Thursday, June 24, 2004

Harry Potter; Television & kids

I am a big fan of the Harry Potter series. Yesterday I watched the third movie in the series & enjoyed it. I think it provides so much creativity & imagination for kids to use in their own life.
However it set me thinking about the time children nowadays are spending indoors, whether watching TV, playing video games, or gong to watch highly publicised movies. I feel that certain amount of time is needed for children to indulge in what some adults would describe as 'timepass' or unstructured activity. This would necessarily involve cutting down on TV time for most children.
Limit children's daily viewing to one or two hours.
Parents to choose and decide what the child should watch. Avoid frequent channel changing.
Watch TV with your children.
Discuss the programmes soon after viewing. Find out the effects these shows had on the child and correct any faulty impressions.
Discuss TV violence. Talk about how TV characters solve their problems, and see if you and your children can find more realistic solutions.
Encourage alternative methods of spending leisure time like hobbies, outdoor games, peer group interactions etc.
Ban programmes you strongly oppose and tell your children the reason for your stand.
Encourage watching good programmes. Explain to your children the harmful effects of watching unrealistic excessively simplistic and violent programmes.
Avoid commercials. Teach children how advertisers attempt to manipulate viewers.
Become active in determining local programming. Call or write to local stations to express your approval and disapproval of content of programmes as well as commercials.

TV viewing can have a lot of negative effects for the young mind; lack of exercise, obesity, decreased creativity & language skills, eye strain, decreased sensitivity to violence, academic problems, irrational fear (by watching scary programs) are some of the well known issues. Young minds are easily swayed by popular heroes & may indulge in dangerous activities (like jumping of buildings after watching 'Shaktiman' an Indian equivalent of Superman).
A recent study in Pediatrics journal seems to even indicate that TV exposure in young children (1-3 years) may increase the chances of ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) in children & reduce their attention span!
Kids try to copy adults, so if you stop watching the sports channel & the 'saas & bahu' TV serials, rest assured there will be more quality time for you & the kids.
For more baby issues log on to Charak Clinics

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Bed wetting crisis!

It is known that between 10 percent and 15 percent of children aged 6 and 7 wet the bed on a regular basis. However only about 1 percent to 2 percent of kids continue to wet the bed by age 14 or 15.
So when do we as parents start worrying about bedwetting?
Well, no treatment is needed before the age of 6 - 7 years.
However before treatment one needs to clearly understand that bed wetting is NOT a psychological problem. Your child is not lazy, mentally slow, or having stress. Tha theory is out of the window! It is a lack of the maturation of the connection between the brain & the urinary bladder. One way of looking at it is that just as some children start walking late or speaking at a later age, similarly some children get bladder control later.
So how to help our child?
We need to understand that there is a lot of social stigma attached to this problem & if untreated there can be a definite loss of self esteem in the child.
Also this is a fixable problem, so do consult your pediatrician.

Steps to control Nocturnal Enuresis (fancy name for bed wetting!)
Increase water & fluid intake in the day!
Reduce water & fluid intake 3-4 hours before sleep time.
Ensure complete passage of urine by asking the child to preferably void twice during each visit.
If possible ask the kid to 'hold on' to the urine for sometime before using the loo. This will exercise the bladder muscles.
Peeing before bedtime is always a good idea.
DO NOT scold the child inasmuch as you would not scold a child for speaking at a later age! He is not doing it on purpose.
Try to elicit his co-operation & give him responsibility by asking him to change into dry clothes on his own.
Use POSITIVE reinforcement, small gifts for small successes in keeping the child dry. A calendar in the room with stars for dry days may work wonders.
Bed wetting alarms & medicines have a good track record in tackling this problem.
So bottomline in a child above 6/7 years with persistent bedwetting, dont wait, fix up an appointment now!
For more info about baby problems, read more articles at charak clinics

Saturday, June 19, 2004

How NOT to increase breast feed!

The Food & Drug Administration (FDA), USA has recently issued a warning that Domperidone, (commonly available in India under various brand names like Domstal, Emitin etc.) should NOT be used by mothers to enhance breast feeding (Reuters health, June 8th). This may lead to heart problems & even sudden deaths in the mother. This information once again highlights the need for pediatricians (& general public) to keep abreast of latest medical information, & not get swayed by various medical representatives claiming “safe” unapproved use of medicines.

TIPS to increase breast milk production include:

Always allow the baby to try Breast milk before trying any supplemental feed;

Increase fluid intake in mother’s diet;

Relaxed position while breastfeeding (for the baby & mother);

Be confident in your ability to breast feed (take the help of more experienced mothers/ grandmothers);

Try not to Bottle Feed; it can cause what is known as ‘nipple confusion’ in the baby wherein he may have difficulty in sucking on the breast. It is preferable to use a spoon & katori (bowl) for supplemental feed.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Power windows can be dangerous!

I recently came across a news article (ABC news) from the US stating that more than 7 toddlers have died due to injuries suffered by power windows. Makes me wonder about the safety fo these devices in the Indian context!?
Few tips though,
Parents should never leave children unsupervised in or near a car.
Parents should never leave the keys in a car (becasue most power windows are only activated with the key in the ignition).
Remember that the windows are powerful and potentially dangerous, with up to 80 pounds of pressure as they roll up!
For more information on car safety & kids check out (definite american bias here, but relevant tips for all)