How to Prepare Your Older Children for a New Baby

A new baby brings joys and challenges to a family. You’re excited, but you may also be nervous about how your older children will react to the newborn.

All sorts of questions come up: How should we tell our older children that they are going to have a baby brother or sister? Will they be jealous of the new baby? How can we help them get along? 

Children of different ages will react differently to a new baby.

Knowing what to expect from each age group will make it easier to handle the changes in your family.

Toddlers – Ages 1 To 2 Years

Children of this age will not understand much about what it means to have a new brother or sister. However, let your child hear you talk about the “new baby” and feel your excitement. She may not understand why you are excited, but your attitude will rub off on her and she will feel excited too.

Keep in mind, you may not be able to satisfy the needs of both children all the time—especially not by yourself. If you feel overwhelmed, look to your partner, other relatives, and friends for support and an extra set of arms.

  • Look at picture books about a new baby. At the very least, your child will become familiar with words like “sister,” “brother,” and “new baby.”
  • When the new baby arrives, try to do something special for your older child. Reassure her that she is still loved. Some ideas include giving her a special gift, letting her spend some time alone with dad, grandma, or another special adult, or taking her someplace special.

Preschoolers – Ages 2 To 4 Years

At this age, your child is still very attached to you and does not yet understand how to share you with others. Your child also may be very sensitive to change and may feel threatened by the idea of a new family member. Here are some suggestions that may help ease your preschooler into being a big brother or big sister.

  • Wait a while before telling your preschooler about the baby. Explain it to your child when you start buying nursery furniture or baby clothes or if he starts asking about mom’s growing “stomach.” Picture books for preschoolers can be very helpful. So can sibling classes (ask your hospital if it offers them). Try to tell your child before he hears about the new baby from someone else.
  • Be honest. Explain that the baby will be cute and cuddly but will also cry and take a lot of your time and attention. Also, make sure that your older child knows that it may be a while before he can play with the new baby. Reassure your child that you will love him just as much after the baby is born as you do now.
  • Involve your preschooler in planning for the baby. This will make him less jealous. Let him shop with you for baby items. Show him his own baby pictures. If you are going to use some of his old baby things, let him play with them a bit before you get them ready for the new baby. Buy your child (boy or girl) a doll so he can take care of “his” baby.
  • Time major changes in your child’s routine. If you can, finish toilet training or switching from a crib to a bed before the baby arrives. If that is not possible, put them off until after the baby is settled in at home. Otherwise, your child may feel overwhelmed by trying to learn new things on top of all the changes caused by the new baby.
  • Expect your child to regress a little. For example, your toilet-trained child might suddenly start having “accidents,” or he might want to take a bottle. This is normal and is your older child’s way of making sure he still has your love and attention. Instead of telling him to act his age, let him have the attention he needs. Praise him when he acts more grown-up.
  • Prepare your child for when you are in the hospital. He may be confused when you leave for the hospital. Explain that you will be back with the new baby in a few days.
  • Set aside special time for your older child. Read, play games, listen to music, or simply talk together. Show him that you love him and want to do things with him. Also, make him feel a part of things by having him cuddle next to you when you feed the baby.
  • Ask family and friends to spend a little time with your older child when they come to see the new baby. This will help him feel special and not left out of all the excitement. They might also give him a small gift when they bring gifts for the baby.
  • Have your older child spend time with dad. A new baby presents a great opportunity for fathers to spend time alone with older children.

School-Aged Children – Ages 5 and above

Children older than 5 years are usually not as threatened by a new baby as younger children are. However, they may resent the attention the new baby gets. To prepare your school-aged child for a new baby,

  • Tell your child what is happening in language she can understand. Explain what having a new baby means and what changes may affect her—both the good and the not so good.
  • Have your older child help get things ready for the new baby by fixing up the baby’s room, picking out clothes, or buying diapers.
  • If possible, have your older child come to the hospital soon after the baby is born so she feels part of the growing family.
  • When you bring the new baby home, make your older child feel that she has a role to play in caring for the baby. Tell her she can hold the baby, although she must ask you first. Praise her when she is gentle and loving toward the baby.
  • Do not overlook your older child’s needs and activities. Let her know how much you love her. Make an effort to spend some time alone with her each day; use that as a chance to remind her how special she is.

Source: Adapted from Sibling Relationships (Copyright © 2007 American Academy of Pediatrics, updated 3/2007). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

Is it safe for families to travel yet?

​​​​​After more than a year of “pandemic ​life,” we are all eager to return to some sense of normalcy. For many families, this includes traveling. ​But for families with young children who aren’t able to get COVID-19 vaccines yet, it’s still complicated. Here’s why.

Vaccines are key

Federal experts who warned about the dangers of travel earlier in the pandemic now say fully vaccinated​ people can safely travel, with some common-sense precautions. However, they still advise against any nonessential travel for unvaccinated​ individuals. And, the problem is, vaccines aren’t yet available for children under age 12. This means that while parents who are vaccinated are protected, traveling now may still put their younger children at risk. 

While most cases of COVID-19 infections in children are mild, some do become severely ill.  Thousands of children have been hospitalized for COVID-19, and hundreds have died. In addition, Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children is a condition that has been unique to children during this pandemic and can be quite serious.  

If you decide to travel

Not all vacations or trips carry the same risk. For example, traveling by car to a vacation rental home is much safer than flying to a busy hotel to spend the week at a crowded beach. The key is to think about number of close contacts you’ll likely have during the course of your travel plans.  The more contacts, the higher the risk. 

There are steps you can take to lower travel risks:

  • ​Have everyone in your family who is eligible (12 years and older) and those whom you plan on visiting, get their COVD-19 vaccine. Many COVID infections come from household contacts. By ensuring everyone is vaccinated, you’ll limit the number of suspectable contacts. 
  • Check the COVID-19 spread rates where you plan to visit. Locations with high rates of community spread means higher risk of someone in your family being exposed to COVID-19.  If the intended destination has a high rate of spread, be extra cautious when in public. Keep in mind that outdoor activities are safer than indoor ones.   ​
  • On a plane, bus, train, or other form of public transportation, make sure everyone in the family wears a mask, even those who are fully vaccinated.Keep them on at the airport or station, too. The masks should cover the nose and mouth, and fit snugly with no gaps at the sides.
  • Try to travel by car if possible. While the airline industry has taken amazing steps in helping to lower the risk of COVID-19 transmission (HEPA air filters, air exchange, electrostatic spraying), traveling by car will limit your contact with the public. In addition, the road trip experience can be a great way for older children to see new places. During any rest stops, remember to wear masks and wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. Also, consider packing your own food and snacks.
  • If you must fly: Try to look for direct flights when possible. That will limit the need to change planes and walk through busy airports. Plus, the shorter the flight the better, since longer flights raise the chance of infection. Keep your masks on for the entire flight; consider opting out of meals so you don’t have to remove them. Don’t forget to bring disinfectant wipes to sanitize all the high-touch areas.
  • Pack extra masks and hand sanitizers. Along with toothbrushes, diapers, and the portable crib, be sure to tote along those important pandemic essentials. Pack at least two masks per child in case one is lost or being washed after use. When packing hand sanitizer, include a travel-size dispenser that can be stored in a purse or backpack as well as a larger container for refills. Ensure that the hand sanitizer contains at least 60% alcohol.

Remember

COVID-19 has affected everyone and the past year has been stressful for families. The urge to travel might be tempting, but the pandemic is not over yet and it’s important to consider the risks.  As the vaccine rollout proceeds, your family will be able to enjoy a relaxing trip soon. ​


​American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright ©2021). By Gary Kirkilas, DO, FAAP, a general pediatrician at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

11 Ways to Encourage Your Child to Be Physically Active

​​​​​Did you know that only about 1 in 4 children get the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity per day?

Participation in all types of physical activity drops dramatically as a child’s age and grade in school increase. It’s important that physical activity be a regular part of family life. Here is some information to help you keep your children healthy and active.

The Benefits of Physical Activity

Being physically active means moving enough to breathe heavily, be short of breath, feel warm, and sweat. Exercise is vital to the health and well-being of children. Physical activity helps build and maintains healthy bones, muscles, and joints, for example. It can help keep a healthy body mass index and reduce the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease later in life. It can help children fall asleep quickly and sleep well.

Beyond benefits to the body, physical activity also boosts a child’s mental and behavioral health. It increases a child’s enthusiasm and optimism and boosts self-esteem, school performance, attention and behavior. It also reduces anxiety, tension and depression. It can also fosters teamwork and friendship when it’s part of an organized sport.

11 Ways to Get Started

Parents can play a key role in helping their child become more physically active. Some suggestions:

  1. ​Talk with your child’s doctor. Your child’s doctor can help your child understand why physical activity is important. Your child’s doctor can also help you and your child identify sports or activities that may be best for your child.
  2. Emphasize fun. Help your child find a sport that she enjoys. The more she enjoys the activity, the more likely she will be to continue it. Get the entire family involved. It is a great way to spend time together.
  3. Choose an activity that is developmentally appropriate. For example, a 7- or 8-year-old child is not ready for weight lifting or a 3-mile run, but soccer, bicycle riding, and swimming are all well great activities for kids this age.
  4. Plan ahead. Make sure your child has a convenient time and place to exercise.
  5. Provide a safe environment. Make sure your child’s equipment and where they practice or play is safe. Make sure your child’s clothing is comfortable and appropriate for the activity.
  6. Provide active toys. Young children especially need easy access to balls, jump ropes, and other active toys.
  7. Be a role model. Children who regularly see their parents enjoying sports and physical activity are more likely to do so themselves.
  8. Play with your children. Help them learn a new sport or another physical activity. Or just have fun together by going for a walk, hike, or bike ride.
  9. Set limits. Limit screen time, including time spent on TV, videos, computers, and video games​, each day. Use the free time for more physical activities.
  10. Make time for exercise. Some children are so over-scheduled with homework, music lessons, and other planned activities that they do not have time for exercise.
  11. Do not overdo activity. Exercise and physical activity should not hurt. If it becomes painful, your child should slow down or try a less vigorous activity. As with any activity, it is important not to overdo it. If exercise starts to interfere with school or other activities, talk with your child’s doctor.​

Getting the Entire Family Moving

Studies have found that lifestyles learned in childhood are much likelier to stay with a person into adulthood. If sports and physical activities are a family priority, they will provide children and parents with a strong foundation for a lifetime of health.

Remember…exercise along with a balanced diet provides the foundation for a healthy, active life. One of the most important things parents can do is encourage healthy habits in their children early in life. It is not too late to start. Ask your child’s doctor about tools for healthy living today.


Source: Adapted from “Encourage Your Child to Be Physically Active” (American Academy of Pediatrics Copyright © 2020). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

Feed Families, Not Landfills

Each year, Americans across the country are making difficult choices. Many people are forced to choose between buying food or buying medicine; parents are forced to go hungry so their children don’t, and working families are forced to choose between paying their utilities or putting food on the table.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, around 14 percent of American households do not get enough food to live active, healthy lifestyles. What makes this sad fact even harder to digest is this- a significant portion of the food tossed into our nations’ landfills is wholesome, edible food. By redirecting that unspoiled food from the landfill to our neighbors in need, an organization can support its local community; reduce its environmental impact, and save money.

What Kind of Food Can Be Donated?

Non-perishable and unspoiled perishable food can be donated to local food banks, soup kitchens, pantries, and shelters. Typical food bank donors include large manufacturers, supermarket chains, wholesalers, farmers, food brokers, and organized community food drives. Perishable and prepared foods are typically collected from restaurants, caterers, corporate dining rooms, hotels, and other food establishments for prompt distribution to hungry people in their communities. Donated food includes leftovers from events and surplus food inventory.

Check with your local food bank or food rescue operation (soup kitchen, shelter, etc.) to find out what items they will accept. Your local food bank will often pick up the donations free of charge, reducing warehouse storage and disposal costs.

Where Can I Donate Food?

Food pantries, food banks, and food rescue programs are available across the country to collect food and redistribute it to those in need. Local and national programs frequently offer free pick-up and/or reusable containers to donors

Food banks are community-based, professional organizations that collect food from a variety of sources and save the food in warehouses. The food bank then distributes the food to hungry families and individuals through a variety of emergency food assistance agencies, such as soup kitchens, youth or senior centers, shelters and pantries. Most food banks tend to collect less perishable foods such as canned goods because they can be stored for a longer time.

Food rescue programs take excess perishable and prepared food and distribute it to agencies and charities that serve hungry people such as soup kitchens, youth or senior centers, shelters and pantries. Many of these agencies visit the food bank each week to select fresh produce and packaged products for their meal programs or food pantries. Many also take direct donations from stores, restaurants, cafeterias, and individuals with surplus food to share.

Resources to Help You Find a Local Food Bank or Food Rescue Program in Your Area:

Feeding America – A national network of food banks that is the largest charitable hunger relief organization in America. It oversees the distribution of surplus food and grocery products through nearly 200 network affiliate food banks and nearly 50,000 charitable agencies. Locate a food bank near you.

Food Pantries – Allows you to search for food banks by state or by zip code.

AmpleHarvest.org – This nationwide effort aims to educate, encourage and enable gardeners with extra produce to easily donate to a local food pantry.
Rock and Wrap It Up! – An independent anti-poverty organization devoted to developing innovative greening solutions to the pressing issues of hunger and poverty in America. They cover over 500 cities and work with a national database of over 43,000 shelters and places of need.


Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (http://www.epa.gov/foodrecovery/fd-donate.htm). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

5 Parenting Goals to Start the New Year

​​​Helping to make your family stronger, safer and more harmonious may not require a complete overhaul, but rather a few strategic tweaks.

Here are five simple and concrete parenting goals to set for the year ahead.

1. Get everyone vaccinated for flu. The flu shot​ is the best way to protect yourself, your children, and other loved ones from the flu. It’s especially important this year as COVID-19 still spreads. ​Call your pediatrician to make sure your children are up-to-date on other immunizations. Teach them good hand hygeine​ habits as a way to help prevent the spread of germs.

2. Do good digital. What are your kids watching on TV and online? Devote some time to researching age-appropriate media. Make a family media use plan, and try to prevent gaming from becoming an unhealthy habit. Remember that screen time shouldn’t always be alone time. Watch a show together. Play a video game together. Understand what they are doing and be a part of it.

3. Get outside more. Spending time outdoors can be a great mood booster, and help families get physical activity and vitamin D while enjoying time in nature. Spending time outside also give your child’s eyes a healthy screen-time break.

4. Keep kids riding rear-facing as long as possible, up to the limits of their car seat. This will include virtually all children under 2 and most children up to age 4. If you are past the car-seat stage of parenting, congrats! If you’re still in the thick of it, check for any new car seat laws that may be going into effect in your state in the new year. Remind anyone who transports your child by car.

5. Practice some self-care. When was the last time you had a check-up? Got proper rest? Once a baby is no longer a part of your body, it’s easy to forget that tight association between how you care for yourself and how you care for your child’s health. We also know depression and anxiety can happen to both moms and dads during and after pregnancy. If this is you, you are not alone. Help is near.


Source: American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2020). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

RECIPE: Best-Ever Applesauce

This fall recipe will give you such a good I-can’t-believe-I-made-it-from-scratch feeling! Maybe because maple and apple trees grow in the same climate, the two flavors taste delicious together. Eat this plain, spoon it into yogurt, or eat it alongside potato pancakes, chicken, or pork.

Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

Kitchen Gear
Sharp knife (adult needed)
Cutting Board
Measuring cup
Measuring spoons
Medium-sized pot with lid
Wooden spoon
Potato masher or fork
Lidded container

Ingredients

  • 4 Granny Smith or other tart apples, peeled (if you like), and diced. “Diced” means cut up into cubes or squares about the size of dice.
  • ¼ cup water
  • 3 tablespoons
  • maple syrup

Instructions

Put the apples, water, and maple syrup in the pot, cover and put on the stove. Turn the heat to medium-low and cook until the apples are tender, about 30 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes to make sure the apples aren’t sticking. Set aside to cool a bit, about 10 minutes.

Mash the apples using a potato masher or fork, and set aside to cool until just warm.

Serve right away, or put it in the container and refrigerate until cold. The applesauce will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to 4 days.

Or Else…

  • Chunky Applesauce: Don’t mash the apples too much.
  • Nutty Applesauce: Add ½ cup chopped lightly toasted walnuts or pecans after it’s cooked.
  • Cranberry Applesauce: Add ½ cup fresh or frozen cranberries when you add the apples.
  • Rhubarb Applesauce: Add ½ cup chopped rhubarb when you add the apples.

Source: ChopChop Magazine – Fall Issue (Copyright ©2012). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

RECIPE: How to Get the Seeds Out of a Pumpkin

Before you can roast and eat its yummy seeds, and before you can turn it into a spooky jack-o’-lantern, you need to get the inside of your pumpkin out. This is a very fun and kind-of weird job. Wear short sleeves and clothes that can get messy!

Kitchen Gear:

  • Sharp, heavy knife (adult needed)
  • Large bowl
  • Large metal spoon
  • Colander
  • Dish towel

Instructions:

Cover your work surface with newspaper to protect it and keep your pumpkin from slipping. Fill the large bowl with water. Ask your adult to use the sharp, heavy knife to cut around the top of the pumpkin, making a lid with the stem in the middle. Pull the lid off.

Using the large metal spoon and your hands, scrape and pull all of the seeds and stringy stuff (this is pulp and fiber) out of the pumpkin. Put all the pumpkin seeds and guts into the bowl of water.

Using your fingers, separate the seeds from the pulp and fiber, and put the seeds in the colander (the stringy stuff is actually full of nutrients, so it’s okay if a little stays on). When you’ve got the all the seeds pulled off, rinse them under cold water, and spread them out evenly on the dish towel to dry a little before you roast them.

Did You Know?
You can roast and eat the seeds of other winter squash, such as butternut and acorn! Just cut the squash in half and separate, clean, and dry the seeds the same way you would for a pumpkin — then roast them.


Source: ChopChop Magazine – Fall Issue (Copyright © 2011) The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

YOUNG ADULT: Letting Go for College

All animals grow up and leave the nest. They go through their playful phase, practice adulthood, and then are on their own. Human children just play longer and their parents worry more. When children are ready for college, parents want that last time at home to be so special. It’s the last opportunity for family togetherness. It should be a perfect time. The last family vacation before the child leaves home should be idyllic. Why then does your daughter say, “Mom, I hate you. I’d rather be with my friends. It’s a good thing I’m leaving in August because I couldn’t stand one more minute in this prison”?

Because she is ready to cross a chasm, and it’s so much easier than saying, “I love you so much that I can’t even find the right words. You’ve done every thing for me. I’m petrified. Do you think I’m ready to go off on my own? Do you think you’ll miss me as much as I’m going to miss you?”

Adolescents challenge parents because they need to loosen one kind of connection—the one that involves parents’ assuming full responsibility for them. When challenged this way, it’s completely understandable for parents to feel hurt or even angry. If they don’t understand what is happening, parents may push harder to keep control. This only breeds resentment and ill feelings. But if they recognize that their teen is struggling for independence and learn to celebrate it, everyone will be healthier and less tense.

Every time kids behave badly or speak meanly to parents doesn’t necessarily reflect their growing independence or their conflicted emotions. Sometimes they might just be acting mean. They know a parent’s vulnerabilities.

Whether they are justifiably or unfairly angry, they can be masters at saying hurtful things. Often it’s a way of shouting, “Listen to me!” Perhaps they’re testing the waters to grab attention before they can bring up something that’s troubling them. If parents respond with anger and shut them down, they may feel justified for not sharing their concerns: “Remember, I was going to tell you, but then….” When parents listen and reserve judgment, their teenagers’ stories unfold.

But it’s OK to tell them when they hurt your feelings—not in a way that makes them feel guilty, but just a clear statement of fact that their behavior is inappropriate and hurtful. That is an important part of a parent’s job in building character. Even when kids challenge the parental connection, parents need to be consistent about one thing: Their love is unconditional and they will always be there for their children. With this clear message, parents say, “Go ahead—grow. I’ve got your back.”


Source: Less Stress, More Success: A New Approach to Guiding Your Teen Through College Admissions and Beyond (Copyright © 2006 Kenneth R. Ginsburg, MD, MsEd, FAAP Martha M. Jablow and Marilee Jones). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

Mood-Boosting Tips for Families During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Feeling connected to the people and world around us is a key part of good mental health. After months of social distancing for COVID-19, families are still spending less time with others as the pandemic continues. If cancelled summer plans like festivals, family reunions, and other gatherings have made it challenging to keep your family’s spirits up, you’re not alone. Here are some simple ways to help boost everyone’s mood during the pandemic:

Lighten up

Sunshine can help brighten mood. Try to spend 30 to 60 minutes outdoors daily with your children and other members of your family, whenever possible. Bright lights, especially in the early morning, can also help.

Get plenty of sleep

Try to help your children stick to bedtime routines so they get enough sleep each night. Some ways to help promote relaxation and a good night’s sleep:

  • A shower or bath before bed
  • A story, song, or relaxing music
  • A back, hand, or foot rub
  • A cool, dark room
  • Using the bed just for sleep (not using your phone, watching TV or doing work or homework)

Talk it out

Talk with your children and teens ​regularly and be a good listener. Parents can also benefit from finding a friend or family member to discuss worries and disappointments. If conversation cannot be in person because of social distancing, then connect by phone, video calls, or other virtual connection.

Help your Family Eat Wisely

  • Include protein-rich foods for breakfast and lunch. Protein helps keep your blood sugar stable and gives your brain the fuel it needs. Also, if possible:
  • Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Sources include fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring); plants (flaxseeds, chia seeds, dark leafy vegetables, kidney beans, pinto beans, soybeans, walnuts, tofu); and certain oils (canola, soybean, walnut). Research suggests a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids may help support mood.
  • Choose plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. They contain vitamins, fiber, and minerals your brain needs.
  • Limit junk food and fast food. They’re often full of fat, cholesterol, salt, and added sugars, which can cause spikes and slumps in energy that may leave us feeling irritable.

Go for gratitude

Focus on the positive. For what do you feel gratitude or appreciation? Research shows that regularly expressing gratitude helps boost overall happiness, leading to lower rates of stress and depression. Help your child write down at least three people, places, events, or things each day that make them feel thankful. Keep your own gratitude journal, too!

Step it up

Help your children to exercise or play so hard they break a sweat every day. When we exercise, our bodies release chemicals that can help boost mood. Remember to choose activities that help them stay at least 6 feet away from people outside your household. Also, try to avoid anything that involves sharing equipment such as balls, bats, and playground equipment.

Lend a hand

Helping other people makes us feel better about ourselves. It can be as simple as calling a neighbor or family member who is home alone or putting up a sign thanking people who deliver the mail. Help your children come up with at least one kind act each day. Keep a journal of all the things you and your family do for others—even the little things.

Manage screen time

Make a family media plan and limit your family’s exposure to TV and internet ads suggesting that buying things can make people happy. This will help limit messages about happiness that are false or unrealistic. It will also help you manage your family’s exposure to upsetting news. Consider instead: reading, playing cards or board games with family members, working a puzzle as a family, playing music or singing together, making a video to share, cooking together, or taking a family walk or bike ride.

Keep in mind: our electronic devices can also be used to create and maintain healthy social connections during the pandemic. You and your children may consider participating in online educational programs, virtual visits with grandparents and loved ones at higher risk from COVID-19, and participating in virtual online community events. It’s also good to become familiar with telehealth options offered by your doctor and your child’s pediatrician in case health questions arise.

Address stress

Try meditating as a family or other relaxation techniques such as yoga to help everyone decrease stress and improve mood. There are helpful mobile apps that that offer reminders take deep breaths and other tips to relax. Time in nature may help too.

What if your child’s mood doesn’t improve?

Sometimes, steps like these aren’t enough to improve your child’s mood or reduce their anxiety. Be sure to contact your pediatrician if you are concerned that your child is struggling with stress or anxiety or if you are worried they might hurt themselves or someone else. Your pediatrician can also help determine if underlying health conditions or medications may be causing mood problems. They can also connect you with other health professionals such as a psychologist, psychiatrist, or social worker.


By Kathi Kemper, MD, MPH, FAAP, a professor of Pediatrics at the Ohio State University College of Medicine. She is member of the AAP Section on Section on Integrative Medicine and is the author of Mental Health, Naturally: The Family Guide to Holistic Care for a Healthy Mind and Body published by the AAP. Last Updated: 6/24/2020. Source: American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Integrative Medicine and Mental Health Leadership Workgroup (Copyright © 2020). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.


Talking to children about COVID-19

There’s a lot of news coverage about the outbreak of COVID-19 and it can be overwhelming for parents and frightening to kids. The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages parents and others who work closely with children to filter information and talk about it in a way that their child can understand.

These tips can help:

  • Simple reassurance. Remind children that researchers and doctors are learning as much as they can, as quickly as they can, about the virus and are taking steps to keep everyone safe.
  • Give them control. It’s also a great time to remind your children of what they can do to help – washing their hands often, coughing into a tissue or their sleeves, and getting enough sleep.
  • Watch for signs of anxiety. Children may not have the words to express their worry, but you may see signs of it. They may get cranky, be more clingy, have trouble sleeping, or seem distracted. Keep the reassurance going and try to stick to your normal routines.
  • Monitor their media. Keep young children away from frightening images they may see on TV, social media, computers, etc. For older children, talk together about what they are hearing on the news and correct any misinformation or rumors you may hear.
  • Be a good role model. COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate and neither should we. While COVID-19 started in Wuhan, China, it doesn’t mean that having Asian ancestry – or any other ancestry – makes someone more susceptible to the virus or more contagious. Stigma and discrimination hurt everyone by creating fear or anger towards others. When you show empathy and support to those who are ill, your children will too.

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2020). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.