Feature: Are You Hyperparenting? Time to Let Go & Let Kids Learn
As parents, many of us feel driven to help our children become more successful than we are. The story is as old as time. Our parents felt that way. So did their parents.
But today’s parents focus on children’s achievement starting at birth, wanting kids to experience success in every endeavor — and to feel good about themselves.
“That’s not a bad thing, but we can’t live their lives,” says Deb Lonzer, MD, Chair of Community Pediatrics for Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital. “We had our chance. Now we have to let them have their chance.”
Hovering like helicopters to make sure our kids don’t repeat our mistakes or suffer any regrets is a sign of hyperparenting — being overly protective and involved.
Small failures are nothing to fear
Dr. Lonzer says that children need to learn from the natural consequences of their actions starting at age 3.
Although parents must keep kids safely away from the stove, gas line and toxic cleaners, “let them fall down, let them get cuts and bruises, let them make mistakes,” says Dr. Lonzer. “Let them learn what it means to have small failures.”
Failure can be a good thing for children by allowing them to think about what didn’t work and why, and to come up with a better plan for next time. “Childhood is for preparation, not performance,” she says.
As far as academics are concerned, a failing grade represents a learning opportunity as well. “The grade doesn’t matter — the effort does,” says Dr. Lonzer. “You have to stop doing their homework at some point, and if they get an F, they get an F. You want them to enjoy learning for the purpose of learning.”
The generation gap
In previous generations, children were considered adults when they reached the age of 18 or 21. They were expected to leave home and make their own way in the world — at college, in the military or in the workforce.
“Today, we have kids who think it’s normal to live with their parents until they’re 27 or 28, so we have prolonged adolescence until almost 30,” says Dr. Lonzer. “We have kids who have never failed because there’s always been that safety net.”
The bottom line is that most kids turn out fine — even those who have made some mistakes along the way — so parents needn't worry. “You’re probably gonna have happy, healthy kids if your heart’s in the right place,” says Dr. Lonzer.
Tip: Take It Slow — Keep Kids Away From Fast Food
To keep your family’s waistlines from expanding, prepare healthy meals the night before a busy day. Then you can grab a meal from the fridge and reheat it rather than grabbing fast food on the way to baseball or soccer practice. And don’t let kids fill up on soft drinks and juice before meals; give them fresh fruit and vegetables with fat-free or low-fat cheese instead.
Parents Be Well – July 2011 Issue
Feature: Ringing in the Ears? Tinnitus Can Be Tamed
You hear constant ringing or a rhythmic whooshing sound. But your cell phone is turned off, and the ocean is nowhere in sight.
That’s tinnitus — the perception of noise in the ear, the head or both — without any external source. Tinnitus affects 42 million Americans.
No need to ‘put up with it’
There is no cure for tinnitus, but if you or a loved one suffers from its daily frustrations, audiologist Craig W. Newman, PhD, has this message: “You don’t have to just live with it. Many patients manage their tinnitus successfully after following a few simple suggestions."
Dr. Newman, Head of Cleveland Clinic’s Section of Audiology, says the effects of chronic tinnitus are similar to those of chronic pain. They include:
- Problems concentrating
- Difficulty sleeping
- Trouble at work
- Stressful relationships
It’s no wonder that a large percentage of patients with tinnitus experience distress.
The cause of tinnitus is unknown, but evidence suggests that it is the result of changes in auditory neurons (the nerve cells that transmit sound to the brain). These neurons become hyperactive and tend to fire more frequently, causing the perception of constant noise.
If you are experiencing tinnitus, see your physician first for an evaluation. Underlying health problems may prompt your physician to refer you to an ear, nose and throat specialist (otolaryngologist), an audiologist, a dentist, a neurologist or even a physical therapist. “There isn’t a singular ‘cure’ for tinnitus,” explains Dr. Newman.
Sound therapy: A practical solution
If the tinnitus continues, sound therapy is one of the best ways to manage it, says Dr. Newman. The idea behind sound therapy is to decrease your perception of the sounds of tinnitus.
There are two ways to use sound to improve tinnitus:
Background sound (or “white noise”) can make tinnitus less noticeable. Examples include:
- CDs of rain, waterfalls or ocean waves
- Adjusting hearing aids to amplify ambient sound
- Sound generators, worn in the ear
Attention-getting sound can be used to distract you from your tinnitus. Examples include:
- Books on tape
- Talk shows
To choose the best method for you, think about specific times when your tinnitus is most troublesome. Decide if background or attention-getting sound would be better. Then pick the sound-producing device you like the most. You may not need to leave home to find it — the CD player in your living room, your favorite music on an mp3 player, the bedroom fan or a chat with a family member (or pet) may do the trick.
Other tinnitus tips
Dr. Newman recommends these other ways to improve tinnitus as well:
- Get enough sleep
- Reduce your stress levels
- Lower your intake of coffee, alcohol, cigarettes, aspirin and salt
- Eat healthy
- Exercise regularly
- Improve your posture
- Stay busy with activities you care about
You can also join the American Tinnitus Association at www.ata.org, he says.
Parents Be Well – July 2011 Issue
Free Guide: Juvenile Arthritis
Juvenile arthritis is more common than type 1 diabetes among children — and usually develops during the toddler or teen years. Learn about its many types and how they are diagnosed and treated.
Recipe: Pumpkin Pancakes
Add nutrition and fiber to your next batch of pancakes with this recipe, which uses canned pumpkin, applesauce and whole wheat flour.
1 cup flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
½ cup egg substitute
1-¾ cup skim milk
3 tablespoons applesauce
½ cup canned pumpkin
- Sift flours, baking powder, sugar and pumpkin pie spice into a large bowl.
- Whisk egg substitute and milk in separate bowl. Stir in applesauce and canned pumpkin.
- Pour wet mixture over dry ingredients. Stir, but do not beat. Batter may be lumpy.
- Heat a frying pan or griddle coated with cooking spray to prevent sticking.
- Pour batter out in 4-inch circles on a hot pan.
- Once batter starts to bubble, flip to cook the other side.
- Consider topping with sautéed apple slices instead of syrup.
Makes 16 pancakes (4 inches each)
Per serving (1 pancake):
Calories: 102 (26% calories from fat)
Fat: 3 g
Saturated fat: 0.3 g
Protein: 4 g
Carbohydrates: 15 g
Dietary fiber: 1.4 g
Cholesterol: 0.6 mg
Sodium: 71 mg
Potassium: 123 mg
Parents Be Well – July 2011 Issue
Let's Move It! Mondays at Progressive Field
Move it with Cleveland Clinic and enjoy free, exclusive access to Progressive Field in downtown Cleveland on select Mondays this summer. Invite your friends to walk the warning track with you over the lunch hour on Let's Move It! Mondays - and stop by our booth for free giveaways and health information.