Advanced Pediatric Therapies

Kid-Powered

Is Your Child Getting Enough Exercise?

happy kids , jumping

A recent article in the Journal Pediatrics uncovered a growing problem among preschoolers that has already affected elementary and high school age kids.  Researchers studied the amount of active play that preschoolers engaged in during a typical day at a child care programs in Seattle.  The kids averaged 48 minutes per day, despite ongoing recommendations that kids engage in 2 hours per day of activity.  Pooja Tandon, a professor at the University of Washington and a researcher at Seattle Children’s Hospital cites the worrisome statistics.  Childhood obesity has increased to 18% in kids aged 6 to 11 from 7% in 1980.  Preschoolers have been studied less, but habits developed at this age are likely to follow them to elementary school and beyond.  Day care providers who are more in line with the 2 hour recommendations for active play report improved behavior and even improved sleep at nap time.

What can you do?  Talk to your day care center about how much physical activity is part of their daily schedule.  This includes outdoor time even if it’s raining!

For elementary aged kids, the statistics are daunting.

  • 74% of families say that “family time” is spent in front of a television set
  • 52% of parents say technology is getting in the way of physical activity.
  • 58% of parents say their kids get outside less than 3 days a week.
  • 38% of parents say there is not enough time in the day to achieve physical activity standards.
  • 38% of parents say they can’t afford extracurricular activities to improve physical fitness
  • 41% of families get less than 60 minutes of exercise one day per week.
  • 50% of kids are spending a minimum of 3 hours a day in front of a screen.

With so many kids adopting such low expectations regarding physical activity, their chances for developing chronic diseases like diabetes are increasing.

Consider the following:

  • Most parks and recreation programs have scholarships set up for families who can’t afford extracurricular activities.
  • Kids do what they see:  make sure you have an activity program in place, even if it’s just walking the dog after dinner.
  • Play games that are physical like charades, Twister or Wii.
  • Go outside.  Even if it’s raining.  Kids love puddles!
  • Consider using incentives and think outside the box.  Redefine what it means to “play.”

If you need help setting up an activity program with your child, please ask.  We can help figure out ways to work it into your routine.

Best,

Jeanne

 

 

 

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Is Your Child at Risk for Depression?

dpression

A recent report on NBC News shared that there are more than 300,000 depressed kids in the United States.  This is an overwhelming number for sure, but there is more to the story.  When thinking of depression, most people think sadness and “the blues.”  While this is sometimes true when talking about kids with depression, it can also be true that kids exhibit other signs which are less readily identified as such.  For example,  irritability may be the first sign of both anxiety and depression in younger kids.  Is your toddler throwing a long tantrum?  1-2 % of toddlers aged 2-5 are depressed.  Depression that goes untreated in younger kids can lead to depression in older kids, too.

Of American kids aged 3-17, 15 million will have a diagnosable mental health disorder during a given year.  Of those, only 20% will receive treatment.  That means 1 in 5 have a perhaps hidden mental health disorder but 2/3 will go untreated.  These diagnoses, as related by the Centers for Disease Control, include anxiety, depression, ADHD and unspecified behavior problems.

Of course, your adolescent can be moody.  This is a hallmark of their age.  However, the tendency to develop a major depression or even bipolar disorder doubles from ages 13-18.  And more than half of all mental health disorders begin by age 14.  In teens, the long term statistics indicate that depression, particularly in girls, is getting worse. This is even more of a reason to keep an eye on your child and report to your pediatrician if you are concerned.  Read the article from NBC News, they will be doing a yearlong investigation into the topic and have provided statistics and hopeful treatments.

For now, signs of depression in kids include difficulty planning/organizing, difficulty concentrating, body language that indicates sadness, forgetfulness, easily hurt feelings, isolation from peers, distractability, complaints of feeling sick/not going to school, crying and forgetting assignments.

For adolescents, symptoms include sulking, self deprecating comments, theft, truancy, sexual activity, alcohol or drug use, isolation, defiance, pessimistic ideas and suicidal thoughts.  

If you have questions or concerns, please speak to your OT or health care provider as soon as possible.  There are treatments that can help!

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