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Q. How can I tell if my child is shy or scared of other children?

A. It’s important to pay attention to your child’s physical responses inside their body in these situations. Does your child exhibit a physiological change when around other children? Fear responses can create increased heartbeat, create rapid breathing, fight or flight responses, or a child can freeze up and become paralyzed with fear. A child who does not exhibit these physical changes may simply be shy and guarded around peers. A child may cling to their caregiver for emotional safety in these situations. With either the shy or frightened child, the caregiver’s role is to provide emotional support and safety for the child. Try doing a quick check in with your child. Statements like “I notice you like to be hidden or close to mom when around other children. I wonder if you feel shy or scared.” Sometimes naming the feeling can help create a better understanding for the child and parent.

Robi Heath, M.Ed, LPC  |  Registered Play Therapist

Q. Is it true that children going into PreK need to know their numbers and alphabet before enrolling?

A. When you are looking for a school, keep in mind that every school is different, just like every child is different. My first thought is to say no, requiring children as young as yours to know their numbers and alphabet before starting school, is not what you will find at most schools. But in today’s day and age, there are almost as many different types of schools available as there are types of children! Look for a school that makes you feel good about what they will learn there, regardless of what they know coming in.

Kim Bacon  |  Sloan School Office Manager

Q. Is eating gluten free an effective weight loss plan?

A. Gluten free is trending, however, experts in the field of nutrition caution on jumping on a bandwagon that has little evidence to support the weight loss part of a gluten free diet. Those with celiac disease or who have been diagnosed with gluten sensitivity are directed to a diet plan that eliminates all foods that contain gluten, and there are a plethora of foods that naturally do not contain gluten. Going “no gluten” would eliminate many foods that are good for you, especially good fiber sources. And research does show that a fiber-rich diet is linked to lower body weight!

Q. My teenager seems to be a multi-tasker. How can I help him to focus more on getting a task done and then moving on to the next one.

A. Well you may have part of the answer in your question. Help him to realize that multi-tasking is less effective. Research actually suggests that multi-tasking can make learning less effective because switching from one activity to another is less efficient and he may make more errors. Have him become more efficient by setting a pre-determined amount of time to study, read, explore or create. One subject at a time. Additionally, if he is using his cell phone to google information on a subject, he may be setting himself up for major distractions, like an incoming text or Instagram post alert that he just has to like. Help him recognize this. His overall test scores will also be an indication for a homework change.

Mary Ellen Editor and Registered Dietitian