Video: Scoliosis Diagnosis, Treatment and Impact on Your Child

Rachel was diagnosed with scoliosis, a curvature of the spine, when she was 11. She describes how it progressed throughout her childhood, the treatments she had and where she found support. Click on the picture below to go to the NHS YouTube channel to watch the video.


Editor’s Note: Video Highlights

  • Rachel, who is grown now, was diagnosed with scoliosis – curvature of the spine – at age 11, in a routine school health check up
  • To check for scoliosis, you have to bend down and touch your toes
  • The impact of the issue depends on how much  your spine is curved
  • learning-about-scoliosisRachel’s spinal curve was moderate, so she was still able to do sports and PE
  • What she couldn’t do was trampolining – or anything with a lot of impact
  • There’s a strong genetic link with scoliosis – so siblings should be checked – Rachel’s sister was diagnosed with a slight curve
  • Because Rachel was still growing, she was fitted with a “Boston brace” – which is a plastic corset that fits around the torso
  • At first Rachel found the brace scary – and it was big and bulky – but she got used to it
  • She had a choice of wearing it just during the day – or both day and night – Rachel mostly wore her brace just during the day
  • After wearing the brace for 18 months, Rachel was told she needed surgery
  • This involved having a Harrington rod fused to the base of her spine – to the bottom curve of her S-shaped spine
  • This was also very scary – but Rachel had a lot of support from her parents
  • She was in the hospital for one week – including one night in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit)
  • It was quite major surgery but Rachel recovered at home over the summer – and was able to go back to school at the start of the new year
  • Rachel wore her brace again for another six months to protect her spine – and she wasn’t allowed to do any physical activity during this period
  • If someone was being diagnosed now with scoliosis, Rachel would say: “Don’t be scared. It doesn’t affect your life that much if you don’t let it.”
  • For further support you can go to the Scoliosis Association website in the UK

Editor’s Note: US Resources :


Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 09-12-2016 to 09-18-2016

twitter thumbIn this week’s Children’s Safety News: Ultimate Car Seat Guide – Safe Kids

Welcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world. Each day we use Twitter and Facebook to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and other caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we may miss something, but we think overall we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for our friends and colleagues not on Twitter or FB (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 15 events & stories.

PedSafe Child Health & Safety Headline of the Week:
Improve the Health of Young Athletes: Concussion Awareness

What “Sensitive” or “Authoritative” Parenting Really Means

authoritative-parenting-in-actionMany articles you see in the media discuss the positive influence of “sensitive parenting” on children’s development. Sensitive parenting is seen as the gold standard on how to effectively interact with your child to promote their optimum maturation process.

So with all these positive benefits of sensitive parenting, you may wonder what “sensitive parenting” really means. Contrary to what some may think, sensitive parenting does not mean giving in to your child’s every whim or not enforcing rules. Sensitive parenting is often called authoritative parenting.

This approach to parenting involves setting firm boundaries but also emphasizes explaining the reason for rules and meeting children’s emotional needs. This type of parenting is in contrast to permissive and authoritarian parenting approaches. These parenting styles were originally categorized by researcher Diane Baumrind over 40 years ago and they still have relevance today.

As you may have guessed, permissive parents fail to set limits or boundaries on their child’s behavior. On the other end of the spectrum, authoritarian parents run their homes like a dictator and expect children to obey strict rules with little emotional support or explanation. Based on these categories, it is easy to see why authoritative parenting is associated with the best emotional and physical outcomes for children. It serves as a middle ground between being too permissive and overly strict. In this environment, children come to know what is expected of them but are also given the emotional support, empathy, and skills to meet these expectations.

When I first read these descriptions of parenting styles as a graduate student (prior to having kids), I did not think much about it. They made sense and I took note of them in my mind for a later date. Well, now that I am actually a parent, I can really appreciate the usefulness of these categories.

One key aspect of authoritative parenting that I think is often overlooked is the fact that these parents change with their child. Their rules, relationships, and dynamics with their child move and grow as the child develops. It is easy to underestimate how hard this dynamic relationship really is. Authoritative parents, however, aren’t afraid of the challenge. They are in-tune with their child and they know they must grow with their child to meet his/her needs.

In real life, this might mean something as small as allowing your baby to use a fork although you know he/she can’t completely handle it and it will make a mess. Later, it might mean allowing your elementary-age child some freedom, but within certain limits, to travel to a friend’s house on his bike.

This authoritative approach also focuses on skill-building. Through the ability to grow and change with their child’s changing needs, the authoritative parent is inherently building the child’s confidence in themselves and their ability to handle new situations and challenges. If you’ve ever seen a 7-year-old with just a little freedom to ride their bike down the block, you’ve seen the confidence instilled. Inherently, most children know (and most parents too) when they are ready for the next level of skill or responsibility. When given this responsibility at the appropriate time and with the appropriate guidance, a child can flourish.

In contrast, the dictator-type authoritarian approach doesn’t teach the child to think on her own; she becomes crippled by her lack of confidence in her abilities. On the other hand, permissive parenting offers no scaffolding or support—the child just has to figure everything out on their own, which can result in dangerous mistakes. The authoritative approach offers a happy medium between these two extremes.

Now this is not to say that an authoritative parenting approach is easy. As is often the case, the middle approach between two extreme ends of a spectrum is the most difficult. Sometimes it may seem easier to give up and just let your child do whatever they like or bear down and insist on blind obedience. As we have seen with research, however, by sticking with authoritative parenting your children will ultimately reap the greatest benefits.

Information for Your Teen about Abuse in Relationships

If you’re in a relationship and you feel unhappy about or frightened by the way your partner treats you, you don’t have to put up with it.

It can be hard to know what’s “normal” in a relationship. It can take time to get to know each other and discover what works for you both. But there is one thing that’s for sure: abusive or violent behaviour is not acceptable, and if it’s happening to you it’s OK to ask for help and advice.

Partner abuse can happen to anyone of any age, culture or religion. It can happen to boys or girls, but it’s much more likely to happen to girls. Young people in same-sex relationships are also more likely to be affected.

Tink Palmer, a social worker who works with people who have been abused, says: “No one should have to put up with violence in any form. If it’s happening to you, talk to a person you trust, such as a parent, a trusted adult or a friend. Don’t hold it in, talk to someone.”

What is Abuse in a Relationship?

Abuse can involve physical violence, such as hitting, kicking, pushing, slapping or pressuring you into sex. But there are other forms of abuse, too. Emotional and verbal abuse can involve your boyfriend or girlfriend:

  • Saying things that make you feel small, whether you’re alone or in front of other people
  • Pressuring you to do things you don’t want to do, including sexual things
  • Checking up on you all the time to find out where you are and who you’re with – for example, texting or calling you a lot if you’re out with your friends
  • Threatening to hurt you or someone close to you, including pets

As well as happening when you’re together, emotional and verbal abuse can happen on the phone or on the internet.

Behaviour like this is not about love. It’s about someone controlling you and making you behave how they want. People who abuse a partner verbally or emotionally may turn to violence later on in the relationship. This kind of controlling behaviour is a big warning sign.

Behaviour like this is not OK, even if some people tell you it is. Violence and abuse in relationships is not normal, it is not “just the way things are” or “messing around”. It’s a serious issue.

Being hurt emotionally and physically can harm your self-esteem and make you feel anxious, depressed or ill. Girls who are abused can also develop eating disordersproblems with alcohol and drugs, and be at risk of sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy from sexual abuse.

Getting Help for Abuse

If you are in a controlling or abusive relationship and you want help, don’t be scared to talk to someone about it. Remember it’s not your fault, no matter what anyone says, and it is far better to talk about it with someone. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been drinking or what you’ve been wearing. There is no excuse.

It can be difficult to find the right words to ask for help. Try asking someone whether you can talk to them about something. Tell them you need some help or that something is happening and you don’t know what to do.

There are several people you might talk to, such as:

  • An adult mentor or a favourite teacher at school
  • Your mum, dad or another trusted adult, perhaps a friend’s mum
  • An adviser on a helpline such as ChildLine (0800 11 11) (*in the UK)
  • A GP (*family physician) or nurse
  • A friend

And remember, try again if you don’t get the response you think you need. If you are in immediate danger, call 999 (*in the UK – 911 in the US).

If You Think a Friend is Being Abused

If you think a friend might be experiencing abuse, talk to her (your friend might be male, but it is most often girls who experience abuse). “Keep calm, and don’t be judgmental or condemning,” says Palmer. “It can be difficult to talk to a friend, but try. If you’re concerned, don’t worry that you might be wrong, worry that you might be right.”

Try asking your friend if you can talk about something. Tell her you’re worried about her and ask her whether everything is OK. Listen to her and let her know that nobody has to put up with abuse.

If she has been hurt, offer to go to the doctor with her. Have the number of a useful helpline, such as ChildLine on 0800 11 11 (*in the UK), ready to give to her.

Your friend might be angry or upset with you for a while, but she will know that you care and you might have helped her realise she can get help.

If You are Abusing Someone

If you are abusing your partner or you’re worried that you might, you can call ChildLine on 0800 11 11 (*in the UK) or talk to a trusted adult.

“Recognising that your behaviour is wrong is the first step to stopping it. But you may need help to stop,” says Palmer.

Sometimes the things that cause abusive behaviour, such as feelings about things that happened in the past, can be very powerful. “We can’t always stop things on our own, or straight away,” says Palmer. “We do need help, which is why it’s important to talk to someone.”

Editor’s Note: *clarification provided for our US readers.

U.S. Resources for Teen Relationship / Domestic Abuse:


Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 09-05-2016 to 09-11-2016

twitter thumbIn this week’s Children’s Safety News: 8 Safety & First Aid Tips for Kids

Welcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world. Each day we use Twitter and Facebook to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and other caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we may miss something, but we think overall we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for our friends and colleagues not on Twitter or FB (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 15 events & stories.

PedSafe Child Health & Safety Headline of the Week:
Dangerously Hot Playgrounds and Children’s Health

12 Benefits of Unscheduled Play for Our Stressed-Out Kids

kids_jump_logOkay folks, I’m concerned. Over the last few weeks I’ve been reviewing studies involving children and play. “Shocked” and “disturbed” are the two words that describe how I feel when reading those reports.

Every study reaches one sad conclusion: Good old-fashioned play (remember that?) is quickly becoming an endangered pastime for today’s plugged-in, over-scheduled, too supervised kids.

Worse yet, play is not only disappearing from our homes and neighborhoods, but our schools as well. And this comes at the same time when reports show that stress is mounting to new heights in our kids while their mental health has plummeted to a twenty-five year all-time low. A good old fashioned childhood of cloud-gazing, leaf-kicking, and hill rolling is disappearing to be replaced by screens, earplugs, flashcards and tutors.

        Facts About Today’s Play-Deprived Kids

  • Since the late 1970s there’s been a 25% drop in our children’s free play and a 50% drop in unstructured outdoor activities
  • Since the late 1970s kids time in organized, adult-supervised sports have doubled and the number of minutes devoted each week to passive leisure, not including watching television, has increased from 30 minutes to more than three hours
  • The average U.S. child is now “plugged-in” to some kind of digital device–not including cell phone and text–71/2 hours a day

The loss of play and even skepticism about its value may be partly due to a more competitive, “no-child left untested era” (don’t get me started on that one…), our increasingly hurried, quicker-pace life style, and the belief we have to schedule our kids with activity after activity to stretch those IQ points. Now Tiger Mom–and every media outlet our there appearing to quote her–is urging every so-called “Western” mom to halt those play dates and any child-chosen activity.

Whatever the reason, today’s kids are playing less and many experts–and the kids–are crying, “Foul!” and with good reason. They are growing up in a play-deprived world. Dozens of studies prove that play is not just a luxury but essential to our children’s healthy development.

12 Scientific Benefits of Play

We’ve always known that “kids and play” are just a natural combo. But new research also shows that letting kids engage in self-directed play has immense value for their social, emotional, cognitive and physical growth. Here are just a few of the proven scientific benefits of letting our kids get messy and doing something besides clicking those darn keypads and video controllers and paper and pencil tasks:

1. Play boosts children’s creativity and imagination

Play gives children the chance to invent, build, expand, explore and develop a whole different part of the brain.

2. Play stretches our children’s attention span

Playing outdoors just 30 minutes a day increases child’s ability to focus and pay attention.

3. Play and rough-housing boost boys’ problem solving abilities

The more elementary school-boys engaged in rough-housing, the better they scored on a test of social problem solving. (Don’t ya love that one!)

4. Play boosts self-confidence and self-regulation

Kids learn to become masters of their own destiny without an adult directing, pushing, managing or scheduling.

5. Play forges friendships, strengthens social competence and teaches social skills

Undirected (which means an adult isn’t there guiding and directing each moment) play allows kids to learn how to work in groups, share, negotiate, communicate and develop core social skills they need not only now but for the rest of their lives.

6. Play helps kids learn to enjoy just being in their own company, entertain themselves and develop identity

Ease that guilt when your kid says, “I’m bored, Mom!” Our kids must learn to enjoy their own company!

7. Play reduces children’s anxiety and diminishes stress

A study published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry shows that play is also critical for our children’s emotional health because it helps kids work through anxiety and reduce stress.

8. Play creates joyful memories of childhood

Come on, no kid is going to remember the car pools and worksheets but the swings, jumping in leaves, playing leapfrog in the mud, blowing bubbles, building forts–those are the unforgettable childhood moments. Sigh!

9. Play boosts physical health and reduces risk of obesity

Henry Joseph Legere, MD, author of Raising Healthy Eaters points out: “Rises in screen time have led to the rise of a sedentary lifestyle for our children. In 1982, the childhood obesity prevalence in the United States was actually less than 4 percent. By 2004, that number had grown to about 30 percent.”

10. Play expands our kids minds and neurological development

Self-initiated play improve skills such as guessing, figuring, and interpreting is important to brain development and learning. It helps kids learn to self-regulated as well as stretch critical thinking and focusing skills.

11. Play builds new competencies, leadership skills, teaches lifelong hobbies, and develops resilience

“Play is what allows kids to manipulate their environment,” says a report written by Kenneth Ginsburg, M.D. of the AAP, “And how you manipulate your environment is about how you begin to take control, how you begin to develop your senses, how you view the world.”

12. Play nurtures the parent-child bond

Child-driven play also improves our parent-kid relationship.Play offers a wonderful opportunity for parents to see the world from our children’s eyes as well as strengthen our relationship when we join in.

In fact, playing with our kids is one of the few times when clocks stop and stress fades. There’s no judgments, schedules or time constraints that worry us. It’s just a glorious opportunity to give our kids our full presence, be in their space and enjoy each other’s company, and build those wonderful childhood memories. Keep in mind folks, there’s no rewind button when it comes to childhood!

So parents, why not just this week push pause and tune into your kids’ schedule? I dare you: take a Reality Check and see just how how unstructured, unsupervised time your kid has. While you’re at it, here are a few questions to help you assess if play should be added to the “Endangered Species List” at your home.

REALITY CHECK: Could Your Kids Be ‘Play Deprived’?

  • How much are your kids plugged into some kind of a digital device?
  • How often are your kids glued to that TV or clicking that keypad?
  • How much free time do your kids have that is unscheduled, unplanned, unsupervised?
  • How often do your kids go outdoors to just recompress?
  • Do your kids know how to entertain themselves solo an adult, coach, teacher, or you whether it be indoors or out?
  • Do your kids enjoy the great outdoors?
  • How often (if ever) do your kids see you throwing off your shoes and joining in the unplanned, spontaneous fun with them?
  • Do your kids know outdoor age-appropriate games and have the equipment for those activities whether it be hopscotch, jump rope, Red Rover, I Spy, basketball, freeze-tag, kick the can, skateboarding?
  • Do your kids know how to self-entertain and do activities that would nurture their creativity or imagination on a regular basis?
  • Do you set a rule that when friends come to the house a minimum or no plugged-in devices are allowed?
  • Would your kid say that you encourage them to play unstructured?
  • How do you respond when your kids get messy? (Just asking…but remember letting your kids get messy every now and then is actually a great way to teach them that nobody’s perfect, accidents do happen, and teaches them to enjoy themselves and their own company).

Let’s remember: Play is an essential — not a luxury – for our children’s well-being. Thirty years of solid child development research confirms that play is crucial for our children’s social, emotional, physical and cognitive growth.  So check into your kids’ lives and make sure at least  a bit of “free time” is a part of their waking hours.

What do you think? Are our kids becoming play-deprived? And if they are, what do you see as the disadvantages?


UnSelfie 140x210Teens today are 40 percent less empathetic than they were thirty years ago. Why is a lack of empathy—along with the self-absorption epidemic Dr. Michele Borba calls the Selfie Syndrome—so dangerous? First, it hurts kids’ academic performance and leads to bullying behaviors. Also, it correlates with more cheating and less resilience. And once children grow up, it hampers their ability to collaborate, innovate and problem-solve—all must-have skills for the global economy. The good news? Empathy is a trait that can be taught and nurtured.  UnSelfie is a blueprint for parents and educators who want activate our children’s hearts and shift their focus from I, me, and mine… to we, us, and ours.  It’s time to include “empathy” in our parenting and teaching!  UnSelfie is AVAILABLE NOW at