Stress Management for Final Exams

The end of the school year is just a few weeks away and final exams will be coming up soon. This can be a stressful time as your teen might feel under pressure or overwhelmed with exam preparations. We have some tips on how to help your kid manage stress and perform well on their tests. 

Firstly, let your teen know that you empathize with their feelings and encourage them to practice self-compassion. Feeling overwhelmed about exams is completely normal and it’s important that your child doesn’t put too much pressure on themselves. If your child is struggling with preparations or understanding the material for their tests, they might get frustrated with themselves. This is an opportunity to remind them of their skills and strengths so that they develop self-confidence, which will relieve some of the pressure they might be feeling. 

It’s also helpful to encourage your teen to create a plan that breaks down their study and preparation sessions. Often, finals can feel overwhelming when kids take them all in at once. Mapping out what they need to do and the number of hours they need to study can give them the structure they need to prepare and make studying feel more do-able. Creating a study schedule will also keep them on track and ensure that they are ready for when they have to take their finals. Their study plan should include breaks to relax or have a snack to prevent burnouts.

When your child is studying, remind them to keep their cell phones or any electronics they’re not using for studying away. Having a quiet and comfortable study environment can also put your child at ease while preparing for their exams. It’s important that your child is not distracted so that they remain focused and do not procrastinate. Procrastination can lead to cramming for the exams as it gets closer to taking them, making those final days even more stressful.

If your teen has a job, talk to them about cutting down their hours or taking time off so they not only have time to study, but their workload isn’t as excessive. This should eliminate some of the stress and make their schedules more manageable. Calming techniques like meditation, yoga, using stress balls, breathing exercises, and practicing mindfulness can be very beneficial for coping with stress. Visualization, such as seeing the tests go well, can also help. Encourage your child to find a modality that works for them. 

If your child has a mental health condition like depression or anxiety or they have a diagnosis like ADHD, check with their school to see what accommodations can be made, including more time during the exam or modifications to the tests.

As some kids get stressed about finals because they’re afraid of tough questions that they won’t know the answers to or they forgot the answers, advise them on some test strategies like not dwelling on a question for too long or returning to it later. Having a plan and good test practices will help your teen feel more confident. 

Lastly, it’s important that your child remembers to take care of their health as they study. Eating healthy, staying hydrated, exercising, and getting enough sleep will keep them energized and help with concentration. They are also more likely to perform better on their exams.

Protecting Children from Cyberbullying

In today’s digital era, cyberbullying is a major issue affecting children and teens. Cyberbullying is the use of digital and internet tools to intimidate, harass, humiliate, mock, and hurt someone. It can take place through social media, text messages, web forums, online apps, and online games. Some examples of cyberbullying include harassing or insulting text messages to someone’s phone, publishing social media posts that make fun of someone or embarrassing photos and videos, spreading rumors or untrue stories on the internet, and leaving hurtful comments and messages on people’s social media accounts. 

Cyberbullying is harmful as posts and messages that are published on the internet or to social media can spread very quickly and cause severe humiliation for the victim. Furthermore, it can be difficult sometimes to identify who is behind the cyberbullying as posts and messages can be created anonymously or through an alias. Cyberbullying can also happen at any time and from anywhere. And just like face-to-face bullying, cyberbullying can affect a child’s academic performance in school, mental and physical health, sleep, diet, self-esteem, and social life. Cyberbullying also increases the risk of substance abuse and suicide. 

Dealing with cyberbullying can be challenging and emotional for families. But there are many ways to protect your child from it. Firstly, it’s important to pay close attention to your child’s behavior and mental health. If you suspect something is troubling them, start a dialogue with them to see what’s going on and encourage them to open up to you. If your child is a victim of cyberbullying, document the activities and be aware of where they’re occurring. By collecting documentation and screenshots, you can report the events and have them removed from the digital platforms. Social media and other types of apps have developed processes for handling cyberbullying and are responsive about removing harmful content. Check the app’s community standards for info on how to report abuse. 

For text messages and harassing phone calls, you can report the phone number to your mobile company and have it blocked so that your child doesn’t receive any further contact. If you can identify a classmate who is behind the cyberbullying, make sure to report the incident to the school as well. For any abuse that persists, you may need to reach out to resources in your community or at your child’s school to assist with the problem.

It’s also important to teach your child how to stay safe online. Social media apps have privacy settings that can be implemented to eliminate contact from bullies and abusive online users. Advise your child to be careful of who they share their contact and online info with and to use security measures to protect their online accounts. 

If your child is a victim of cyberbullying, let them know that you are there for them and will support them to get through it. Cyberbullying can be a frightening experience and it’s helpful for your child to know they’re not alone. Check in on how they’re feeling to properly guide them and boost their self-esteem. If your child needs additional help, there are many mental health resources available. As always, please contact our pediatrician for assistance. 

What to Know About Heavy Metals in Baby Food

Hearing about heavy metals in baby food can leave many parents worried and raise many questions and concerns. Heavy metals pose a risk of toxic exposure to children and can harm the brain, leading to problems with learning, cognition, and behavior. Since metals are found in nature and released into the environment, they can get into food from manufacturing and packaging. Common metals found in food include arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury. There are many steps parents and caregivers can take to reduce the risk of toxic exposure in their child’s diet.

To start, it’s important to serve your baby a well-balanced diet with fruits, vegetables, grains, and lean protein. When your child consumes a diet rich in essential nutrients, their risk of exposure to toxic metals and harmful contaminants is reduced. Make sure to read the labels for baby food and pay attention to the list of ingredients to offer a variety of foods and nutrients.

When it comes to serving grains, it’s best to offer different types and change them up. Rice usually absorbs more arsenic than other crops, so you’ll want to add other kinds of grains to your child’s diet such as oats, quinoa, couscous, and multi-grain cereals. To help lower the arsenic levels in rice, rinse the rice before cooking if you’re preparing it from scratch. 

Avoid giving your baby any fruit juice as it can contain concerning levels of heavy metals. Fruit juice is also not recommended for children under age 2 as it has a lot of sugar and lacks fiber that whole fruits have. Young children should only be fed whole sliced or pureed fruits to help with swallowing. For babies under 6 months of age, they should only be given breast milk or formula. After 6 months, you can give them water and continue feeding them breast milk or formula. Breastfeeding is the best choice, if possible, as breast milk can reduce exposure to toxic metals.

If you feed your baby fish, be careful of the type of fish you choose. Some fish are high in mercury and other metals. Large and predatory fish, such as sharks, are the most concerning. If you feed your child fish, stick to safer options like light tuna and salmon. 

Some studies suggest that organic baby foods might have lower levels of pesticides and chemicals. But heavy metals are found in soil and can also get into organic foods. Organic foods can contain the same levels of heavy metals as non-organic foods. 

In addition to baby food, it’s important to be mindful of other sources of exposure to heavy metals, including your water. As heavy metals can get into tap water, check with your local health department to ensure your water is not contaminated. It’s also important to be mindful of your pipes as older ones can contain lead. Address any peeling or chipping of paint to avoid lead exposure too. Keep babies and toddlers away from cosmetics that may contain lead as well. 

The bottom line – there has always been a trace amount of heavy metals in all foods and within the environment.  Potential exposures are reduced as long as your children are eating a variety of foods.  If you have any questions or concerns about toxic exposure from heavy metals, contact your pediatrician.