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Archive for the Child Health Category

Published on: November 28, 2015  

The Distraction of Digital Devices

I recently returned from a football game where I enjoyed a wonderful conversation with friends under the alumni tent. I realized that none of us took our phones out, played fruit ninja, scrolled through e-mails or flipped through Instagram and Tumblr posts.

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I have sat at restaurants where I’ve observed an entire table of friends and family glued to their phones…no eye contact, no “hey check this out,” not even a wink.

The food arrives and everything changes. The focus is on enjoying the food served and one another…there’s engagement.

Once the meal is over, out come the electronics and the eyes pierce through touch screens and absorb whatever informations flashes up at them.

This is an interesting and very well-written article that looks at how electronics use impacts our relationships. I hope you enjoy it!

Question: When do you think it’s an appropriate time (age, grade, etc…) for child to have their very own cell phone?

With Warmest Regards,

Dave Callies, Psy.D
Child & Adolescent Psychologist
Gyro Psychology Services
360-236-0206
866-616-4976 (gyro)

Published on: September 20, 2015  

No Sandwisch is More Important Than a Child’s Life

I remember one day in elementary school when a neighborhood friend of mine had a significant reaction to peanuts. Apparently one of the cafeteria cooks used a spoon that was previously used in peanut oil to stir spaghetti sauce. Within minutes of eating the spaghetti, my friend’s throat swelled to the point where he was unable to breathe. Fortunately adults responded quickly and he was taken to Children’s Orthopedic (CHRMC) and treated. This unfortunate incident resulted in an increased awareness about food allergies.

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This is an article about a parent who informs other parents of their child’s allergy to nuts and pleads with other parents to not to bring peanut butter or nuts to school for fear of exposure can be reduced by Tiny Tunes. The response from other parents is mixed and brings into question one’s sense of community vs. one’s personal needs. I’m curious to hear your take on this one.

I hope you enjoy this interesting article.

With Warmest Regards,

Dave Callies, Psy.D.
Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychologist
Gyro Psychology Services
360-236-0206
866-616-GYRO (4976)

Published on: June 14, 2015  

Summer is a Time for Learning & Discovery

This is such a beautiful time of year in the Pacific Northwest. Especially in the South Sound as Mount Rainier is seemingly in our backyard while the Olympics rise majestically out of the west. This truly is a special place to call home!

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Now that the school year has come to a close and you’ve accepted that your child has moved on to another grade, it’s time to think about summer. There is a certain frenzy that’s involved in this transition as we scramble to get our schedules and plans organized. Before looking forward, I hope you have a chance to look back for a moment and show and share your appreciation for your children’s teachers and all of those who encouraged and supported them this past school year.

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Thank you Ms. Jones and Ms. Burdick for a fantastic year of growth, learning, and discovery. Your desire to push Andrew and Allison just that much further, encourage them to explore and create and mature into independent learners is inspiring! Thank You!”

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I know some parents who have been planning summer activities for their kids since early spring while others are just getting started. There’s typically a family vacation planned, summer camps, visits with relatives, and family friends on the docket. Summer activities like sports or learning camps through larger organizations like the Olympia or Lacey Parks and Recreation, the Boys & Girls Club of Thurston County, the Hands On Children’s Museum of Olympia, and the WET Science Center are also favorites for many families.

Summertime for kids can take on a variety of different tempos. Many kids dream of the heavenly “video game summer” where they have unlimited access to their favorite games, go to sleep when they want, stay in their room as long as they want, text friends, video chat, Kik, and have a total free flow of activities or no activities at all. Sorry so say, but the free flow thing is not a healthy choice and typically leads to conflicts and frustrations.

Limiting the amount of screen time to 45-60 minutes a day is about right. Please consider healthier ways to engage your child besides screen time. It’s imporant! So, stand firm and resolute. Once you get past the tantrums and arguments, you and your child’s summer will open up to discovery and endless possibilities.

Most kids and teens know that summer means more free time within a set schedule of activities including keeping up with academics, daily exercise, eating healthy fruits and vegetables (hopefully, from your very own garden), and special family projects and activities.

Here are a few things that I like to tell parents about establishing expectations for their kids and teens during the summer:

Maintain a regular sleep-wake cycle. It seems as if sleep cycles are the first to change when summer comes around. Staying up super late and waking up at noon or so is not uncommon, especially for teens. Throwing the school-based sleep cycle out of whack becomes problematic for kids and parents as it’s hard to regulate how much sleep they are actually getting, the quality of their sleep, and the impact that it has on other activities.

I like to preserve the predictable and consistent sleep-wake cycle that was present during teh schhol year as much as possible. If a second grader is going to bed at 8:30 now, I will advise parents to add maybe 30 minutes to that, making bedtime 9:00p during the summer. Parents can add 60 minutes to their teens bedtime. Of course, there will be exceptions like family parties, travel, and special occasions.

Keeping a consistent sleep wake cycle for your kids and teens will insure that they get enough sleep, which will decrease fatigue and irritability, and make the transition back to a school-based schedule that much easier when September rolls around.

Maintain established routines and chores. Maintaining consistent morning and evening routines is a key to maintaining structure during the summer months. It’s good to write the sequence of activities down so that a visual reference is provided for your child. It’s also provides a nice platform to record how then are doing with routines as they can place a check mark next to each task once it’s completed.

Encouraging your child or teen to follow through with routines independently is the ultimate goal. Independence is a reflection of them mastering a task. Mastery leads to an increase in self-confidence, a feeling that they are contributing to the family, and the natural decrease in tension that comes with children having good follow through.

The primary goal here is for parents to take a step or two back from managing their child’s behaviors externally (verbal/visual reminders) so that the child can develop an internal process to manage these tasks on their own. Developing and following through with this process is a win for everyone involved.

Keep a daily and monthly calendar. Time is a difficult for adults to wrap their minds around and that much more challenging for kids and teens. Creating a daily schedule of activities for your children will provide a sense of structure to their day. Weekly and monthly calendars provides an opportunity to identify specific activities that will occur in the future. This provides an opportunity for your child or teen to work on their time management, organization and planning skills as they prepare for upcoming events and activities.

Giving your child the power to participate in the development of this schedule will result in the very best outcome. Creating a “summer schedule” as a family is the optimal approach!

Keep on learning and creating. Keeping up with reading, writing and math skills is an important component of any heathy summer schedule. That’s why I always recommend that kids spend at least one hour during the day to strengthen their reading, math and writing skills.

The trick is to integrate this into your child’s daily schedule of activities. This works best when learning activities are added onto an existing routine. I typically schedule structured learning activities right after their morning chores are complete. This is a common sequence of activities throughout the school year which makes the transition into structured learning during summer a whole lot easier.

Associating free time activities contingent on them completing chores, academics and other family responsibilities is another good practice. Instead of having an external motivator to get them moving (reward), it’s best to cultivate the excitement of discovery, learning and creativity in your child and follow their lead as they master the basic principals of math, reading and writing all while exploring their environment.

Helping them to be creative, inventive, and learn about things that they value and are curious about takes some time and patience but yields the greatest rewards.

Consider having learning and discovery be a part of your family culture…we are all life-long learners. Wondering, learning, making discoveries and being creative and inventive together, as a family (“it’s just what we do”) is something worth striving for.

Some parents create a learning box full of reading activities and separate box with activities for math. Other parents use grade/age appropriate workbooks that cover all subjects including science and physical fitness. I like to tackle writing by having kids develop a learning and creativity journal where they can write down things that they learned that day, inspirations and ideas. Adding sketches, pasting in movie ticket stubs, photos, and other collectibles, makes their “discovery journals” that much richer.

Sharing discoveries during family meetings or at the dinner table is a great way to encourage learning and sharing within your family. Some families also integrate a summer long learning project like mastering the basic maintenance of a car (changing oil, checking tire pressure, changing a tire, refilling transmission fluid and coolant, etc…), learning how to swim, trying a new activity like fashion design, acting, or playing a new instrument. The rewards are endless…

Please give us a call if you need some help mapping out your child’s summer schedule or are concerned about how your child or teen is managing the transition from school to summer, 360-236-0206. We’re here to help!

With Warmest Regards,

Dave Callies, Psy.D.
Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychologist
Gyro Psychology Services
360-236-0206

Published on: March 21, 2015  

BULLYING: Advice for Parents and their Kids

Parents can help kids and teens learn how to deal with bullying if it happens. For some parents, it may be tempting to tell a kid to fight back. After all, you’re angry that your child is suffering and maybe you were told to “stand up for yourself” when you were young. Or you may worry that your child will continue to suffer at the hands of the bully, and think that fighting back is the only way to put a bully in his or her place.

Crying

However, it’s important to advise kids not to respond to bullying by fighting or bullying back. It can quickly escalate into violence, trouble, and someone getting injured. Instead, it’s best to walk away from the situation, hang out with others, and tell an adult.

Here are some other strategies to discuss with kids that can help to improve the situation and help them feel better.

 

ADVICE FOR KIDS AND TEENS:

  • Avoid the bully and use the buddy system. Use a different bathroom if a bully is nearby and don’t go to your locker when there is nobody around. Make sure you have someone with you so that you’re not alone with the bully. Buddy up with a friend on the bus, in the hallways, or at recess — wherever the bully is. Offer to do the same for a friend.
  • Hold the anger. It’s natural to get upset by the bully, but that’s what bullies thrive on. It makes them feel more powerful. Practice not crying or looking red or upset. It takes a lot of practice, but it’s a useful skill for keeping off of a bully’s radar. Sometimes kids find it useful to practice “cool down” strategies such as counting to 10, writing down their angry words, taking deep breaths, or walking away. Sometimes the best thing to do is to teach kids to wear a “poker face” until they are clear of any danger (smiling or laughing may provoke the bully).
  • Act brave, walk away, and ignore the bully. Firmly and clearly tell the bully to stop, then walk away. Practice ways to ignore the hurtful remarks, like acting uninterested or texting someone on your cell phone. By ignoring the bully, you’re showing that you don’t care. Eventually, the bully will probably get bored with trying to bother you.
  • Tell an adult. Teachers, principals, parents, and even lunchroom personnel at school can and should help stop bullying by staying watchful and intervening when necessary.
  • Talk about it. Talk to someone you trust, such as a guidance counselor, teacher, sibling, or friend. They may offer some helpful suggestions, and even if they can’t fix the situation, it may help you feel a little less alone.

 

RESTORING CONFIDENCE:

Dealing with bullying can erode a child’s confidence. To help restore it, encourage your kids to spend time with friends who have a positive influence. Participation in clubs, sports, or other enjoyable activities builds strength and friendships. If school activities are out of the question because of bullies, consider community clubs and teams.

Provide a listening ear about difficult situations, but encourage your kids to also tell you about the good parts of their day, and listen equally attentively. Make sure they know you believe in them and that you’ll do what you can to address any bullying that occurs.

 

ADVICE FOR PARENTS:

  • Talk with and Listen to Your Children Everyday. Ask questions about their school day, including experiences on the way to and from school, lunch, and recess. Ask about their peers. Children who feel comfortable talking to their parents about these matters before they are involved in bullying are more likely to get them involved after.
  • Spend time at School and Recess. Schools can lack the resources to provide all students individualized attention during “free” time like recess. Volunteer to coordinate games and activities that encourage children to interact with peers aside from their best friends.
  • Be a Good Example. When you get angry at other drivers, servers, or other people in the community, model effective communication techniques. As Education.com puts it, “Any time you speak to another person in a mean or abusive way, you’re teaching your child that bullying is okay.”
  • Create Healthy Anti-Bullying Habits. Starting as young as possible, coach your children on both what NOT to do (push, tease, and be mean to others) as well as what TO do (be kind, empathize, and take turns). Also coach your child on what to do if someone is mean to him or to another (get an adult, tell the bully to stop, walk away, and ignore the bully).
  • Make Sure Your Child Understands Bullying. Clearly explain what bullying is, and that it is not normal or tolerable for them to bully other kids, to be bullied, or to stand by and watch other kids get bullied.

 

NEED ADDITIONAL SUPPORT?

If you think your child would benefit from some additional support, consider calling us to set up an appointment with one of our psychologists at Gyro Psychology Services (360.236.0206). We serve children and adolescents ages 2-20 with a variety of emotional, mental, and behavioral health needs. 

We are located at 5191 Corporate Center Ct SE, Lacey, Washington, 98503. Or, check out the Resources page on our website for more information on bullying prevention and interventions, and a variety of other behavior health issues.  Our weekly Blog provides information and tips on tough issues that kids, teens, and their parents face.  Be sure to “like” us on Facebook to receive “Gyro’s Daily Welless Tips” on a variety of subject areas related to parenting and the health and wellness of your child and/or teen.

With Warmest Regards,

 

Dr. David Callies

Child & Adolescent Psychologist

Gyro Psychology Services

360-236-0206

 

Published on: April 16, 2014  

The Importance of Keeping Kids Active

These days, it seems that every time you turn around there’s something about obesity in the news. We’re hearing about how obesity is continually on the rise amongst adults across the country, and even more alarming, approximately one third of children in the United States are overweight or obese.

This puts our children at risk for a number of adverse physical and emotional health outcomes including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, social stigma, low self esteem and depression. To combat this issue, we’ve been given recommendations on how to clean up kids’ diets and increase their physical activity, and the integral role parents play in that process. But when parents hear that kids should be getting at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day, it can seem like a rather daunting task. It can seem even more difficult considering the pull of technology keeping us glued to our seats. Check out these suggestions for incorporating physical activity a part of your daily routine.

Walk whenever possible. Walk with your kids to school at least once a week. If you live too far away to walk, you can park a couple of blocks away and walk from there. If you live closer, walk to school more often. Start having a regular family walk after dinner or take the family dog for a walk. Try to walk to regular activities, like sports, etc., whenever possible.

Limit sedentary behavior. Limit time watching T.V., playing video games and working on the computer for two hours or less per day. Take activity breaks when watching T.V. or working on the computer. Encourage your kids to get up and walk around or do some sit-ups or jumping jacks to re-energize. Get moving in and around the house: go outside to garden, clean up the yard, rake the leaves or wash the car. Keep your kids involved in active household chores.

Keep activities fun and creative. Allow your kids to choose an after-school sports activity they like or may be interested in. Encourage your kids to engage in physical activity with their friends they can play basketball, jump rope or go for bike rides. Be sure to check out local park & recreation locations (LaceyOlympia & Tumwater) and activities.

Above all, remember to be a good model for your children. They won’t take physical activity and their health seriously if you don’t either. Join an exercise group or find one that parents and kids can participate in together. Engaging in physical activity as a family not only keeps you and your kids healthy, but it can keep family relationships strong as well.  Check out similar articles on Child Obesity and Physical Activity in Kids & Teens in our Blog Archives as well as tips on Parenting Teens in the Resources section of our website.

Please give us a call should you need some additional help in developing strategies to keep your child or teen active, 360.236.0206.  We’re here to help!

Warmest Regards,

Gyro Psychology Services

360.236.0206

866.616.4976

Published on: November 21, 2013  

Helping Picky Eaters

With the winter holidays typically comes family get-togethers, which usually means there is a lot of food being passed around the table. If your children are anything like most kids, they probably tend to stay away from any new or unusual foods. That might mean that this year’s big turkey dinner only gets enjoyed by the grown-ups, and you find yourself making an entirely separate meal for your children. Or you may notice that your child only eats the breads and meats on the plate with little interest in the healthy vegetables and fruits that were served, too.

Does this sound familiar? If so, keep reading. You may be surprised to hear that we see kids like this all the time here at Gyro Psychology Services. We know that when kids get especially picky eating habits, they can make for more dramatic meal times than you ever thought imaginable. So we’ve compiled a list of tips to help your youngsters broaden their horizons when it comes to food:

Don’t give up on new foods.

Let’s say you have already tried feeding your child some non-preferred food item, like green beans, for example. You tried it once or twice, and you realized that your child didn’t like or want them either time. That does not mean you should stop encouraging your child to eat that food. Instead, continue to present those lima beans to your child every time you make them for yourself. This serves two purposes:

  • First, it teaches your child that he will not get out of things he does not want to do, simply because he put up a fight or avoided your demand.
  • Second, it allows your child the repeated opportunity to try that food another time. Maybe he did not want green beans last month, but who knows? Maybe he’ll feel daring enough to try them again next month. If the non-preferred food is not there to try, though, it is not likely he will ask for some.

Do encourage your child to try all foods on the plate before dessert.

This one is probably not news to you. If a child is not willing to at least try the new or non-preferred food, it is not a great idea to reward him with dessert.

  • Again, allowing this to happen may teach your child that they can avoid your demands and still be rewarded. It is also likely to teach some very unhealthy eating habits for the future.
  • There are exceptions to this rule if your child has a low appetite and is not gaining weight adequately. Check with your child’s pediatrician before you withhold certain foods.

Try offering small rewards.

We understand that children should not necessarily be rewarded for every little thing that is expected of them. However, kids often need a boost when it comes to turning their behaviors around. Eventually, little rewards can be phased out, but right now, your child might need something especially motivating to be an incentive for complying with you at meal time.

  • Just to be clear, we’re not talking about giving your child a new video game every time he takes a bite of peas. What we are saying is that trying new and unusual foods is really hard for some kids, and they should be rewarded for their efforts.
  • Try giving tokens, stickers, or stars for each time your child tries a new food or a non-preferred food. Then, the tokens or stickers can be redeemed for a small prize at the end of the week.
  • If your child is especially stubborn about foods, make rewards more immediate by offering little things on a daily basis. For example, they might be able to earn 10 extra minutes of TV time, or they can earn some quality game time with parents.
  • Eventually, these reward systems can be faded out, so that the child is rewarded occasionally instead of every time.

For the little ones and/or the especially stubborn picky eaters…

Make gradual changes.

If your child has historically gagged at the sight of anything besides mac-and-cheese, it would not be the best idea to “flood” him with all sorts of new and different foods at once. Instead, make small changes to the foods he or she already likes to eat, and then expand from there.

  • For example, if your child only eats mac-and-cheese and rice without having a temper tantrum or gagging, it would be unfair to ask him to suddenly start eating green vegetables or fish. Instead, offer foods that are similar in texture, color, or taste (e.g., spaghetti noodles, mashed potatoes, etc.). Then, as your child becomes accustomed to those foods, keep adding more choices to the menu.
  • Another good strategy is to provide rewards for eating gradually-increasing portions of non-preferred foods. For example, a child is rewarded for eating a spoonful of green beans today, and then he must eat two spoons next time to earn the same reward.

Get some “behavioral momentum” going.

In the field of Applied Behavior Analysis, psychologists speak of “behavioral momentum” as a mechanism for increasing the likelihood that a child will comply with demands. With young kids who are not likely to eat certain foods, behavioral momentum involves starting with a few “high-probably demands” that they are likely to comply with (like touching the fork to the lips) and then following up with a “low-probability demand” (like swallowing the green beans).

  • The idea is that when the child is reinforced or rewarded for those “high-probability” demands, he or she is much more willing to do the “low-probability” task in the hopes of getting rewarded for that, too.
  • Try it out and see what happens. We’ve seen this work well with plenty of kids before.

Know when to ask for help.

If your child is especially picky about trying new foods, shows extreme difficulty with tolerating certain textures or tastes, or otherwise displays problems that have been out of your control for some time now, consider consulting with a speech therapist, occupational therapist, or behavioral psychologist.

  • A speech therapist would be able to rule out any problems with swallowing that might be causing an aversion to certain foods or pills.
  • An occupational therapist and/or a psychologist may be able to assist you and your child with developing an individualized program to increase your child’s “food repertoire.”

If you would like to know more about how you can help your picky eaters at home, or if you would like to talk with one of our experienced psychologists about your child’s eating habits, please give us a call today.

Warmest Regards,

Gyro Psychology Services, Inc.

Lacey, Washington

360.236.0206

Health Disclaimer

Published on: October 24, 2013  

Sleep Hygiene

What do you think of when you hear the word “hygiene?” Do you think of sparkling clean teeth? Perhaps you think of a well-groomed person with combed hair and a clean scent. Well, hygiene is defined as “the establishment and maintenance of good health.” Sleep hygiene is one of the most important but often most overlooked aspects of our overall physical health and mental health.

Experts say that kids should aim for at least 9 hours of sleep. Without adequate sleep, kids are more likely to have problems with learning and sustaining attention during the day. best movie sites downloadThey are also more likely to show irritability and moody behavior. Here are some things to consider that will help you and your child sleep better at night, so they can live a healthier and happier life during the day.

Getting the bedtime routine down:

  • Maintain a consistent sleep schedule. Regularize bedtime and wake up at the same time every day. Do not allow for oversleeping on weekends.
  • Turn off electronics. Power down anything with a screen at least 30 minutes prior to bedtime.
  • Take a warm bath or shower every night. The steam and warm water helps to relax the muscles in the body, and the time in the bath serves as a nice buffer between the chaos of the day and the calm of night.
  • Read a book. Reading for 15-20 minutes per night is a good way to induce sleepiness for most people.
  • Keep the bedroom dark. Most children have an easier time falling asleep with a very minimal amount of light. One or two night lights is fine, or try leaving the bedroom door cracked open with a hall light on.
  • Use a fan to produce white noise. Many children get distracted by sounds or voices in the house that keep them from falling asleep. Try setting up a fan, humidifier, or other white nose machine to reduce the impact of sounds around the house.

Consider the effect of what you’re eating and drinking before bed:

  • Reduce liquid intake after dinner. Eliminating or reducing liquids will lessen the likelihood that you will have to use the toilet in the middle of the night.
  • If you must drink a beverage at night, reach for milk. Milk naturally contains tryptophan, which is an amino acid that is known to induce sleepiness for most people.
  • Avoid caffeine after lunch. Caffeine is in tea and coffee, but it’s also found in soda drinks and chocolate.
  • Talk to your child’s pediatrician before using dietary supplements or medications. If you are interested in the use of sleeping pills or herbal/hormonal supplements, be sure to discuss it with your doctor first to ensure that you are following proper safety and dosage recommendations.

For the parents of youngsters who just won’t go to bed when you ask:

  • Your child may not be tired when you declare that it’s bedtime. If your child is falling asleep late and then waking up later in the day than intended, and/or if he takes naps, your child is probably not tired enough to go to bed. Wake them up at the same time every day, even if they are going to bed later, and gradually fade back the bedtime to a more appropriate time.
  • Offer rewards for making it through a night with no fuss. Most children respond well to incentives given the next day, contingent on compliance with your instructions the night before.
  • Minimize attention to those late-night “curtain calls.” Your child may be one who keeps getting out of bed to use the bathroom, ask for a drink of water, ask for a hug, or otherwise seek attention from you. Instead of engaging in an argument or trying to reason with them, simply walk them back to bed with minimal conversation. Quietly bring them back each time, and your child will soon realize that it’s not worth it to get out of bed anymore– especially if they are rewarded the next day for staying in bed.

If you would like to know more strategies for helping your child fall and stay asleep, give us a call. We’re here to help you and your family in any way we can.

Warmest Regards,

Gyro Psychology Services

Lacey, Washington

360.236.0206

 

Published on: August 2, 2013  

Childhood Obesity

The amount of children struggling with being overweight or obese has increased rapidly during the past two decades.  In fact, one in three American kids and teens are considered to be overweight or obese.  I think it’s safe to assume that this increase has caused some alarm as childhood obesity is now the number one health concern among parents in the United States. To give you a better idea of how significant the change has been, in the early 1970s the number of overweight adolescents between 12 and 19 was around 6.1 percent. This number increased to 18.4 percent in 2009-2010.   So what got us to this point? Simply put, our lifestyles and habits have changed drastically over the last few decades, and not necessarily for the better.

One of the most obvious changes is that we have become more sedentary. Evenings and weekends are now often spent in front of a screen instead of outside playing. On average kids 8-18 spend 7.5 hours daily using some form of electronic media. Not only are we lacking in activity at home but children have become more sedentary at school as well. Recess, gym class, and school sports used to be things you could count on to get your child moving, but not anymore. Unfortunately, these activities are having funding dramatically reduced or they are being cut all together. Only 3.8% of elementary schools provide daily physical education, and most teens fall short of the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity.

Food is another enemy in the childhood obesity problem. Our portion sizes are larger and we are eating unhealthier, processed foods. According to the Let’s Move government website, we are eating 31% more calories than we were 40 years ago. That’s a pretty significant increase considering the decline in activity levels.  Getting children to eat healthful foods can be a challenge for a variety of reasons. For one, foods high in calories, sugar, and fat are highly advertised at children and teens (think Lucky Charms or Doritos). With the level of exposure it’s not surprising that children tend to choose those foods over things like veggies and whole grains. Another known issue is that families are also much busier than they used to be so meals together are not a common occurrence for many families. Instead parents turn to quick meals like microwavable foods, chips, fast food, and other similar unhealthy options. For some, the problem is not about being busy or not wanting to eat healthy, it’s the limited access to healthy, affordable foods that is the problem. This is especially true in rural, low income, and minority areas where healthy options are few or too expensive.

Low activity levels and poor eating habits are just part of the problem. Other common causes of childhood obesity include:

  • Family history of obesity
  • Medical illnesses
  • Medication
  • Stressful life events
  • Depression
  • Family and peer problems

Obesity can affect both a child’s physical and emotional health. Health risks include:

  • Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
  • Poor immune health function
  • Skin problems
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Impaired mobility
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Hypertension
  • Increased risk for certain cancers
  • Increased risk for cardiovascular disease
  • High cholesterol
  • Breathing problems such as sleep apnea and asthma
  • Joint problems
  • Greater risk for social and psychological problems
    • Low self-esteem
    • Lack of confidence
    • Discrimination
    • Social alienation
    • Depression

Childhood obesity can be prevented and treated by changing unhealthy habits. Most children pick up unhealthy habits from their parents, so to improve your child’s habits, it is best to work on improving the habits of the whole family.

Healthy habit changes:

  • Limit media time to no more than 1 to 2 hours per day.
  • Provide plenty of fruits and veggies and limit intake of foods high in fat and sugar.
  • Reduce caloric intake by eating healthy, snacking less, and reducing portion sizes. Moderation in everything is especially important because even healthy food can cause weight gain if you eat too much of it.
  • Model healthy habits like exercising regularly, eating well, getting enough sleep, and staying away from negative body talk. If your child grows up seeing you live a healthy lifestyle, they are more likely to imitate those habits in their own lives.
  • Turn off the TV and sit down for healthy family meals. Limiting distractions when you eat cuts back on mindless eating which leads to weight gain.
  • Serve water instead of sugary drinks like juice or soda.
  • Look for healthier options when you eat out. Most restaurant chains provide nutrition information on their websites or on their menus, which can make it easier to identify healthier options among the calorie bombs.
  • Encourage physical activity daily like biking, running, soccer, or even taking the dog for a walk. If the weather is bad kids can get physical activity inside by dancing to music or playing games like Twister.
  • Find the role food plays in your family. Is it used as a celebration? A way to calm a child? A way to cure boredom? Sometimes our relationships with food are unhealthy and lead to problems with our eating habits. Family counseling can help identify your family’s relationship with food and help you find healthier alternatives.

If you think your child is obese or at risk for becoming obese, it is advised that you talk to your child’s physician about your concerns. They will be able to determine the best course of action for helping your child. Remember, childhood obesity is preventable!

Warmest Regards,

Gyro Psychology Services

Olympia, Washington

360.236.0206

Health Disclaimer

Published on: May 22, 2013  

Boosting Your Child’s Activity Level

Eating right, getting enough sleep, drinking water, and exercise are all important for living a healthy life. However, as gym programs get cut and children find increasingly more entertainment from technology, it’s getting harder to get children to exercise regularly. There are numerous benefits to exercising. Exercise helps in controlling weight, reducing blood pressure, reducing the risk of diabetes and some cancers, strengthening bones, and improving psychological well-being.  Physical fitness has also been associated with increased life expectancy, better sleep, and a better ability to handle stress. The American Heart Association recommends that children over the age of 2 should get at least 60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each day. This can be done in one chunk or broken up into smaller chunks of time to fit into your schedule.

The three aspects of fitness are: aerobic activity, anaerobic activity, and flexibility.

Examples of aerobic activity:

  • Running
  • Walking
  • Jumping robe
  • Biking
  • Swimming
  • Basketball
  • Soccer
  • Dance

Examples of anaerobic activity:

  • Sit ups
  • Pull-ups
  • Push-ups
  • Weights (if old enough)
  • Climbing
  • Gymnastics
  • Martial arts

Examples of flexibility training:

  • Yoga
  • Gymnastics
  • Dance
  • Daily stretching
  • Martial arts

As you can see there is a lot of cross-over between the lists. A lot of activities can help your child get in all their fitness needs at once. This list is just a sample of the activities out there and your child may need to try a few to find something they like. Also, it’s important to remember that exercise doesn’t have to be structured. Exercise can be as simple as playing tag on the playground, helping with yard work, or taking a family hike. If your child isn’t motivated to exercise try suggesting doing something as a family. Exercising together can be fun and helps everyone stay healthy!

Check out the Sports and Recreation and Featured Activity sections of our sister website Go-Gyro-Go for more resources on how to keep you and your family active.

Warmest Regards,

Gyro Psychology Services

Olympia, Washington

360.236.0206

866.616.GYRO

Health Disclaimer

Published on: March 27, 2013  

Is Having Sex the Right Choice?

If you couldn’t guess by the title of the blog, today we’re going to talk about sex! Sex is a topic that comes up a lot when you are a teenager. It seems like everyone is always concerned about who is having sex with whom or who is having sex at all! Before making any decisions about your own sexual activity it is important to make sure you are well informed because your choices now could seriously impact your life later.

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

I’m sure many of you have heard about STDs or STIs by now and for those of you that haven’t this section will be a mini lesson. STDs are sexually transmitted diseases that are passed through sexual contact from person to person. Sexual contact includes vaginal, anal, and oral sex. According to the Center for Disease Control, there are approximately 20 million new infections each year. There are many types of STDs and while some of them are curable, some will be with you for life. The only way to completely protect yourself against STDs is by practicing abstinence which is refraining from any type of sexual activity.  The second best method of protection is condoms. By using condoms correctly and consistently each time you have sex you will have adequate protection against STDs. Just keep in mind that natural skin condoms do not protect against all STDs so if possible stick to latex and polyurethane condoms.

Along with condoms, another way to protect yourself is for you and your partner to get tested. Testing can be done through a blood or urine sample at a doctor’s office or clinics like Planned Parenthood.  Physicians recommend that you get tested yearly for some STDs like Chlamydia and Gonorrhea once you become sexually active. Often STDs to not cause any symptoms so don’t rely on being able to tell by just looking at someone. Be proactive about keeping yourself safe so ask your partner to get tested and use protection!

 

Contraception

You have two options when it comes to preventing unplanned pregnancy: abstinence or diligent use of contraception. Contraception comes in many forms: condoms, birth control pills, patches, shots, IUDs, and spermicide just to name a few. Not all contraception has the same effectiveness rate so it is important for you to research and talk to your doctor about what method is right for you.

Here’s a nifty chart from Planned Parenthood on the effectiveness of different contraceptives.

 

Am I Ready?

Only you can know if you’re ready for sex. No one should pressure you into a choice you don’t feel you are ready to make. Below is a short list of things to consider when making your choice about sex.

  • Do you want to? Or are you feeling pressured? (Peers, significant others, etc.)
  • Does this choice line up with your personal values and goals?
  • Would you feel comfortable disclosing your sexual activity with a physician?
  • Do you feel comfortable talking about and getting contraception with your partner?
  • Do you feel you can talk openly with your partner about what you do and do not want before becoming sexually active?

Think about your answers to these questions carefully. Becoming sexually active is a large step for many people so you want to make sure you feel completely comfortable and ready to make that choice. If you feel like you cannot talk openly with your partner about sex and contraception, chances are you are not ready to have sex…and that’s OKAY! There is nothing wrong with waiting to have sex and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

After you talk with your parents/caregivers, check out KidsHealth and Planned Parenthood for more information on sex, contraception, STDs, getting tested and to find out if you are ready for sex.

Warmest Regards,

 

Gyro Psychology Services

Olympia, Washington

360.236.0206

866.616.GYRO