kids-guide-staying-awesome-controlA wonderful resource for children, caregivers, teachers, and practitioners, The Kids’ Guide to Staying Awesome and In Control: Simple Stuff to Help Children Regulate their Emotions and Senses is remarkable and even life-changing. Author Lauren Brukner knows how to keep things real and simple and sincere and children and emotions are two topics that go together and need to be talked about more, especially in the frank and charming way that Brukner does. Though it is specifically designed for children (and it is children who need it the most), I think there is something here for adults too. There’s something we ALL can learn from as we daily navigate the sometimes rocky road of emotions.

When Lauren Brukner was a child she had difficulty paying attention in class. She couldn’t express what was bothering her, and calming down after she she got sad, mad, or frustrated was nearly impossible. She would often struggle with feeling she had little control over her life. These experiences inspired her desire to help children identify not only “what” or “how” they were feeling, but ways for them to control or change (or at least improve) those feelings. She introduces us to “anywhere body breaks.” These are small body exercises to bring calm and focus.

“Anywhere body breaks” is based on proprioceptive input which is letting your body know where you are in space and which, in turn, can help stabilize you emotionally and keep you more centered and focused. To first understand what is going on, it is important to label that feeling as physical (in your body) or emotional (in your mind or heart) . Then, within those two categories, whether those feelings are: slow and tired, fast and emotional, or fast and wiggly. Brukner uses simple language and pleasing, welcoming visuals in a manner that never talks down to the reader. Truly, this could only have been written by someone who has been there herself.

Robin F. of Savage Branch & STEM Education Center

Robin F. models the “arm pretzel.”

One of the simplest “body breaks” (that has worked, even for me) is called the “arm-pretzel.” In doing this exercise a child should cross her arms with her palm touching as she interlaces her fingers. Then she should twist her arms, bringing them in close to the chest. This is designed for when children feel slow and tired or fast and wiggly.

Full of insightful and easy-to-grasp examples so that children can learn to self-regulate their emotions and senses, Brukner’s guide helps them face difficult feelings head on and feel calm, cool and collected. The Kids’ Guide to Staying Awesome and In Control gives children self-control, direction, and ownership of their emotions and ways to feel and function better anywhere and at any time.

It also helps children understand and truly recognize what they are feeling, whether those feelings are slow and tired, fast and emotional or fast and wiggly, and empowers them with coping techniques they can use to feel just right. In a world where even the most basic of emotions can be trying on both adults and children, a book like this is invaluable and not soon to be forgotten.


Sitting Still Like a Frog

Another terrific book for children and their parents is Sitting Still Like a Frog: Mindful Exercises for Kids (and Their Parents). This book takes on feelings by developing attention and awareness of our surroundings and ourselves, in what is better known as mindfulness. Author Eline Snel also advocates for what she calls “heartfulness,” which includes being kind toward oneself and others. In one instance, she has readers imagine channeling a frog because it is capable of enormous leaps yet it can also remain very still and not react right away, even though it is aware of everything going on around it. The frog sits still and breathes, preserving its energy instead of getting carried away by all the ideas that keep popping into its head. By painting this very vivid picture, Eline Snel gives the reader a model on which to try and best attain their emotional state. With 189 reviews (70% of which are 5 star) on Amazon, Sitting Still Like A Frog is extremely well-received and the perfect companion for The Kids’ Guide to Staying Awesome and In Control.

Additional resources regarding children and the self regulation of their emotions:


superheroselfcontrol parenting-a-child-who-has-intense-emotions


Self Regulation, Promoting Self Regulation, Learning Self Regulation

Angie Engles has been with the Howard County Library System for 22 years, 14 of which were at the Savage Branch. She works at the Central Branch primarily in the Fiction and Audio-visual departments. Her interests include music, books, old movies, and cats.

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the flu is more dangerous than the common cold for children. Children younger than 5 years old typically need medical care, and severe cases are more common in children younger than 2 years old. Children with chronic health problems like asthma, diabetes and brain and nervous system disorders are especially at high risk of developing serious complications from the flu.

The CDC recommends flu vaccinations for children as being the single best way to protect them from the flu. Common vaccination methods have included the nasal mist and shot. However, recent research has found the nasal mist to be ineffective, and because of this the CDC is only recommending the shot as an effective vaccination method.

Convincing children to get the shot is likely to be a hurdle for parents, but parents can make the experience less stressful with these tips from Laura Hagan, Howard County General Hospital Pediatric Emergency Room nurse manager, and her little helpers.

Parents may also find it helpful to try these following tips:

  • Taking slow, deep breaths – Deep breathing can help children relax and concentrate on something other than the shot. For this reason, parents should ask their children to breathe all the way down to their belly.
  • Focusing on something in the room – Parents can distract their children by getting them to concentrate on the details of a poster, picture or sign in the room. For example, if there’s a picture, they can count the number of flowers, animals or other images in the picture. In the case of a sign, they can try to think of new words from the same letters that are in the sign.
  • Coughing – Encouraging children to cough as the needle goes in may help them feel less pain during the process.
  • Relaxing the arm – A tense arm can make a shot hurt more, so parents should try to get their children to relax their arm.

For more information, view Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital’s Five Tips for Surviving Shots.

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Child Getting a Flu Shot

Child Getting a Flu Shot
[Credit: Monkey Business Images, Ltd.]/[iStock]/Thinkstock

The flu vaccine is the first and best way to prevent getting the flu, which causes approximately 250,000 illnesses and 36,000 deaths each year.

We contacted Maura J. Rossman, M.D., health officer at the Howard County Health Department, to provide you with the latest changes in vaccine options and tips for making your child comfortable when getting a flu shot.

Read what she shared with us.

The Nasal Spray and Shot 

Recent studies found from 2013 until 2016 the nasal spray showed “poor or relatively lower effectiveness” at only three percent, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Based on these findings, the CDC voted that the live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) nasal spray should not be used during the 2016 – 2017 flu season.

Generally, vaccines containing a live virus cause a stronger immune response in our bodies. The nasal spray was thought to be comparable or better than the flu shot; it was not. To date, there is no explanation for its poor performance.

The flu shot performed well during last year’s flu season, at 65% effectiveness, indicating that millions were protected from the flu. “Based on manufacturer projections, health officials expect that the supply of the vaccine for the 2016 – 2017 season should be sufficient to meet any increase in demand,” according to a written statement from the CDC in June 2016. The flu shot is available in good supply and safe for most people ages six months and up.

Tips for Getting Your Child Vaccinated

Parents who are having a young child vaccinated should consider following the CDC’s tips for making the experience less traumatic:

• Distract and comfort the child by cuddling, singing or talking softly.
• Smile and make eye contact with the child. Let him/her know everything is OK.
• Comfort the child with a favorite toy or book. A blanket that smells familiar helps him/her feel more comfortable.
• Firmly hold the child when he/she is sitting on their lap, whenever possible.

For older children:

• Take deep breaths with the child to help “blow out” the pain.
• Point out interesting things in the room to help create distractions.
• Tell or read stories.
• Support the child if he/she cries. Never scold the child for not “being brave.”

Parents can help keep their child healthy this flu season by having them vaccinated, and getting themselves vaccinated as well.

Maura J. Rossman, M.D. is the health officer at Howard County Department of Health.

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Eliminating Gluten, Nuts and Dairy Photo

Brad Calkins | |Eliminating Foods Diet

With school starting soon, you’re probably busy with back-to-school activities, like buying clothes and school supplies, but is preparing your child’s school for his/her food allergies on the to-do list?

With a little organization, preparation and education, you can help keep your child safe from experiencing a food allergy reaction at school. We’ve created this list of tips to get you started.

Make an appointment with the allergist.
Discuss and update your child’s food allergy emergency plan for school, making sure the plan includes a photo of your child and your and the doctor’s contact information. Also, ask for any prescriptions that may need to be filled for the school.

Order a medical alert bracelet.
Along with your child’s name and allergy types, consider including that epinephrine should be given for a severe reaction.

Gather your child’s medical supplies.
Make sure all of your child’s medications are packed and ready to go to school. If it’s possible, provide the school with medications that will not expire; otherwise, make a note of the expiration date(s) on a calendar, so you’ll be ready to replace them before the expiration date.

If your child won’t have an epinephrine auto-injector on him/her at all times, provide one to the school nurse, your child’s teacher and any other school staff who will spend time with your child. The epinephrine container should be labeled with your child’s name, photo and emergency contact information.

Develop emergency plans with the school.
Speak with the school’s staff and make emergency plans for different scenarios, like snack time, lunchtime, classroom parties and field trips. Remind school staff they should give epinephrine immediately, then call 911 in the event of a severe allergic reaction.

Attend the school meeting.
Ask questions related to your child’s food allergy, including:

  • Where is the food kept, and where will your child eat?
  • Are tables cleaned with disposable disinfecting wipes? Sponges can spread allergens.
  • Which staff oversees snack and lunchtime, and do they discourage food sharing?
  • Can teachers give you several days’ notice of food-related events, including birthday parties?
  • Is food used as a reward in the classroom, and if so, can alternative rewards be given?
  • Are kids urged to wash their hands, instead of using hand sanitizer, before and after eating? Hand sanitizer gels do not remove allergens.
  • Is training provided to teachers on how kids describe allergic reactions (e.g. kids may say their food tastes spicy, tongue feels hot, mouth feels itchy or funny, or lips feel tight)?

Write a letter to other parents.
Your letter should include the allergies your child has, what can cause a reaction and the serious effects of a reaction. Explain cross contamination and how preventative measures can keep your child safe.

For year-long tips, read “Going to School With Food Allergies” at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital website.

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Summer4827805659_9da7bd0ae7_b is all about having fun in the sun. We’ve all made plans to enjoy the beach, lake, and/or pool. Many of my friends are planning to lay on the beach and even out their tans for that perfect summer-kissed glow (due to all the up-coming weddings they are attending). Seems like no big deal, right? Well, it’s NBD until you have few moles removed from your back and your doctor is telling you that a sunburn you got 10-15 years ago is probably what made those moles a problem today. Listen, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer and accounts for about half of all cancers diagnosed. According to the American Academy of Dermatology nearly 145,000 Americans will be diagnosed with some form of melanoma this year. Moreover, 75% of skin cancer deaths are due to melanoma. It is a big deal.

My fiance just had a mole removed from his back two weeks ago. Today, he goes in to have the stitches removed. The doctor explained to us that on a scale of 1 – 5, where “1 is normal” and “5 is cancer” the previous biopsy of the mole was a “3” and that’s why the mole and the area around it needed to be excised. As a cancer survivor and liver transplant recipient, I understand the importance of protecting my skin because I am “100 times more likely than the general public to develop squamous cell carcinoma.” Despite the cautionary tales I’d shared and the “wear sunscreen” speech I’ve relayed from my doctors, friends, and fellow cancer survivors- it wasn’t until this happened to him that it “clicked.”

I don’t want you to have to end up with a cancer diagnosis to realize and practice the simple steps you can take to avoid getting sunburned. Sunburns today could be skin cancer in a year or 10 years. Trust me. Cancer is expensive and interrupts your life significantly. Below are some questions and answers to help make the case for protecting your skin this summer.

Q: If the sun is so scary, are you expecting me to stay inside all summer?

A: Please don’t hide in your closet all summer. Go outside, be active! It’s essential to your health in countless ways. I’m just asking that you be smart about it. Avoid going outside during the hottest part of the day when the sun is at its highest peak. If you can’t avoid being outside during that time, limit your time in the sun, find shade, wear broad spectrum protective clothing, hats, sunglasses, etc. Think about it this way, one hour of sun at 9 A.M. is nearly equivalent to 15 minutes of sun at 1 P.M. Your goal is to stay safe in the sun. As my fiance says regularly, “Fun ends when safety ends.”

Q: So, how much sunscreen do you really need? 

A: You need to apply at least one oz. of sunscreen every two hours in order for it to really be effective. Truly! If you’ve spent 4-5 hours at the beach and a quarter of your 8 0z. tube of sunscreen isn’t gone, you didn’t use enough. If you went with a group and you still have any sunscreen left- clearly, you all didn’t use enough. Rule of thumb: apply sunscreen 30 minutes prior to being out in the sun and reapply often. Even if your sunscreen is labeled as “water-resistant” or “water-proof” you still need to reapply. Efficacy of these kinds of sunscreens means about 40-80 minutes of SPF coverage when wet.

Q: Fine! I’ll wear sunscreen. What SPF (Sunburn Protection Factor) should I use? 

A: There is some debate over this. Many believe that the higher the SPF number is, the greater it is at protecting you from UVA/UVB rays. Actually, it’s pretty negligible; but for someone who has a history of or susceptibility for skin cancer, the marketing of SPF numbers could mean peace of mind. Truth is, no matter the SPF you put on, it’s ineffective after a couple hours. Which means, it’s not necessarily the SPF number that counts, it’s how often you reapply. Effectively, you should reapply after you do anything that could make the sunscreen slough off. Be sure to purchase a quality sunscreen with “broad spectrum” protection. An everyday SPF of 15 (blocks 93% of harmful rays) for your daily commute through life, in and out of buildings, etc. should be sufficient (reapply religiously). Thankfully, many lotions and make up products include SPF 15 already. However, if you’re playing in a sporting event, or near water (which is reflective) in directly sunlight, etc. you’re probably better off with a thicker, higher SPF of 30+ (blocks 97%+ harmful rays) which is the recommendation found on

Q: Sunscreen is gross. Couldn’t I just use a tanning bed?

A: If you want to jump from the frying pan and into the fire, that’s your decision as an adult. However, there’s a reason why Howard County, Maryland does not allow tanning for minors. If you read the report and its findings, I expect that you’ll see how important your skin is too. Perhaps you’ll decide tanning beds aren’t for you and that wearing sunscreen isn’t such a bad idea after all.

Clearly, I’m not a doctor or medical professional. Please consult with your primary care physician or your dermatologist for your skin health needs. Take these questions and answers as what they are: another way to hear the “wear sunscreen” speech.

Remember: use high quality, broad spectrum sunscreen, and reapply religiously!

JP is the HCLS Editor & Blog Coordinator for Well & Wise. She is also a Children’s Instructor & Research Specialist at the Savage Branch & STEM Education Center. She is a storyteller, wannabe triathlete, myriad hobbyist, cancer survivor, and liver transplant recipient.




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choose a pediatrician

[Credit: michaeljung]/[iStock]/Thinkstock

“Parenthood is a long and wonderful journey and having a medical professional who is caring and understanding from the beginning is an important part of this experience,” says Edisa Padder, M.D., a pediatrician on staff at HCGH. “Every parent should feel their pediatrician cares about their child as if they are their own. Your pediatrician’s office should be your medical home, where all your child’s medical needs are met.”

One way to get started finding a pediatrician is to ask for referrals from family and friends. Your next step should be visiting the pediatrician’s office and meeting with the doctor, even before your baby is born. “A few issues to consider when choosing a pediatrician are the willingness of the pediatrician to listen and hear your concerns about your child, whether a simple question or complex medical issue,” explains Dr. Padder. “If you have a trusting relationship with your pediatrician, even a difficult situation becomes more manageable.”

Understand whether your pediatrician works full- or part-time and who you talk to or see after hours. “You want to talk to a physician who knows your family so he/she can give you proper guidance and advice,” explains Dr. Padder. “When your child gets sick after office hours, you should call your pediatrician’s answering service for guidance — if you know it is truly an emergency, go to the emergency room. If you are not sure whether your concern requires an urgent evaluation, please contact your pediatrician on call immediately. Additionally, you want to know how easy it is to get an appointment if your child is sick or for a well-child visit.”

Choose a doctor who shares your parenting philosophy and style and sees eye-to-eye with you on issues such as feeding, antibiotics, colic and sleep problems. Decide whether you want a solo practitioner or group practice and check the pediatrician’s training and credentials. “Know your initials,” says Dr. Padder. An M.D. attended medical school, did three years of residency and passed American Board of Pediatrics examinations. FAAP after a doctor’s name signifies a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Also trained to work with children are medical doctors who are family practitioners, nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician’s assistants (PAs).

In addition to family and friends, other sources for finding a pediatrician include the Howard County General Hospital Find A Doctor, your insurance’s website and the American Academy of Pediatrics .

Visiting the Office
When visiting potential pediatrician offices, ask questions:

  1. Is the doctor in a group practice?
  2. Does another physician cover for the doctor at times?
  3. Is there a nurse in the office who can answer routine questions?
  4. Who handles phone calls when the office is closed?
  5. Is your insurance accepted?
  6. What is the office policy on taking and returning phone calls?
  7. A question to ask yourself: Are the physician and office staff courteous? Do they show compassion and patience or did you feel rushed?
Edisa Padder, M.D., is a pediatrician with Padder Health Services in Columbia. Call for an appointment, 301-560-4747

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