We MUST make them strong!!! Survival Skills for Raising a Daughter!

Oh my, friends! Today, I had a 16 year old patient that I am worried may be in an abusive relationship…  I want those of you that have daughters to understand how important it is to make sure they are physically and emotionally healthy enough to make it in this difficult society!

I’d like to share a list of things I have come up with to help us all raise strong, capable, confident, and emotionally secure daughters!

Here are a few tips:

  • Teach Do unto others, this is the ultimate golden rule! Treat her with respect and set the example when dealing with others!

    My girl

    My girl

  • Always tell your daughter that she is beautiful! Let her know that the most important beauty is on the inside!  
  • Always use manners! ‘Yes, please’ and ‘No, thank you’ show kindness and respect!
  • Communicate openly! Talk to your daughter often, and let her know you are always there to listen. Regardless of what she tells you, never act surprised, anything and everything is open for discussion. Remember, if she doesn’t talk to you, she will talk to someone else.
  • Explain that everyone has flaws, that is what makes us all human. As a parent, set an example, don’t criticize yourself or your self image. Children often follow in our footsteps.
  • Encourage her to pick the right friends. The “cool” girls are only cool if they are nice to other people. Teach your daughter that true friends respect her choices and decisions and won’t make her feel inferior or left out.
  • Encourage involvement in sports and other group activities. Sports, playing an instrument, girl scouts, etc. teaches life skills and builds self confidence.
  • Teach your daughter to dress appropriately. It is best to leave what is underneath covered up, only to be discovered by someone that truly cares and respects her.
  • Limit social media! Today’s children can be cruel, and social media is an easy outlet for bullying.
  • Encourage your daughter to speak for herself. Don’t speak for her! Allowing her to speak and express herself prepares her for the future.
  • Teach your daughter that knowledge is power. Doing well in school really does pay off when it comes time to prepare for the future.
  • Encourage her to Read!! Reading makes you smarter!
  • Encourage her to bring her friends home to meet you. This will pay off when the boyfriends start coming around. Meeting your daughter’s friends is crucial to knowing what is going on in her world.

These are just some suggestions, please feel free to let me know of any suggestions you have to help us all raise healthy and happy young women!

Now, let me tell you why I felt so strongly about sharing this information with you. I am hopeful that Janie isn’t in as bad a situation that I fear she may be….

Janie came in because she had an “eye that was bruised” from hitting it on a table picking up her baby’s bottle. Janie is 16, has a 4 month old daughter, and was brought in by her fiance, aka, her baby daddy. When I first walked into the room Janie didn’t say a word, but the guy with her asked “how long would she look like that?” I informed him that bruises can take a couple weeks to go away. He immediately said that he needed me to write a note to keep her out of school for a week or two until this went away, because “he had a reputation to uphold!” Red flags immediately went off in my mind!! HE had a reputation to uphold… I refused to write an excuse to keep her out of school for something that is not contagious. Her education was important, and this bruise did not interfere with her learning. I continued, saying that appearances are not how we judge people. Someone’s value and self worth is not from outward appearances, but from what they can give to those around them and their community. He shrugged, and gave me a “humph” and it was obvious he didn’t like my answers. Janie proceed to tell me she had a little bit of pressure and watering from the eye, but otherwise was fine. Her fiance proceeded to tell me that he was going to move Janie a few states away to where his family was after she finished high school. At this point, all kinds of warning bells were going off in my head.  I had to figure out a way to talk to Janie one on one!!

I was worried that Janie was in an abusive relationship! How could I help???  I’m not sure why, but Janie’s fiance left the room, and I took my opportunity. I told Janie I had looked up the ER report and was not worried that there was something serious going on with her eye. I did ask her if anyone had ever hit her or hurt her? She said no, and the ER asked the same thing. I told her that I thought her fiance seemed a little controlling, and NO ONE should control another person!! I encouraged her to consider her situation. I also told her that emotional abuse is just as bad as physical abuse, and she should be in control of what goes on in her life. I invited her to come back and talk with me at anytime if someone hurt her or if she was worried about being in a relationship that she needed help getting out of. Janie responded by asking, “What’s your name again?” I told her, and she smiled, and said “Thanks.” I hope I see Janie again soon, and hope that I can help….

I am sharing this with you because odds are at least 1/2 of you are raising daughters.  There are too many young women in our society that end up in physically or emotionally abusive relationships. 

As parents, it is our job to raise daughter’s that are strong enough to avoid partners that are going to be abusive or controlling.

And, if you are raising a son, make sure you teach him to treat girls with respect at an early age. Raising strong, confident, mentally healthy men is a huge responsibility too, but that’s for another post. 😉

No one said it was going to be easy, but I can promise you it will be worth all the effort and hard work! Enjoy the journey! 😉

There is no such thing as INNOCENT VIOLENCE!

After seeing today’s news about yet ANOTHER high school shooting, I felt compelled to share some information on children and violence.  The future of our children and the society we are creating weighs heavily on my mind.

Children that do not get the needed love, support and guidance during the first few years of life will constantly be seeking attention for the remainder of their life. This can lead to many issues for the child, as they do whatever it takes (good or bad) to feel valued. This feeling of worthlessness leads to inappropriate and high-risk behavior (see below).

I found some information online at the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry that I wanted to share. This is serious stuff, so I’m not going to have any funny jokes or stories today, just feel the need to share some info….

The following information is copied directly from www.aacap.org:

1. “Hundreds of studies of the effects of TV violence on children and teenagers have found that children may:

Children with emotional, behavioral, learning or impulse control problems may be more easily influenced by TV violence.”
(if you click on the above writing in red, you can view the website directly)
2. “Factors Which Increase Risk of Violent Behavior: Numerous research studies have concluded that a complex interaction or combination of factors leads to an increased risk of violent behavior in children and adolescents.  These factors include:
  • Previous aggressive or violent behavior
  • Being the victim of physical abuse and/or sexual abuse
  • Exposure to violence in the home and/or community
  • Genetic (family heredity) factors
  • Exposure to violence in media (TV, movies, etc.)
  • Use of drugs and/or alcohol
  • Presence of firearms in home
  • Combination of stressful family socioeconomic factors (poverty, severe deprivation,    marital breakup, single parenting, unemployment, loss of support from extended family)
  • Brain damage from head injury”

3. “What are the “warning signs” for violent behavior in children? Children who have several risk factors and show the following behaviors should be carefully evaluated:

  • Intense anger
  • Frequent loss of temper or blow-ups
  • Extreme irritability
  • Extreme impulsiveness
  • Becoming easily frustrated

Parents and teachers should be careful not to minimize these behaviors in children.”

4. “Can anything prevent violent behavior in children?

Research studies have shown that much violent behavior can be decreased or even prevented if the above risk factors are significantly reduced or eliminated.  Most importantly, efforts should be directed at dramatically decreasing the exposure of children and adolescents to violence in the home, community, and through the media.  Clearly, violence leads to violence.  In addition, the following strategies can lessen or prevent violent behavior:

  • Prevention of child abuse (use of programs such as parent training, family support programs, etc.)
  • Sex education and parenting programs for adolescents
  • Early intervention programs for violent youngsters
  • Monitoring child’s viewing of violence on TV/videos/movie”
Pretty heavy info, I know, but so important to share. The well being of our children and the future of our society are at risk.  The one thing we can do to make a difference is try our best to raise mentally and emotionally healthy children.  What a difficult, but important journey we are on friends! I hope some of my advice helps you along your journey!

Yuck, the “throw ups”…Do I need to be worried because my child is vomiting??

Well, tonight’s post wrote itself when friends of mine called to make sure they were doing the right thing for their daughter that had been vomiting all day. I saw kids of all ages today that had nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.  So, it sounds like the best parenting advice right now would be on managing that nasty stomach virus also know as gastroenteritis.

Poor little Maddie has been vomiting all day.  Her brother had vomiting and diarrhea a few days ago, and now it sounds like it’s her turn.  One question her Dad had; could it be something else? Well, maybe…but, probably not.  Dad told me he had been giving Maddie about a 1/2 ounce of Gatorade every 20 minutes or so.  She had been doing fairly well, then started having really bad stomach cramps. It seems that Maddie took a big drink of Mom’s tea, which wasn’t a good idea, but who can blame her, she was probably really thirsty.  Maddie probably had more than her stomach was able to tolerate.  It probably didn’t help that the tea had caffeine in it, which can be irritating to an empty stomach.  Drinking too much or eating or drinking the wrong thing can cause the pain and vomiting to start again. With rest and small amounts of fluids, Maddie will probably get throght this stomach virus just fine.  Slowly staying hydrated, and then eating small amounts of bland foods.  No doubt, she will be back to her happy playful self, and keeping up with that brother of hers.

Most vomiting spells will usually last 8-12 hours, but can come and go for a few days.  If your child vomits for more than 24-48 hours, you might want to consider having them evaluated by their pediatric provider.

Most children will have diarrhea with or after vomiting. This is just another way for the virus to exit the body.  Do not give children medication to stop the diarrhea or vomiting.  If this is necessary, medication should be prescribed and supervised by your provider.

Dehydration is usually the worst complication of gastroenteritis. Keeping your child hydrated after the initial vomiting spell is very important.  If your child is vomiting, don’t give anything by mouth the first couple hours; then give small sips of pedialyte or Gatorade (1/2 oz.) every 15-20 minutes.  For young children, Pedialyte popsicles can be really helpful.

If children tolerate fluids after several hours, try bland foods such as saltine crackers and toast.  Slowly, increase the diet with bland, salty foods over the next few days.  Do not give your child milk products, acidic products, or greasy foods. French fries and chicken nuggets are NOT a good idea.  Yes, too many parents of 3 or 4 years old children will come into my office and say, “Well, she said she would eat chicken nuggets” (or hot dogs, you can fill in with either)…. I want to scream “Are you kidding me?”   Fortunately, I learned to bite my tongue a few years back.  Trust me, it took some practice, I usually say what I think, but have learned that I just can’t do that sometimes.  Those of you that know me are smiling and laughing right now, no doubt. 😉

So, What else could it be??

  • Some people are concerned that their child could have appendicitis.  Believe me, that is the first thing I want to make sure a child doesn’t have either.  Appendicitis does need to be ruled out if a child is having severe or ongoing abdominal pain.  Appendix pain is usually in the lower right quadrant of the abdomen, but the pain can radiate elsewhere.  If you are worried your child may have signs of appendicitis, please see your provider.  This is not an easy diagnosis to make, even with physical exam.
  • Sometimes children will have vomiting, with a fever, sore throat and headache; beware, this can be strep throat.  Some children with strep throat will vomit.  My poor Joshua is one of these kids.  He has only had strep twice in his life,  first, with pneumonia.  Then, a few years ago he presented as fever, nausea and sore throat.  The poor kid vomiting for over 8 hours, he was pitiful.  If I hadn’t seen the positive strep test myself, I would have really thought it was a stomach virus.  It’s always safest to check if you have any doubt.  Strep throat cannot be confirmed without a throat culture, and MUST be treated with an antibiotic.

Again, I want to stress the importance of HYDRATION! Slow but steady hydration is the key to avoiding dehydration. If your child does not urinate at least once in 12 hours, please have him evaluated for dehydration.  Fever, along with vomiting and diarrhea can increase the risk for dehydration.  For more advice on fevers or hydration, please see my related posts.

Remember, sick kids need a little more patience, understanding, and TLC.

At some time or another, a vomiting child is something we all deal with….kind of like a rite of passage. Every Mom or Dad has a gross vomiting story to tell. Good luck with the vomiting thing when you experience it along your parenting journey.