” Tool To Help You At Home!

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.

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When Bullying Is A Problem, Willows Pediatrics Is Here to Help Your Child

Much of what we do at Willows Pediatrics concerns combating disease and maintaining physical health. Yet there is also a large behavioral and emotional component to being a pediatrician, and we do our best to counsel our patients and their parents as they go through developmental stages and experience life’s challenges.

We’ve read studies reporting that 20-30% of students in school are involved in bullying (either as the bully or the victim), making bullying an issue we would like to address.

Bullying is defined differently in different venues, but one accepted definition is that, a person is bullied when he or she is exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more other persons, and he or she has difficulty defending himself or herself.” The Westport Public Schools have a detailed bullying policy, which includes punishment for bullying behavior that takes place in school, on school property or at school-sponsored events.

Talking to your child is the most important part of keeping him or her safe. For young children you can play-act a bullying scenario and practice what he or she should say to a bully. It’s important to teach your child to use words like “Please do NOT talk to me like that” and actions like staying calm and knowing when to walk away. It is also important to let your child know that bullying is not his or her fault … and that he or she should not be afraid to ask an adult for help.

For older children, bullying can be more subtle and can also involve Cyberbullying. Since it can be harder to get teens and adolescents to open up, keep alert for changes in your child’s behavior such as frequent headaches, stomachaches, and frequently feeling down. Any of these could be a sign of bullying.

On the flipside, if your child is bullying others, we encourage you to take this very seriously. The AAP has noted that when bullies become adults they are much less successful in their work and family lives, and may even have trouble with the law. It’s best to treat these behaviors when children are young. Some things you can do include:

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A Safe Sleeping Environment Helps Protect Infants From SIDS And Other Sleep-Related Deaths

All of the doctors here at Willows are parents, and we’ve all experienced the jitters and uncertainty that can be part of becoming a parent for the first time. Taking care of newborns can be nerve-racking for sure. But with a little information and good parenting practices, we can help you ensure that your little one will be healthy and happy!

That said, one of new parents’ biggest fears is often sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). That term is applied to infant deaths that cannot be explained. Another term, sudden unexpected infant death (SUID) is used to describe any unexpected death from SIDS or causes such as suffocation, entrapment, arrhythmia and trauma. Today we want to address SIDS and the subset of SUIDs that occur during sleep.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently revised and updated its recommendations to reduce the risk of SIDS and sleep-related suffocation, asphyxia and entrapment in infants. Some, like getting regular prenatal care and voiding smoke, alcohol and drugs during pregnancy, are applicable before the baby is born. The remaining recommendations apply to infants up to one year of age and should be used consistently until your child turns one.

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