I'm writing this blog because my firstborn used to eat butter under the dining room table in secret. Leaving me chunks of butter with teeny teethmarks. My second child thinks that three PB & Js make up a balanced meal. My third is a carb addict who uses vegetables as a way to eat his ketchup. My fourth kiddo eats like a grown man and eats your leftovers when you aren't looking. They have all been picky at some point. Some for a brief time and others for a very, long, exhausting two years. So I feel for you when you say, " my kiddo eats nothing." That is exactly how it feels at times.
I'm in the " mom of four" club. It's an unspoken club where parents understand the level of chaos and joy in their families of four. There's a club for every family. We look at families of one with envy. "Wow. They only have one car seat!" We look at families of two and think, " wow. They only bathe two kids at night." Three? "Wow. They only have three! They are so smart." Then we look at our family of fours and say, "you are nuts! Oh wait, so am I."
As pediatricians we examine many ears in a day’s work. I can’t say i like it very much even after 11 years in pediatrics. Newborns are easier to examine, however, you can’t see very much. Infants sometimes beat me up. Toddlers, well, they are toddlers. Enough said. They put all kinds of things in there, but then they don’t want us to shine a light in there for 3 seconds. Younger children are usually fine with an ear check and don’t put objects in there which makes me happy ( I am starting a collection of “things I have removed from ears and noses”). Teenagers usually stay still for the ear exam, but are always self- conscious about ear wax (necessary for a healthy ear!).
When a family experiences a loss, whether it be a relative, a friend or a pet, it can be challenging to navigate through the feelings of those involved. Particularly, for children, it can be a new and confusing experience. Here is some advice for teaching children about death.
First and foremost, respect their emotions. They may be sad, angry, distant, distraught, quiet, loud. They may act out, ignore the loss and ask many questions. They may process it quickly, but more likely they will need time.
Communicate to them in a way that is developmentally appropriate but direct. Don’t lie about what happened. Use the words “died” and “death” not “passed away” or “asleep”. Explain things slowly and over time if a child seems to get too anxious or overwhelmed.
Realize that younger kids do not understand the concept of death. At around age 4, a child can grasp the finality of death. After 5, they can understand that if one is dead, they do not feel, think, move or play as we do. This leads into another stage where the child relates to their own mortality…the realization that they too will die someday. The understanding that all living things will die.
Cry if it comes. Let your child cry if it comes. It’s normal and a vital part of the grieving process. Never say, “be tough”, “wipe those tears away”, “get over it”. Respect your child. Respect their grief. Respect the loss is their own just as yours is your own. Keep the open communication going in the months to come. A child needs to have the freedom to go back to the emotions they initially had or move forward to another stage of grief.
Laugh if it comes. Let your child laugh if it comes. The joy of our children is contagious. It pulls us through the grief and allows them to create a positive space for their grief.
If you are concerned about your child’s grief, adjustment or behavior surrounding a loss, recent or not, please call us. We can help. We are here to support your child’s emotional health as well as their physical health.
Imagine this. Your adorable toddler is finally snoring away in his/her own bed (ok, maybe in your bed, across your pillow with an arm and/or leg angled around your neck, drooling) But, they are asleep! and you are ready to enjoy a hot cup of coffee…wait. nevermind. you have to get up in 6 hours and there is no time for coffee now. maybe you can do some of that laundry? nah. that’s boring. will never finish it until morning anyway. so, that leaves you with making lunches, loading the dishwasher, cleaning up toys or maybe just going to bed. As you grapple with these big decisions, you hear it. the blood curdling screams.