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Back to School 2020

The return to school this year is a bit more complicated than usual, the choice of all virtual or going back in person for a hybrid model was not in our vocabulary 9 months ago. A frequent question we hear is whether or not it is safe to have kids return to school and there really isn’t a single answer to this question as every family lives with different circumstances and risk tolerance. Each family needs to determine what works best for their kids and the family as a whole when choosing between a hybrid model or all remote learning. Whatever you choose, be confident that you are making the best choice for your family.

Here are some tips for a smooth transition back to school.

The kids have been home for a very long time and some are anxious to get back into school and some are anxious about getting back into school. Emphasize that schools are working very hard to have a safe environment with everyone wearing masks, social distancing and an amazing amount of plexiglass in some schools. Our community’s infection rate is very low, below 1%, so this is the perfect time to get school started.

Have a routine for each school day regardless if it is an in person day or a virtual learning day. Have a regular bedtime and wake up time. Do not let your adolescent become nocturnal as that leads to poor physical and mental health and poor school performance. Start the school sleep routine a week before school starts.

There will be new rules and procedures for dealing with illness in the schools. School nurses are being instructed to send home any child with symptoms that could be COVID-19. Unfortunately, there are many symptoms associated with COVID-19 including fever, cough, congestion, runny nose, sore throat, headache, fatigue, muscle aches, stomach ache, diarrhea and vomiting. Yep, that list is long and includes symptoms associated with nearly all illnesses kids get including allergies. As always, we anticipate the start of school to bring the start of colds/strep throat/viral illnesses, etc.  In the time of COVID-19 and social distancing and masking, we are also hoping illnesses won’t be as widespread and frequent as we are used to seeing. However, there will be a heightened sense of concern if your child does become ill. Expect your child to be sent home and to stay home until all symptoms resolve. Schools will be requiring a negative COVID-19 test in order to return to school after any illness, even strep throat. We will have an increased number of sick visits available each day to be able to see and evaluate each child. Additionally, we are doing our best to have enough COVID-19 swabs to be able to meet our patients needs.

If your child has seasonal allergies in the fall, start allergy medication now and continue it until there is snow on the ground or until your child’s allergy symptoms usually resolve. This is the year for everyone to get a flu shot, so make an appointment with us to get everyone vaccinated so that we have a mild flu season. We hope to have flu shots soon and will start with flu shot clinics as soon as we can. Getting the flu shot by the end of October should be everyone’s goal.

Regardless if your kids are doing all virtual school or going back to school with the hybrid model, having a confident and positive attitude for the coming school year is very important as our kids are listening to us. For the young kids going back to preschool or daycare, a quick confident goodbye is important. It lets kids know that you are sure they will have a good day and you are not worried about leaving them. The COVID-19 pandemic presents a situation where we can teach our kids a great lesson; we can’t control life but we can control our response to life. If we are upbeat and emphasize the positive then we are all much much happier and able to handle life’s difficulties. Here’s to a great school year!

COVID19 Update September 2020

It is always bittersweet to have summer come to a close. Legacy Pediatrics had a busy summer seeing many of you for physicals; it was great to check in with everyone and have a chance to share stories and observations about the pandemic.

As school gets underway, we anticipate the start of colds/strep throat/viral illnesses, etc.  In the time of COVID19 and social distancing and masking, we are hoping these illnesses will not be as widespread and frequent as we are used to seeing.  There will be a heightened sense of anxiety when your child DOES start that cough, fever, or runny nose, and we know that schools will be requiring an evaluation by us, AND a negative COVID test in order to return to school after a cold.  We have worked hard to get stocked with viral swabs to be able to test our patients to eliminate the need to go to urgent cares, and to meet the school’s criteria.   

We continue to have in place safeguards to keep everyone safe and healthy while in the office.  We ask that one parent or guardian accompany your child to the visit. You will be asked screening questions before your child’s appointment and the accompanying parent and child will have temperatures taken before entry into the main office. We ask that you and any child 5 and over wear a mask at all times while in the office.  Social distancing will be observed while in the office by everyone when not performing medical tasks.

As before, we are separating sick and well visits by time of day and limiting any time spent in the waiting room.

We are asking all families to activate their child’s portal page and those patients 16 years old and older to activate their own portal page so that all paperwork can be sent electronically to the portal page.

We want to thank all our families who are doing a great job managing during this challenging time. Keep up the good work everyone!

Tips for Guiding Behavior While at Home

Let’s not sugar coat that having your children home full-time from school can be a challenge. However, it’s important to note that they may be struggling with this change as well. You may have noticed some unpleasant behaviors surfacing as the days pass. Those fun schedules they were excited about at first may not be doing the trick anymore. If you find your children acting out, don’t panic. There are some adjustments that can be quickly implemented that may give you, or your littles, some peace of mind.

If you have a toddler at home:

Do your best to keep their schedule as close to what is has been as possible.

You may need to ask the daycare for an outline of their schedule to keep it similar. Schedule = security. It is tough to be a toddler in times of uncertainty. Imagine having your entire environment and day to day schedule be changed and not be able to communicate how you are feeling about these changes. Providing a sense of safety and routine might be all your little one needs to control the random tantrums they may have started to perform. If your toddler has begun the “no” phase this may be a particularly challenging time to tackle that. But, the more you allow your child to say “no” (within reason) the quicker they will move past this stage of autonomy versus shame and doubt. A strategy to avoid a power struggle with your toddler is by giving choices. If you are making lunch and you say “What do you want for lunch?” Leaving this open ended allows for them to give an answer you may not allow- a popsicle! This can quickly turn into a power struggle of you saying no and the child becoming upset. Instead, try giving two acceptable choices and letting them decide. This gives them the power to make their own choice but you also will be happy with either answer. Example- “Would you like pb & j or grilled cheese for lunch? You choose!” You can do this with choosing activities, snacks, and even bedtime (“Should we read 1 or 2 books tonight? You choose!”)

If you have a preschooler at home:
They may be a little more vocal about the new feelings they are experiencing.

At first, they might have been really excited about being home all day with mom, dad, siblings, etc. As time has gone on you might feel like they are beginning to test some boundaries. Take a moment to think about all the friends, teachers, and extended family they might be missing. A great way to help them communicate these feelings is by talking about your own feelings, but at their level. At night you can take a few minutes to say, “Wow I really miss grandma and that makes me feel sad, maybe tomorrow we can call her! Are you missing anybody? How do you feel when you miss __? Do you want to write them a letter tomorrow?” Another great way to help your preschoolers understand the emotions they are having is a feelings chart. You can create your own by making two columns. The first says I am (emotion). You can pair this with a visual to help them visualize the emotion. Then, the second column can say When I feel (emotion) I can … and let your little one brainstorm ideas with you of appropriate things they can do when feeling that emotion. Always do this before an emotional outburst NOT during. Revisit this while your child is feeling happy so they will have it in their back pocket when they begin to get upset, sad, mad, etc. I have added an example of one of these charts below.

Example of a Feelings Chart:

Another great strategy is to create a ‘Cool Down Corner’ in your home. This should be a soft, quiet space that your child enjoys. This area should be used mainly when your child needs to cool off. If they are becoming overwhelmed by their emotions guide them to this area and give them the option to snuggle with a stuffed animal, read a quiet book, or maybe practice taking deep breaths. Give your child space, we all could use some space when we are overwhelmed! Then give your child the control to come to you when they are feeling better. Some sort of positive affirmation, whether it be verbal or physical, is always a good idea after your little one has cooled off. You want to reinforce the positive behavior of cooling off instead of letting a tantrum get out of control. Some examples include, a big hug, a high five, or saying “I really liked the way you took a break and calmed down”, “I still love you even when you are upset, are you feeling better?”

If you have a school-aged child at home:
It’s likely they are still adjusting to balancing learning from home, being around their siblings and parents constantly, and still finding time to play and
be a child!

You always want to set your child up for success. If space allows create a separate space for learning. Try not to bring the school environment directly into a space where they are used to playing and being creative with no boundaries. Much like how us as adults like to separate work life from home life your children are used to separating school from home. Your child may also need help communicating their needs during this time. For example, they may be feeling overwhelmed by being constantly surrounded by the same family members. You can help your child communicate that they need some space with a simple activity. Your child or you can design a door sign using words or symbols to express on one side “I need some space right now” and on the other side “I am ready to talk and spend time together” This way if your child is overwhelmed instead of having to verbally express this, they can simply go up to their room and switch their sign. Then, they have the independence to flip their sign around when they are ready. Do your best to respect their sign and their need for space. With boundaries of course. You can set some guidelines to when it is ok and not ok to be alone.

If you have a teen at home:
There is a good chance one of their biggest struggles is missing their social life.

Between sports, clubs, and other activities your teens are grieving a lot of the things they looked forward to. Luckily, there are several ways to connect through technology. Allowing them some private time to connect with their friends is important. If you are worried about screen time you can try ‘phone free meals’. This simply means eating together with your teen and not allowing phones at the table… including yours! You may also consider asking your teen what they look forward to doing once it is safe to do so. Make some tentative plans to give them and even yourself something to look forward to! You may also want to check in on your teenager’s feelings about the pandemic. I have linked an article written by a psychologist about how to help teens deal with anxiety that the coronavirus could be causing.

Final Thoughts:
Remember to take time for yourself! Your reaction to this situation will play a huge role in the way your child reacts.

Children are constantly watching the adults in their lives to see how to act and react. The way you talk about the situation will most likely turn into their view of the situation. There are many resources out there on ways to talk to your child about covid-19 and the impact it is having on everyone’s lives. I will link some of the resources below if you need help finding age appropriate ways to explain this to your kids. Deep breaths, you are doing the best that you can in a time of uncertainty. Remember- children are resilient, they will be fine!

Resources:

Kidshealth – How to talk to your child about Coronavirus

PBS – how to talk to your kids about Coronavirus

The Importance of Chores for Kids

With school out and we are all home with our kids for an undetermined period of time, let’s talk about chores and kids. Why do kids need to have chores to do around the house? There is good evidence that doing chores helps build self-confidence and is associated with decreased anxiety, depression and stress symptoms in children. Chores are work, and kids need to know how to work hard and how to persist at hard work. Working hard at something; chores, learning an instrument, school work, develops grit. Participating in chores also sends a clear message to kids that they need to contribute and they are a valued member of the family. If the parent is the only one doing the household work, kids may think of their parent as their servant and we definitely do not want that!

“Chores are work, and kids need to know how to work hard and how to persist at hard work.”

Dr. Janet Casey

The complexity and difficulty of chores should be based on the age of the child. For example, a child as young as 4 can help clear their plate and cup from the table after eating. A 5-year-old can wipe down the kitchen counters and table after a meal or sort laundry into colors (a great learning game as well). An 8-year-old can sweep the floor, make their bed or vacuum their room. With any new chore, it is important to show your child how to do the task and be available if there are questions or problems. Assistance in understanding how to do the chore is ok but you don’t want to get suckered into doing the work for your child. You also must resist the temptation to redo the work your child has done.

There are no specific guidelines for how many chores or how long a child should spend doing daily chores; however, a good rule of thumb is to expect a child 10 and under to spend 10-20 minutes a day and 20-30 minutes a day for teenagers. Longer tasks such as lawn mowing would be expected to be done on the weekends. Having rules such as chores before TV, video games or play time is a very good idea. As always, when there is a rule, stick to it as you are the boss.

Should you pay your child for doing chores? Payment for more difficult tasks or tasks that are not usual chores is a great way to help your child learn how to manage money.

Here is a list of tasks broken down by age:

Kids age 3-4 can:

  • Pick up toys
  • Set the table (not heavy or sharp objects)
  • Pick up the play room
  • Put clothes in the hamper
  • Pick up toys

Kids age 4-6 can:

  • Make their bed
  • Clear their dishes from the table
  • Empty trash cans
  • Clean their room
  • Sort laundry by colors

Kids age 7-9 can:

  • Vacuum or sweep the floor
  • Wipe down kitchen counters or tables
  • Load and start the washing machine and dryer
  • Load the dishwasher
  • Help with some cooking
  • Pack their lunch

Kids age 10-12 can:

  • Do simple yard work
  • Prepare a simple meal
  • Clean bathrooms
  • Wash windows
  • Fold laundry

Teenagers are capable of doing nearly anything around the house. Remember teens, and pre-teens for that matter, are capable of navigating the internet, video games or anything electronic without any difficulty so they can do some fairly complex chores around the house!

Brainstorm with your kids to develop a list of chores and post it in a visible location. Hold your kids accountable for their work and thank them for their contribution to the smooth running of the family.

Remember, when your kids are grown up, they will thank you for this; I promise!

What’s New at Legacy Pediatrics in 2019?

Happy New Year to everyone from Legacy Pediatrics! We hope you all had a fun and restful holiday season. I wanted to update our families on some new things going on with us at Legacy Pediatrics in 2019.

One of the first things you will notice is our new logo! We are excited about our new branding! We used a local graphic designer (and mom) to help us get a better match for what we represent here at Legacy.

If you’ve been to the office lately, you may have noticed our brand-new floors and fresh paint on the walls! The winter salt and wet boots took a toll on our old floors and the new ones will hopefully wear better and with a new, modern look.

In terms of Legacy’s services, we are continuing our work in the important area of pediatric research. In fact we are currently enrolling 2 month-old children for a meningitis vaccine study and will soon start up a study evaluating a new rapid influenza test.

New in 2019 are updates to New York State daycare and school forms. We are formatting these into our EMR system and can print at your child’s physical. These forms will also be available to you on our Patient Portal (via our website) so you can download and print at your leisure.

Speaking of physicals, Legacy has started calling families when a child’s birthday is coming up to remind you to schedule your child’s physical. Everyone is programmed to get their infant, toddler and young child in for their physicals so that we can monitor development, answer questions and administer vaccinations. But once your child reaches school age, sometimes we forget! It remains very important that your child get a yearly physical around the time of their birthday. These appointments allow us to be able to check in with your child to monitor their school progress, emotional and physical health and administer vaccinations. There are a number of vaccinations that are tied to a specific age, so it continues to be important to schedule your child’s physical around the time of their birthday.

There is some confusion about the timing of physicals for pre-teens and teens who participate in school sports. Parents are occasionally told from schools to schedule the physical in July or August in order for their child to be able to participate in school sports. That is simply not true! The yearly physical is “good” for an entire year from the end of the month of the physical. For example, if your child is born in February, a physical done in February 2019 is “good” until the end of February 2020. Your child is eligible to participate in school sports for the Spring sports season that school year and the Fall and Winter sports in the following school year using that physical form. It’s also unrealistic for us to be able to do all school aged children’s physicals in just two months! Hence, our push to try to match up physicals with birthday month.

You will also find some interesting and pertinent articles given out at childhood physicals. Parenting is hard, so if we find some helpful information, we like to pass it along to you.

The last comment about physicals is that nearly all insurance companies cover one physical a calendar year for children, pre-teens and teens older than 14. We want to be the best “medical home” for your child and their needs and love to see them grow! Summers are our most popular time for physicals to be booked and therefore, can be busy and openings are less. We ask that you call and book your appointments a few months in advance, so we can accommodate everyone’s needs!

 

How To Support Our Kids After A School Shooting

Father Son Talk about Shooting

In the wake of yesterday’s school shooting, my heart breaks for the victims and their families of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, the most recent victims of gun violence.  Like many of you, I find myself drawn to the constant news updates online, even as someone who routinely avoids the daily news.  As I continue to try to process this horrific act, my thoughts naturally shift toward my own children, who are elementary school-age.  This is sadly one of many school shootings in their lifetime.   As many experts have said, it’s wishful thinking that our children don’t know that these events occur.  We live in a digital age which allows us to go online and watch live feeds of events AS THEY HAPPEN.  Even if your children are not on social media or are not tech savvy, their friends and friend’s parents likely are and will certainly be talking about it. While we try to shield our kids from the media as much as possible, this event is likely to be the buzz of bus rides and lunchrooms all over the country.  I wonder how much my own kids will hear.   Continue reading

Office Move

We have moved!!  As of November 1st, 2013, we have relocated to the building next door in our current complex.  We are now in Building 300 and our suite is still 360.  We are excited to have you experience our fresh and newly renovated space!

Stay tuned for updated pictures.

we-moved-sign