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The Family Center: enrichment programs for families and professionals

Nutrition for Kids in Sports

Ask the Experts by Kunal Kalra, MD

Q. Can you provide nutrition and hydration tips for kids participating in sports?

A. Proper nutrition and hydration are essential in optimizing a student athlete's performance. An athlete who does not have enough nutrients or liquids to prepare for competition can be at risk of developing serious medical issues such as dehydration. Here are a few tips to on proper nutrition and hydration for the student athlete.

Eat like a champion 

The best way to do this is to eat a balanced breakfast and eat a variety of high-quality foods throughout the day containing a varied combination of complex carbohydrates, protein and fat. 

Consume the calories you need based on the physical activity you perform. During training add the extra calories burned during a session to your typical caloric intake to maintain your weight and appropriate energy level. For example, if your typical intake is 2200 calories per day and you play basketball for one hour, burning approximately 500 calories per hour, you should eat 2700 calories on that day.

Read more: Nutrition for Kids in Sports


About the Flu in Children

Ask the Experts by Nicholas Gilpin, D.O.

Q. How do I know when my child is getting the flu?

A. Influenza is a virus that primarily affects the respiratory system, so the most common symptoms include runny or stuffy nose, sore throat and cough. Your child also may have severe fatigue, body aches, fever and chills. During the winter, these symptoms should always raise one's suspicion for the flu.

Q. What kind of care should I give my child with the flu?

A. For most healthy children, the best treatment for the flu is supportive care, including rest. Parents should give their child lots of fluids and give them anti-inflammatory medications to control fever and body aches. 

Read more: About the Flu in Children


Fostering Independence and Resilience in Children

Ask the Experts by Mary Beth Garvey

Q. My teenager is so easily discouraged by setbacks. How can I help him handle his frustration?

A. One of the most important traits that builds confidence and helps kids become more independent is resiliency, or the ability to take healthy risks and recover from disappointments. Resiliency is a skill that can be fostered when we treat kids in a way that demonstrates we believe they can handle disappointments and that mistakes are allowable, or even encouraged.

A significant threat to resilience is perfectionism. Many kids today are highly perfectionistic. Though it's often highly regarded in our culture because it's associated with high levels of achievement, perfectionism lends itself to a host of difficulties in teens: unrealistic performance expectations, a low tolerance for disappointment, a critical self assessment that leaves little room for mistakes, dependence on praise from others, and increased anxiety. Each of these factors undermines the foundation for resilience or the ability to maintain the persistence needed to master something independently.

Read more: Fostering Independence and Resilience in Children


Family-Friendly Economics - empowering children to make informed decisions

Ask the Experts by Michelle Balconi 

Q: Why should I talk to the children in my life about economics?

A: For most of us, "Econ" was a class we had to take and were happy to earn a "C," but that doesn't make the topic any less prevalent in our daily lives. Understand it or not, economics has a place in your life and that of your children.

It might help to think about economics less in terms of bowtie-wearing professors mapping the correlation between supply and demand, and more in terms of CHOICES. Children can use economic principles to decide what to have for lunch and even which college to attend.

Read more: Family-Friendly Economics - empowering children to make informed decisions


Finding Peace and Balance in a Stressful World

Ask the Experts by Gail Elliott Patricolo

Q. I work full time and try to take care of a busy family. My daughter has a full load at school and with sports. We both seem stressed out all the time and need some coping skills we can share with the rest of our family. The stress does not seem to go away and may even be hurting our health and relationships. Are there stress management skills I can learn? 

A. We’ve all been there. Whether it’s following an argument with your spouse or teenager, a looming deadline for homework or a big school project or wondering how you’re going to pay the bills next month, stress is, unfortunately, a part of life…for mothers and daughters.

“Stress can’t be avoided,” says Gail Elliott Patricolo, director of Integrative Medicine for Beaumont Health System. “What you need to focus on is how to deal with stress before it begins to affect your health in other ways.” And there are lots of stress reducing techniques.

Read more: Finding Peace and Balance in a Stressful World


Raising a Reader

Ask the Expert by Stephanie Cork, Education Specialist

Q: How can I foster a love of reading in my child?

A: One of the more difficult questions I am asked by parents of late elementary through high school children is how can they make their child enjoy reading. Like anything else, a child will not enjoy reading if it is difficult and does not yield any sort of intrinsic satisfaction, therefore, much of the answer lies in the importance of starting early in order to make the reading process easier and more meaningful.

Read to your child. Reading to your child at an early age is crucial to the development of phonemic awareness. Phonemic awareness refers to the ability to focus on and manipulate phonemes (sounds) in spoken words, and is a precursor to learning how to read print.

Read more: Raising a Reader


Self-Defense for Mothers & Teen Daughters

Ask the Experts by Ian Kinder

Q. My daughter and I walk every night.  With the days getting shorter, we are walking at dusk, sometimes even later.  What can we do to stay safe?

A. Walk in well-lit, open areas that are well populated and active. Avoid dark areas that are confined and isolated. Carry charged cell phones and stay in areas where there is a good signal. 

It is always a good idea to be trained in self-defense and carry a personal protection device, such pepper spray or a TASER. Stabbing an attacker with a ballpoint pen can even at times be enough to distract the attacker and give you time to flee.

Don’t forget a women’s best friend -- dogs are great companions and wonderful protection. Walk defensively like you drive defensively -- not in fear, but aware and prepared. 

Read more: Self-Defense for Mothers & Teen Daughters



Ask the Experts by Angela Hill

Q. I would like to get my family more physically active. What are some of the benefits of yoga? Where can I find a class for my whole family?

A. Yoga brings harmony and balance to the circulatory, lymphatic, nervous, respiratory, muscular, spinal, endocrine, digestive and immune systems. This gives you the emotional and physical stability to respond to life’s challenges with courage and grace.  

It’s a fun way to increase self-esteem, self-control and self-confidence, as well as a great work out & time for family fun.

I have been practicing & teaching yoga for numerous years. The benefits of Yoga are creating fans everywhere. You can find classes in malls, parks and churches. There are many types of Yoga classes to choose from: hot yoga, meditation yoga, and even yoga in a chair.

Read more: FAMILYoga


Building Better Brains!

Ask the Experts by Laurie Wagner, Education Specialist

Q: Are children diagnosed with dyslexia destined to struggle with reading their entire lives?

A: Research confirms that effective reading instruction literally reorganizes the brains of struggling readers. Especially effective is the engagement of the visual, auditory, tactile (touch) and kinesthetic (muscle movement) learning pathways.

When struggling learners are taught to read using direct, explicit, systematic, multisensory phonics instruction, research using functional MRI (fMRI) brain imaging literally shows us that the impact on the brain is significant.

Read more: Building Better Brains!


Infant Massage: Learning the Language of Touch

Ask the Experts by Emily Robson, LLPC

Q. What is infant massage and what are the benefits?

A: Touch is the most powerful of all interactions between parent and child. It is a mirror of our inner feelings toward another person.

Babies can sense what their parent is feeling by the way they are touched. Everyone has a personal “touch” history, which consists of all the touch experiences that a person will have had during their lifetime. It doesn’t matter how old or young a person is, everyone has a touch history-including infants.

Parents are instrumental as providers of the main source of touch experience in their child’s touch history. When parents engage in regularly massaging their children, they are making a significant contribution to their child’s nurturing touch history.

Read more: Infant Massage: Learning the Language of Touch


What Parents Can Do to Help Children Process Loss (Part 1 of 2)

Ask the Experts by Mary Beth Garvey, LMSW

Q. How should I talk with my kids about losses in our community? I try to shield them, but over the past year they have heard a lot of discussion as people continue to struggle with deaths that have occurred in our community.

A.  It is a parent's natural instinct to protect their children from difficult issues, but the fact that your kids are hearing so much about recent deaths in our community reflects our own reaction to these painful losses. Many young people and adults are experiencing the secondary trauma of a sudden death and a homicide of two well-known, engaged parents who were closely connected with many facets of our day to day lives in our schools, public service organizations, children's activities and social lives.

Read more: What Parents Can Do to Help Children Process Loss (Part 1 of 2)


What Parents Can Do to Help Children Process Loss (Part 2 of 2)

Ask the Experts by Mary Beth Garvey, LMSW

Q. How should I talk with my kids about losses in our community? I try to shield them, but over the past year they have heard a lot of discussion as people continue to struggle with deaths that have occurred in our community.

A.  When talking with your about your children about a loss due to violence you may want to emphasize that senseless violence is hard for everyone to understand, even grownups.  Sometimes people do bad things that hurt others because they may be unable to handle their anger, may be suffering from untreated mental illness, or may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Reiterate that violence is never a solution to personal problems and there are always viable alternatives.

Read more: What Parents Can Do to Help Children Process Loss (Part 2 of 2)


Understanding and Acknowledging Grief

Ask the Experts by Marla Ruhana, LMSW

Q. There is immense sadness surrounding me now as my father has died and my husband has been diagnosed with a chronic illness. Although we're both grieving my father's death, my husband's grief seems worse? I am so confused, can you help?

A. I'm so sorry about the death of your father and your husband's diagnosis. Grief can show itself in many different forms, loss of a loved one, loss of a limb, divorce, job loss, loss of home, loss of a pet, loss of who we once were when we experience onset of chronic illness. Many are also grieving in particular decades of their lives as they introspect on what they thought their life would be at a certain age. Expectations and disappointment instill grief too.

Read more: Understanding and Acknowledging Grief


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