Dr. Jana quoted in article by Maressa Brown – Parents Magazine
(posted online 8/29/19)
Given how stressful potty training can be for parents and kids, the last thing either needs is to contend with discrimination from a daycare or preschool that refuses to accept a child who isn’t yet trained. And yet, every now and then, families face this very ordeal.
In 2011, a child was told not to return to her Arlington, Virginia, preschool until she stopped wetting her pants. Five years later……continue reading
By Dr. Anisha Abraham
It is June. Exam and graduation time for many students around the world. In the Netherlands, my adopted home country, it is also the month when one of my favorite Dutch traditions occurs: graduating high school students hang flags on their houses together with their school bags to celebrate passing their exams and moving on in life. It takes a global village to raise a child, and I love that this rite of passage is celebrated in such a public way. The bag-on-a-flag marks an important milestone for young people. When I pass a home in my neighbourhood with a raised flag, I silently honor the graduate and acknowledge the many hurdles that it has taken to get to this point. How do we uphold our kids as they transition from one milestone to another? What are the skills they need to cultivate in a rapidly, changing world?……(read more)
The combination of toddlers and furniture such as dressers and bookshelves that are not properly secured can make for a particularly concerning and potentially dangerous combination. That’s why I was more than happy to share some parenting and “toddler brain” insights with Consumer Reports’ Rachel Rabkin Peachman about this very important safety topic.
Nov 5, 2018 by Rachel Rabkin Peachman
After her 2-year-old son, Shane, died from a furniture tip-over in 2011, Lisa Siefert started attending health fairs and other events to hand out furniture wall anchor kits – delicate-looking hardware packaged like picture hooks that are meant to secure furniture to walls.
She was tormented by the idea that families with small children didn’t know about this hidden tip-over danger in their homes. So spreading the word became her life’s work. Now, six years after……(read more)
As part of Australia’s Kinderling Radio Conversation for Parents series, I had the pleasure of sitting down with parenting radio host extraordinaire, Shevonne Hunt and discussing a topic I have found to be of near universal interest to parents of young children. Tune in and listen to this 16 minute discussion of sleep insights, strategies and practical parenting tips
From uh-PARENT-ly, “the podcast for absolutely average parents”: Food fights: How to feed a picky eater
Are you up to your eyeballs in chicken nuggets? Tired of being treated like a short-order cook? Worried your children will never eat their broccoli? Join uh-PARENT-ly cohosts Tracy Weiner and Anne Johnsos as they share their mealtime struggles and get advice from Dr. Laura Jana, author of Food Fights: Winning the Nutritional Challenges of Parenthood Armed with Insight, Humor and a Bottle of Ketchup
Originally posted on my US News & World Report parenting blog (Aug 3)
FOR ALL PARENTS OF soon-to-be kindergarteners, by now, you’re well-acquainted with all the work that goes into preparing a child for school. Kindergarten readiness has long been associated with the ABCs and 123s, and understandably so. Mastering skills such as being able to count and recite the alphabet, and knowing one’s shapes and colors all serve to lay a strong foundation for reading, writing and arithmetic.
That said, it’s worth noting that an ability to develop and maintain relationships has recently been added to this list of so-called IQ skills. Its addition makes clear that social and emotional skills, along with several other skills often misleadingly described as “soft” and “non-cognitive,” are now being acknowledged as critical when it comes to school readiness.
Honing the ability to focus and pay attention, be a good listener, share, take turns and play nice with others may seem like common sense. Yet these types of “other” skills are now collectively being recognized to be of equal, if not greater importance, than IQ skills by everyone from educators, pediatricians and neuroscientists to economists, entrepreneurs and business leaders.
With that in mind, it’s important as the new school year begins that parents integrate teaching kids what I like to refer to as QI (think positive “life force”) skills as well, while helping them develop as students. This is something that you’ll want to do, of course, not just before their first day, but as they continue to grow and develop, both in the classroom and outside of it. Here’s a breakdown of QI skills – which I’ve also outlined in my book “The Toddler Brain” and my children’s book, “Jumping Into Kindergarten” – you’ll want to be sure to encourage and cultivate: ….
As part of Australia’s Kinderling Radio series, “Kinderling Conversations for Parents,” I recently had the pleasure of once again getting to sit down in Sydney with radio host extraordinaire, Shevonne Hunt for a heart-to-heart discussion about the ever-important parenting topic: young children and their (sometimes challenging) sleep habits. Feel free to tune in and listen to this 16 minute discussion.
“Lights out” is a very common phrase meant simply to imply that it’s time to go to sleep. In days past, our ancestors lived their lives according to what was a naturally determined version of “lights out” – typically rising with the sun and turning in when it set. Over the last century, however, we have been given far more control – now able to not only artificially and technologically manipulate our light exposure, but prolong it to such an extent that some of us live our lives in a state of nearly 24/7 light exposure. Given this fact, along with all we now know about what it takes to get a good night’s sleep, it occurs to me that it’s high time for “lights out” to be seen in a new light.
The fact of the matter is a whole lot is known about light’s impact on our likelihood of getting a good night’s sleep. The potential problems and pitfalls of living in a world of electronic devices and ubiquitous screens give new meaning to the description, “light sleeper.”
According to the National Sleep Foundation, 90 percent of people in the US admit to using an array of technological devices – from TVs and tablets to smartphones and laptops – during the hour before they go to sleep. The problem with this tech-heavy approach, simply put, is that darkness matters. Insufficient darkness not only delays the onset of sleep, but also leads to more frequent and prolonged wakenings. Light exposure is one of the most powerful signals in our environment when it comes to setting the body’s internal clock – a biological “clock” responsible for determining our sleep-wake cycles (also referred to as circadian rhythms). Keeping in mind this simple concept, the reasons for the following common sleep-enhancing tips should become both more obvious and enlightening.
- Rise and shine. Like “lights out,” rise and shine is an expression – as well as a piece of advice – that comes with plenty of supporting evidence. Exposure to sunlight (or bright, blue light) in the morning and during daytime hours is known to reinforce your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle and signal that it’s time to be awake.
- Face (smart)phone facts. The screens on smartphone typically give off bright blue light – a design feature meant to help make them easier to see even in bright sunshine, but one that unfortunately comes with potential sleep consequences. Designed to mimic sunlight, this blue light is considered worst with respect to throwing off your body’s sense of day and night. The solution? Reduce your exposure to bright and blue-rich light in the evenings (generally recommended 1 to 2 hours before bedtime). If you find yourself unable to set aside your phone altogether, the iPhone added a new feature (in iOS 9.3) called Night Shift that allows you to shift to “warmer” and less eye-opening hues by cutting down your exposure to the harsher blue light at bedtime.
- Electronic-free bedrooms. Smartphones aren’t the only offenders when it comes to devices that interfere with getting a good night’s sleep. Common sleep-enhancing recommendations also routinely include turning off and/or keeping all close-range electronic devices (ie those which emit blue light) out of the bedroom. While phones, tablets and other screens definitely fall into this category, don’t forget to consider (and remove) chargers, sound machines, and other blue-light electronics and accessories as well.
- Choosing the right nightlight. Nightlights have increasingly become the subject of scrutiny in light of what we now know about sleep/wake cycle disruptors. This seems to be especially true for parents wondering whether or not to install nightlights in their bedrooms. Clearly, blue-emitting nightlights are not a good idea. But apparently, white light isn’t so great either. For those committed to using a nightlight, it seems that red light might be your best choice. From a practical parenting standpoint, however, I will point out that newborns enter into the world already well-accustomed to sleeping in the dark. As much as possible, it would seem best to keep it this way, rather than introducing them to artificial light at night.
The bottom line is that sleep is something we all do, and that we all need. It is also one of those key aspects of our everyday lives that all too often gets too little attention…that is, until we find ourselves fatigued. Representing much more than a casual expression, “lights out” now represents a succinct yet valuable piece of advice that, firmly supported by the latest in sleep science. It is my hope that by shedding some light on this important issue, you will see the value of turning out the lights, shutting off the screens, pulling the shutters and, at least in this particular instance, choosing to remain in the dark.
Originally posted on my US News & World Report parenting blog (March 19)
IN THE WORLD OF parenting, we’re conditioned to treat anticipated transitions as cause for celebration – like when a child reaches a new developmental milestone or advances to the next grade. And we’re led to believe that sooner is usually better (think potty training). But this way of thinking has its limits and it’s particularly problematic when it comes to car seats, where the safest approach is to take time with each transition.
Whether you’re moving a child from a rear-facing seat to one that’s forward-facing or a child is “graduating” from a five-point harness to a booster seat and ultimately to vehicle seat belt use – it’s best to make these changes as late as possible. The same holds true, by the way, for moving older children from the back seat to the front – which, in case you’re wondering, isn’t generally recommended before age 13.
With respect to transitioning from rear-facing to forward-facing, the consensus of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Safe Kids Worldwide and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is that children are safest when kept rear-facing as long as possible within the height and weight limits of their rear-facing car seat, which typically translates to age 2 if not older. As with most aspects of parenting, however, actually committing to keep toddlers rear-facing longer and following through is easier said than done.
I was recently reminded of the additional practical challenges involved when a senator in my home state of Nebraska introduced new and improved car seat legislation requiring appropriate child safety seat use up until the age of 8 (instead of 6), rear-facing until the age of 2, and keeping children under the age of 13 in the back seat. In the spirit of helping this important bill become law, I made my way to the state capitol a couple of weeks ago armed with nearly two decades worth of professional insights and information about the life-saving benefits of the proposed changes.
Originally posted on my US News & World Report parenting blog (Feb 16)
THIS YEAR’S flu season is officially reaching its peak, and this year’s strain of influenza virus is cause for considerable concern, striking with a vengeance not seen in decades. It’s causing more severe illness, more hospitalizations and even more children’s deaths, as parents do what they can to try to protect their kids.
In reality, the strategies being recommended to combat this year’s flu are essentially the same as those employed in years past. While you’re likely to have heard about many of these strategies before, it’s nevertheless useful to remind ourselves of the importance of washing our hands and covering our coughs; getting everyone in the family who is 6 months or older vaccinated; and being on alert for and recognizing early the signs of the flu – such as fatigue, body aches, cough, sore throat and fever – and it’s potential complications, from sinus infections and pneumonia to heart problems, particularly in more vulnerable individuals, like the very young and very old or those with compromised immune systems.
Now that’s easy to say, and it sounds like easy enough advice to follow. Yet each year I’m left wondering why it is that, as parents, we don’t always feel confident in our approach to fighting the flu. In large part, it’s the fault of the virus responsible for causing the flu. The influenza virus is cunning in its ability to change from year to year, which makes it all the more difficult to protect against.
But I would also suggest that there are some parenting practices and commonly held parenting beliefs that, despite our best intentions, stand to get in the way when it comes to protecting our children, and ourselves, from flu’s wrath.
It’s useful to start with a clear understanding of what “the flu” actually is, and what it isn’t….