Youth

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Originally appeared in HuffPost Canada

Mental illness, mental wellness, mental health — whatever your preferred reference — is increasingly on society’s radar. (And, yes, the subject in general is less taboo. We’re talking about it more, which in turn leads to it seeming more prevalent.)

Health-care professionals, governments, academia, socially-responsible corporations, social service institutions — have heard the alarm being sounded and are scrambling to do their part to address this veritable “epidemic.”

Research, education, increased support service offerings, budgets and fundraising are all areas of intense focus when it comes to addressing the onslaught of mental illness — be that in the young or old.

And as this machine moves forward, there appears to be one question that isn’t grabbing the attention it likely deserves. What is the root cause of this incredibly sharp increase in mental illness?

There certainly must be many people studying the question from a clinical perspective and lay people who have endured the clutches of mental illness who have their own reasons for why it happened to them, their spouse, partners, or children. And there certainly are those individuals for whom mental illness was borne from a clear medical diagnosis.

But the core questions remain — where is it coming from? Why seemingly all of a sudden? What is at the heart of the issue? Mental illness is most certainly not a new construct or concept. Why so prevalent now?

One of the most striking things about this subject matter is how far this serious issue has evolved in a relatively short period of time.

As a young journalist in the mid-90s and 2000s, my colleagues and I were NEVER allowed to use the ‘S’ word. Even if the police, the fire department, the family, yourself — even if the entire world knew that the cause of a death was suicide — reporters were never permitted to utter the word in their script, stories, voice-overs — in anything. It was an unwritten but well-understood rule. There are parts of me that wish this was still the case, truthfully.

In the era of ‘everything being out there’, of 13 Reasons Why, of citizen journalism, infotainment and sensationalized pseudo-journalism, unfiltered and raw social media — the ‘S’ word is no longer sacred. It’s in your face and mine.

Pinning down the root cause or causes of mental health is/are pivotal. It/they will ultimately enable a more proactive, deliberate approach to addressing the issue, rather than what we seem to be living now — scrambling in reaction — once the damage is already done.

Some of the potential root causes of mental illness — from anxiety, panic and eating disorders to depression, addiction, etc., — that are NOT diagnosed as a clinical medical, deserve our attention.

As a keen observer, concerned citizen, colleague, friend and mother, I have my own theories on what some of these root causes may be:

1. Questionable parenting.

Parents need more help and support now more than ever. And that has been case in the last 10-15 years. Yet, many of them don’t realize it. They often don’t know what they don’t know until it is a full-blown dilemma, crisis or catastrophe. Asking for help is not a crime. Neither is implementing discipline in child-rearing or saying ‘no’ to a child. Helicopter parenting is certainly one culprit. Don’t do for a child what they can do for themselves. These children will become adults one day. Why would anyone want to raise an entitled adult, by enabling them as a child. (Not all parents fall into this category, but many do. Parenting is hard work. Signing up for it means committing to working hard, in my opinion.)

2. Devices aren’t humans.

The increased lack of face-to-face communication and human connections mean fewer outlets to have meaningful conversations with, share feelings, exchange ideas, read body language. see signs, relate in ways only humans are capable of. An increased reliance on devices and less on human contact in turn tends to fuel greater isolation, less self-care and more time online surfing or skimming, rather than discovery about oneself or the people around them and a subsequent evolution.

3. Keeping up with the Joneses.

This could easily be classified as a chronic condition for many. The increasingly competitive, bottom-line-driven society we live in can infiltrate even the most rationale of minds — which can suddenly find themselves fixed on what others think of them, comparing themselves and their ‘stuff’ to those around them and simply losing sight of their priorities.

4. Lack of a shared common goal.

This insight was shared with me by a fellow parent, recently. And it’s so true. Society today, lacks a common goal. By and large, people seem to be in it for their own personal gain, rather than working together as neighbourhoods, communities and a shared voice. It makes a difference when one is able to think of others before themselves. Suddenly kindness, empathy, compassion and humility enter the equation.

5. An inability to prioritize within priorities.

Yes, we are all busy. We seem to derive pleasure in comparing “busyness.” What are we busy doing, exactly? Prioritizing within a never-ending list of priorities is challenging but necessary in order to stay focused on and potentially achieve one’s goals. Somehow, each of us can and do find time for things that are important to us, don’t we? Knowing what is the most important of those important things, however, can make a marked difference.

It would be great if governments, using our hard-earned tax dollars to create a society they think we want — could think proactively, rather than reactively. Rather than constantly opening up the vault to support the result, how about proactively supporting society up front — eg. new and expectant parents, would be first on that list for me. Then maybe, just maybe, we wouldn’t need to increase budgets for crime-fighting, mental illness and the like.

These societal issues certainly wouldn’t disappear, but perhaps they would not increase either.

Are you in a crisis? If you need help, contact your local crisis centre. If you know someone who may be having thoughts of suicide, visit suicideprevention.ca to learn how to talk about suicide with the person you’re worried about.

Originally appeared in HuffPost Canada

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Screen Shot 2018-02-03 at 10.33.26 AM(originally appeared in Huff Post Parents in May 2016)

They seem to be sprouting all around us. Multiplying, it would appear, like rabbits. Defying age, culture, socio-economic status, demographic criteria, etc. And as we watch — often in disbelief, frustration or just plain anger — we wonder where in the world they come from and how in the world they do what they do with a straight face, without much apparent conscience and usually little respect or regard for those around them.

There is no deep thinking, forensic analysis or other investigative technique required to determine what creates, causes or contributes to an entitled individual. Rock stars, politicians and professional athletes, among others, have handlers. Entitled individuals have enablers. Period, end of story.

Take any example you wish — from the collapse of Wall Street and ensuing financial crisis of 2008 and beyond, to the Jian Ghomeshi case, a bully in the schoolyard, a parent who rules by fear, a less-than-competent colleague who somehow scales the corporate ladder — it’s a long and varied list.

You can safely bet there is one common denominator. They don’t act alone. Their actions are not isolated. They move, sometimes stealthily, because they are allowed to do so. The path ahead of them is often clear or cleared by someone else. Their enablers clear it for them — whether these enablers realize that IS what they’re doing, are proactively participating or are merely reacting on the sidelines through inaction.

Entitled individuals can bob and weave their way through life deftly in large part because those of us around them allow it to happen. We enable that action. We are all guilty of enabling in one form or another — however, small or large that enablement.

It is rather gobsmacking when you see all the hallmarks of entitled creature-creation in parenting. You know the one. A lovely, normal, hardworking mother or father trying to do the right thing for their child/children. And then they’ll do completely irrational things like: debate marks with their kid’s teacher, call their child’s university professor to see about bumping up grades, corner their kid’s sports coach about more playing time (assuming the coach is irrationally not playing them) and otherwise make excuses for, dive in to save, defend without just cause — their child.

There is a difference between advocating for a child with reason and appropriate rationale, and leaping in to save them when things don’t go their way. The latter is effectively sowing the seeds of entitlement.

One of the most difficult things to do as a parent is to stand by and watch your child undergo some form of adversity. But ask yourself the zillion dollar question — how else will they ever learn? Like the old saying goes, and it is so true: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

Yes it does. Likely never fun to go through, but necessary. Necessary to learn from, to appreciate the lesson learned and to understand the journey and process involved. If you want a kid to learn gratefulness and appreciation for what they have, they need to understand that journey.

The myriad of unscrupulously and even honest people, those who selfishly bent the rules, had their behaviour justified or some other such combination — others who innocently stood by and watched it happen. When the onion got peeled back on what led to the financial crisis, a whole bunch of “fraudsters” emerged. How were they allowed to operate for so long, relatively unscathed? It wasn’t magic.

As former CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi became some kind of broadcast star, it would appear that he became judged by a different set of rules by his colleagues and bosses. The hushed tones, winks, nudges, sweeping-under-the-rug tactics — assuming they all existed — covered up what we’ve sadly come to learn about in sordid detail in the last several months.

He was enabled. He became entitled. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. It’s not rocket science.

The ensuing debate about what could have and should have been done will rage on at the CBC and in other places of work where entitlement through enablement happens daily but is yet to be exposed — be that in the media or some other public forum.

The bottom line is what should have happened — red flagging from the onset and appropriate sanctions — did not happen. That did not happen for a host of reasons, not one of which will ever make a shred of sense to the victims with the red flags or future victims who may chose to keep their flags to themselves and avoid the red-face-inducing, complete public dressing-down that coming forward entails.

This type of behaviour starts with small acts of letting things slide. The little things can and often do snowball into much larger, unfortunate acts that impact lives in profound and irreversible ways.

It boils down, once again, to something all parents try to strive for, hopefully. When your kid does something wrong, there has to be appropriate discipline/punishment so they can learn right from wrong. Parenting 101. Basic. Not allowing that process of learning from mistakes, paying their dues, understanding consequences of their actions is effectively tampering with the natural order of things.

So, why in the world are we surprised when these kids grow up to be adults who behave the same way?

It’s only when they start to impede our progress that we begin to pay attention.

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/lianne-castelino/entitled-kids_b_10003404.html

Olympic Rings

Elite athletes can serve as healthy role models for today’s youth but it is important for parents to balance the image of a successful sports hero with the realities of life behind the scenes to help put a human face on Olympic-sized success.

According to Dr. Gail Beck, Director of Youth Outpatient Psychiatry at The Royal in Ottawa, children will learn the most from role models who they can relate to and have demonstrated hard work to achieve their goals.

Beck said many of the athlete profiles that appear during Olympic coverage do a good job of illustrating the commitment and effort that goes into becoming a world-class competitor in addition to highlighting the community of supporters – from parents to coaches – who make invaluable contributions along the way.

“You’ll see these athletes engaged in practices of their sport, talking to their coaches, you cannot see those and make any mistake about how hard they have to work to achieve their goals,” She said. “This isn’t luck.”

In addition to underscoring how hard their role-models have worked to become successful, Beck stresses the importance of reminding kids that everyone – however powerful or prominent in their field – is subject to human frailties.

Beck references examples like Ben Johnson, Canada’s decorated Olympic sprinters whose gold medal was rescinded as a result of steroid use, to illustrate how balancing a child’s admiration with the realities of life will help prevent disillusionment and confusion if someone they look up to does something wrong.

“A 10 or 11 year old is very likely to idolize a sports figure thinking everything this person does is perfect, so if that sports person happens to fall from grace, there can be this huge disappointment,” Beck said.  “It’s important to always balance the good of the person with the fact that everybody has had to overcome some challenges.”

Many Olympic athletes, like cyclist and speed skater Clara Hughes, have used their platforms for good, going on to become advocates for worthwhile causes like mental health awareness.  Beck said it’s a valuable lesson for children to see their heroes making contributions outside of their field and using their talents and fame to make a larger difference in the world.

Five-year old Taliyah Marsman in a photo released by the Calgary Police.

Reading about a child’s death is gut-wrenching as a parent.  The solidarity you feel with other mothers and fathers makes it virtually impossible not to weep for their loss and question your faith in the world.

You can’t help but imagine your own family experiencing such tragedy and reeling from the unthinkable heartbreak of losing a child.  You find it hard to look your own children in the eye because the very thought of going through what five-year old Taliyah Marsman’s family is going through in this moment is too unbearable to comprehend.

You feel helpless to protect your loved ones and though you try and tell yourself the world is filled with more good people than bad, you can’t help the sense of uncomfortable suspicion that washes over you every time a stranger crosses your path.

What is a parent to do when it feels like the world has turned upside down?  How do you move from one day to the next without feeling abandoned in a sea of more bad news than good?

I wish I had answers, but in this moment only questions.

Rest in Peace Taliyah Marsman and Sara Baillie.  May you find lasting comfort in the arms of each other.

Five-year old Taliyah Marsman in a photo released by Calgary Police.
Five-year old Taliyah Marsman in a photo released by Calgary Police.

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No one revels in the art of taking smart shortcuts more than yours truly. You know the one that leads from point A to D with expedience and without sacrificing quality. It’s a thrilling thing! And when you master it, there is no turning back. The sheer delight in increased efficiency, timely turnarounds and NOT wasting time is, “in short” — phenomenal!

The convenience industry which characterizes much of society today includes a fulsome range of neat businesses and “hard-to-live-without” services running the gamut. From healthy daily meal preparation with delivery to your door, to grocery shopping online and the endless variety of cleaning services, personal trainers, landscaping artists — the list goes on and on.

Then there are the veritably endless apps that can conveniently keep you honest with food intake and weight loss, sleep trackers and the enabling gifts of all kinds to magically appear at the front door of family and friends marking a special occasion — and within swipe or click or tap range, or flashing from a wearable device. It’s truly head-spinning material.

Which brings me to a newly discovered convenience, one that may very revolutionize an entire industry: buying a car — from loan to purchase — entirely ONLINE. Honestly, I found the concept truly amazing. Making one of the largest purchases one has to make in their life, using the click, tap, swipe method. Whoa!

It all got me thinking, as I watched my 16-year-old son climb into the gleaming taupe-coloured Driver’s Education car, with the instructor in the passenger seat, poised to begin the lesson.

The convenience industry has definitely enabled efficiency to a large extent which means in theory we should be able to spend more time doing more of what we love and hopefully less time, doing the opposite. That should presumably give us more time to chase those creative pursuits, do more of what brings up happiness, free up time to spend on what matters — family, friends, fitness, faith, to-do lists before they become bucket lists on a time limit, etc.

For parents, being able to tap into some of what makes up the convenience industry — hopefully the free or less-costly things — should mean freeing up time to spend that ever-elusive “quality” time with our children, spouses and partners.

But does it? Or do we somehow resist the benefits of the convenience industry and fill up that newly gained time with more stuff — that “stuff” that renders us all busy, ALL.THE. TIME. The B word that forms the common refrain to questions like: How’ve you been? How is life treating you? What have you been up to?

Time management is an ongoing odyssey for many of us, but for parents, it must be mastered quickly and on an ongoing basis as a matter of pure survival. Working parents understand this best. No time to waste. The clock is ticking. Drop-offs, pick-ups, schedules, nap time, calendars, activities, snack, meal and potty time, and of course timeouts. The clock whirrs.

While we cannot stop the clock, despite many valiant efforts to attempt such a feat, we could try to outsmart it. Perhaps stealing time — precious moments, priceless seconds, an hour here and there — truly leveraging the age of convenience that we live in to our own advantage, could offer the best of both worlds: A greater appreciation of living in the now.

I can frequently be heard saying to my children when they respond, “I’ll do it later.” Whatever IT is. Depending on the importance of the IT, a.k.a. the ask, I’ll reply, “Why not do it now, later may not come.”

And then there’s the priceless magnet on my father-in-law’s fridge reads which provides further food for thought and summarizes this concept so well: “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, that’s why it’s called the present.”

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It seems we can’t go more than a few days without hearing a daycare-related horror story. From incidents of disturbing neglect to overcrowding, the daycare industry as a whole has come under serious fire in recent years.

As a result of some of this negative press and my own preconceived notions, I really grappled with the prospect of enrolling my daughter in a daycare program when she turned a year old.  I downright resisted it for a while.

In my mind, daycare wasn’t a place with a lot of rhyme or reason. I pictured dropping off my child in carpeted room with a few toys and basic supervision where she’d largely be left to her own devices for the duration of the day.  In short, I was expecting little more than a glorified and rather expensive babysitting service.

I’m happy to report I was wrong.

In the months since our daughter began attending daycare, I’ve noticed such positive developments in her growth and demeanor.  Beyond the obvious displays of maturity – from learning to eat with a spoon to expanding her vocabulary and learning to put her toys away – it’s been a joy to see her evolve socially into a tiny person with a life of her own.

So much thought and care goes into the daycare’s daily curriculum, from indoor sensory activities to physical outdoor play, she is constantly stimulated by new and challenging activities to exercise her body and mind.

Suffice it to say that seeing her thrive in her new environment has completely changed my perspective on what daycare’s all about.  The care and attention she receives coupled with the top notch programming has turned that “glorified babysitting” stereotype I once believed right on its head.

At this point, I’d even be willing to say that choosing to go the daycare route was one of the best parenting decisions we’ve ever made.

I realize my family’s experience isn’t universal and that plenty of daycares across Canada are the focus of justifiable anxiety, concern and in some cases – legal trouble.  We are extremely fortunate with our daycare experience thus far and it isn’t lost on me that many people in the system are not so lucky.

The point of this post is simply to shed light on the other side of the issue and reassure any of the non-believers out there (I used to be one of them!) that beyond the disturbing headlines we so often read, are the many wonderful upsides of sending your child to daycare.

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Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

By: Cara Scholl

Developmental maturity matters more than age when deciding how to explain tragic world events to children says a leading child psychiatrist.

According to Dr. Gail Beck, Director of Youth Outpatient Psychiatry at The Royal in Ottawa, parents should tailor their approach to their child’s unique cognitive needs understanding that coping mechanisms differ from one child to the next, even within the same family.

“You can have some 10 year-olds who can understand more than some 14 year-olds and that’s not unusual or even abnormal,” Beck says. “The rule of thumb is that the parent has to be prepared to answer whatever questions a child brings to them and be prepared to have to explain that.”

Beck says children who are at a stage of development where they take thing very literally are particularly vulnerable to upsetting news because they might conclude that an incident – like the recent mass shooting in Orlando – is imminent in their own life.

Sunday’s shooting rampage in Central Florida claimed the lives of nearly 50 LGBT club goers when a lone gunman – apparently motivated by extremist ideology – fired into the crowd.  The massacre is classified as the deadliest shooting on U.S. soil and the country’s second deadliest attack since 9/11.

One of the bright spots to emerge in the aftermath of the tragedy has been the outpouring of support  both locally and from LGBT and non-LGBT communities worldwide.  On Monday, Orlando’s OneBlood blood bank tweeted that the response has been “incredible” adding the center is booking donation appointments two-weeks out.

Beck says emphasizing positive actions or storylines – like the lineup of blood donors in Orlando or the scenes of thousands who gathered in vigils around the world – is another effective strategy in helping children cope with distressing news.

“Those positive outreaches, those offers to help, they show us that in every terrible thing that happens there are people who are good and there is still good in the world.”

Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

The worldwide eulogizing of arguably the greatest personality of the 20th Century has been simply riveting to observe, on so many levels and for so many reasons.

Each of us should make time, regardless of age or interest, and take in a little bit of the more-than-full life lived with passion, purpose and principle that Muhammad Ali led. And the heavy, weighty legacy he leaves behind.

What struck me about the self-professed ‘greatest of all time’, or #GOAT as one of my kids reminded me is something I hope that my children will embody in their own lives: Muhammad Ali was his own man. Love him or hate him, question him or applaud him — he did his own thing.

That ‘own thing’ was usually rooted in a commitment to doing the right thing — and often against definite, daunting odds. Doing the right thing for him was a mirror reflection of his personal beliefs, hewn from his upbringing and environment. After all, we are all ultimately products of how we were raised and the environment we are exposed to — are we not?

His unwavering principle is something to marvel at. Principle supported by action. He didn’t just talk the talk (which in itself he was highly-skilled it and evidenced in a litany of piercing quotes). He backed it up with action — which was usually followed by some degree of conviction and courage — cause being your own man is usually a road riddled with potholes, even in the best of times.

Just think about the pockmarked backdrop that defined Ali’s formative years: racial strife and social injustice (the plight of ‘colored’ people in the United States at that time), political unrest (the Vietnam War for which Ali refused to be conscripted) — all this and much more as the fire ignited in the 12-year-old boy who set out to be the architect of his own destiny, emerging as a confident, outspoken boxer of ‘colour’ whose drive, diligence and desire propelled him to international fame, glory and controversy.

Muhammad Ali had many reasons to throw in the towel (something he rarely if ever did in the boxing ring) — in his life. Instead he persevered to pursue his beliefs, seemingly never swayed by anything or anyone but his strong sense of self and his personal convictions.

That is something to be admired. And definitely something to emulate. And in my opinion, sadly, a dying breed.

Muhammad Ali/U.S. Library of Congress
Muhammad Ali/U.S. Library of Congress

Today, doing the right thing, is also widely tested but in different ways. Measured against opinion from our family, friends, classmates, social media, the internet, what the Joneses are doing — it’s a robust, often influential list. It is easy to get sidetracked and even sideswiped. Staying the course is not a matter of course. The tide of ‘peer pressure’ ebbs, flows and usually devours those who hesitate.

At the end of the day, the only real measure of any consequence should be doing the right thing. Easier said then done.

As a parent, trying to raise children who understand right from wrong is something that starts early and is reinforced often. Adults can get led astray. Why should we expect a child to be any different. When you boil it down, the examples of right vs wrong occur daily in our lives, in both mundane and mammoth ways. Daily reality checks, should we choose to view them as such.

Doing the right thing is rather obvious when you think about it. Literally black and white. The challenge is following-through when it feels like you are on an island. Those who are capable of that follow-through usually emerge as true leaders. They may not have the title or the handlers or the finances to tell them they have the stuff of a leader, but their actions speak volumes. And that is what counts.

Sure, Muhammad Ali will be remembered by many for his memorable feats in the ring rising to become the heavyweight champion of the world. Others will surely admire his devout faith and finding it. There will be those who marvel at his searing courage in the face of mounting adversity. Individual traits, all of them, that should definitely be highly regarded. But when you strip it all down, you’re left with the core — a man guided by his principles and the desire to live them, daily.

The dramatic jabs, uppercuts, misses and body blows he endured in the ring mirrors greatly Ali’s life outside it. He even perfected the ‘on the ropes’ move as a part of his in-ring strategy. All focused on winning the bout. Outside the ring, focused on preserving his principles. And while he no doubt had his flaws, it’s difficult to knock a man down for doing what’s right.

I look forward to hearing from his children — what it was like to have such a giant as a parent.

Talk about humongous footsteps to follow.

That too, should be riveting to watch unfold.

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Please Note: The below Q&A is for informational purposes only and shouldn’t be considered a substitute for seeking advice from a healthcare practitioner regarding your child’s unique health needs.

WhereParentsTalk.com spoke with Dr. Jessica Burke Browman, a licensed and board certified Naturopathic Doctor based in Toronto, about the practice of Naturopathic Medicine as it relates to children’s health.

Can you provide a brief overview and explanation of Naturopathic medicine?

Naturopathic medicine is a distinct primary health care system combining modern scientific knowledge with traditional and natural forms of medicine. Built on a patient-centred approach it emphasizes prevention, treatment, and optimal health through the use of therapeutic methods and substances that support the body’s natural ability to heal and help the patient achieve sustainable health and wellness.The naturopathic philosophy is to stimulate the healing power of the body and treat the underlying cause of disease. There is also a strong focus disease prevention and health promotion.

Naturopathic Doctors (NDs) are able to work with each patient or family to create a health plan that is tailored to your specific needs. Naturopathic Doctors will work with your other healthcare providers to ensure a collaborative and complementary approach to your health. In addition to diet and lifestyle changes, natural therapies including botanical medicine, clinical nutrition, hydrotherapy, traditional Chinese medicine/acupuncture, may also be used during treatments.

In Ontario, NDs are regulated under the Regulated Health Professions Act and are regulated by the College of Naturopaths of Ontario (CONO).

What type of pediatric health issues can be treated by Naturopathic medicine?

NDs are primary healthcare practitioners in Ontario, and can treat the same conditions as a family doctors, including  both acute and chronic health conditions. Some common pediatric health concerns may include skin conditions (i.e. eczema, psoriasis), immune response (i.e. frequent colds, ear infections), dietary or food issues, digestive concerns, and basic preventative health measures.

How do parents know if Naturopathic medicine is the right course of treatment for their child?

Many parents want to make sure they are making the best choices for their child’s health. Whether parents are seeking alternative options or are looking to complement existing health care measures, naturopathic medicine can play a role in all treatment plans. Parents typically bring their children in for three primary reasons; they are seeking health promotion and disease prevention strategies, their child has symptoms that cannot be addressed by another health care provider, or their child has been diagnosed with a disease or disorder and parents are looking to combine conventional and naturopathic treatments with the aim of minimizing side effects to drugs, surgery or conventional treatments.

At what age can a child first visit a Naturopathic Doctor?

Naturopathic Doctors are qualified to see children of all ages. From newborns struggling with feeding issues to children scraping knees, and teenagers dealing with hormonal changes, NDs can play a vital role at any stage of your child’s life.

When might a parent want to consult a Naturopath or alternative courses of treatment for their child’s health?

Parents typically seek naturopathic care for three reasons. They are seeking tools to promote and maintain health and wellness for their family, their child has symptoms that have not been reduced through conventional treatments, or their child has been given a diagnosis and the parents would like to complement the conventional treatments to minimize side effects and maximize health and quality of life.

Dr. Jessica Burke Browman is a licensed and board certified Naturopathic Doctor based in Toronto. Her practice is family oriented with a strong focus on women’s health and fertility, musculoskeletal injuries, weight loss, and digestive disorders.

Please Note: The above Q&A is for informational purposes only and shouldn’t be considered a substitute for seeking advice from a healthcare practitioner regarding your child’s unique health needs.

Prolonged exposure to sun and heat can be very harmful to babies and young children.  It is important – especially at this time of year – for parents to refresh themselves on best-practices for keeping kids safe over the summer.

In 2015, the Government of Canada posted a comprehensive checklist of strategies and tips to guide parents through the year’s warmest months; please see below or refer to the Government of Canada website for more information.

Summer Safety Tips

Babies

  • Infants should be kept out of direct sunlight to prevent skin damage and dehydration.
  • Never leave children in a parked vehicle.
  • Keep babies consistently hydrated
  • Consult your baby’s healthcare provider before applying sunscreen to a baby younger than six months

               

Kids

  • Consult daily UV index readings to plan outdoor activities. Rays are strongest between 11am-4pm which is typically the hottest time of day. Extra protection is needed during these hours.
  • Children should wear a rimmed sun hat, breathable clothing, sunglasses and sunscreen when playing outdoors.
  • Never leave children in a parked vehicle
  • Keep kids consistently hydrated with cool liquids
  • Sunscreen should be regularly reapplied especially after swimming. Extra attention should be paid to areas of the body that are most exposed (face, lips, ears, neck, shoulders, back, knees and tops of the feet)

Following these tips will help protect vulnerable young children from the dangers of sun and heat exposure.  Though this checklist is thorough, it is only intended as a guide and shouldn’t be considered a substitute for doing your own research or consulting a trusted healthcare provider.

Stay safe and enjoy our beautiful Canadian summer!

FOR MORE SUN SAFETY TIPS VISIT THE GOVERNMENT OF CANADA! http://www.healthycanadians.gc.ca/healthy-living-vie-saine/environment-environnement/sun-soleil/tips-parent-conseils-eng.php

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