Helping my daughters feel full of themselves

mom and daughter doing push ups

When my eldest daughter was in kindergarten, she came home from school one day and asked me why she had a pudgy tummy. She proceeded to point to a very thin lamp base in my bedroom and said, “I want to be skinny just like that.” I will never forget that moment — partly because I was horrified but mostly because it became the catalyst for the kind of role model I was to become for my girls around body image and self-acceptance.

During this time, it became clear to me that there was nothing I could do about what others would say to my daughter about her body. I realized I couldn’t predict what effects would be long-lasting versus what she would brush off.

And so, in my attempt to gain some control back, I adopted some absolutes around my own behaviors as they related to my body. I figured if I could practice what I preach, perhaps they would follow suit?

  • If I talk about my body, I’m mindful of my word choice. I use words like healthy and strong. I try to focus on all the things my body can do, not on what it looks like.
  • I try to model gentleness in the way I care for myself. There are little ways to do this: choosing scented body creams and shower gels, using essential oils in our diffusers and on our bodies, resting our bodies when they are tired, etc.
  • I eat. I choose healthy foods and unhealthy ones too. I love my sweets. I take second helpings. I try to model moderation. I remind my girls that food is the fuel our bodies needs to work: the better we feed it, the better it works for us.
  • I don’t talk about carbs, fat or calories. Instead I try to provide my family with balanced meals and snacks that speak for themselves.
  • I drink water. I encourage my family to drink it too. I even buy fun and fancy cups to keep water accessible all day.
  • I move my body. I take the stairs instead of the escalator. I ride my bike to the store. We walk the dog. I workout. I sweat.
  • I never say “I am fat,” or “I feel fat,” in front of them.
  • If I’m watching what I eat, I don’t call it dieting. In fact, I don’t call it anything.
  • I try to stay away from using the word perfect at all.
  • I don’t talk about other people’s bodies, only my own.
  • When I need a break or feel grouchy, I go workout or take a walk. When I get home, I tell anyone who is listening how much better I feel.
  • I ask my husband to brush the girls’ hair when they get out of the shower. Listening to his compliments as he brushes their hair also plays an important role in my girls’ developing sense of self.

Ultimately I want my girls to feel full of themselves. I want them to take care of their bodies, to appreciate the work it does for them, and to feel confident about all the unique ways their bodies are developing. And in the meantime, I will continue to do my part to be the best role model I can be.

– Andree Palmgren is a volunteer with the Beaumont Parenting Program and mom of four kids ages 14, 12, 8 and 4.

Helping your child recover from a sports injury

soccer injury

Kids will be kids. That’s what they say, right? Unfortunately with kids playing sports at the level they do today, we have to deal with cuts, scrapes and bruises, but now also orthopedic sports injuries. Some of these require emergency room (ER) visits and doctor follow ups, but many of them can be healed at home with proper immediate care and a good recovery plan.

In this article, we talk about home recovery from mild sports injuries. It’s important to note that anytime there is concern about a broken bone, uncontrolled bleeding, head injury, or infection (such as tetanus), you should see a doctor right away, often at your local ER or urgent care center.

The first step is calming the pain and inflammation after injury. When the body is injured, swelling occurs from the inflammatory process the body elicits to prevent further damage to tissues; when swelling is high, pain usually follows quickly. We use the R.I.C.E. protocol to reduce and control this process, which stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation. Usually the rest, ice and elevation all happen together—for example stopping soccer practice to place ice on your ankle while elevating it above your heart. The elevation above the heart level, which usually requires lying down, allows gravity to help move the swelling back toward the heart, doubling the effect.

Compression (e.g., wrapping an ACE bandage around the ankle) occurs after the icing and prevents more swelling from occurring. Icing should be done no more than 10–15 minutes at a time and always with a barrier between ice and skin. Fun fact: Ice can burn the skin as easily as heat! Anti-inflammatory medication is also an option to reduce inflammation, but always at the recommendation of a physician to ensure the proper dosing and safety for your child.

After the swelling and pain are reduced, your child may be itching to return to his or her sport, but it’s important to have a slow return back to full performance to allow for greatest potential of no reoccurrence or reinjury. This may be participating in only practice with the ability to take a break if pain returns, staying away completely and doing exercises at home, and/or coming to physical therapy in addition to return to sport. Teachers and coaches must be made aware of the injury and should be accommodating to your child during recovery. If your child is too young to understand his limits or her coach is pressuring without accommodating, then you, as a parent, must take charge of your child’s recovery and keep away from the sport for extra time. When our muscles are working at only 50 or 60 percent, they are more susceptible to additional injuries from overworking or incorrect form. Taking extra time away and addressing the targeted area allows muscles to recover fully before being asked to perform at a high level.

So how do I know what to do for my child? For a complex injury or if you really are clueless, that is what your local physical therapist is for! Depending on the severity of the injury, your child may need to see a specialized sports medicine doctor, but we can evaluate your child and create a specific exercise program in just a few sessions. Sometimes three or four sessions to watch the healing and learn some exercises is all it takes. However if we identify fundamental issues that may have contributed to the injury, therapy may continue for a while. Remember, often kids listen better to instruction coming from someone other than mom or dad.

A good start on a minor injury is to exercise that body part starting with non-weight-bearing (called open-chain in rehab world) and progressing to weight-bearing (called closed-chain). For hand and upper extremity injuries, children should start with no weight and slowly add weight or resistance. Please keep in mind that pre-pubescent children should never perform heavy or repeated weight lifting, due to the integrity of growth plates.

So now that your child is ready to return to her activity, remember slow and steady wins the race! The hardest thing to do is hold back, but often times injuries feel fine with day-to-day work and we aren’t truly sure of where our healing is until it is tested. Not to mention, after a break from working out, everything is a little rusty and just like we need to work back up slowly to full strength, so do our children.

For any other questions or if you feel your child needs a skilled evaluation for his injury, give us a call at any of our Center for Children’s Rehabilitation locations in Grosse Pointe, Royal Oak, Macomb, and West Bloomfield.

– Lauren Sofen, PT, DPT, PCS, Physical Therapist, Beaumont Health Center/Neighborhood Club

What not to say (or do) to a pregnant woman

Pregnant woman sitting on bench

Cropped image. Nicu Buculei, Flickr. CC license.

As I enter week 34 of my second pregnancy, I am still surprised at the remarks that strangers say to me about my looks. Does somehow growing a child and carrying it around for 9 months gives people the right to comment on (or touch) my body? While I was joking with co-workers about the odd comments and stories we each experience, I decided to put a basic list together of things you should not say (or do) to a pregnant woman.

  • Do not tell her how huge/big/pregnant she is.

After age 5, hearing how big you are stops being a compliment. Don’t you think I know how big I am?! I’m the one who gets out of breath putting on socks.

  • Do not touch her belly without asking first.

Oh, hi complete stranger! I have no idea where your hands have been and if you are sick or not. Don’t get me wrong, I love when people touch my belly (you get bonus points if you lightly scratch my belly) but simply ask first. If you ask once and I give you permission, you can feel free to touch my waistline in the future.

  • Do not say, “Are you sure you’re not having twins?”

It’s 2016 and I am surprised that I am writing this. No joke, this happened to me twice during this pregnancy. The first time was while shopping with a friend and the cashier asked me this. Mind you I was only six months pregnant at the time; talk about a blow to my self-esteem. Even if it is twins, do not ask if it is twins. Instead say, “How exciting to welcome a baby!” and if a mother is carrying two bundles of joy, she may offer this information.

  • Do not say, “Should you be eating that?”

Most health care providers give a list to new moms on what foods to avoid or tips on where they can find this information. A pregnant woman’s diet is limited while her cravings are limitless. I am not a big meat eater and surprised myself when I found myself craving a Reuben sandwich (who am I?). Unless I accidentally grabbed a container of explosive material instead of my delicious corned beef, please let me eat what my body is craving.

Also under this category is to not mention how gross our cravings can be. Ice cream and pickles together? Pretzels and BBQ sauce? Hot wings and sour cream? Chances are good that I know how weird these combos sound. It’s baby craving that food combinations, not me!

  • Do not say, “I hear you’re having another boy/girl. That’s too bad. Guess you’ll just have to try again to get that little girl/boy!”

I love my 3-and-a-half-year-old boy and am so excited to be having another boy. Does that mean I will be the only female in the house and outnumbered by cars, trucks, forts, dirty hands, pee-covered toilets, NERF guns and swords? Yes. But does that mean I would trade any of that for princesses and bows? No. My family is perfect just the way it is. My standard response is, “I am going to focus on this pregnancy and loving this baby for now.”

  • Do not say “You look really tired.”

You shouldn’t say this to anyone unless you are offering them a cup of coffee, massage, and free babysitting.

Here’s what you should say to every single pregnant woman you see: “You look wonderful.”

Regardless of whether she is six or 36 weeks along, every pregnant woman has a whirlwind of emotions going through her body including being self-conscious. I mean, honestly, is there ever a more vulnerable time for a woman than when your waist is expanding, you can’t see your toes, and you wet your pants if you sneeze too hard? Be sensitive. Be kind. And offer her a snack or a nap (better yet, even both).

– Stephanie Babcock is an IFS coordinator with the Parenting Program. She’s a proud mom of one with another on the way.

Kids say the darndest things

stick drawing of people

Sometimes, it’s not what they say. It’s what they write.

One of my favorite things about parenting is the funny stuff my kids say. They’re turning 5 soon, so they’re philosophers, observers and parrots. Oh, and they’re opinionated. Very opinionated.

One kid won’t eat certain things “because it’s not my favorite.” As if that’s a good reason. Another doesn’t want to help fold laundry “because it’s not fun.”

Believe me, I’m not here for the carrots and dirty clothes either, kids.

Just the other day, we were listening to Christmas music when my daughter heard the lyric, “Oh ho, the mistletoe hung where you can see … ” Then she says, “I think my mistletoe is my baby toe, right, Mom?”

Yep. It sure is.

Sometimes it’s tough keeping a straight face and not laughing. It’s a delicate thing, a preschooler’s ego. It’s also hard when you want to correct them so badly, but it wouldn’t do any good. Just recently a kid told me, “I don’t have to wipe my butt, Mom, cuz I only pooped a little.”

I know that’s a teaching moment — that also goes back to me doing laundry — but it was said so emphatically I just let it go. Have an itchy butt, that’ll teach you.

My little observers are also noticing that people don’t all look alike. This happened at a restaurant where the server happened to be black. My kid said, “Mom, the waitress is chocolaty.” Then we had a conversation about how all people are different colors, just like flowers in the garden. We all put our hands on the table and noticed that just in our four-person family all the skin colors are different. Thankfully, the server didn’t seem to be offended.

Then there was the time I forgot to paint my daughter’s nails. She looked at me deadpan and said, “You’re fired.”

It’s the comic relief we need as parents to make it through the day, like when my kid declared at Christmas Eve dinner, “Papa, did you know boys have penises, but girls don’t?”

I’ve never seen my dad take more interest in his plate while the rest of us suddenly started choking and needed to hide behind our cloth napkins.

It’s fun. It keeps me sane. I’m looking forward to the next pearl of wisdom from these two.

What’s the funniest thing your kid has said?

– Rebecca Calappi is a publications coordinator at Beaumont Health and adoptive parent of multiples.

Holiday travel tips for parents

Family with luggage at train station

Cropped image. Sigfrid Lundberg, Flickr. CC license.

Traveling during the holiday season can sometimes be scary: traffic jams, winter weather, delayed flights, and crowded airports are a few of the concerns. When you add squirming kids into the equation, you may be tempted to simply stay home. Nevertheless, millions of Americans will hit the road, looking forward to visiting relatives, reconnecting with old friends, or even taking a long-awaited vacation to a warm and sunny family resort. Exploring with your family creates wonderful memories for the future. So don’t be afraid; go and enjoy your time away!

General Travel Tips

  • Pack only what you need for the trip. Diapers, wipes, etc. can be purchased once you’re at your destination. Some equipment like strollers, pack & plays, and feeding chairs can often be rented. One site to check out for baby equipment rental is Traveling Baby Co.
  • Dress baby in comfortable clothes.
  • Keep a spare set of clothes and/or shirt packed and easily accessible in case of spills and spit ups.
  • Keep your baby’s routine the same whenever possible.
  • Be mindful of little travelers’ limits. They need to have time to rest and be quiet.
  • Provide opportunities for kids to just be kids. Do not overschedule activities.
  • Be prepared for last minute adjustments.
  • Use bottles with disposable liners so that you have less bottle washing.
  • Purchase a special gift/gifts (do not need to be expensive) to help entertain your child.
  • It’s OK to relax some of your guidelines, such as treats and screen time, when traveling long distances.

Plane Travel Tips

  • Take early morning flights whenever possible as planes tend to be more on time in the morning and flight crews are refreshed.
  • Allow for extra time at the airport.
  • If possible, book your flights during non-peak travel times, Mondays–Wednesdays. Try to book non-stop flights whenever possible.
  • Check as much luggage as possible at the front ticketing counter. Walking or running through an airport is much easier without luggage. Keep stroller to push baby and simply check it at the gate.
  • Board the airplane last so as not to have extra time sitting on the airplane. If two adults are traveling, have one board with the luggage to get it stowed in advance and have the other wait in the terminal with the baby.
  • If traveling alone with baby/child, book a window and aisle seat and hope that the middle seat will remain vacant. If it becomes occupied, the passenger will always switch with you for the aisle or window.
  • Don’t feel strapped to your seat for the entire flight, it’s OK to get up and walk around when the “fasten seat belt” light is off.
  • Consider sitting in the back of the airplane where the engines are a little noisier. It provides white noise to calm baby if baby is crying.
  • If baby is sleeping on takeoff and landing, let them sleep. If not, try feeding. Have older children chew gum or drink beverages.
  • Log on to your airline’s website to receive notifications about flight delays.
  • Websites to visit prior to flying include:

Car Travel Tips

  • Travel at night or during nap times when babies are most likely to sleep.
  • Stop and stretch every few hours. Plan for the trip to take more time than when you traveled without children.
  • Avoid rush hour in big cities.
  • Try to keep kids entertained by playing games, reading books, etc.
  • Never leave baby in car unattended.

– Lori Polakowski is an IFS coordinator for the Parenting Program. This former flight attendant traveled extensively with her children.

Gifts for your mother (Earth, that is)

Furoshiki gifts

image credit:


As with most mothers, it’s the simple things—the heart-felt things—that matter most to our planet Earth. Practicing simple habits throughout the season can make a big difference.


Before purchasing a gift or other item for the holiday, do a quick mental checklist. Does the item have:

  • Low mileage? (Is the backstory like a retelling of “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles?”) When you opt for locally and regionally made products, you significantly reduce the transportation pollution connected to your gift. You will boost the local economy, too.
  • Minimal or no packaging? According to the EPA, almost one-third of municipal waste in the U.S. is discarded packaging. Paper or cardboard packaging is more easily recycled than plastic.
  • Natural content? From cradle (production) to grave (disposal), plastic and other petroleum-based materials (such as polyester fleece) wreak havoc on the environment and the health of the people who live near the facilities. A gift made of natural materials is also the least toxic option for the recipient.

Tip: Give homemade gifts; an “experience” such as tickets to a play, museum, or movie; an activity such as ice skating; or a service (e.g., a massage) for a perfect score on your checklist.


  • When updating and adding to your holiday light collection, opt for LEDs. They use 70 percent less energy than traditional bulbs.
  • Use a timer to control when the holiday lights turn on and off.
  • Wrap your home! No, not with yards of gift paper and bows! Install storm doors and windows. Cover windows with plastic if you don’t have storm windows. Block drafts under doors.
  • Ask Santa to install a programmable thermostat for an estimated 10 percent cut in energy costs and use.


Americans throw away about 25 percent more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. Non-material gifts win in this category as well because experiences or services don’t need wrapping. We would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields if every American family wrapped just three presents in reused materials. Ways to reuse materials:

  • Reuse gift bags.
  • Repurpose old t-shirts, maps, sheet music, newspaper comics, scarves, fabric, or handkerchiefs instead of using new wrapping paper.
  • Turn cereal boxes inside out and decorate them.
  • Use reusable tins or decorative storage boxes.
  • Save used gift wrappings for the next holiday. Recycle any wrappings that can’t be reused.
  • Close the loop: Buy gifts made from recycled content.

Food waste

About 40 percent of the food grown in the country is wasted, according to Forgotten Harvest, a food rescue organization in southeast Michigan. One way to make a difference is to adjust your expectation of cosmetic beauty and buy “ugly” produce. Oddly shaped produce often sits on the shelf and becomes waste before it is even sold. More ideas:

  • Make a grocery list and stick to it. Don’t buy or make more than you need.
  • Keep reusable containers on hand for leftovers for you and others. Look up new recipes for leftovers.
  • Compost any food waste in a backyard pile or a vermiculture (worm!) bin.


Keep it real whenever you can. Whether it’s a tree, a wreath, a swag, or table centerpiece, real greenery is healthier for you and the planet. Artificial trees and decorations are made of PVC plastic and cannot be recycled. They can also have lead, phthalates and other toxic chemicals. Experts recommend that parents don’t let children play under artificial trees. Real trees, on the other hand, are renewable, recyclable and produce oxygen. Farmers plant one to three seedlings for every tree cut.

Consider these ideas like the ultimate handmade card to Mother Earth: They aren’t hard, they just take a little extra time, consideration and love.

– Melissa Cooper Sargent, Environmental Health Educator with LocalMotionGreen at Ecology Center. For more information, you can email her at or visit

Ways to avoid being mean and green this holiday season

Grinch ornament

Unaltered image. Michael Bentley, Flickr. CC license.

Through the years, I’ve experienced a kind of love-hate relationship with the holiday season. On a scale, most weigh in as amazing and incredible, but there have been times when the festive season just stink, stank, stunk!

Looking back, the love part includes traditions such as baking cookies with the kids, decorating the tree, ice skating, and celebrating our many blessings with family and friends. Favorite memories of Christmas Eve comprise gatherings with family, attending church, and ending the evening with tucking in the amped-up kids, wrapping last-minute gifts with my husband, stuffing the stockings, while watching our favorite holiday movie. If we crawled into bed before 3:00 a.m., we counted the night a success. The highlight of the magical season came on Christmas morning when squeals could be heard and they spotted their presents under the tree. Oh, what bliss! Gotta love that guy Santa; it is a magical moment indeed.

Now for the darker side of the holiday season. It’s during those hustle and bustle moments of pushing through crowds, waiting in lines, endless cooking and cleaning, and the constant rushing, when I completely succumb to siding with the grouchy and ever-brooding Grinch. I admit, I may have even exhibited some of his mean-spirited expressions and affronted frowns. During times when I had to face loss on a grand scale, some holidays in particular have been especially difficult. With the loss of both parents and a brother near the holiday season, it gave me some insight as to why there is a high prevalence of depression, anxiety and loneliness around the holidays. Amidst those sorrowful and burdened times, leaning on my faith, my family, and friends helped tremendously. But honestly, I had to work extra hard to try to find any kind of endearment or comfort in little Cindy Lou Who.

This holiday season, I am planning on an over-the-top and madly in-love year. With the birth of my granddaughter, I’m excited to start some new traditions, while keeping some of the old intact. Like most holiday gatherings, I expect there will be some bumps in this year’s festivities, but I’m determined to enjoy the true meaning of Christmas, with all of its trimmings, including a delicious Whos’ feast.

To de-Grinch your holiday season, here are 10 tips to help you relax and enjoy.

  1. Keep active.

Exercise helps decrease anxiety, elevate mood and improve sleep. A 30-minute brisk walk outdoors, on a sunny day, will not only combat seasonal affective disorder, but will also help to relieve those guilty feelings for indulging in that extra piece of pie.

  1. Set the mood.

Throw a party that sends a message of no-fuss and relaxation. Let your guests know that you will be donning slippers and encourage them to bring a pair as well. Laughter reduces stress hormones, so be sure to include some simple, but fun activities.

  1. Plan a pajama day.

Rest and refuel with a PJ day. Encourage your family members to lay low and do what brings them joy. Ideas include: playing a favorite board game, bingeing on holiday classics, reading a good book or listening to relaxing music. This day is all about you.

  1. Stop the madness.

Throw out perfection by leaving Martha Stewart and the lavish Pinterest ideas to those who have an abundance of time on their hands. Know your limits. Ask for help. Stick with clear and realistic expectations for not only yourself, but others as well. To avoid overscheduling, keep it simple and remember that it is OK to say no sometimes.

  1. Volunteer.

Serving the community and performing small acts of kindness, not only brings joy to others, but it can help improve your health, boost self-esteem and create lasting impact. The benefits all-around are priceless.

  1. Minimize overindulging.

To help with overstuffing, begin the day with a healthy breakfast. Before heading out to a festive event, be sure to eat a healthy snack. Drink plenty of water.

  1. Create healthy boundaries.

For unresolved conflicts, set aside differences during the holiday season. Promote the positive by staying clear of hot topics and confrontation. For those toxic and high tension times, choosing to take flight rather than risk a fight may be in your best interest. There are tons of travel ideas available.

  1. Reduce holiday spending.

To avoid the post-holiday spending blues, determine your budget ahead with a list that prioritizes the essentials versus the luxuries. Consider opting for experiential gifts that create long-lasting memories rather than rising debt. Ideas include: zoo passes, museum memberships, concert tickets, gym memberships, sports tickets and cooking classes. Homemade gifts add a personalized touch without breaking the bank. Adopting the Four Gift Rule is a trendy idea that helps discourage materialism, while reducing spending. The concept is simple: buy your children no more than four gifts. Include something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read.

  1. Start new holiday traditions.

When cookie and ornament exchanges no longer bring zest to the crowd, it may be time to start some new traditions. Keep the focus on fun and easy. Ideas include: ice skating, sledding, parades, caroling, making ornaments, recording a video message to Santa, planning a “small act of kindness” outing or adopt a family in need.

  1. Reach out for help.

When isolation sets in, reach out for support. Lean on loved ones in times of need. For persistent sadness, anxiousness or feelings of hopelessness, talk to your doctor or seek professional help.

Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas means a little bit more.

– The Grinch 

Happy holidays to all of you!

– Deanna Robb, Parenting Program Director


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