Ask #SkinishMom – Is Eczema Driving My Child Nuts?

Psychological Impact of Childhood Eczema

Yes, some studies indicate evidence of behavioural disturbances for children with severe eczema from a young age (childhood anxiety, withdrawal, depression). Parents of eczema kids would know there’s likely psychological impact without reading research. Why?

  1. No Sleep, Brain can’t function – cranky.
  2. So much stress as an infant, something may just go wrong as the brain is wiring itself loads at that time. (If you’re a parent of a very young baby with eczema, you can visibly see the discomfort and agony caused by the itchy rash. Plain torture.)
  3. Being looked at with curious eyes. Being avoided. Being bullied.
  4. Whole family is stressed and short-fused. No one dare say living in such environment is conducive for health.

School bullies Eczema

So how to reduce the chance of your kid going nuts?

The model answer is:

  1. Control the eczema, seek treatment.
  2. Recognize signs of depression.
  3. Seek a support group.
  4. Try relaxation techniques.
  5. Educate and raise awareness in your child’s school.

#SkinishMom answer is:

  1. Sleep whenever you can.
  2. Love yourself, love your spouse, love your child. The whole family united can take on challenges.
  3. Chill
  4. Indulge
  5. Positive mindset.

What’s your survival techniques?

#SkinishMom

Ask #SkinishMom – Are Color Pencils ever Enough?

#SkinishMom Parenting Skin Expert

Ask #SkinishMom any question – parenting, skin, eczema or plain venting!

To #SkinishMom

Hey, this may seem like a minor, petty issue but color pencils, markers, crayons, poster colors are overflowing my kid’s play boxes and spilling to dining table tops. But I can’t stop buying them

  1. 1.    They look so darn nice.
  2. 2.    They are sometimes on sale.
  3. 3.    Every new box of coloring keeps my kid occupied longer than an old box, which is VERY GOOD as it keeps the eczema scratching off!

But it’s increasingly becoming a point of contention – are we being materialistic? Is this encouraging hoarding? Is it wasteful? Is this not teaching my kid a sense of responsibility and inculcating frivolous-ism?

What do you think? Give me an honest answer.

Anonymous Mom

Parenting Coloring Kids

Wow, it’s like you read my mind. Have you been spying my daughter’s play boxes? I’ve 3 full boxes of coloring + stamping stuff. Honestly, yes, it’s wrong. No question.

Even more honestly, if you HAVE TO BUY them, buy them. In my usual investigative style, here’s the pros and cons to buying (and keep buying) that color pencil.

1.    It makes you, as a mom who likes colors and doodling, happy.

2.    It makes your kid happy.

3.    It makes you feel like a good mom.

4.    It keeps the eczema scratching off double the time with a new set of coloring.

5.    It makes you be able to enjoy a restaurant meal with your spouse.

6.    It is useful and spikes creativity.

The cons:

1.    It is technically not a good use of money (to spend on stuff you already have loads of).

2.    It makes your kid think he/she only uses new stuff.

3.    It may make your spouse upset if both don’t see the pros.

4.    It clutters your home and creates work when you clean up.

5.    The coloring markers may dry up if not used, rendering something useful, useless.

So – 6 pros, 5 cons, go for it.

Checking out the latest cool stationery this weekend,

#SkinishMom

Ask #SkinishMom – Where is God in a Parent’s Darkest Hour?

God in Parents Darkest HourThat’s difficult. Hypocritical to answer if I have not been through the darkest hour. So, I asked MarcieMom:

MarcieMom: There was one night I remembered – one night after many months of waking up in the middle of the night for 2-4 hours to wipe my baby’s skin with chlorhexidine, moisturize again, change new PJs, feed a snack and prep for bedtime all over again. On this one night, the day had been very bad. I had to hold my baby’s hands almost throughout the day, the stress of not taking a second off and feeling alone.

Feeling that God had turned his back on my baby.

Wondering why God had intended for my baby to suffer.

There was no answer.

Yet, in some way, God answered. Within about 2 months, Marcie was tested not allergic to anything and responded well to treatment.

Within 6 months, I started EczemaBlues to help other parents.

Where is God in my darkest hour? He was with me – I did not feel it then but my spouse stood by me and we pulled through.

Bible verses for you to hang onto during dark times:

John 14:1 – Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.

Proverbs 3:5-6 – Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Matthew 11:28-30 – “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 – So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,  as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Ask #Skinish Mom – Cut Some Slack in Parenting

Have a skin, eczema or parenting question? Ask #SkinishMom

Have a parenting question? Write in via comments and your question will get a reply (on or off the column).

To the #Skinish Mom:

I read last week that we’re right to think that raising eczema kids is tough. But what about parenting them? Seriously, the amount of advice on ‘naughty corner’, helicopter parenting, attachment parenting, spanking, tiger mom is driving me nuts. Can I just forget the whole parenting thing since the skin thing is already such a headache?

Mom Easy

The short answer – Yes. You have a right to choose whatever you think best for your child, family and home.

I believe in not parenting too (Shh…) but it’s a taboo to say that out loud.

Parenting Eczema Child

I imagine if you outright say ‘I Won’t Parent’, responses will be

‘What! You don’t parent! You have a responsibility, you know!’

‘How could you not be bothered with disciplining your kid? They need it to thrive, flourish, grow to their best potential.’

I bet you won’t find one that says ‘You bet. They grow up anyhow. Who picks nose and eat it as an adult?’

Here are my Top 5 reasons to justify not parenting:

#1 – You will turn into a screaming monster if you try to parent.

#2 – You will allow blame, resentment to fester and overwork your in-built calculator on how to divide parenting work between your spouse and you.

#3 – You will spend endless hours deciding on your parenting style and boundaries with your spouse at the risk of a marriage break-up.

#4 – You believe your kid will grow up good and mother’s intuition is never wrong.

#5 – You can’t bring yourself to do it.

The long answer? You can find it under Parenting with advice from Dr Peter Sears, Dr Bill Sears, OzSuperNanny, Heidi Murkoff, Dr Thomas Armstrong, Bruce Sallan, Dr Rosina McAlpine and Sue Atkins.

If it’s all too much to read up on parenting, here’s an interesting article on Professor’s Scott Napper’s view on how being a booger eater will boost your immunity, so you’re covered even if you can’t parent your kid out of eating boogers.

Ask #Skinish Mom – Is it Wrong to Think I have it Tough?

Have a skin, eczema or parenting question? Ask #SkinishMom

Want to vent on raising an eczema child? Reply to this post a comment to ask your question! Chat with #SkinishMom on twitter or G+!

To the #Skinish Mom:

I feel that it is so tough raising a baby with eczema – the scratching, the sleepless nights… Some days I added comments like ‘I’m not having another child cos raising one with skin problem is so tough’ or ‘Do you know how difficult it is?’ but most of the time, I feel that I get back response like ‘They all grow up’ (from my in-laws) or ‘Yeah, I’m tired too’ (from my husband). I’m starting to wonder if I’m wrong to think I have it tough? Why doesn’t ANYBODY think so?

Exasperated Mom

First off, hugs and I know it is tough. Period.

Parent of eczema child stressed

How can it not be? There’s a post on this blog way back in 2011 ‘10 Reasons why Parents with Eczema Child have a Tougher Time‘. Moreover, it’s been CONCLUDED in studies that the stress levels in mothers caring for young children with eczema are equivalent to those mothers of children with severe disabilities. So there you have it, it’s scientifically proven.

Now, back to your question on Why Doesn’t Anybody Think So?

My guess is:

1. Your other half knows but it’s not humanly possible for him to respond lovingly for 15 minutes every time you bring this up, especially if you’re bringing it up 3-5 times a day.

2. Your in-laws know nothing if they are not staying with you and part of the ‘village’ that’s raising your kid. So, best advice, ignore.

3. Nobody is thinking about anything. Therefore, they can’t respond thoughtfully.

4. Nobody is able to wrap their brains around what you’re telling them. Therefore, they can’t respond in the manner you hope they would respond. Particularly true if you’ve gone into so much detail about parenting eczema kids that are confounding and a mystery except to those of us with eczema kids AND you’re telling them so many things but hoping all the time they answer with a simple ‘You have it tough, poor thing’.

Best bet? Tell yourself you have it tough and you deserve to chill. Right now.

Rise and Shine Expo – Dr Peter Sears on Raising Smart, Well-Behaved Child – Parenting Balance

Parenting Rise and Shine Dr Sears

This is a 2-part series on a workshop that I’ve attended at Singapore Rise and Shine Expo, by Dr Peter Sears. Last year, I attended his father, Dr Bill Sears, at the same expo onraising healthy child and attachment parenting. This year, Dr Peter Sears’ talk focuses on raising smart and well-behaved child, two aspects that most parents are concerned with.

More on Rise and Shine Expo:

Rise and Shine Expo, an informative expo to raise happy and healthy children, was held in Singapore from 22-24 Aug 2014. Workshops were conducted by health and parenting experts and the one I attended was by Dr Peter Sears, ‘Raising smart and ALSO well-behaved child – Is it true that we shouldn’t spare the rod and spoil the child?’

More on Dr Peter Sears:

Dr. Peter Sears is board-certified by The American Academy of Family Practitioners. His primary passion in medicine is to promote well-being and health through the practice of preventive medicine at all ages along with using traditional and complementary treatments for curing of disease. He is also the co-author of two books, with his Dr Sears family on LEAN (see more here on previous interview with Dr Sears LEAN team).

Balance in Parenting

Dr Peter Sears shared that balance is a key aspect in parenting and a few areas which tend to be off-balance are:

Father/Child relationship – For some families, the father may not be as involved as the mother, particularly in the early years. Dr Sears encouraged dad’s early involvement, instead of waiting till the child is preschooler age. This is especially so as trust between parent and child is built from young.

Mom Helicopter Parenting – This refers to the mother monitoring the relationship and ‘hovering’ the interaction between the father and child. Doing so risk the child growing up thinking that dad is ‘secondary’ to mom and mom is the real authority figure in the family.

Mother Burnout – Many scenarios exist that increase the likelihood of mother burnout and the two common ones are dads’ inadequate involvement and moms controlling every situation (even when the dad wants to be involved!). If there is conflict in parenting styles between mom and dad, Dr Peter Sears cautioned that disagreement should not be in front of the child as that would confuse the child.

Emotional Balance – As a baby can pick up facial cues and mirror feelings, parents should adopt a calm and firm presence/face when disciplining. The baby’s brain has ‘mirror neurons’ and thus anxiety can be picked up.

Conveying Limits – Parents often say ‘No’ or ‘Stop’ to the child, but negative language does not help the child to focus on what should be done (instead, what should not be done). Dr Peter Sears shared a parenting moment from his dad (Dr Bill Sears) who instead of saying ‘No’ to his daughter for speaking rudely to his wife, told her that ’I will not tolerate such behavior to the woman who I love’. This enables the child to connect the impact of her action. In general, instead of saying no, direct the child on what should be done.

The Science of Attachment Parenting

Dr Sears believed in attachment parenting, where its 7Bs also include balance. The science behind attachment parenting is that being close and responsive to the baby benefits both mother and child.

(i)            Mother’s Brain

The mother’s brain changes to cater to nurturing babies, and attachment parenting and breastfeeding help boost hormones that facilitate caregiving – amygdala, cingulate, prolactin and oxytocin. Mothers who practice attachment parenting are better to trusting themselves on the needs of the child.

(ii)           Child’s Brain

Attachment parented infants have higher growth hormones and brain enzymes, and more likely for the neurons to make the right brain connections. The child grows up with an inner control mechanism, knowing what should be done and able to think through consequences. Conversely, for a baby who is left to cry it out, their cortisol is off balance (too high and too low) with prolonged high stress hormones that slow growth and depress immunity.

On the other hand, detached parenting set up ‘undiscipline’, leading to a fearful, fussy and clingy baby who may be shy or exhibit stranger anxiety. Other characteristics of a child with detached parents are not able to share or play with peers, blank unhappy stares and possibly become a bully due to lacking an inner control mechanism.

Dr Sears also shared briefly on the importance of nutrition, more from last year Dr Bill Sears’ talk here.

I also asked Dr Peter Sears on some questions relevant to raising eczema babies.

On Diet – What foods would you recommend for a baby with eczema, and would it be different for a toddler or a preteen?

Dr Peter Sears: Eczema often has an association with underlying food or environmental allergies. For children with moderate to severe eczema, we usually recommend having allergy testing done by a licensed allergist (if this is financially feasible). Identifying underlying allergies can help control eczema.

In addition, I often recommend that my patients with eczema take a daily Omega-3 DHA/EPA fish oil supplement as well as daily Probiotic supplement. Omega-3 fish oil has been shown to be beneficial for skin health and various types of eczema/ dermatitis due to it’s anti-inflammatory properties. Probiotics have been suggested to be beneficial as well.

On Colic – Is reflux something more commonly seen in children with eczema? If so, why? What formula would you recommend for eczema babies?

Dr Peter Sears: There has been an association between eczema and acid reflux. Theories on this suggest that this may be related to milk or dairy sensitivity or dairy allergy. Children with milk sensitivity/allergy may be more likely to exhibit symptoms of acid reflux and skin manifestations of eczema.

Parents should always consult with their doctor before switching formulas. Of course, we always recommend breastfeeding whenever possible. Hypoallergenic formulas may be beneficial for infants with dairy sensitivity and/or eczema.

On Parenting – Eczema families are more stressed, more chores to do (if there’s house dust mite allergy) and may even be more stretched financially as emollients, doctor consultations or having to have one parent stay home results in a loss of income. What do parents have to watch out for in their parenting to ensure that eczema doesn’t come in the way of them raising a happy and successful child?

Dr Peter Sears: This is a difficult question because every household and family dynamic will be different. To generalize, we would say that it is very important that there is a strong family support system and that both mother and father (as well as other capable family members) be as involved as possible in day to day care of this condition. This goes back to my talk about balance in the home with childcare.

Thank you to Dr Peter Sears for going through what he had shared in the Rise and Shine Expo workshop and also giving useful tips for eczema families. For those unsure about parenting styles, check out last week Dr Sears’ talk here.

Rise and Shine Expo – Dr Peter Sears on Raising Smart, Well-Behaved Child – Parenting Style

Rise and Shine Dr Sears Raising Smart and Well Behaved Child - parenting styleThis is a 2-part series on a workshop that I’ve attended at Singapore Rise and Shine Expo, by Dr Peter Sears. Last year, I attended his father, Dr Bill Sears, at the same expo on raising healthy child and attachment parenting. This year, Dr Peter Sears’ talk focuses on raising smart and well-behaved child, two aspects that most parents are concerned with.

More on Rise and Shine Expo:

Rise and Shine Expo, an informative expo to raise happy and healthy children, was held in Singapore from 22-24 Aug 2014. Workshops were conducted by health and parenting experts and the one I attended was by Dr Peter Sears, ‘Raising smart and ALSO well-behaved child – Is it true that we shouldn’t spare the rod and spoil the child?’

More on Dr Peter Sears:

Dr. Peter Sears is board-certified by The American Academy of Family Practitioners. His primary passion in medicine is to promote well-being and health through the practice of preventive medicine at all ages along with using traditional and complementary treatments for curing of disease. He is also the co-author of two books, with his Dr Sears family on LEAN (see more here on previous interview with Dr Sears LEAN team).

Which Parenting Style works Best?

Dr Peter Sears started the talk reminding parents that no one technique will work for every child, but instead he believes that forming a trusting bond with the child is the foundation for parenting. Dr Sears (family) believe in attachment parenting, which is being responsive and close to the baby especially in the first six months of birth. It is the natural way to parent because it is nurturing the baby according to the mother’s instinct.

More on attachment parenting, the 7 Bs in Dr Bill Sears’ talk last year

  • Birth bonding
  • Breastfeeding
  • Baby wearing
  • Bed Sharing
  • Believe Baby’s Cries
  • Beware of Baby Trainers
  • Balance

With attachment parenting as the foundation to build trust between parent and child, Dr Sears observed in their family practice that it will lead to the following desirable C Outcomes in kids:

  • Caring kids
  • Compassionate
  • Communicative
  • Connected
  • Comfortable with intimacy
  • Confident kids
  • Confident parents

Pros and Cons in Parenting Styles

Dr Peter Sears shared about differences in two main parenting styles below:

Authoritarian Style – This parenting style tends towards a command and control approach with a focus on wrong-doing and punishment. Spanking is often part of this parenting style. The positives of this style is that it is very clear to the child that the parent is in-charge and the child needs to obey. The parent being in-charge is important as a growing child needs guidance, direction and security.

The negative of this style is the potential pitfall of taking love from the parent-child relationship and inadequate positive reinforcements for the child. There is also a danger of the child engaging in the desired behavior out of fear, instead of out of respect. Moreover, the desired behavior does not come from self (child) who is able to think through the consequences and exercise inner control.

Permissive Style – This parenting style is characterized with warmth and affection, but with few or unclear limits. While it is good that there is much positive reinforcement given to the child, the negative is that the child takes control.

Authoritative Style – A more balanced parenting approach is to combine the positives of the above two styles, which gives the child love and warmth with structure. While this parenting style allows the child to thrive the best, it also requires more dedication, responsibility and creativity from parents. (It takes MORE work!) An authoritative parenting style fosters competence and mature moral judgment in the child, lowering the risk for problem behavior.

Is Spanking OK?

Dr Peter Sears explained that cultural and society settings affect whether spanking is involved in parenting. For instance, many European countries, Canada and New Zealand have legislation prohibiting spanking. This comes from studies that spanking has adverse effects that are associated with anti-social behavior, decreased rate of school performance and more behavioral and mental issues (for instance, depression and bi-polar).

Spanking may also send the wrong message that physical force is the way to resolve conflicts or issues. It is also very easy for parents to cross the line as physical force may be used when parents are stressed or a stronger force may hurt the child.

Dr Peter Sears provided alternatives to spanking, such as time-outs and explaining the consequences of misbehavior. Parents can engage in re-wind/ replay scenarios with the child to guide the child towards right behavior.

There is much balance required in parenting and next week, we will be sharing various aspects from Dr Peter Sears. Gratitude to Dr Peter Sears for taking time to review this blog post.

Mom-E-votional : Double Standard for Eczema Kids Discipline

Eczema Kids Parenting Discipline

Do you apply double standard for your kids (with and without eczema)?

Eczema brings another dimension to parenting – above all the evolving best methods to parent, this can be overwhelming. As a mom of eczema child, I’d be the first to admit that I’m inadequate in many areas, from the top of my (already over-packed with to-do list!) head:

  1. More than half the time, I’m more concerned with whether my child scratches than whether she misbehaves.
  2. Having already exhausted much energy to take care of the skin, nagging, shouting and pleading ‘Not to Scratch’, on top of the usual on Mom-To-Do list like chores, meals (and the list goes on), I don’t really have much fuel left to discipline my child.
  3. It is ‘painful’ to disciple kids – you have to do it right, follow-through, not execute ‘punishment’ randomly, and make sure discipling kids does not become an avenue for anger venting.

And what happens for families with more than one child? Will parents inadvertently apply double standards for a child with eczema and one without? This reminds me of the many dilemmas that parents face daily but yet we try our best (within our limits!) to parent our children right. It is indeed a fine balance and I do pray that for all parents caring for more than one child, you will have the wisdom, energy and love to care for them.

Bible verse:

Proverbs 22:6 Teach children how they should live, and they will remember it all their lives.

Dear God, please help me to parent my child and to deposit the right values for her to be the child You desire her to be. I’m inadequate in so many areas, but I keep trying and have faith that where I fall short, You will take care of it.

Guard your mind and heart in parenting and disciplining your child.

Loving my Eczema baby

Loving Eczema Hubby and Baby at EczemaBlues.com

Valentine’s Day – A love Poem by Eczema Mom

I love you, no matter what

No sleep so deep

A minute rest at best

Tempers, tantrums

Flare and Flare-ups

But

Learning to love

Watching us grow

Living today

Loving tomorrow

A poem to celebrate Valentine’s Day. My daughter said she’s making a valentine’s day card for me, if it’s decent, I’ll post it! Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you, and I do hope that my devotional on every friday this year is filling your family life with love. Hugs!

Rise and Shine Feature – Parenting with Dr Sears

Listening to the esteemed Dr Sears speak on healthy child is a privilege!

Listening to the esteemed Dr Sears speak on healthy child is a privilege!

Rise and Shine Expo, an informative expo to raise happy and healthy children, was held in Singapore last year. There were more than 100 seminars, workshops and trial classes, conducted by renowned experts around the world, including Dr Bill Sears who gave a workshop on ‘The successful child: What Parents can do to help kids turn out well.

Dr. Bill Sears, one of America’s most renowned pediatricians, is the father of eight children, and author of over 40 books on childcare. He is the Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine. Dr Sears Lean has a series on this blog, covering many aspects of raising healthy kids.

Last week, we covered many of Dr Sears’ tips on baby health issues, today we will cover more on parenting.

Dr Sears mentioned that the number 1 reason that children grow up to be criminal is the lack of capacity to care and lack of empathy. Success is defined differently by every parent but emphasis ought to be on the character.

Dr Sears’ Ten tools for Success

  1. Empathy and Compassion – Start in infancy with attachment parenting which lead to childhood Cs, with a lower likelihood that the child will turn out to be the school bully. Ask empathy questions like “How would you feel if…?”, raise siblings who care (role playing) and engage in empathy games.
  2. Ability to make wise choices – This refers to the ability to think through what you’re about to do, and knowing that choices have consequences. Children can be engaged in ‘replay’ scenarios, pretend choices and parents be aware of teachable moments. A career is a major decision in life, and Dr Sears believe that instead of influencing children’s career choices, it ought to be emphasized ‘whatever you do, do it well’.
  3. Good communicate skills – Teach the child to speak eye-to-eye, touch the child as you talk, speak naturally to the child and parents should pay attention to their body language and listening to the child. Always remember that the parent is the child’s cheer counsellor. On speech development, a child needs to learn to speak comfortably before speaking correctly, therefore the parent should not unduly correct the language but can speak back the correct way.
  4. Sense of responsibility – Children who depend most in the first two years turned out to be independent adults, teach responsible attitude like ‘I did it, I’ll fix it’. Children can be given jobs, responsibilities to gain that sense of responsibility.
  5. Sense of moral reasoning – Children should be taught to think before they act, and raising a successful child include working on their character, kindness and manners.
  6. Health attitude about sexuality – Always be the first resource children turn to by letting them know they can turn to you early in their life, for instance let the child know ‘if you tell me, I won’t get angry’.
  7. A love of learning–  Parents who value learning, create harmonious homes, have family meals, stretch NOT stress kids, involved in school can help children to adore learning!
  8. Confidence – Encourage your child, frame the child positively, play and observe the child to discover the talent/intelligence they have which can go beyond reading or logic, into areas like music, dance and drawing.
  9. Joyful attitude – To raise a joyful child, encourage him, help him relax, introduce music, help him/her to feel positive about own self and most importantly, let children know that they cannot control circumstances but can always control their reaction.
  10. Healthy LEAN habits – Health Lifestyle, Exercise, Attitude, Nutrition go a long way to helping to raise happy, healthy children, see here for the first of DrSearsLean series on this blog.

Dr Sears on Sibling Rivalry

Dr Sears suggested to have the siblings do a task together, or to help one another.

On Tantrums

Tantrums are common for children under two, as they have yet to be able to verbalize; however, this should be differentiated from manipulative tantrum which parents should not be pulled into. Discipline is based on right relationship than the right techniques.

I didn’t get to have Dr Sears vet through this post before publishing, any and all mistakes mine. It was a lovely day listening to Dr Sears during the Rise and Shine Expo.

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