It’s All in Your Mind. Well, at Least Some of It

Those of us who work in the health field have long been aware of the connection between mind and body and that your mental health can have a big influence on your physical heath. But there’s been very little research has explored the degree to which mental health issues affect men and women differently. A […]

Pregnancy Myths + Manipulative Kids + Overcoming School Anxiety

www.amazon.co.ukEmily Oster, author of Expecting Better.
Topic:
Why the conventional pregnancy wisdom is wrong–and what you really need to know.
Issues: Why it’s fine to have an occasional glass of wine; don’t worry about sushi–but wear gloves when you’re gardening; worry about gaining too little weight, not too much; why pregnancy nausea is a good sign; having a doula can decrease the chance of needing a C-section.


www.amazon.co.ukDavid Swanson, author of Help–My Kid Is Driving Me Crazy.
Topic:
How kids manipulate their parents.
Issues: Why kids manipulate; Learning to recognize 17 distinct types of manipulate and what you need to do to disarm them.


www.amazon.co.ukDiana Peters Meyer, author of Overcoming School Anxiety.
Topic:
Getting kids ready for school.
Issues: How to help your child deal with separation, tests, homework, bullies, math phobia, and other worries; telling the difference between normal start-of-school jitters and anxiety that warrants a call to the specialists.

Pay More Attention to Young Men’s Mental Health

A recent report on the mental health of young men (ages 16-25) in Australia, is attracting a lot of attention from mental health professionals, parents, politicians, teachers, and, of course, the guys. One of the study’s key discoveries was that a fifth of young men say that life isn’t worth living and one in 10 [...]

Pass the “Playboy”—I Need to Relax

Years ago, I tried to explain to a girlfriend that looking at hot women was good for me—after all, I argued, a few minutes of fast breathing and increased heart rate every day would help lower my risk of having a heart attack or a stroke, just like doing aerobics or jogging would. That relationship [...]

Forget the Savage Beasts, Will Music Soothe My Child?

Dear Mr. Dad: My 9-year old son is having some medical tests in a few weeks, some of which involve drawing blood, and he’s already getting nervous. He’s had shots before and did okay, so I don’t think this has anything to do with needles. When I ask him about it, he says he’s worried about how much it’s going to hurt. Honestly, I’m a little nervous about the whole thing too. Is there anything I can do to help him?

A: You have my sympathy. My youngest went through a seemingly endless series of procedures, including some pretty heavy duty blood draws. Fortunately, she’s like me in that she seems to enjoy watching needles go into her arm. Still, like your son (and most other normal human beings), she’s not wild about the pain.

It’s good that you’re thinking about this now. Pain during medical procedures can traumatize kids and may have long-lasting negative effects (just think of how many people are scared of going to the dentist). Before you schedule the lab work, talk to your pediatrician. There are topical anesthetics than can minimize the pain of the needle sticks. And your doctor may be able to order a mild sedative for your son, as long as it won’t interfere with the blood tests.

I also suggest that you talk to the lab tech about bedside manner before the blood draining starts. With my daughter, the phlebotomist laid out 19 vials on the table. I have to admit I was a little freaked out, thinking she’d have no blood left at all. My daughter seemed to take the whole thing in stride, but it would have been somewhat less shocking to take the vials out one at a time.

One of the best ways to help your child is to distract him—something a number of studies have found is very successful at reducing pain and anxiety during medical procedures. You could read him a story, sing a song together, recite a poem, watch a video, let him play a game on your smart phone (as long as he can do it with one hand), or even do breathing exercises. As I’m sure you know, the patterned breathing used in many childbirth prep methods doesn’t actually reduce pain; it just makes it a little easier to get through.

One of the simplest distractions of all is to simply bring your MP3 player and a few of your son’s favorite tunes. A new Canadian study found that children who listened to music while having IV needles inserted into their arms in the Emergency Room were less stressed than those who didn’t listen to music.

Lisa Hartling, a researcher at the University of Alberta and the study’s lead author, found that besides reducing the children’s stress levels, there were also some positive “secondary outcomes,” including lowering the children’s heart rate, reducing the amount of pain they perceived, and making it easier for the provider to actually do the procedure.

Hartling also noted that playing music reduced parents’ anxiety, which leads me to perhaps the most important thing you can do: try to relax. Our kids take cues from us on how to behave, especially in unfamiliar or potentially frightening situations. If you look (and act) nervous, worried, or scared, your son will immediately assume that there is something to be nervous, worried, or scared about, and he’ll behave accordingly.

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On the Horizon: Health News You’ll Be Hearing about Soon

It often seems that there’s a new breakthrough in medicine almost every day—sometimes even more often. Here are several discoveries that, while in the early stages, are showing a lot of promise. We’ll keep you up to date on how these discoveries develop. Fish oil supplements could reduce the damage done by stress. Researcher recruited [...]