Oxford Consulting Services

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Acing the school sports tryouts

For many students, back to school means more than just returning to the classroom. For those who hope to be student athletes, it’s time to make that first impression and work to secure your spot on a team.

Tryouts for some fall season teams might already have been held during the summer, but there are some teams that won’t conduct tryouts until after the start of school. For instance, most high school baseball programs have at least a preliminary tryout during the fall because of the weather, even though the season won’t start until spring.

Playing a sport in school is a great way to add to the school experience — plus give your child something to add to that college resume. Being on a team helps give children an easy path to making friends and finding their niche, not to mention set a foundation for a lifestyle of health and fitness.
Among some of the sports that traditionally begin in the fall are swimming, football, volleyball, cross-country, soccer, bowling, golf and fencing. Besides baseball, teams that most likely will stage tryouts during the fall are those that take place during the winter, such as gymnastics, wrestling and basketball.

The larger the number of students who try out for a team, the more difficult it probably will be to make the final cut. Here are some pointers to give your child a leg up on making a team:
  • Make sure your child sees the doctor for a physical examination. That will surely be a requirement for being on a team. Get it out of the way early. See if your child’s school offers these exams on site.
  • Find out when tryouts are being held. If your child misses tryouts, that’s the first sign to a coach that his or her dedication is lacking and will certainly be considered. Your child should be proactive and seek out when and where tryouts will be held. If there are no announcements, he or she should go directly to the athletic director’s office for information.
  • Be punctual. If a tryout is scheduled for 10 a.m. on a Saturday, your child should not be sauntering in at 10:05. Arrive at the tryout site at least 15 minutes before they are scheduled to begin in order to be ready to participate at the scheduled starting time. Anyone who fails to do this will delay the session and that is not a good way to impress the coaching staff.
  • Look like an athlete. Don’t wear jeans or collared shirts to a sports tryout. Make sure to dress for the sport you hope to play, right down to the footwear, and bring the proper equipment. The school will supply some items, like soccer balls, for instance, but your child should not expect to borrow a potential teammate’s golf club. And with wood baseball bats now mandated, your child should have his own. If he borrows someone else’s and it breaks, you should be prepared to replace it.
  • Attitude counts. Being attentive to the coach’s instructions and making sure not to disrupt the tryout are important. Showing hustle and a solid work ethic are qualities coaches appreciate. Advising your child to treat the tryout with the seriousness it deserves can make or break his or her goal of making the team.
Best of luck to all the young athletes who try out. Have a great season — or seasons!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Tips for Exercising During Pregnancy

Experts agree, when you’re expecting, exercise is important.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG ) recommends at least 20 to 30 minutes a day on most or all days as it reduces the risk of gestational diabetes, preterm birth, preeclampsia (pregnancy-induced high blood pressure), having a high birth weight baby, and the need for a cesarean section. It may also improve the baby’s brain development.

Pregnant women who exercise also tend to have less back pain, more energy, and are more likely to have an easier labor and delivery experience and return to their pre-pregnancy weight faster.

Here are 5 tips for working out while pregnant:

1.  Avoid dangerous sports. Perhaps more important than knowing which exercises to do is knowing which ones to avoid. Pregnant women should avoid contact sports such as basketball or soccer or activities that may cause you to fall such as downhill skiing, horseback riding, surfing, or mountain biking. Scuba diving should also be avoided because although there isn’t any conclusive evidence to determine the effects, the change in pressure might impact baby’s development.

2. Hydrate. It’s important to drink water before, during, and after exercising. Otherwise, you risk a reduction in the amount of blood going to the placenta. Dehydration can also increase your risk of overheating or even trigger contractions.

3. Don’t lie flat on your back. After the first trimester, avoid exercising while lying flat on your back. The weight of your uterus puts pressure on a major vein called the vena cava, which can reduce blood flow to your heart, brain and uterus, leaving you dizzy, short of breath or nauseated.

4. Eat enough. Most moms-to-be need around 300 extra calories a day during pregnancy, so make sure you’re not burning too much off during your workouts.

5. Get the right gear.  Opt for loose-fitting and breathable clothing. You can also dress in layers so it’s easy to peel off a layer or two after you’ve warmed up or if you get overheated. Also make sure your maternity bra is supportive enough, and choose athletic shoes that fit properly.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Fixing Nighttime Fears

Nighttime fears are highly common—and not just for little kids, either. “Studies show this is a very common issue, affecting up to three-quarters of kids from preschool through adolescence at one time or another,” clinical psychologist Jayne Schachter Walco, Ph.D. of Parsippany, New Jersey, says. “Parents think of fears as something only small children deal with, but that’s untrue.”
Young children aged three to six are more likely to complain of “fantastical” fears like monsters and ghosts, while older children fear things that could actually happen, like a fire, storm, or a home intruder, Walco says. That’s because small children have trouble distinguishing fantasy from reality, while school-agers are becoming more aware of the sometimes-scary real world. Though fears vary for different children, parents can address them more or less the same way. Read on for how to slay the scariest of scary monsters at your house this fall.

Fear Faker?
Young children are champions at stalling bedtime; how can parents tell if monster fears are more of the same? “When a child learns that complaining about a fear is a successful tactic to postpone bedtime, he might continue to do this even without any real fear,” says Shelby Harris, Psy.D., director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. But parents can sleuth out a genuine phobia, she says.
A real fear will be quite intense and will be present during the day, not just at night. So if your little arachnophobe only fears spiders after seven p.m., the fear may be bedtime-related, while a fear that’s present at other times is likely authentic.
Fear fix: Treat your child’s fears (even ones you suspect are less than genuine) with empathy and understanding, Harris says. Never laugh at your child or humiliate her. Instead, say “I understand how this might be scary for you, but you’re always safe here.”

Routine Scene
Children with irregular sleep schedules are more prone to nighttime fears and nightmares, Walco says. Why? Overtired children have more difficulty reaching and maintaining deep sleep and spend more time in lighter, “dreaming” sleep, so vivid nightmares may come calling more often. These tired tots may wake more often during the night, resulting in more time spent pondering whether that shadow in the corner is really a monster in waiting.
Fear fix: Maintain a predictable, age-appropriate bedtime routine every night to boost relaxation before bed and help ensure that children get enough rest. Preschoolers need 10-12 hours of sleep each night; school-agers and teens need 9-11.
Bedroom Buddy
Nighttime fears can seem more frightening when children sleep alone, Harris says, which is why children often ask to sleep with parents when they’re afraid. Whenever possible, though, parents should avoid the “quick fix” of letting kids hop into mom and dad’s bed, as this can reinforce fear by communicating that a child’s bedroom isn’t a safe place to sleep.
Fear fix: Parents’ goal should be helping a child feel safe and comfortable in his or her own bedroom. “Whenever possible, soothe a child in the child’s bedroom, instead of in parents’ room,” Harris says. Once he’s calmed down, tell your child you’ll return to check on him in 10 minutes, and make sure to return as promised. Sleeping close to a sibling or pet can also help calm fears.

Creative Calm
Parents employ a variety of creative tricks to help fearful kids, from imbuing a stuffed animal with magical powers to dousing a room with pretend “monster spray” to giving children a pretend sword for “protection.” These tactics can be effective for the preschool set, says licensed therapist Robert Turner of the Rose Sleep Disorders Center in Denver, Colorado. But beware: parents’ willingness to play along with fears in this way might convince a child that the fear is real. (“If mom thinks monsters are real, they must be real!”)
Fear fix: For young children aged three to five, explore whether a transitional object like a special stuffed animal might help boost confidence and help a child fall asleep at bedtime, Turner says. But avoid reinforcing fear by hamming it up or acting afraid yourself.

Right Light
Night frights are often sparked by fear of the dark, according to Robert S. Rosenberg, D.O., medical director of the Sleep Disorders Centers of Prescott Valley and author of Sleep Soundly Every Night; Feel Fantastic Every Day. While babies under two lack the cognitive capacity to be truly afraid the dark—this comes later, when the “imagination” part of the brain takes off during the preschool years—darkness may intensify fears in older children, whether the child is scared of something pretend, like a goblin, or something potentially real, like a burglar.
Fear fix: Flooding a fearful child’s bedroom with nighttime light can backfire; too much light at night can disturb circadian rhythms, intensifying insomnia or overtiredness. Place a small, dim nightlight in a corner of the room, away from a child’s face. Better yet, choose a night light with a red bulb, and avoid blue lights—research shows they disrupt sleep patterns, Rosenberg says.

Rapid Reframe
Ultimately, the best approach is one that helps your child learn to manage fears long-term, says Walco. Help your child learn to take control of fearful, racing thoughts by reframing a scary mental image: a monster chasing your child with a knife (scary!) could become a friendly fairy chasing your child to offer an ice cream cone (sweet!). Arm your child with factual information, like the real causes of nighttime noises: spooky, creaky footsteps are really caused by your old floorboards, not an intruder. And practice self-calming strategies, like taking two deep breaths when afraid, or picturing a safe, enjoyable scene.

When a child masters the skills needed to self-regulate and actively dial down fears, he’ll be more confident, self-assured, and emotionally resilient—for life.