What is inbeTWEEN?

What happened to middle childhood? You thought you would have a few more years before your child became a teenager. But suddenly your nine or ten year old is dressing like Miley Cyrus or wants Justin Bieber’s hair cut and is giving you “attitude” about everything. You hear your child talking about things you probably didn’t even learn about until you were much older. You have a TWEEN.

A TWEEN is a child between the ages of nine and thirteen. They are half child and half teenager. Very inbeTWEEN the age groups developmentally. It used to be a time when kids were just still kids and the real teen years didn’t start until age thirteen or even fourteen. But today our society is putting a lot of pressure on this age group to grow up quickly. Just look at the advertisements, the TV shows and movies, and the music aimed at this age group. Then add the internet, social media, You Tube, sexting, and cyberbullying. This list increases daily of how your child’s world can be invaded and their “childhood” prematurely ended.  Your child is experiencing pressures that previous generations did not have.

But the truth is your child is really not ready for all of this. So it’s important for you to understand what is happening to your child now and how you can help him or her to cope with all of these pressures.

What is happening to your tween?
PHYSICAL CHANGES: Normal puberty can begin any time after age nine. Most tweens will have some pubertal changes in the years between 9-12, but this will vary depending on your family history.
But there may be hormonal changes before the physical changes. This accounts for some of the mood swings and even some of the “attitude” you may suddenly be experiencing.

PSYCHOLOGICAL CHANGES: Tweens are still very concrete thinkers, and not very analytical. They see the world in black and white. It is difficult for them to change their opinions. They will often read something and believe it and they will tend to believe peers over adults.

EMOTIONAL CHANGES: Tweens are beginning the stage of separation and individuation and are frustrated by their dependence on you. If this sounds familiar, remember the terrible two’s. This is a return of the negativity that you experienced many years ago as your toddler tried to do everything by him or herself.

What pressures are affecting your tween?
PUBERTY: Tweens experience a great deal of anxiety about the physical and emotional changes they are experiencing. and they are confused about sex and sexual issues. They may be concerned about developing too early or too late.

PEERS: Within their peer group they may be having trouble with friends who may shift alliances, cliques that threaten exclusion, teasing and meanness, and at the same time they may be having their first “crush”.

SCHOOL AND EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITES: Some kids are feeling pressure about college or careers at a much younger age. At the same time schoolwork is suddenly more demanding. Add to this pressure from extracurricular activities, and intense sports or artistic training, after school jobs or volunteer work.

FAMILY: family responsibilities, relationships with siblings, struggles over privacy and the inner struggle with their own feelings of dependence and independence.

MEDIA: Now add a media and advertising world that is aimed at their insecurities, and packaged for their “concrete ” thinking. Make no mistake about it. Your children are the target of a sophisticated industry that understands your TWEEN psychologically and emotionally better than most parents and teachers. And the media now invades in subtle and not so subtle ways using social media and technology that reaches right into your child’s cell phone.

What can you help your TWEEN survive these pressures?
First try to understand the physical, emotional, and psychological place your child is in at the moment. Since puberty happens at different ages for different kids, early or late puberty can be a source of concern. Your pediatrician should speak to your child and answer any questions they have about what is happening to his or her body.

Be sensitive to your child’s stress level. Try to tease out what are the greatest sources of stress for your child at this time and see if you can relieve some of this pressure or at least let them know you understand.

Don’t have unrealistic expectations. Expect your child to be civil, but not always pleasant. Don’t expect them to be present for “every” family event.

Allow for mood swings Don’t overreact- the storm will blow over quickly and then your child will not understand why you are still upset about something that happened thirty minutes ago.

Expect the “Push- Pull” :Push you away then need a hug. There will be dependency swings- “I can live on my own” to “You never do anything for me”

What’s the best way to talk to your TWEEN?
Have a family meeting to discuss your expectations about behavior For example they can say that they are angry but they cannot smash a wall.

Talking back with disrespect. Describe how that makes you feel when they do that. Make sure that they know respect is a two ways street Describe consequences for truly mean or disrespectful comments.

When you talk with your child use open -ended questions. Use car time (they can’t escape). Remember they are anxious about: growing up and the physical changes, peer relationships, expectations that everyone has for them (parents teachers, peers) sexual activity and even their own sexuality. If your tween will not talk to you about these issues, make sure your pediatrician or family physician will bring up these issued at the next check up.

Parenting Teens Successfully

adolescentThe very idea of adolescence strikes fear in the hearts of countless parents nationwide. But if your 11-13 year old child has recently entered that challenging period of development we call adolescence, don’t panic. Contrary to what popular culture suggests, adolescence is not necessarily synonymous with dangerous behavior and constant conflict.

The media would have us believe that every teenager smokes, does drugs, engages in risky sexual behavior or suffers from an eating disorder or some other “disease of the week”. The truth is that while there is certainly a percentage of teens who do have significant problems, most adolescents are healthy, happy, and actively involved in school activities, sports, and the arts. This is not to say that they will be easy to get along with at home, or won’t ever break the rules, take risks, or challenge authority — but it does mean that there’s a good chance your teen will emerge on the other side of adolescence as a healthy young adult.

Studies have shown that teens who live in households that are too strict (“my way or the highway” on all issues) or too permissive (“All teenagers drink. It’s part of growing up”) are more likely to engage in high-risk behaviors and develop more serious problems. Rather, it is the parenting strategy that falls somewhere in the middle of these two extremes that has been proven most successful. This “authoritative” parent who parents by combining love with limit setting seems to have the right balance and a strategy that best resonates with teens.

Following these guidelines can help put you on the right path to parenting an adolescent in an authoritative way.


Be a parent! Don’t try to be a “friend” to your teen. He or she has plenty of those. Your teen needs you to be strong, supportive and to set limits. Whether or not they agree or disagree with a decision, having “limits” helps them to feel safe. As a parent of an adolescent, you need to be able to tolerate your teen’s inevitable anger towards you when things don’t necessarily go their way and stick firmly by the choices you have made.

Acknowledge your teen’s individuality. Although it may be difficult, by accepting your adolescent’s choices with respect to clothing, appearance, music etc., you demonstrate respect for your teen. You are letting them know that you recognize that they are becoming their own separate person. You can still express your opinion about these matters but never ridicule their choices. Remember the phrase “pick your battles” … If you allow your teen some flexibility in these less important areas they will be less likely to act out in major ways in order to prove they are different.

Listen when your adolescent speaks. Focus on their concerns. This may be difficult if it comes at a busy moment for you, but try to allow time to really listen. Don’t offer advice unless asked directly and remember not to use every discussion as an opportunity to preach about something.

Allow your teen to express his or her opinion. Really listen and respect that opinion even if you do not agree with it. Share your own concerns, experiences, and feelings on the matter, but don’t try to win the debate.

Respect their silence. Sometimes teens just want to be alone with their thoughts. Share your day, but don’t press your adolescent to do the same. They may be listening even if they are looking out the car window. A rule of adolescent communication is that when you want to talk, you will get one -word answers, and when they want to talk, you will get volumes.

Encourage independent problem solving. Remember that college is only a few years away. If your teen brings up a problem or concern, ask what they are planning to do to solve the problem, before you jump in with advice. Praise your teen when you recognize how they solved a problem by themselves. This encourages the kind of problem solving skills and independent thinking they will soon need.

Maintain a close connection even if your teen pulls away. Regardless of what is going on in their lives, most teens still want to be connected to their families and they may even remain connected through arguments or angry tirades. This may seem like a contradiction, but it is how your adolescent can maintain a connection while pulling away at the same time. It is striking this balance between attachment and independence that is one of the central tasks of this stage of their lives.

Know your teen’s friends and try to get to know their parents. Maintain communication so that you are all on the same wavelength. Don’t be afraid to check out stories. I.e. that parents will really be home at that party.

Share meals as much as possible. Despite the hectic pace of today’s lifestyle for most families, it is still important to share family meals as much as possible. Even one weekend meal together allows for discussion of important or even unimportant topics. A recent study revealed that teens reported that sharing meals with family members was very important to them. To many parents who struggle daily with their adolescents, this news may be a shock. But it is a very revealing piece of information about teenagers – again, that despite the need to pull away, the need to be connected is even stronger.


Set clear and reasonable limits. Establish rules and “achievable” expectations and communicate these to your teen. Be very specific and concrete. Let them know that there will be consequences if they break the rules and be very clear about what those consequences will be.

Enforce the rules consistently. Do everything possible to make sure that both parents (even if living in separate households) are in agreement about rules and consequences. Even in families not affected by divorce, this will require constant communication between both parents. Teens are experts on manipulation when they sense there is disagreement on an issue.

Let teens experience the natural consequences of their behavior within reasonable safety limits. Consequences like missing assignments, being late for school, compensating someone for damaged property, or writing apologies to others when appropriate can prove valuable learning experiences for your teen. Having that said, under no circumstances should you allow a teen to enter into a dangerous or illegal situation, like driving while under the influence, for example, just to prove a point.

Share with your teen how you feel about issues that might affect his or her life. It is important to voice your opinions and concerns about issues such as smoking, alcohol and drug use, sexual activity, violence, harassment of others and destruction of property. Even if they occasionally break the rules, they will store this information somewhere in the back of their minds and it may just help influence a difficult decision when you are not there to prevent them from making a serious mistake.

Let your teen know you will be there to support (but not necessarily to rescue) him or her no matter what happens — then follow through. If they break the law or cause harm to another person or property they will have to face the consequences of their actions, but need not fear they will “lose” their parent as a result.

Grant freedom in stages. Tie increased privileges to responsible behavior. If a teen violates a rule, privileges, as well as a parent’s trust, may have to be earned back. By balancing control with independence, you maintain your right to parental authority.

Who’s In Charge?

boy-playing-soccerWe have all seen them. In a restaurant, doctor’s waiting room, the supermarket, and even in our own relative’s homes: out of control children…

We cringe at how they seem to have no respect for anyone or anything. We are horrified when we see them punch, kick, or verbally assault a parent. And we are shocked at how their parents do nothing and allow them to be destructive, rude, or aggressive. It’s easy to say you could never have a child like that. But the reality is that if you don’t act early, your child will more than likely also be out of control.

So ask yourself a few key questions: Who is in charge? Can you tolerate your child being angry with you when you set limits or discipline them? And are you afraid to discipline your child when they cross the line of acceptable behavior?

The first answer should be obvious. You must be in charge. You are the parent. Your son or daughter is the child. This is a very important concept and one that many parents do not fully appreciate. Children need to have limits set on their behavior. What’s more, they need to know that you are in control, and you are the one who has set and will enforce those limits with the help of any other caregivers in your child’s life.

How does this translate into your everyday parenting? It means being able to tolerate their protests and anger at your rules. Some parents are afraid that if they make their child unhappy, that they will not love them. And so they do everything they can to make the child happy and give in to all demands. They then become afraid to discipline them. Now who is in charge?

Discipline works when it is consistent among all caregivers, and not harsh. It is the consistency and not the severity that is effective. Children have very little self-control at this age and although they may not always act like it, they really want your help. On some level they understand that you must help them learn self control and will not let them “go wild”. They want parents to be strong. It makes them feel safe.

Here is an analogy that may help clarify this issue. In our society, we are not always happy with the decisions of our government and we may even stage a protest; however, most people still understand that we need laws to keep our society safe and will abide by the law even as they protest it. Your child is the same and really wants to be a member of their family and ultimately this society.

To successfully guide your child through the inevitable behavioral problems of the preschool years requires inner strength. Setting limits on a young child’s behavior is very important. You cannot begin this when the child is older, and most definitely not when they hit the teen years. You are the teacher of how your child will act in the world, what kind of person they will become, what type of citizen they will be and what kind of spouse or parent they will ultimately become. Remember — a wise teacher treats his or her students with respect but does not allow them to teach the class.

Feeding Solid Food

infant_feedThe American Academy of Pediatrics recommends beginning solid food between the ages of four and six months. Nutritionally, your baby does not need to eat solid foods until six months when his iron stores become depleted.

Eating from a spoon is a new experience. It may take some time before your baby learns to swallow solid food.

How do I know if my baby is ready?
Eating solid food from a spoon is a new developmental task for your baby. Some babies are ready early and others are not. There is no reason to rush. Signs of readiness include good head control, interest in your food, and a shorter time between feedings. If your baby is pushing the food out with his tongue, crying, or closing his lips, it is too early. Wait a few weeks and try again. When your child is developmentally ready, eating is an enjoyable experience for parent and child.

What should I start with?

Most pediatricians recommend starting with a simple single grain cereal like rice . The cereal should be iron fortified to help increase the baby’s iron supplies to help prevent anemia.

How should I mix the cereal?

To start, mix a tablespoon of cereal with one to two ounces of breastmilk or formula. Make the mixture more liquid in the beginning and then increasingly thicken the mixture. Most four to six month old babies will not eat more than two tablespoons of cereal (before mixing) at one feeding. After your baby is eating cereal well, try adding a little fruit to mix up the taste.

What if my baby has a reaction to a new food?

Remember to introduce only one new food at a time. Allow three to four days between new foods to make certain your baby does not have a sensitivity or an allergic reaction. Signs of sensitivity to food include vomiting, diarrhea and gas. True allergy involves the immune system. Signs of allergy in infants include skin rashes, wheezing, vomiting and diarrhea. If this occurs, you should notify your family practitioner or pediatrician right away. If your baby tolerates the new food, it can be combined with other foods that have already been introduced. For example, if you already have given rice cereal, you may add applesauce at the same meal.


Common Questions Regarding Starting Solid Food
How do I know if my baby is ready?
What should I start with?
How should I mix the cereal?
How much should the baby
What time of day should the meal be?
When should I start a second meal?
In what order should solid food be introduced?

All Babies Are Not Created Equal

2mooldwithmomI have always felt that the first two months of a baby’s life are like an extension of the nine months in the womb. They need total care and sustenance from you, and they spend most of their time sleeping .

Occasionally their eyes meet yours and a dreamy connection is made. But it is not until about two months of age that not only do their eyes open widely at the sight of your face, but they give you back something wonderful- a smile.

What an honor! A baby’s smile is the first social gesture that they make in this world. And you are the first to receive it. This is the beginning of your relationship with your baby and it signals the end of the newborn period and the beginning of infancy.

Every month your baby will grow at a rate faster than at any other time in their life besides adolescence. They will develop large muscle skills, fine motor skills, the beginnings of language, and an increasing ability to socialize with the world. When your baby first smiles it means that he or she understands that connecting with others is what life is all about.

Discovering the uniqueness of your baby is one of the joys of becoming a parent. You will soon learn that your baby is a unique combination of innate traits, genetic material, environmental influences, and something called temperament. All of these combine to form your baby’s personality — who they are and how they interact with the world and with those who share our world.

Throw away the idea that all babies are created equal. Since every baby is different from the start, what works for one baby-parent may not work for another. If you are having difficulty, it’s easy to think, “I’m a terrible parent” as you see other mothers “easily” handling their infants. But try not to get too discouraged, and don’t take it as a reflection of your skills as a parent. It is true that some babies are innately more of a challenge than others, and it may be that you have been blessed with just that – a challenge! Remember – the “easy” parent’s next baby might not be so compliant. Then they too will understand the trials, and joys, of raising a more challenging child.

You will, however, receive so much advice from so many sources that you may begin to feel unsure of yourself. Remember that because of the special bond that begins with that first smile, no one else will be able to understand your baby better than you do. Trust your instincts and keep it simple. Babies need only to be fed, kept reasonably clean, played with by you, and loved a great deal. Enjoy your baby.

Hearing Loss on the Rise in Adolescents

A recent study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that hearing loss is now affecting 20% of US adolescents age 12-19 a rise of 5% over the past fifteen years. The study was led by Ron Eavey, MD  a professor in Otolaryngology at Vanderbilt University. The authors looked at data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys since the 1980s. The survey included data on actual hearing test results in adolescents.

Another study performed by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) found two disturbing pieces of information: teens listen to their iPods and MP3 players at volumes considerably louder than adults and, no surprise, the same teens are experiencing symptoms of hearing loss.

The surveys, done by telephone, asked 1,000 adults and 301 high school students across the U.S. about their listening habits. More than half (59 percent) of students reported playing their MP3 players “loudly,” compared with only 34 percent of adults.

The surveyed teens and adults were also asked if they suffered from the common symptoms of hearing loss including:

  • The need to continually turn up the volume while listening to music (28 percent of students and 26 percent of adults)
  • Regularly asking people to repeat themselves during normal conversation (29 percent of students and 21 percent of adults)
  • Suffering from ringing in the ears (17 percent of students and 12 percent of adults)

The researchers in the Vanderbilt study hypothesized that the increase in hearing loss was a result of increased sound volume that teens were exposed to, but admit the data has not confirmed the source of the problem. Experts have been concerned because improved headphones (buds deliver sound in a very directed and concentrated way)  be another factor. The ASHA survey concluded that it’s the combination of length of time and volume at which the teens are listening to music through headphones that is responsible for the damage.

Thankfully, teenagers seem to have some understanding of this. The ASHA’s survey shows that nearly 70 percent of students say that they are “likely” to turn down the volume of music when listening to it through earphones. However, 58 percent said they weren’t likely to cut down on the time they spent listening to music with earphones on. “Louder and longer is definitely not the way to use these products,” says Brenda Lonsbury-Martin, PhD, ASHA’s chief staff officer for science and research. Dr Eavey has also advised that any sound over 85 decibels exceeds what hearing experts consider to be a safe level and some MP3 players can reach levels of 120 decibels.

The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) offers three basic rules for limiting the damage done to your children’s ears by listening to iPods and MP3 players:

1. Make sure that he or she can hear normal conversation voices while listening to music through headphones

2. Limit the amount of time he or she spends listening to any type of music through headphones to one hour a day

3. Set the volume of their music player no higher than 60 percent of the maximum

Is It Time To Toilet Train?

toilet Training

Some children show readiness for toilet training between 18 and 24 months.  This should not be confused with the achievement of toilet training, which may not occur until the child is between two-and-a-half to four years of age.  You may already have a potty in the bathroom and you both may have names for urine and stools.  Your toddler may let you know he is dirty or wet, indicating a desire to have his diaper changed.  Toilet training requires a combination of physical and mental developmental skills, which must be mastered before training can be successful.  Here are some tips to get you and your toddler started:

How Do I Know if My Child Is Ready?

Your child should be able to walk well and be able to climb up and down from the potty unassisted.  Your child must also be able to recognize when he has the urge to urinate or defecate (“signaling abilities.”)  Your child then must be able to verbalize that urge.

Other signs of readiness include dry nap periods, grunting or straining after meals, asking to have diapers changed after a bowel movement, or telling you she has had a bowel movement.  This is a sign that she can recognize the signals. You may start noticing these signs when your child is 18 to 24 months of age. However, it is not uncommon for a child to still be in diapers at 2 and a half to 3 years of age.

When Is a Bad Time to Start?

Try not to start toilet training during any type of upheaval in the child’s world – for example, the move to a new home, the birth of a new baby, divorce or illness.

When is a Good Time to Start?

Remember, toilet training requires a combination of physical and mental developmental skills, which must be acquired before training can be successful.  Your child must have the physical ability to hold urine and stool and must be able to recognize the urge to go.  He should be able to pull his pants down and sit on the potty by himself.  He should be able to verbalize when he needs to use the potty.

What Do I Do Next?

You should buy a small potty or a potty seat that fits over your regular toilet and begin to discuss the topic with your child.  You should begin using simple words (such as “pee-pee,” “wee-wee” and “poop”) to describe what is happening.  Have your child sit on the potty in his diapers or clothes to feel comfortable.  Remember — this is the early stage of training.  Avoid putting pressure on your child before he is ready.

What about books and videos?

Books and videos about this topic are helpful, but always remember to read the book or watch the tape first so you are familiar with the contents.  Make sure the method demonstrated is compatible with your own ideas and appropriate for your child’s developmental level.  And never just put a video on and not explain things to your child – they can get some pretty wild ideas about this subject!

Children and Anxiety

Anxiety is a necessary part of the human condition. All of us have anxieties and our children are no exception. Anxiety is our natural alarm system, which alerts us to uncertain or potentially dangerous situations.

It can begin in infancy as some babies experience anxiety when left alone at night or when separated from their parents. To an infant this is perceived as a life threatening situation, as they depend on their parents for survival. Some experts feel much of the anxiety we experience throughout our lives is related to this “separation” experienced early in life.

In this article we will discuss childhood anxiety disorder and focus on the school age child, with a special word on school phobia.

Anxiety Disorder

This disorder is described as excessive worrying or having intense fears that interfere with the child’s daily existence and enjoyment of life. Dr. Sharon Ryan Montgomery, a child psychologist in Morristown, NJ , stresses that all children may experience anxiety at some time in their childhood as a response to a new situation or developmental challenge. The birth of a sibling, a move to a new home, the start of the school year, and illness or death of a close family member or pet are common examples of situations that can provoke anxiety in any child.

Some children, because of their own temperament, may be more prone to anxiety and have ore fears than other children. These are children who are shy, have always had difficulty with separation or new situations, or with change or transitions. As infants they may have had more difficulty settling down and may have reacted more suddenly to loud noises.

When a child is experiencing anxiety, a parent may observe a change in appetite, difficulty sleeping, nightmares, or physical symptoms such as head-aches, dizziness or stomach aches. Some children may suddenly not want to be left alone or go to a friend’s house to play or sleep over. For most children or adolescents, these symptoms will be short lived and the child will work through these fears and develop a feeling of mastery over the challenge. In fact, learning how to face fears and cope with new experiences are vital skills for our children to learn.

However, for some children, the anxiety begins to intensify and become more pervasive, and fear may spread beyond the original source of the anxiety. For example, an initial reaction to parents leaving a child at home with a relative while they take a trip, may extend to fear of any separation between parent and child. Difficulty sleeping or eating will worsen the child’s physical state and decrease the child’s ability to cope. These greatly magnified fears and anxieties will then begin to interfere with the child’s enjoyment of daily life.

Dr. Montgomery offers the following advice for parents who suspect their child is having anxiety or increased fearfulness.

  • Talk to your child about what he or she may be afraid of (remember children will not understand what anxiety is). Find out what is happening in the child’s world, especially school. What changes or losses have occurred for your child?
  • Make adjustments if possible to ease the situation, but don’t overprotect. Remember that it is unrealistic to think that you can remove all of the stress from a child’s life. So, try to help your child face his or her fears with gentle support. Encourage your child’s independence in age appropriate areas.
  • Maintain structure and set limits on behavior. These make a child feel safe.
  • Reduce your child’s exposure to frightening media reports. These alone have been responsible for some children’s sudden fears.
  • Anxiety is very contagious. Children can easily pick up on a parent’s anxiety. In addition, remember to examine family stresses to see if your child is picking up on someone else’s anxiety.
  • For the same reasons, be aware of your own anxieties and fears. Be careful not to discuss these with your child.

When do you need to seek professional help?

If a child’s symptoms last longer than a month, seem to be getting worse instead of easing, have spread to other areas of the child’s life, or are interfering with school functioning, or if all your attempts to help your child cope are not working, then it is time to speak to your pediatrician or seek help from a child therapist.

Our aim as parents should be to teach our children better coping for handling stressful situations, rather than trying to eliminate stress in our children’s lives. Because the reality is – whether child or adult – we live in a stressful, rapidly changing world, that requires coping skills to survive.

School Phobia
An important type of anxiety disorder is when a child suddenly develops tremendous anxiety about going to school. Physical symptoms are very common with stomachaches and headaches leading the list. Once a medical cause has been ruled out, the school avoidance has to be acted on immediately. This is the one situation that a parent should not wait several weeks before addressing. The child should be firmly, but gently, returned to school as soon as possible. The worst thing is for a child to get into a pattern of staying home. The longer this goes on, the harder it is to return the child to the classroom. To achieve this sometimes requires a collaboration and cooperation of parents, teachers, the pediatrician, and the therapist.

Caffeine and Your Kids

caffeineCaffeine consumption in kids can lead to health concerns if not monitored by parents and physicians alike. Here are answers to three basic questions on the subject.

Which soft drink has more caffeine?
Which soft drink has more caffeine? Coca Cola, Pepsi, Surge or Mountain Dew? Food companies do not have to list how much caffeine is in their drinks on the labels. So a recent article in Zillions (the kids offshoot of Consumer Reports) detailed the results of a study of these popular soft drinks and the results might surprise you. Mountain Dew had 55mg and Surge 53 mg of caffeine in a 12 0z. bottle compared to 47mg for Coke and 37mg for Pepsi. Most people associate caffeine with the cola color and assume that Mountain Dew has no caffeine like 7 UP and Sprite. The research shows that this is clearly not the case.

How can caffeine affect my child’s health?
Caffeine, even in doses of 20 to 50 mg, can have an effect on a child. As a stimulant, it revs up your nerves and can make kids feel more alert and less sleepy. Sensitive kids can feel anxious, restless, jittery and have trouble sleeping. The effects of caffeine can last up to 24 hours.

Is caffeine addictive to children?
There is also an addictive effect which can create cravings in kids who drink these drinks on a regular basis. If they don’t get the caffeine they can feel more sleepy and may experience headaches and irritability from caffeine withdrawal. So be aware of how much caffeine your children are consuming and be an educated consumer when you are in the supermarket.

Gender Identity in Children

…And That’s What Little Girls/Boys are Made Of

This is the age when children learn about the differences between boys and girls and become very aware of their own sex. As most experts have come to realize, there are true differences between boys and girls and these have nothing to do with cultural conditioning. In general boys are more physically aggressive, girls more verbal. Boys are drawn to anything with wheels, and most girls are not. Girls are drawn to dolls, most boys are not. There are many other differences that have to do with the way boys and girls learn and communicate.

However scientific they may be, these are generalizations. Some girls prefer typical “boy” activities, and some boys like to play with dolls. The tomboy seems to be more accepted by parents than a boy who likes to play with dolls or has other more “feminine” ways. Fathers, especially, may get very upset if they see their son playing in the kitchen or with a doll. If a child shows that they are happy and comfortable in their gender role, there is probably nothing wrong. Boys need to learn to nurture as well as girls. In addition, girls can benefit from play that is more aggressive.

If a child seems uncomfortable in their gender role or frequently makes statements like: “I wish I were a boy,” or “I’m not a girl, I’m a boy,” it may signal that your child is not happy with his / her gender identity. Children sometimes feel, correctly, or incorrectly, that their parents value one sex more than the other, or that their parents are unhappy because they wanted the opposite sex child. These matters can be very complex psychologically and usually need referral to a professional. If you suspect your child is having a conflict about his or her gender identity, please discuss it with your pediatrician or family practitioner.