Saturday, July 28, 2012

7 Ways to Create a Lifelong Love of Music in Your Child

Suzy St. George 

Music brings wonder to the world. It touches something deep within each of us in ways that we sometimes can’t even express. While we all seem to have a natural inclination to enjoy music, as parents it’s up to us to help our children develop a truly lifelong love of music.

The ability to understand and appreciate many different musical styles and forms is a gift we give to our children that will stay with them for the long term. It’s something that will serve them well in social situations and that will enrich their lives overall. Here are some ways you can help your child appreciate and enjoy music from an early age:

    Start during pregnancy. You don’t have to wait until your child is old enough for formal music lessons. Experts tell us that babies respond to audible stimuli while still in the womb. You can start exposing your child to music – all sorts of music – while you’re still pregnant. There is even some evidence that suggests listening to classical music in the womb may contribute to better academic performance down the road.

    Integrate music into your daily routines. Music should be part of your child’s life on a daily basis, even as an infant. Singing your baby to sleep, or playing some light jazz while he takes a bath can be ways to associate feelings of comfort with music. Don’t let a day go by where your baby isn’t exposed to music of one sort or another.

    Take advantage of that natural urge to dance. Once a baby becomes a toddler, the natural response is to dance when they hear a familiar song. Encourage that activity. When a song comes on and your little one starts to wiggle, turn it into a game. Wiggle around with her, and turn it into a bonding experience as well as one that will increase her love of music.

    Get started early with music lessons. Instructors vary in how old they want a child to be before they can start lessons. Some piano teachers like students to be at least five years old; at that stage, they have the motor skills and the ability to sit still for at least several minutes at a time. On the other hand, there are programs such as the Suzuki method, in which a child as young as two or three can take lessons. With this type of lesson, the parent attends as well and takes on the role of teacher as well as student in the music education process.

    Make practice rewarding. Practicing music shouldn’t make your child angry. Find ways to encourage practice, which could include a reward system.

    Discuss music with your child. As your child gets older, talk with your child about music. Tell him how a specific piece makes you feel, and ask him to do the same. Engage in interactive activities with one another surrounding music, such as creating a storybook around a song or simply drawing some pictures to go with a given piece. For older children, talk about lyrics and their meanings, as well as similarities a given piece might have with other pieces.

    Expose your child to all kinds of music, even music you don’t like. Just because you don’t like the latest music to hit the charts doesn’t mean your child won’t like it. Just as you want to help your child appreciate music that may not be intuitive for her to appreciate, you should learn to do the same for her. Encourage your child to reserve judgment on music based on its genre or style alone, and talk about the many elements of the music instead. A song with ridiculous lyrics may have amazing orchestration, and a song with blazing guitar solos might actually have a fairly deep and complex meaning.

    All children are born with a basic appreciation of music. As a parent, it’s up to you to cultivate that appreciation, and turn it into a true love and passion that will last your child a lifetime. 

    About the Author

    Suzy St. George is a blog writer at TakeLessons . Since 2006, TakeLessons has helped thousands of students discover their passion through music, by matching them with the top local music teachers across the nation.  These certified music instructors specialize in teaching guitar, piano, singing and more.

    Wednesday, July 25, 2012

    Decorating New Cottage Style

    "Comfortable.  Relaxed.  Inviting.  Is it any wonder cottage style remains a favorite?  But today's looks move beyond these timeless traits.  Colors are fresher, collections are sparer, and rooms are more personal than ever."

    Looking for ideas to refresh your cottage?  Reach for the New Cottage Style by Better Homes and Gardens to find a plethora of ideas, projects, and DYI's to spruce up your cottage with a refreshed look.
    I especially liked the tips on infusing the living space with color and ideas on how to preserve the charm of the cottage while adding modern upgrades.  Cottage decor can be beautiful, stylish, and modern!  Have fun decorating your cottage!

    Sunday, July 22, 2012

    How to Teach Your Children Morals

    Adina Soclof, MS, CCC-SLP 
    I hear so many complaints from parents about their kids. Parents are particularly
    concerned that their kids seem to be without a moral compass. They don't know right
    from wrong. 
    It is true, kids do not seem to espouse the same values that we do. But that is all
    part of the learning process. 
    We all know that kids, and more so teens need to test limits and rules to help them
    figure out what the rules really are and whether or not they need to stay within
    It is the same thing with our value system. They want to know what our values are
    and the only way to truly find out is to test them. You cannot have a set of beliefs
    or principles if you have not thought about them or fought for them. You sometimes
    have to be bad in order to know how to be good. 
    So when kids act in a way that goes against our basic value system, they are
    essentially thinking:
    If I hit my sister will Mom get mad? Is peace a value in our home?
    If I lie will my Dad notice? Is honesty a value in my home?
    If I don't show up to help out at our school fundraiser, will my parents have a
    problem with that? Is responsibility a value in my home?
    Kids don't want you to talk the talk, but not walk the walk. They want to see you
    living and espousing your values. The best way for parents to teach their kids their
    value system is by role modeling. 
    If we want our kids to be peaceful and kind to each other, they need to see us being
    kind to our kids, spouses, and our own parents and siblings.
    If we want our kids to be honest we need to be honest ourselves. So that means, when
    our kids answer the phone when Aunt Ethel calls, we cannot tell them to lie and say
    we are not home. 
    If we want our kids to be responsible we need to act responsibly ourselves and keep
    the commitments that we make. 
    We also want to let our kids know our value systems in a non-confrontational way.
    Oftentimes we admonish and lecture our kids when we see any type of breach in their
    moral conduct. 
    We will say,
    "You are always breaking the rules around here! Don't you know that rules are
    important? How dare you come in after curfew!"
    "Why do you always have to tease your sister. You have no compassion. You won't get
    by in this world without knowing how to treat other people nicely!"
    "You are so irresponsible. You told Sara you would help her with her homework. She
    called here 3 times trying to find out where you were. How could you let her down
    like that!"
    Instead we want to say:
    "I believe that rules about curfew need to be taken seriously."
    "I believe that we need to speak to each other respectfully in our home."
    "I believe that commitments need to be honored."
    Then you need to leave it alone. Give it time to sink in. The less parents talk the
    more thinking children have to do. They have more time to contemplate what their own
    conscious is telling them about what they have down wrong.
    This way they won't spend their time thinking:
    “How much longer is she going to go on and on about this? “Why does she care about
    this stuff so much?” “When will she stop talking so I can go to my room and get some
    peace and quiet?” 
    They are more likely to think:
    "I feel so bad about what I did to Sara, I better call her and apologize."
    Teaching kids our values, takes patience and role modeling. It also helps to state
    your principles in a non-confrontational way so that your child can let his
    conscience do the thinking for him. It takes a lot of self-control and forethought
    but it is the best way to teach your kids your values, morals and belief systems.
    “Kids these days don’t know right from wrong!” 
    “Kids these days have no values!” 
    Most parents feel it is their job to impart their values, morals and belief systems
    to their children. As a Jewish parent, there is an even stronger push to transmit
    our heritage to our kids. It is a Mitzvah that we hold dear. 
    I know that this is one of my primary goals in life. I certainly expend a lot of my
    time, money and efforts in this area.  Because I and other Jewish parents feel so
    strongly about this, we come down hard on our kids when we think they have breached
    any of our standards of conduct. It is as if an alarm goes off in our head, which
    causes us to start admonishing our kids and we sit them down for a lengthy lecture
    aka Mussar shmooze.
    Most kids don’t like it when their parents admonish them. But they really find the
    lecturing, boring and condescending.
    So what can we do instead? How can we impart our values to our kids in a respectful
    manner? How can we actually get them to listen to what we are saying?
    In many of my classes I teach all about the  “I” statement. The "I" statement can be
    used to stop ourselves from nagging and accusing and to engage our kids cooperation.
     The advantages of “I” statements don’t stop there.  “I” statements can also be used
    to teach our children about our beliefs, ethics and moral standards in a
    non-confrontational way.
    If we give a mussar shmooze we might say:
    "You know you need to listen and do the Mitzvah of Kibud Av Veem. The Torah gives us
    lots of rules for a reason. You need to listen to your parents for your own good
    etch. etc. etc.
    "How come you did not do your homework right away! Don't you know that you should
    not procrastinate. Procrastinating is a bad midah. Don't get started with that!
    Instead we want to try stating our beliefs and values in a non-confrontational
    manner using "I" statements:
    "I believe that rules of Kibud Av Veem help our home run smoothly."
    "I believe that homework should be done in a timely fashion."
    Then you need to leave it alone. Give it time to sink in. The less parents talk the
    more thinking children have to do. 
    When we lecture and give mussar, kids don’t have time to mull over what they have
    done wrong, they can’t hear their moral conscience. So instead of thinking to
    "I should have listened to my parents. I shouldn't have done what I did. Next time I
    will try to do better."
    “I am so embarrassed about this grade. I should have done my homework. Next time I
    will do it on time.”
    Kids think: 
    “How much longer is she going to go on and on about this? “Why does she care about
    this stuff so much?” “When will she stop talking so I can go play?”
    When we talk about ourselves and what we believe in we make a big impression on our
    kids. They hear our viewpoints clearly and succinctly. These simple "I" statements
    seems benign, but they pack a big punch.  
    We need to remember that nobody likes to be coerced into thinking, feeling or acting
    in a certain way. If we talk about what we hold dear in a non-confrontational
    manner, kids can hear us without feeling that they have to defend themselves or be
    pushed into an opinion that they might not share. 
    Having a good relationship with our kids is probably the best way to ensure that our
    kids incorporate our value systems as their own. Using "I" statements is one great
    way to nurture our relationships with our kids. 
    Then you need to leave it alone. Give it time to sink in. The less parents talk the
    more thinking children have to do. 
    When we lecture and admonish, kids don’t have time to mull over what they have done
    wrong, they can’t hear their moral conscience. So instead of thinking to themselves:
    “I am so embarrassed about this grade. I should have done my homework. Next time I
    will do it on time.”
    Kids think: 
    “How much longer is she going to go on and on about this? “Why does she care about
    this stuff so much?” “When will she stop talking so I can go play?”
    After my 16 years of being a parent, I see that parenting is done best when you keep
    quiet. When you don’t say all the things you want to say. It takes a lot of
    self-control but it is the best way to teach your kids your values, morals and
    belief systems.
    As a Jewish parent, I also feel a need to transmit my children's heritage to them. 
    Adina Soclof is a certified speech pathologist and parent educator. Her website offers informative and inspirational parenting workshops designed to help parents create a calm, happy home.

    Saturday, July 21, 2012

    ABC of Sun Safety...

    ... and other tips for living it up outdoors
     Monika Pis, PhD, CPNP

    *First published in Spring/Summer 2012 in Ready, Set, Grow magazine

    Playing outdoors is a healthy way to get exercise, and spending time playing in the shade is just plain smart! 

    Sun damage is cumulative over a lifetime, and every sunburn increases a person’s risk of skin cancer. Since we get the most sun exposure before the age of 18, it’s important to teach kids sun safety early on. 

    Sun Protection From Day 1 

    Here are tips on shielding your children from the start. 

    For Babies Six Months of Age and Younger 
     Keep your baby in the shade as much as possible. 
     Cover your child with a long-sleeved cotton shirt and pants. 
     Place a broad-brimmed hat on your baby’s head. 
     Sunglasses are also needed. 
     Use sunscreen lotion. 

    For Children Older Than Six Months 
     Stay in the shade, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., when the sun is the strongest. 
     Wear sunscreen even on cloudy days, as 80 percent of the rays penetrate the clouds. 
     Slather sunscreen with UVA/UVB protection and an SPF of at least 30 on all exposed areas of the body, and reapply it every two to three hours when outdoors and after swimming. 
     Wear protective clothing: a hat, sunglasses, long-sleeved shirts and pants. 

    Sun exposure may lead to first- or second-degree sunburn. Therefore, preventing sunburn is important to protect against skin cancer and the discomfort of the sunburn itself. 

    First-degree sunburn causes redness or discoloration of the skin, mild swelling and pain. These symptoms usually last one to five days. Second-degree sunburn causes redness, blistering of the skin, swelling and considerable pain. When blisters pop, the compromised skin barrier allows bacteria to enter, increasing the risk for serious skin infections. Healing of second-degree burns may take 10 to 14 days. 

    If you or any of your family members get sunburned, take the following steps. 
     Increase fluid intake. 
     Apply cool compresses to the affected skin. 
     Give acetaminophen as needed for pain. 

    If there is no improvement or if symptoms get worse, contact your health care provider immediately. 

    There’s No Safe Tan 

    Teens and young adults should also be aware that tanning salons are not any safer than tanning outdoors. Tanning booths contain light bulbs emitting UV light, which causes sunburn, skin cancer and early skin aging. Authorities report increasing cases of melanoma and other types of skin cancer related to sun exposure (and tanning salons!) among adolescents and adults. 

    Though this is an alarming trend, it’s not too late for you and your family to take care of your skin. 

    Overexposure to UV light from the sun or tanning salons is the most preventable risk factor for skin cancer. Therefore, practicing sun safety and avoiding tanning beds are crucial in preventing skin cancer, as well as skin damage and wrinkles. If you want the look of a tan, use self-tanning products and continue using sunscreen. Avoid sunscreen containing DEET. 

    Taking Charge of Skincare 

    Early detection of skin cancer leads to a cure. Everyone should check moles monthly, and your health care provider should inspect any changes in your moles. The American Academy of Dermatology advises watching for the following warning signs of skin cancer. 
    1 Changes in the surface of a mole. 
    2 Scaliness, oozing, bleeding or the appearance of a new bump. 
    3 Spread of pigment from the border of a mole into surrounding skin. 
    4 A change in sensation, including itchiness, tenderness or pain. 

    If any of your moles appears suspicious, contact your health care provider right away. 

    Leaves of Three, Let Them Be!
    There are other potential skincare risks when spending time outdoors, particularly if your kids play in wooded areas. Poison ivy is a poisonous plant associated with an allergic response to poison ivy oil, or urushiol. Teach your kids to avoid the plant, which appears as leaves in clusters of three growing from one stem. 

    An allergic response occurs within 24 to 48 hours after exposure. The rash is very itchy, red, and may turn into blisters. New blisters may appear during the first two weeks after exposure, and they usually resolve in three to four weeks. 

    More than 90 percent of people in the United States are sensitive to urushiol. If you are among the lucky ones not allergic, note that sensitivity may develop in time. 

    Poison ivy oil can remain on gardening, sporting or camping equipment for weeks, causing repeated allergic reactions unless the objects are washed with soap and water. Also, pets can carry poison ivy oils on their fur, so bathe your pet after a walk in a wooded area. 

    Do not burn poison ivy in a campfire. Some people are sensitive to urushiol and can have an allergic reaction by inhaling the burning oil. The inhaled oil reacts with the lining of the lungs, causing extreme pain and possibly fatal respiratory distress. Ingesting poison ivy also can be fatal. 

    Treating Poison Ivy 
    Here are ways to help ease the discomfort of poison ivy. 

    Oatmeal Baths 
    Oatmeal baths can soothe itching. You can find several types at your local supermarket, or you can make one yourself. Put 1/2 cup of oatmeal into a cotton sock with 1/2 cup of baking soda, then tie the sock and toss it into the bathtub while the water is running. Note that oatmeal can make the tub slippery. 

    Burrow’s Solution 
    Burrow’s solution was invented in the mid- 1800s by Karl Burrow, an ophthalmologist. A preparation made of aluminum acetate dissolved in water, it serves as an astringent and has antibacterial properties. You can use it to treat poison ivy dermatitis by applying cold compresses of Burrow’s solution over the affected area three times a day. 

    Poison Ivy Wash 
    You can find a topical solution for treating poison ivy at your local pharmacy that actually removes urushiol from your skin. This poison ivy wash binds itself to the urushiol so it can be effectively washed away. Although a rash may still be visible for a few days, the pain and itching are relieved immediately. 

    Insect Safety 
    We can’t escape insects when spending time outside, but we can prevent being stung or bitten. Insects are attracted to bright colors, fragrance and standing water. Therefore, if you wear your favorite perfume or lotion on a camping trip, insects may mistake you for a delicious flower! 

    To protect against uncomfortable stings, always wear an insect repellent when outdoors. Products with ten-percent DEET will give you protection for up to three hours and may be applied up to three times a day. However, it is always a good idea to wash the repellent off after coming indoors. 

    Insect repellents should not be used on infants younger than two months of age, and should be used with caution on infants two to six months of age. Do not apply the repellent to the face and hands, as babies tend to rub their faces and may get the chemical into their eyes. 

    Insect bites may get infected: The surrounding soft tissue (cellulitis) is swollen and hot to touch after 24 to 48 hours, despite cold compresses and antihistamines. You may need an antibiotic. 

    Apply cold compresses to the bite as needed. Give your child an antihistamine for itching. If swelling, tenderness, or redness persists or worsens, seek help from your health care provider as soon as possible. 

    West Nile Virus 
    West Nile virus is a potentially serious illness. Experts believe that West Nile virus is seasonal, flares up in the summer and continues into the fall. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the best way to avoid West Nile virus is to prevent mosquito bites in the first place. Insect repellents containing DEET are the only ones recommended for prevention. 

    West Nile Virus is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds. Infected mosquitoes can then spread West Nile virus to humans and other animals when they bite.

    If you find a dead bird, avoid handling it. Contact your local health department for instructions. 

    People typically develop symptoms between 3 and 14 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. If you are experiencing symptoms such as unusually severe headaches or confusion, seek medical attention immediately. 

    For more information, contact the CDC public response hotline at (888) 246-2675, or visit

    Monika Pis, PhD, CPNP is the Editor in Chief of our health, safety, and nutrition sections. She is a pediatric nurse practitioner with a doctoral degree earned at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.  She has provided health care to infants, children, and adolescents for over a decade.

     Web Design Bedford

    Saturday, July 14, 2012

    MRSA: What You Need to Know

    Anna Tielsch Goddard, MSN, CPNP-PC 

    What is MRSA?
    Many people have heard of “MRSA” from the news or other media sources.  Several years ago, magazines and news-stations began to call drug-resistant bacteria, such as MRSA and VRE (Vancomycin resistant Enterococcus) “superbugs” or “superinfections.” When a child is diagnosed with a MRSA infection, many caregivers and parents may feel panicked, scared, or both.  

    The acronym “MRSA” stands for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.  Staphylococcus is a type of germ (bacteria) that commonly lives on the skin and is sometimes referred to as “staph.”  These staph bacteria that live on the skin are harmless unless they enter the body through an open cut or wound.  Methicillin is a type of antibiotic that is used to treat Staphylococcus aureus skin infections.  Therefore, a MRSA infection refers to a germ that will not get better with certain antibiotics because the germ is “resistant” to the antibiotic.  

    What are Signs of an MRSA Infection?
    Signs of staph skin infections are red, swollen, painful boil or abscess on the skin.  It is not uncommon to have pus or drainage from the boil.  Staph infections can start from very minor skin sores such as an insect bite, cuts, scrapes, or pimples.  Many staph infections are very minor and can be treated in your primary care provider’s office.  MRSA infections are most often spread through touching or skin-to-skin contact.   

    Is MRSA dangerous?
    Many people are carrying MRSA germs on their skin and will never get an infection or any symptoms. This is referred to as “being colonized” with MRSA.  In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC), estimates that approximately 1% of the population are carriers of MRSA.  However, if you are “colonized” with MRSA, you can spread the germ to other people.  

    Anyone can get a MRSA infection, even if you are otherwise healthy.  MRSA infections are most commonly found on the skin, especially if someone is “colonized” or have been exposed to MRSA and also have a break or cut in the skin.  

    Once a person gets a staph infection, the germ can spread to other organs, joints, or bones.  Some people are at an increased risk of contacting MRSA, particularly if they have a weakened immune system (such as cancer or HIV), recent surgery, or are on kidney dialysis.  MRSA infections can be very self-limiting and treated with antibiotics that are NOT resistant to the staph germ.  Many of these infections are treated on an outpatient-basis (by your regular pediatric primary care provider).  

    Some MRSA infections can become very severe and cause more serious symptoms such as: high fever, shortness of breath, headaches, rashes, or a wound that won’t heal.  When the Staph aureus germs spread, they can start to affect the bones, joints, and then enter the bloodstream.  Once the germs are in the blood, they can spread to the heart valves, lungs, and brain.  Surgical wounds are especially susceptible to the spread of MRSA since Staph aureus regularly lives on the skin and the skin is cut open during a surgical procedure.  

    How do you treat a MRSA infection?
    Your pediatric nurse practitioner or pediatrician will most likely order a culture to diagnose the MRSA infection.  A culture can be taken from the wound itself, from drainage or pus from the wound, or sometimes from nasal secretions inside the nose.  The results from a culture will usually take 1 to 2 days.  

    Sometimes your provider will recommend draining the boil or skin abscess, often referred to as an “incision and drainage” or “I&D.”  This should only be done by a health care provider. In some circumstances, your provider will recommend an I&D be performed under sedation or anesthesia.   The nurse practitioner or pediatrician will prescribe an antibiotic for your child based on their individual health history.  If the wound starts to get worse, even after treatment and antibiotics, you should bring your child back to their health care provider.  

    Make sure that your child continues to take the prescribed antibiotic as prescribed.  Even though the skin or infection looks healed, antibiotics need to be used for the entire recommended dosage (which can be anywhere from a few days up to 2 weeks). 

    Most “super infections” have started because of the overuse and misuse of antibiotics in our culture.  In the past, health care providers prescribed antibiotics for the common cold, flu, and viral infections that we know now will not respond to these drugs.  Furthermore, just as human beings have changed and adapted over the years, germs have also adapted and became resistant to antibiotics.  These germs have built “resistance” to certain antibiotics and now we have “super-bugs,” such as MRSA, which are harder to treat and can cause more severe skin infections.  

    How do I prevent the spread of MRSA?
    The most important way to prevent a staph infection is to wash your hands.  Children will sometimes need hand-washing to be supervised.  You can teach your child to wash their hands by singing the “happy birthday song” or the “ABCs” while they are rubbing their hands with soap and water.  When you are at the hospital or a physician’s office, make sure that all health care workers or hospital employees wash their hands before they touch your child.  You can also carry a bottle of hand sanitizer when you or your child do not have access to soap and water. 

    If your child has a wound, make sure to keep it clean and covered with a bandage or 4X4 gauze until the wound is healed.  Pus or drainage from the wound can spread MRSA.
    Avoid sharing personal items. If you have a teenage son or daughter, instruct them not to share towels with one another and always wipe down shared athletic gear.  

    References and resources: 

    U.S. National Library of Medicine.  Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus; Hospital-acquired MRSA (HA-MRSA).,  

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections., 

    Mayo Clinic. MRSA infection., 

    American Academy of Pediatrics (2006). Staphylococcal infections. In LK Pickering et al., eds., Red Book: 2006 Report of the Committee on Infectious Diseases, 27th ed., pp. 598–610. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.

    About the Author:
    Anna Tielsch-Goddard CPNP-PC is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner for Children’s Medical Center Dallas at Legacy.  She practices on the Perioperative Surgery teams in presurgical assessment. Mrs. Goddard is currently working on her PhD at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing.