Grow up, Government! Part 1

How the Government is failing to be role models for our youth; Part 1

Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

I was just talking to my husband, Jason, last night about how when I was little, I thought the president and everyone “in charge” knew everything.  I also thought that when people became adults, they acted like adults. Oh well.

We are repeatedly telling our children to show respect and be responsible but what happens when our efforts get sabotaged by the government that is leading the way?

Like many of you, I’ve been disgusted by what’s gone on Wall Street lately. But what disgusts me more is adults acting like tantruming, irresponsible, untrustworthy toddlers.

“This bill failed because Barack Obama and the Democrats put politics ahead of country,” – McCain’s senior policy advisor Doug Holtz-Eakin

[Those statements were] “angry and hyper-partisan [and] exactly why the American people are disgusted with Washington.” –Bill Burton, Obama spokesman

In other words…

“It’s all your fault!”

“No it’s not! You take that back!”

Sound familiar? What’s next?

“Mommmm! John is pointing fingers!”

“Daaaaaaaaaaad! Barack is making a mean face!

What do we really have here? Grown men and women– stealing what’s not theirs, arguing incessantly, and refusing to come to an agreement because they didn’t like what someone did or said. And what’s worse, we have 2 presidential candidates—one of whom will be our next president—pointing fingers at each other saying “it’s your fault, you didn’t do as much as I did.” Come on folks. Get a grip. Take a time out if you need to and let’s get back to work.

Have your say– do these folks need a time out, a gold star reward system, or a stern talking to? Comment below. Tomorrow we’ll talk about questions to ask your children regarding these issues.

Ashley McIntosh: Denied Justice for Deadly Car Crash with Police?

Ashley McIntosh: Justice Denied?

Dr. Robyn Silverman

Bad weather, No Siren, Red Light: A case of an Officer given preferential treatment? You Make the Call

As many of you know, my niece Evie and her schoolmates lost their beloved teaching assistant, Ashley McIntosh (affectionately known as Miss Mac), last February when a police officer, Amanda Perry, crashed into her Toyota sedan. The Fairfax County police officer, as witnessed by several onlookers, had driven through a red light with her emergency lights on but without a siren. Upon impact, Ashley was tragically ejected from the vehicle.

Although the officer had been charged with reckless driving in May, she was found not guilty last week to the shock of Ashley’s family and friends.

“Taking the totality of the circumstances I don’t find the evidence rises to a level that the driving was reckless.” — General District Judge Sarah L. Deneke

Witnesses all voiced that police officer Perry was driving at a speed close to 50 mph and spend through the intersection. Virginia law states that officers are actually not required to sound their sirens when they’re running red lights. (Clearly, this law needs to be amended as the practice resulted in a preventable deadly crash). Perry stated that she was indeed trying to turn on her siren while making herself aware of the traffic ahead of her but despite her efforts, “it did not come on.”

A video from officer Perry’s dashboard, which showed that the officer hit the brakes and turned on her emergency lights, was the key piece of evidence that prompted the not guilty verdict. Perry had perceived that the intersection was clear. For several seconds before the crash, the officer did not use her brakes or swerve. The light had been red for about 5 seconds prior to the crash. Perhaps not surprisingly, she claimed that McIntosh’s car “came out of nowhere.” Perry was going between 38-44 mph, according to crash experts, when the crash occurred. Perry was not seriously hurt but Ashley suffered fatal injuries that led to her death the following day.

“The judge saw the video and heard all the testimony and the judge found that that did not rise to the level of a conscious disregard for life, limb or property,” Ed Nuttall, defense attorney

Ashley McIntosh had her whole life ahead of her. She was loved by the children at Clermont Elementary School. She was engaged to the love of her life. She was young and contagiously happy.

Ashley’s supporters, many of whom signed the petition that begged for justice to be served despite the fact that an officer was involved which appeared to be delaying and swaying the process, are in shock. She has yet to apologize to the family. Perry has taken no responsibility whatsoever. Supporter recently commented on our blog about the outrage concerning the lack of outrage and the fact that Amanda Perry was allowed to leave the courtroom through a special entrance, without statement.

It is obvious that the reckless driving charge was a set up. It was a charge designed to placate Fx Co residents but it is a charge the Commonwealth’s Attorney knew could, and would, be defeated. A charge of running a red light was indisputable and would have certainly resulted in a conviction and would have paved the way for a wrongful death suit. Where is the outrage? Other than the Washington Post, I have not connected with any of the outrage this case deserves. –RT Greenwood

Now that the officer has been found “not guilty” of the absurdly low level charge DESPITE traversing the intersection at 45 mph with NO SIREN activated (to investigate shoplifting?), will you be following through to demand some independent oversight for the Fairfax County police, required to attain no more than a high school diploma in a county and state with NO independent Ethics Commission/No Inspector General and led (as “chiefs” of police) by a revolving door of insider males? Should the defendent have been allowed to leave the courtroom through a side door used by deputies? –C Green

Cindy Colasanto, Ashley’s grieving mother, read a statement prepared in the event of an unexpected acquittal.

“It’s beyond any understanding I have to think that an officer of the law, sworn to protect and defend us, is not held responsible for the irresponsible decision she made, responding to a call and resulting in the violent death of my daughter. Her misdeed has caused my family lifelong grief and a pain that we’ll never forget.”

The attorney for Officer Perry argued that the crash was the fault of Ashley. Ashley’s car was going about 22 to 26 mph through her green light.

“It’s clear from the video, Ms. McIntosh’s vehicle is not taking a left-hand turn. . . . The way in which Ms. McIntosh’s vehicle was driven was unforeseeable [to Officer Perry] and therefore the reason that this impact occurred.” –Edward Nuttall

NOTE: While Ashley’s light was definitely green and Officer Perry’s light was certainly red, police officers are exempt from the red light/green light law if their “speed is sufficiently reduced.” Of course, considering that they have due regard to the safety of persons and property.” However, the law states that the officers must have both their lights and their siren on, which was not the case here.

My deepest condolences to Ashley’s family and loved ones.

Do you think the officer was given the same treatment and verdict as a common citizen would be given? Voice your opinion.

7 Ways to NOT be a Helicopter Parent When Approaching Teachers

Bringing a concern to a teacher or coach respectfully and responsibly

Dr. Robyn Silverman

Dear Dr. Robyn,

I’ve been told by my daughter that I used to be a “helicopter parent” but that now I’m much better. I’m happy about that! I was wondering though, if I do have a question of concern for my child’s instructor and my daughter wants me to talk to him, what’s the “right way” to do it so that I’m not coming off like one of those crazed “Mama Bears” who’s just trying to cause trouble?                                                                          –Karin T, Austin, TX

Hi Karin,

Thanks for writing in. This is a great question and I imagine we can all benefit from starting this conversation. I’d like to offer some possible solutions, but I’d also like for other parents and educators to chime in and offer how they like these situations to be handled as well. So please comment below if you have an idea or question about approaching teachers, coaches, or instructors with problems or concerns.

(1) Ask yourself; can my child cope with this on his or her own? We all want our children to become more self reliant and feel confident dealing with a wide array of problems and questions as they develop. Talking with teachers and expressing concerns is something that builds courage and character. Often, the best way that you can help your child is by role-playing with them and helping them come up with how to best approach the teacher or coach about something which upsets them, scares them or confuses them. There are countless rewards for children who learn that they can do it by themselves! Let them use those Powerful Words!

(2) Talk to a trusted adult who has perspective: If you’re unsure if your concern warrants a meeting with the teacher or coach, run it past someone you trust who is uninvolved emotionally, can think clearly, and can offer you some perspective. A success coach or more experienced friend, who does not know the teacher, would be a good choice. Whomever you speak to, ask for an honest, non-emotionally charged opinion and be sure to ask for complete confidentiality. You want to be able to approach a teacher or coach if and when you’re ready not when s/he hears it from someone else.

(3) Discuss conflict out of earshot of children and other families: If you are certain that this concern should be brought to the teacher’s attention, and that it should be done by you rather than your child, it’s vital that you discuss the concern with the teacher in private. While it might be quicker to discuss your child whenever and wherever you can find the time, it’s inappropriate to talk to teachers about your concerns when in public. You must agree on confidentiality for the good of the child and the fairness of everyone. Just as parents need to know that teachers won’t embarrass them or their children in front of other people, you, in turn, need to be respectful by refraining from broaching concerns in public places as well.

(4) Know the facts: Step back. Take a breath. Don’t accuse a teacher or coach of lack of judgment or poor choices when you don’t know all the facts. While it might seem apparent that something questionable has happened, there are always several sides to one story. Especially when events are emotionally charged and your child isn’t happy with a teacher’s choice, you might be only getting half the facts.

(5) Speak directly to the teacher: While it might seem easier to simply “send someone” to talk to the teacher—whether it’s the Nanny, the grandparents, or other guardians, it’s important to speak directly with the teacher. Otherwise, you might be unaware of any difficulties that are occurring with your children—and you may just get the “cliff notes.” Sometimes there is a misunderstanding that must be cleared—and sometimes, frankly, it’s nobody’s business but that of the parent and teacher. It’s important to request direct contact with the teacher so that you can define the problem and solution together as a team.

(6) Avoid criticizing teachers in front of their children: Criticizing the teachers in front of the children is not helpful and is often confusing to the child. Children are very perceptive and pick up on anger and frustration. Since the teacher and the parent are very important people in the lives of the child, they do not know where to assign their loyalties and may even cause them to question authority. Therefore, it’s vital that you refrain from talking negatively about a teacher to another person in public (even if you think nobody’s listening) or showing anger towards a teacher in front of your children. Adult matters should stay adult matters.

(7) Choose a mutually agreed-upon time and place to discuss the conflict: Speaking when tempers are hot or time is limited is not likely the best time to discuss a disagreement. Is the best time in the morning? Afternoon? After a certain class? Remember—you’re thinking about the welfare of your specific child—the teachers, instructors, and coaches must think of the whole class (or multiple classes) and what is fair and safe for all of them. That means that what’s convenient for you might not be the best time for the teacher and the rest of the class. Just as important, if you know the time, you can ensure that you can secure child care for your child so that you can speak freely with the teacher or coach without distraction.

Always remember that you are guiding and modeling the ways to resolve conflict respectfully and responsibly when dealing with concerns or problems. Ask non-accusatory questions. Be gracious.  Listen.  Offer some possible solutions. Aim to work together. Children will look to you and their instructors to understand how to express frustration and work through disagreements. Even when you’re angry or concerned, you can still be an excellent role model. It’s largely your responsibility to lay the groundwork for constructive communication and conflict resolution.

All you teachers, coaches, instructors and parents out there– let’s hear your tips and comments about ways to approach a teacher with a concern! Comment below!

Is the White House Letting Your Kids Get Sick?

Dr. Robyn Silverman

DrRobynsBlog.com

Dr. Robyn Silverman

Perhaps you’re searching your mind—wondering how the American Government is failing it’s people—and you just can’t come up with a thing….so here you go!

Are you drinking contaminated tap water? Probably.

Water with a twist of pechlorate

Water with a twist of perchlorate?

We’ve all heard that doctors take the oath, “First Do No Harm.” The government should be asked to take the same oath. That is, unless you like high levels of perchlorate, a component of rocket fuel that has been linked to thyroid problems in pregnant women, newborns, and young children, in your drinking water.

The Environmental Protection Agency has been under great pressure from the White House and the Pentagon to refrain from setting a drinking-water safety standard for perchlorate. In fact, the document they originally put out by the EPA was heavily edited by government officials who oppose it.

Here’s the truth: “The document estimates that up to 16.6 million Americans are exposed to perchlorate at a level many scientists consider unsafe; independent researchers, using federal and state data, put the number at 20 million to 40 million.” —Washington Post (oh goodie, I always loved a little rocket fuel with my tea and honey—the missing ingredient in my cold remedy ?)

Here’s how it happens: Some perchlorate occurs naturally. However, perchlorate contamination in U.S. drinking water isn’t a result of that—it’s a result of poor disposal by rocket test sites, military bases and chemical plants. Unfortunately, it’s also in breast milk and veggies (Can anyone say Erin Brockovitch? We need you!)

Here’s the “problem:” No, not that lots of innocent children, babies, and pregnant women can have lifelong health issues, silly! No, no, no—the problem is that a nationwide clean-up WOULD TAKE MONEY—lots of money! It could cost millions, or BILLIONS, and it’s been rumored that several defense contractors have threatened to sue the defense department to help pay if we need such a clean-up  . (Perhaps you’ve noticed, but the U.S. is already in debt up to our eyeballs and things are getting worse—we need to bail out the thieves on Wall Street–so a little perchlorate is definitely not making the priority list.)

Here’s the REAL problem: The scientific studies suggest that even a small reduction in thyroid function is infants can result in a LOSS OF IQ and increase in BEHAVIORAL and PERCEPTION PROBLEMS. (That’s right—a great way to deal with keeping up with the Chinese– lower American IQ and decrease our ability to focus)

What the experts are saying:

“They have distorted the science to such an extent that they can justify not regulating the chemical…Infants and children will continue to be damaged, and that damage is significant.” “It’s absolutely irreversible,” he said. “Even small changes in thyroid functions early on have impacts on functioning through high school and even into people’s 20s.” –Robert Zoeller, a University of Massachusetts professor, expert in thyroid hormone and brain development. He has a copy of the EPA proposal and has read it thoroughly.

Why it’s really a problem:

The newest EPA proposal suggests that the maximum allowable contamination level is 15X what the EPA suggested in 2002 (very fishy already) was actually heavily edited by…the White House Office of Management and Budget (no doubt serious science experts who have only the health of Americans in mind). “Surprisingly,” they eliminated several KEY PASSAGES and asked the EPA to use a new computer modeling approach to calculate the chemical risks. They also erased references to studies which highlight the danger of the chemical for our children and pregnant women.

This is only the latest example of the Bush Administration EPA being accused of bowing to political and economic concerns, as opposed to taking the advice of its own scientists, when it comes to decisions about environmental — or in this case, human — health. Dan Shapley, The Daily Green

The EPA says: “Science, not the politics of fear in an election year, will drive our final decision.” –Benjamin H. Grumbles, EPA’s assistant administrator for water

(However, people expect the EPA to shirk responsibility due to governmental pressure.)

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee says: “Perchlorate has been a serious, persistent and widespread problem which threatens the health of our families, especially our children. For the Bush EPA to walk away from this problem and shrug off this danger is, in my view, unforgivable and immoral.” –Barbara Boxer

My take: The health of Americans– especially our children (future leaders) needs to be made a top priority. Children’s health shouldn’t be factored into a budget like the Wall Street disaster. This is an issue of health and respect for the wellbeing of the American people. Going to the White House Office of Management and Budget for public health advice is as useful as asking a bunch of kindergartners to redecorate your kitchen. Anything that’s done simply causes a bigger mess and a higher cost to fix it.

WHAT DO YOU SAY? Disgusted? Frustrated? Horrified?  Spill it.

Stuffed: Dealing with a Bad Cold

Saddled with a Cold? What to do…

Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

I would have written sooner but I wasn’t feeling up to it. I have a bad cold.

Of course, it didn’t start out that way—my husband had a cold and I was fine. Like any skilled cold avoider, I was pistol packing Lysol in one hand and Fabreeze in the other, spraying everything in sight—doorknobs, sheets…my husband. But I didn’t stop there- I was taking the awful tasting GrapeFruit Seed Extract, some green powdered amalgam called Green Vibrance, taking lots of vitamins, and drinking juice—which I don’t typically do. So how could I possibly have gotten sick, you ask? Well, it would have been a mystery to me to if I hadn’t woken up in the middle of the night with my husband’s face breathing infected air nearly directly into my nasal passage ways as his head was only an inch and ½ from mine. So much for the Lysol.

Back to Sneezin’ Season!

Cold Symptoms

  • Usually develop 2-5 days after exposed to someone else who kindly shared their cold with you. (My husband got the cold on Friday and I got it on Monday…yup, it was him.)
  • May include: Fever, runny or stuffy nose (yes to both), sneezing (yes), sore throat (at times), cough (yup), headache (yes to that too), and muscle aches (certainly!).
  • Mucus: Likely starts off clear then turns green or yellow after 2-3 days (let’s not even go there).
  • Symptoms usually get worse over the first 3-5 days and then slowly disappear over the next 10-14 days. (What ever happened to only 7 days?)

Treating a Cold

  • I always went for homemade chicken noodle soup—which I made last week for my husband but pretty much ran out by the time I got his cold.
  • It’s not a bacterial infection, so antibiotics won’t work. Taking them is pointless unless you or your child has an ear or sinus infection.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you or your child: Take in extra fluids, use a cold humidifier, and rest a lot—well, if you can—which most of you probably can’t…but we can dream, can’t we?
  • You may want to get a bulb syringe or saline nasal drops to clear nasal passageways for young kids who don’t “get” the whole idea of blowing their nose yet.
  • Some say that  over-the-counter meds might help ease symptoms like fever, congestion, and cough. However, the FDA says that these medications don’t work for children under 6 and more studies are needed to be certain of their effects. There is also concern that it’s easy to give your children an overdose of cold medications. While there has been a public outcry about overdosing, it’s still happening.
  • Zinc lozenges should not be used by children because they’re not often tolerated well and haven’t been shown to be helpful in children.
  • Some are turning to natural remedies like honey. I actually purchased a special kind of honey today, which is said to have many antibiotic and medicinal properties. Wish me luck!
  • Consult your pediatrician for more information for your child.

What are your cold remedies??? Please share!

Have a wonderful weekend-

Grow up! 5 Ways We’re Treating Our Children Like Adults

Growing up too soon?

Dr. Robyn J.A. Silvermen

I’m sensing a very frustrating trend here. Children just can’t seem to be children much anymore. We tell them that we don’t want them to grow up too soon and yet, we’re treating them like little adults! I mean, are we serious? Why not just give them a briefcase and send them off to work too?

Let me take you on a short, but disturbing trip…

Inside, like adults: Remember when our parents would tell us to go outside and play?  As you probably remember, a recent study found that children were being banned from the playground and made to stay inside during the school day due to wearing the wrong shoes, too much messy mulch near the playground, no coat, or talkative or texting teachers who can’t be bothered to supervise. Children need outside play for physical, social, and cognitive development as well as to get in touch with nature (which is vital to help them have a sensitivity and connection to mother earth). So much for imagination…sometimes children just need to get away from plastic, electronics and rubber, don’t you think?

“Today’s 5-year-olds were acting at the level of 3-year-olds 60 years ago, and today’s 7-year-olds were barely approaching the level of a 5-year-old 60 years ago,” says Elena Bodrova at Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning

Gym-goers, like adults: On that same topic, the Washington Post just covered a story yesterday that shows that children are now hitting the gym instead of playing outside. Come on. Hitting the gym? What happened to monkey bars, swimming, martial arts and hopscotch? Can you imagine how bored they’ll be by the time they have to make “going to the gym” a habit as an adults? Yawn Yawn. Think it’s not happening all that much? According to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association, last year, 1.3 million children between the ages of 6 to 11 were members of a health club. Sad.  Just sad.

“It may sound like a grown up routine, but many parents are enrolling their children in fitness centers or buying child-sized equipment for a workout more grueling than ballet or Little League but cheaper than hiring a personal trainer.”

Medicated, like adults: Many of us have been very upset by the news featured in my article “Tots Popping Pills”  that the American Academy of Pediatrics started recommended the adult drug “statins” to “at-risk” children as young as 8 years old in order to lower high cholesterol levels. Besides the fact that this option provides another push-button solution in a fast-paced, sedentary world, there are no long term studies done on the effects of these drugs on children. These children could be on these drugs for the rest of their life…should they be?

“Children’s bodies are very different in how they metabolize or handle drugs…Their livers are different, their kidneys are different. In many cases it’s about the same if they’re taking Tylenol or asthma medication. But for other drugs like statins that might have some impact on their endocrine system, we just really don’t know. I, for one, feel unsafe simply saying children are little adults in this case.” Dr. Darshak Sanghavi, a pediatric cardiologist at the University of Massachusetts School of Medicine

Waxed, plucked, and primped, like adults: Many Mommies bond with their daughters over a little sparkly pink nail polish. We’re now dealing with a whole new ball of wax…literally. Among some of the most disturbing “grow-up” tactics, is the waxing, plucking, and primping of little girls. The New York Post told us just a month ago that “the newest trend in pre-tween preening is a wax job, with girls as young as 6 years old removing whatever hair they have – or don’t have – from their legs and armpits.’ Squirming in your chairs? Yes, me too.

“In 10 years,” predicts Stawczyk, “waxing children will be like taking them to the dentist or putting braces on their teeth.”

Fed, like adults: Who do these restaurant chains think they’re kidding? They call them “kids meals” but are serving enough for a full grown man. We talked recently about how Fast Food Flops for Tots and the recent study which shows 90% of children’s “kid’s meals” at 13 major fast-food and restaurant chains are too high in calories for kids. We know that fast food can be a lifesaver– especially for families who have a lot of kids— but what are we feeding them? Men’s Health put out a surprisingly good article this month (my husband gets the magazine and showed it to me), written by it’s editor and author of Eat This Not That, about what kids are really being served at their favorite restaurant chains. Just as an example, according to the article, while an active 8 year old boy should eat about 1,600 calories per day, a single kid’s meal of “Chili’s Pepper Pals Country Fried Chicken Crispers with Ranch Dressing and Homestyle Fries” will pack over 70% of his daily calories into one, seemingly innocent kid’s meal (1,110 calories, 82 grams of fat- 15 grams saturated, 56 grams of carbs, and HolyMoly 1,980 mg of sodium). Yum yum.

“An Oscar Mayar Lunchable can have more sugar than four peanut butter cups.

SO…is it really better to be “like mother, like daughter” and “like father, like son?”

Please weigh in. I’m going to go bang my head against the wall.

Note: This article featured on radio show, Bigg Success 10/10/08 here

The Laziest Thing I’ve Ever Seen

Dr. Robyn's Dog, Casey, in favor of occasional laziness

Dr. Robyn's dog, Casey, in favor of occasional laziness

How Lazy Can you Be?

Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

Yesterday, I saw one of the laziest scenes I’ve ever seen. While out walking down the street with my dog, Casey, I saw one of my fully-able neighbors “walking” her dog too…except she was in her car…with the leash hanging out the window…so her dog could walk and she could…ride.

,,,and they say that having a dog makes people less lazy!

Is Laziness due to genetics? Modern Conveniences? “Poor Physique?”

J. Timothy Lightfoot recently published an article out of the University of North Carolina suggesting that some people might actually have a laziness gene which predisposes them to being slothlike. Others simply say that all the internet tools and modern conveniences are what make them lazier.  (If there’s any question of who’s the most lazy the UN’s International Labor Organization says American’s are among the laziest when they compare the proportion of American workers who put in more than 48 hours per week with other workers from around the world.) I even came across an article in the New York Times from 1910 entitled “Why Some Children Are Lazy” that said in plain terms that lack of determination and high levels of laziness are simply the result of “poor physique.”

So…what do you think? Are we getting lazier? Why? Genetics? Poor physique? The Internet? Modern Conveniences ? Poor diet ? Too much help ? Need for more in-school or after-school activity?

And after the shock of watching my neighbor “walk” her dog while she drove her car down the side street—I have to ask—WHAT’S THE LAZIEST THING YOU’VE EVER SEEN???