Parenting

School refusal: When a child won’t go to school

The adjustment from summer vacation back to the structure and demands of the school year affects many students, but some experience so much anxiety that they avoid going to school. Understanding the reasons for school refusal can help parents identify problems and act quickly.

Naps: Make the most of them and know when to stop them

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

As babies become toddlers, when they need to nap and for how long evolves, so parents and caregivers need to know how to handle the changes, as well as how to know when naps are no longer needed.

Why pregnant and nursing mothers shouldn’t smoke marijuana

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

The number of pregnant women who use marijuana has risen in recent years, but the effects of THC on a child’s developing brain make it much safer for women to avoid marijuana use entirely during pregnancy and while nursing.

Back to school anxiety

For some children, the start of the school year triggers back to school anxiety. This can be especially challenging for kids who already have issues with anxiety. Parents can do several things to address these issues and help their children cope better.

Teens and drugs: 5 tips for talking with your kids

If you are a parent concerned about teens and drugs, these tips can help you engage in a productive and positive conversation with your child about substance misuse and help you know when to intervene.

Anxiety in children

Francesca Coltrera

Senior Content Writer, Harvard Health Publishing

Young children may feel worried or fearful from time to time, but more serious anxiety in children can interfere with development. There are a variety of treatment options, and parents can learn strategies to help children manage anxiety.

Meningitis vaccines: What parents need to know

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Most people who get viral meningitis get better without treatment, but bacterial meningitis is much more serious, and can be fatal. Meningitis vaccines can help protect against the most common bacteria responsible; two are given in infancy, and the third should be given before adolescence.

Adolescence: A high-risk time for substance use disorders

The prefrontal cortex does not fully develop until the mid-20s, which makes teenagers’ brains excellent at learning and absorbing new information, but it also makes them vulnerable to experimentation and the potential for substance use disorders.

Can cell phone use cause ADHD?

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Researchers found that teenagers who engaged in high-frequency use of various digital media activities were more likely to have symptoms of ADHD. While this is not conclusive, it raises questions about whether too much smartphone use can affect teens’ development and behavior.

Common food additives and chemicals harmful to children

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Food additives and chemicals are common in all kinds of products, including packaging and personal care items, and pose greater risk to children than to adults. Simple steps to minimize exposure are sensible and do not require radical lifestyle changes.