Imagine a drug that could enhance a child’s creativity, critical thinking and resilience. Imagine that this drug were simple to make, safe to take, and could be had for free.
In the United States, leading paediatricians say this miracle compound exists. In a new clinical report, they are urging doctors to prescribe it liberally to the children in their care.
What is this wonder drug?
“This may seem old-fashioned, but there are skills to be learned when kids aren’t told what to do,” said Dr Michael Yogman, a Harvard Medical School paediatrician who led the drafting of the call to arms.
Whether it’s rough-and-tumble physical play, outdoor play, or social or pretend play, kids derive important lessons from the chance to make things up as they go, he said.
The advice, issued recently by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), may come as a shock to some parents.
After spending years fretting over which toys to buy, which apps to download and which skill-building programmes to send their kids to after school, letting them simply play – or better yet, playing with them – could seem like a step backward.
The paediatricians insist that it’s not. The academy’s guidance does not include specific recommendations for the dosing of play.
Instead, it asks doctors to advise parents that before their babies turn two, play is essential to healthy development. It also advocates for the restoration of play in schools.
Children learning how to play batu Seremban, a traditional game. Photo: P Nathan/The Star
“Play is not frivolous,” the academy’s report declares. It nurtures children’s ingenuity, cooperation and problem-solving skills – all of which are critical for a 21st-century workforce. It lays the neural groundwork that helps us “pursue goals and ignore distractions”.
When parents engage in play with their children, it deepens relationships and builds a bulwark against the toxic effects of all kinds of stress, including poverty, the academy says.
In the paediatricians’ view, essentially every life skill that’s valued in adults can be built up with play.
“Collaboration, negotiation, conflict resolution, self-advocacy, decision-making, a sense of agency, creativity, leadership and increased physical activity are just some of the skills and benefits children gain through play,” they wrote.
The paediatricians’ appeal comes as children are being squeezed by escalating academic demands at school, the relentless encroachment of digital media, and parents who either load up their schedules with organised activities or who are themselves too busy or stressed to play.
The trends have been a long time coming. Between 1981 and 1997, detailed time-use studies showed that the time children spent at play declined by 25%.
In the US, since the adoption of sweeping education reforms in 2001, public schools have steadily increased the amount of time devoted to preparing for standardised tests.
The focus on academic “skills and drills” has cut deeply into recess and other time for free play.
By 2009, a study of Los Angeles kindergarten classrooms found that five-year-olds were so burdened with academic requirements that they were down to an average of just 19 minutes per day of “choice time”, when they were permitted to play freely with blocks, toys or other children.
One in four Los Angeles teachers reported there was no time at all for “free play”.
Increased academic pressures have left 30% of US kindergarten classes without any recess. Such findings prompted the AAP to issue a policy statement in 2013 on the “crucial role of recess in school”.
Whether it’s rough-and-tumble physical play, outdoor play, or social or pretend play, kids derive important lessons from the chance to make things up as they go. Photo: AFP
Paediatricians aren’t the only ones who have noticed. In a report titled “Crisis in the Kindergarten”, a consortium of educators, health professionals and child advocates called the loss of play in early childhood “a tragedy, both for the children themselves and for our nation and world”.
Kids in play-based kindergartens “end up equally good or better at reading and other intellectual skills, and they are more likely to become well-adjusted healthy people”, the Alliance for Childhood said in 2009.
Indeed, new research demonstrates why playing with blocks might have been time better spent, Dr Yogman said.
The trial assessed the effectiveness of an early mathematics intervention aimed at preschoolers. The results showed almost no gains in math achievement.
Another playtime thief: the growing proportion of kids’ time spent in front of screens and digital devices, even among preschoolers.
Last year, Common Sense Media reported that children up through age eight spent an average of two hours and 19 minutes in front of screens each day, including an average of 42 minutes a day for those under two.
This escalation of digital use comes with rising risks of obesity, sleep deprivation, and cognitive, language and social-emotional delays, the AAP warned in 2016.
Dr Yogman acknowledged that many digital games and screen-based activities can nurture some of the same areas that kids get through free play: problem-solving, spatial skills and persistence.
But in young kids especially, they are often crowding out games of make-believe, not to mention face-to-face time with peers and parents, he said.
“I respect that parents have busy lives and it’s easy to hand a child an iPhone,” he said. “But there’s a cost to that. For young children, it’s much too passive. And kids really learn better when they’re actively engaged and have to really discover things.”
A recent report reveals that playtime with no specific structure or learning objective is essential for children to achieve important social, emotional and cognitive development milestones. – AFP
The decline of play is a special hazard for the roughly one in five children in the US who live in poverty. These 14 million children most urgently need to develop the resilience that is nurtured with play.
Instead, Dr Yogman said, they are disproportionately affected by some of the trends that are making play scarce: academic pressures at schools that need to improve test scores, outside play areas that are limited or unsafe, and parents who lack the time or energy to share in playtime.
“We’re not the only species that plays,” said Temple University psychologist Kathy Hirsh-Pasek. “Dogs, cats, monkeys, whales, and even octopuses, play, and when you have something that prevalent in the animal kingdom, it probably has a purpose.”
Dr Yogman also worries about the pressures that squeeze playtime for more affluent kids.
“The notion that as parents, we need to schedule every minute of their time is not doing them a great service,” he said.
Even well-meaning parents may be “robbing them of the opportunity to have that joy of discovery and curiosity – the opportunity to find things out on their own”.
Play may not be a hard sell to kids. But University of California, Los Angeles, paediatrician Dr Carlos Lerner acknowledged that the paediatricians’ new prescription may meet with scepticism from parents, who are anxious for advice on how to give their kids a leg up in the world.
They should welcome the simplicity of the message, he said.
“It’s liberating to be able to offer them this advice: that you spending time with your child and letting him play is one of the most valuable things you can do,” he said.
“It doesn’t have to involve spending a lot of money or time, or joining a parenting group. It’s something we can offer that’s achievable. They just don’t recognise it right now as particularly valuable.” – Los Angeles Times/Tribune News Service
YOUR child may be devastated by the loss of a loved one, pet, or a friend. Despite the intense feeling of loss, it may not be obvious from his reactions – it may be expressed in different ways, e.g. he verbalises it (which rarely happens), complains of physical discomfort (such as headaches or tummy aches), or becomes anxious or distressed with other aspects of life (such as school or his other activities).
Be ready to help him if it manifests in an unhealthy manner. While you may not be able to protect him from feeling the grief or sorrow, you can help him feel safe.
Allow and encourage him to express his feelings, which can help him develop healthy coping skills that will serve him as an adult.
Understanding how children view death
Your approach should be developmentally appropriate, i.e. the way you talk to a toddler would be different from how you talk to an older child.
Use this chance to talk to him about the circle of life. Help him better understand it instead of shielding him from it.
Be factual when you explain about death, especially when talking to toddlers. Use simple and direct words instead of euphemisms. Saying “Grandpa went to sleep and is in heaven” may backfire and cause him to fear naps or bedtime, worrying he will also go to “sleep”.
A simple explanation is that death means a person’s body no longer works the way it did when that person was alive.
Take this opportunity to share your religious or spiritual beliefs about death and encourage him to ask questions. Answer them in an honest and direct manner.
If you cannot answer immediately, help find the answer; this will go a long way to reassuring him and making him come to terms with the loss.
Encourage him to express his emotions by asking him to draw a picture, or to note his thoughts and feelings in a diary or journal.
In the event a parent or caregiver passes away, a common worry is who will then take care of the child, which may manifest in the child as insecurity.
The child may become clingier or feels abandoned. Additionally, he may also feel responsible for the loss. It is vital that you make your child understand that no blame is attached to him and that the person who died will not be coming back.
Do what you can to provide him with as much love and affection to assuage his worries of who will still care for him.
Before you help your child deal with loss, take a moment to clarify your own thoughts and feelings. This includes your first experience with loss, things that helped (or was not helpful) and how you dealt with it.
Your experiences, especially if it happened when you were a child, may help you recognise and understand his feelings.
A child as young as three years old would understand the concept of saying goodbye. Giving your child the chance to say goodbye to the deceased will help him to move on.
Allow him the choice of attending memorial or funeral services but do not force him to go if he is reluctant. If he wants to attend, brief him on what to expect when he is there along with any do’s and don’ts ahead of time.
Explain to him that the deceased will still “live” in his memory. In the case of terminally-ill parents, many will leave letters, videos, or photographs to help their children remember how well-loved they were.
Your child may want to compile pictures and other relevant items to create their own memorabilia to cope with their loss. For younger children, their knowledge of the deceased will come from other family members, so don’t hesitate to talk to him about that person often while reminding him how much he was loved by the deceased.
There is no harm in celebrating the deceased’s birthday or any other relevant day (e.g. Mother’s Day or Father’s Day) as a means of remembrance.
Don’t hide your feelings
You should share your grief with your child, but take care not to overwhelm him.
By expressing your own emotions, you encourage him to do the same. This helps him to understand that grief can be a complex mixture of emotions such as anger, guilt and frustration.
Explain that both his emotions and reactions may be very different from those of adults.
As pain and grief come and go over time, your child may not expect when he will feel sad. Do your best to keep his routines or schedules as consistent as possible.
Most importantly, continue your job as a parent by maintaining limits on his behaviour. It is alright to ask him how he feels. Pay constant attention and help him find his way through his grief by talking and listening to him.
The grief process may take longer for some people, so it is okay to ask how he is coping from time to time.
Encourage him to continue with his regular activities as much as possible and reassure him that it is alright for him to feel happy and have fun.
If you have any concerns about your child’s behaviour or worries over how he is coping, speak with a child psychologist or other mental health professional.
Loh Sit Fong is a consultant clinical psychologist. This article is courtesy of the Malaysian Paediatric Association’s Positive Parenting programme in collaboration with expert partners. For further information, visit www.mypositiveparenting.org. The information provided is for educational and communication purposes only and it should not be construed as personal medical advice. Information published in this article is not intended to replace, supplant or augment a consultation with a health professional regarding the reader’s own medical care. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.
THE Malaysian Paediatric Association (MPA) has launched “IMFeD Get Growth On Track”, its first nationwide childhood growth screening and counselling campaign, and for good reason, too.
MPA’s member paediatricians are becoming increasingly concerned over the fact that many Malaysian children, from all family backgrounds, are experiencing growth problems.
According to the National Health and Morbidity Survey 2016: Maternal and Child Health, one in five Malaysian children under five years old is stunted (short for age) and one in 10 is underweight.
Without intervention, these children risk developing long-term health, cognitive and psychosocial issues.
It is an alarming situation but MPA hopes to make a difference. With the support and collaboration of Abbott Malaysia, the association has deployed the IMFeD Expert Panel to train over 150 paediatricians from all over the country in the detection and management of growth problems.
The Expert Panel has also produced educational materials containing vital information and tips for parents.
Now, MPA is inviting parents to consult the paediatricians to detect growth problems early, overcome the contributing risk factors, and set the children on a healthy growth trajectory that will see them attain their potential.
What can parents expect on their first visit?
Here is a glimpse from consultant paediatrician and IMFeD Expert Panel member, Dr Anna Padmavathy Soosai, and Nur Ain Afiqah Bt Ahmad Zabidi, mum to one-and-a-half year old Muhammad Emir Haider Bin Mohamad Harith.
Nur Ain made use of the campaign to help her one-and-a-half year old son Muhammad Emir Haider.
Q: Nur Ain, why did you decide to consult Dr Anna about Emir’s growth?
Nur Ain: I was anxious because Emir was a picky eater and took excessive amounts of milk which ruined his appetite for normal meals. Dr Anna said all this had caused him to be underweight and advised me on how to help him grow better. I am very happy to see Emir improving now.
Q: Dr Anna, how did you examine Emir?
Dr Anna: As paediatricians, we know that just looking at children will not enable us to reliably ascertain whether they are growing well or not. Instead, we need to take their weight and length, and plot the measurements onto growth charts.
Readings falling below the normal range as well as irregular growth patterns are red flags that signal growth problems. In Emir’s case, the charts clearly showed that he was underweight.
Q: What else did you do?
Dr Anna: My nurse had gotten Nur Ain to complete a simple questionnaire about Emir’s feeding behaviour, who feeds him, what foods he eats, his sleep habits, physical activity and other important areas.
We also enquired into (and ruled out) other contributing factors, such as being frequently unwell in the first few years of life, the presence of chronic disorders, prolonged exposure to certain medications, or being born prematurely.
Nur Ain’s responses enabled me to identify the factors that were impeding his growth. After that, we worked out an intervention plan to address Emir’s needs.
Q: What would a typical intervention plan look like?
Dr Anna: Such a plan would contain recommendations directed at the child as well as the parent or carer. It would probably include suggestions on foods to give, feeding methods, tips for sound sleep (children grow the most during night time sleep) and physical activity, and even parenting approaches.
Q: What is the most important factor to emphasise?
Dr Anna: Nutrition, of course. It is the cornerstone of growth. It is responsible for the formation of new bone tissue that causes long bones (eg in the legs) to elongate, thereby resulting in the child growing taller.
Despite the importance of nutrition, I find that many parents aren’t sure what foods to offer, how much and how often. It is crucial to introduce new foods to children and ensure good variety. Failure to do so may increase the likelihood of feeding difficulties.
Q: Would poorly growing children need special foods?
Dr Anna: In most cases, we can get growth back on track by giving children better diet quality, or enriching the nutritional value of their daily foods.
However, there are times when it might be necessary to also prescribe oral nutritional supplementation for children who require additional energy and complete balanced nutrition for catch-up growth.
Q: Nur Ain, how would you feel about recommending the IMFeD Get Growth On Track campaign to other mums?
Nur Ain: I found the process very simple and clear. I became more aware of Emir’s growth; whereas I did not have any idea about his weight and height, I know his vital statistics now!
Just as important, I have learned more about growth problems and how to overcome them. Lastly, I appreciate how Dr Anna has asked to see Emir again after three months, to monitor his progress. So, all in all, I am very satisfied with this campaign. So I would definitely recommend it to other mums.
Q: Dr Anna, a final message?
Dr Anna: Some parents are oblivious to their children’s growth problems. Others may misinterpret growth problems – for instance, believing it is normal for their children to be stunted simply because they themselves are short.
In either case, these parents fail to identify the risk factors and miss the opportunity to intervene in a timely and effective manner.
As a result, their children (including those of normal height and weight today) may not be able to overcome the barriers impeding their growth, and end up shorter or lighter than expected over time. I would like to urge all parents, especially those with children under five years old, to take advantage of the IMFeD Get Growth On Track as soon as possible.
Do not delay because the earlier we detect growth problems, the sooner we can correct them.
Parents who wish to find out more about the IMFeD Get Growth On Track campaign or locate a paediatrician can contact the IMFeD Malaysia programme secretariat at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (03) 7931 1868 or (03) 7960 9788.
If your child has food allergies, his paediatrician may recommend that he be placed on a food elimination diet.
What it means is that you will need to temporarily eliminate specific foods from his diet, and possibly your diet as well, if you are still breastfeeding him. It should last around two to four weeks.
This method is normally combined with skin or blood tests, and its purpose is to help identify specific foods that are triggering his food allergies.
By avoiding the suspected food trigger, both you and the paediatrician can monitor his symptoms, which should disappear if the foods that trigger his allergy are excluded.
As an additional step to help determine the exact offending food, his paediatrician may ask for it to be reintroduced to his diet gradually. Any return of his symptoms would signify that he is likely allergic to the food that was reintroduced.
Allergy vs intolerance
Food allergies are a result of the immune system mistakenly identifying specific foods to be harmful, thus reacting by creating immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies to combat the perceived threat.
This often results in fairly immediate symptoms (within minutes) that could present as gut-related (abdominal pain, vomiting or diarrhoea), skin reactions (rashes, itching or swelling), respiratory (runny nose, sneezing or difficulty breathing), or even headaches in older children.
Food intolerance, on the other hand, is a purely gut-related problem that is caused by difficulty in digesting certain foods – the immune system is not reacting in any way.
Symptoms such as bloating, tummy aches or diarrhoea, do not normally appear immediately and can take a while before presenting.
The eight most common allergenic foods listed by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are milk, eggs, fish (bass, flounder, cod), crustacean shellfish (crab, lobster, shrimp), tree nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans), peanuts, wheat and soybeans.
Preparing fresh foods with raw ingredients may be the best solution, but this may not always be possible.
Do exercise extra care whenever you buy processed foods.
It is imperative that you read the product labels carefully before buying and serving them to your child. This will help ensure that the processed foods do not contain any of the foods that are in his food elimination diet.
As an example, if soy is part of the foods to be eliminated, buying processed foods that contain soy (commonly labelled as lecithin) would most likely skew the results, particularly if your child is allergic to it.
The eight most common allergenic foods listed by the US FDA are milk, eggs, fish (bass, flounder, cod), crustacean shellfish (crab, lobster, shrimp), tree nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans), peanuts, wheat and soybeans.
Other common ingredients to be aware of include flour, which is often listed as wheat, and whey, which is often listed as milk.
If you are unsure about the processed food, it would be better to err on the side of caution and avoid it.
Keeping a food diary in conjunction with the food elimination diet is a good habit, as it could potentially be useful in identifying problem foods.
Make it a point to accurately record all symptoms (including number of times and duration) and everything that your child ate or drank.
In addition to food and drinks taken during main meals, you should also include prescribed medicines, supplements, and any sweets or snacks he takes. Yes, even taking a taste from someone else’s plate or cup counts!
Start with a fresh page every day. Remember to bring it, along with any food packaging or labels, during consultation sessions with your child’s allergist, in order to give him a complete picture to help in his analysis.
Tips for success
By this point, it should be apparent that going on a food elimination diet can be quite complex.
It is important to plan it and ensure that you take careful note throughout the course of the elimination diet. Here are things you can do to help yourself:
Preparation is key: Spend a little time doing some research prior to starting the elimination diet.
Do a search for elimination diet-friendly recipes beforehand.
You may also want to search for suitable processed foods ahead of time.
Stock up before starting: In addition to getting recipes, you should also ensure that you have all the necessary ingredients ahead of time.
Be sure to also stock up on snacks or light foods that are elimination diet-friendly. This will help increase your chances of following the elimination diet, especially on days when your child is hungry or just wants something to nibble on.
Clean out the clutter: Take some time to go through your kitchen and other parts of your house to look for foods that are not elimination diet-friendly.
Make sure that you either hide them well, discard them (if they are almost expired) or give them away. By removing non-elimination diet-friendly foods, you also remove any temptation for your child.
This will pre-empt situations where your child may see his favourite snack (that is part of the eliminated food) in plain sight and demands to have some.
Keep all caregivers in the loop: Be sure to involve all caregivers in this exercise as they will help ensure that your child adheres to his elimination diet. This includes the people who will care for him in daycare, kindergarten or school.
For school-going children, it is important that you discuss this in detail with him in order to ensure his cooperation.
You may need to prepare meals for him, unless you are 100% sure that the canteen foods can comply with his elimination diet.
It may also be necessary to inform family members and parents of friends in order to avoid accidentally sharing/giving food.
Lastly, do note that the elimination diet may not yield conclusive results, in which case your child’s allergist may recommend an oral food challenge in order to check any inconclusive results.
However, it is very important that any elimination diet be taken ONLY under the supervision of an experienced medical professional, in order to avoid possible problems such as malnutrition.
Dr Amir Hamzah Abdul Latiff is a consultant paediatrician and consultant clinical immunologist/allergist. This article is courtesy of the Malaysian Paediatric Association’s Positive Parenting programme in collaboration with expert partners. For further information, please e-mail email@example.com or visit www.mypositiveparenting.org. The information provided is for educational and communication purposes only and it should not be construed as personal medical advice. Information published in this article is not intended to replace, supplant or augment a consultation with a health professional regarding the reader’s own medical care. The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to the content appearing in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.
You may have heard of IQ (intelligence quotient), but children with a high EQ (emotional quotient) have been found to be physically healthier, do better in school and get along better with friends.
EQ is the ability to identify, understand, and regulate one’s own emotions and the emotion of others.
Which is better?
It is a common misconception that either IQ or EQ are more significant than the other in predicting success in life.
IQ and EQ are only different in terms of what they measure.
IQ measures your cognitive intelligence – problem-solving skills, pattern recognition, reasoning, logic, mathematics – and how good you are at processing information.
EQ measures your emotional intelligence and how good you are at processing emotional information to guide your decisions and actions.
As an analogy, your IQ can predict your career path or field, while your EQ can determine how well you perform at the position and how well you cooperate with your colleagues.
Psychologist Daniel Goleman found that EQ consisted of five components:
• Self-awareness: the ability to recognise our own emotions, strengths, weaknesses, values and goals.
• Self-regulation: the ability to control our own emotions in reacting to circumstances.
• Internal motivation: the drive to achieve or accomplish our own goals in life.
• Empathy: the ability to understand and consider others’ emotions.
• Social skills: the ability to build and manage relationships.
He estimated that IQ makes up at best only 20% of the factors that determine life success.
The rest of the factors, such as EQ, wealth, temperament, family education levels and pure luck, make up the balance.
Another psychologist, John Gottman, observed how parents responded to their children’s emotions in an effort to understand how EQ develops and found that parents generally responded to their children’s emotions in one of four possible ways.
• Dismissing parents saw children’s emotions as unimportant and attempted to eliminate them quickly, often through the use of distraction.
• Disapproving parents saw negative emotions as something to be squashed, usually through punishment.
• Laissez-faire parents accepted all emotions from children, but failed to help the child solve problems or put limits on inappropriate behaviours.
• Emotion-coaching parents valued both positive and negative emotions, were not impatient with a child’s expression of them, and used emotional experience as an opportunity for bonding by offering guidance through labelling emotions appropriately and solving the issues at hand together.
Emotion-coaching parents value both positive and negative emotions, and are not impatient with their child’s expression of either.
Nurturing a child’s EQ
Based on his observations of parents interacting with their children, Gottman recommended the following five steps to nurture and improve a child’s EQ.
Step 1: Be aware of your child’s emotions
Parents who are emotion coaches are aware of their own feelings and are also sensitive to the emotions that are present in their children.
It is important to recognise that emotions are neither right nor wrong, but that they are valid.
Therefore, these parents do not wait for their children to escalate their behaviour or act out their emotional expression to acknowledge their feelings.
Step 2: See emotions as an opportunity for connection and teaching
Children’s emotions are not an inconvenience or a challenge. They are an opportunity to connect with your children and coach them through a challenging feeling.
Be aware that young children may act out in frustration when they feel their emotional expressions are restricted, which may lead them to escalate the intensity of their emotions even more.
Step 3: Listen and validate the feelings
Give your child your full attention while you listen to their emotional expression.
Reflect back what you hear, thus telling your children you understand what they’re seeing and experiencing.
Providing a platform for your child to be heard allows the intensity of emotions to reduce as they are being expressed. This leads to calmer emotions and improved listening for both parent and child.
Step 4: Label their emotions
After you have fully listened, help your children develop an awareness of their emotions and a vocabulary for their emotional expression.
Now, your child may express mixed emotions, i.e. experiencing a love-hate relationship with their siblings.
You can help them understand what is going on by asking them to describe what they are feeling and helping them to label the appropriate emotion(s).
Step 5: Help your child solve problems with limits
All emotions are acceptable – but not all behaviours. Help your children cope with their emotions by developing problem-solving skills.
Limit the expression to appropriate behaviours. This involves helping them to set goals and generate solutions to reach those goals.
Guiding your child this way teaches them to recognise their own emotions and to think for themselves on ways to guide their behaviour more positively in the future.
Although the time taken to complete these steps can be initially significant, Gottman found that emotion-coaching parents followed all five steps only 20%-25% of the time. So, you do not need to feel guilty if you cannot complete this process all the time.
Why is EQ important?
Study after study have revealed EQ’s importance and that emotional intelligence can predict future success in relationships, health and quality of life.
It has been shown that children with high EQ earn better grades, stay in school longer and make healthier choices overall.
Teachers also report that high EQ students are more co-operative and make better leaders in the classroom.
In addition, having high emotional intelligence is a greater predictor of career success than having a high IQ, which means it’s valued by employers looking for candidates who can complete work and get along with people in progressively collaborative workplaces.
As parents, we should put the same importance on nurturing both IQ and EQ in our kids, as both are complementary abilities that work together for our children’s development and success in the future.
Alexius Cheang is a behavioural psychologist. This article is courtesy of the Malaysian Paediatric Association’s Positive Parenting programme in collaboration with expert partners. For further information, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.mypositiveparenting.org. The information provided is for educational and communication purposes only and it should not be construed as personal medical advice. Information published in this article is not intended to replace, supplant or augment a consultation with a health professional regarding the reader’s own medical care. The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to the content appearing in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.