Author Archives: ChildrensMN

Boy, 6, overcomes rare form of lung cancer

Evan Ginter, 6, loves art, drawing and recess.

Evan Ginter, 6, loves art, drawing and recess.

Life was normal for the first seven months of Evan Ginter’s life. Then cancer changed everything.

Evan’s primary pediatrician noticed something was amiss during a routine checkup in December 2008. She noticed that Evan experienced shallow breathing. A subsequent chest X-ray showed a large, dark mass on his right lung, and Evan immediately was admitted to Children’s – Minneapolis.

Evan Ginter enjoys riding his bike.

Evan Ginter enjoys riding his bike.

After a series of events that included CT scans and surgery, Evan’s parents, Lindsay and Jeremy Ginter, learned on Jan. 12, 2009, that Evan had a rare form of lung cancer known as pleuropulmonary blastoma type 1r.

Gone are the days when Lindsay and Jeremy constantly had to worry about Evan. He had an annual checkup in June, when he had an X-ray. Not only was it clear, it was the first annual exam in which he didn’t need a CT scan, too – a huge milestone. He’ll continue to be monitored with X-rays for the next two or three years.

The Ginter family, which includes his brother, Edward, said they feel blessed for the specialized care Evan has received at Children’s. Not all families are as fortunate, Lindsay said.

Thanks to social media, Lindsay follows the stories of others with Evan’s diagnosis.

Evan Ginter“For those who aren’t in Children’s network and don’t have the access to the PPB registry, there are so many questions. They just don’t have the direction we had. Since day one, we had personal cell phone numbers of our oncologists,” she said. “It’s really hard to imagine it any other way, and my heart goes out to the families that don’t have those resources.”

Evan, now 6 and still quite a character, just finished kindergarten, where he flourished.

He loves art, drawing and recess. He might even be an engineer in the making.

“Both my husband and I are insurance and accounting people, so our brains don’t work that way. He’s turning out to be much more creative than we are,” Lindsay said. “So we don’t know where he gets it; it’s good.”

There’s no doubt Evan has been through a lot in his short life. We celebrate alongside the Ginter family as Evan looks forward to starting first grade this fall.

Red-Vested Rockstar: Josh Purple

Children's volunteer Josh Purple

Children’s volunteer Josh Purple

Meet Josh!

Why he rocks:

My volunteer work at Children’s Hospital began about 20 years ago. I got started thanks to my younger sister, who asked me to draw cartoons at the daycare center at which she worked. A mom, who happened to be a nurse at Children’s, was picking up her kids at the daycare. She saw me drawing the big cartoons, and asked if I would be interested in drawing at the hospital; I thought it was a great idea! I was then introduced to Kathi Rokke (a Children’s Hospital legend!). Kathi was kind enough to give me a shot and allowed me to draw cartoons on her “Porky Pork Chops Show” at the hospital. I have been a part of Children’s ever since!

With what other cool ventures have you been involved?

In the past, I have worked as a ballroom dance instructor at The Dancer’s Studio in St. Paul. A dance highlight was working with the James Sewell Ballet company at the Minnesota Opera for the show “Aida,” performing overhead lifts with the ballerinas. I have also done fire eating and fire juggling for the Holidazzle Festival! I did commercial and film work for about 10 years, getting my SAG-AFTRA card, with a highlight being a “Grease” parody TV commercial with Amy Adams. I currently work as a freelance artist, creating 3-D graphics and animation.

Check out some of his incredible work.

What’s your favorite thing to do outside of volunteering?

Subscribe to MightyArt! I love spending my free time doing art and animation.

If you could create a new candy bar, what would be in it and what would you name it?

If I could create a new candy bar, it would be a giant purple crayon, packed full of magic and fun. I’d name it “The Kid’s Club House Rocks!” It would instantly transmogrify the surrounding area to be filled with Muppets, Dr. Seuss poems and characters.

Share a favorite volunteer experience or story.

Every Children’s Hospital cartoon show and event for the past two decades; I cannot give enough credit and thanks to everyone in the Star Studio and at Children’s! Special shout-out to Amy, The Dude, Ben, Seth, Tanya, Kathi, Sharon, Ingrid, Benjamin, Christi, Diane, Laura, Kendall, Sandy and all of the volunteers. All of the kids and all of the extraordinary staff are the best of the best! Thank you!

Trauma: When it’s critical, so is your choice

Why would you take your child to Children’s emergency room over any other hospital? Our team members are on staff, not on call. Your child gets treated immediately.

When it’s critical, so is your choice. Children’s Level I Pediatric Trauma Center, Minneapolis.

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2014 Kids Count Data Book: It’s time we listen

iStock_000008083181Small

Nearly 50 percent of all African-American children in Minnesota lived in poverty in 2012, along with 38 percent of American Indian children, 30 percent of Hispanic or Latino children and 20 percent of Asian children — this compared to 8 percent of white children. (iStock photo / Getty Images)

By Ryan Earp

News usually is framed in two ways: the good news and the bad news. And while good news is always great to hear, it’s important to listen to the bad, especially when it comes to how well we are serving our kids. The annual Kids Count Data Book released last month reported good and bad news for Minnesota, and it’s time we paid attention to both.

The report produced by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Children’s Defense Fund is highly respected for its state-by-state assessment of children’s health, education and overall well-being.

A snapshot of Minnesota kids

While on the surface many headlines from around the state highlight good news in the report – that “Minnesota is No. 5 Best State for Children” and that “Minnesota Ranks High in Kids’ Well-Being,” – their underlying messages tell us that there is much work to be done surrounding children’s general welfare as more Minnesota kids are living in poverty. Here’s a snapshot of the Minnesota rankings.

Previously ranked as high as seventh in the nation’s overall health ranking, the 2014 Kids Count Data Book finds Minnesota to have fallen to the 17th among all states. In a recent interview with the Star Tribune, Stephanie Hogenson, research and policy director at the Children’s Defense Fund – Minnesota explains, “As one of the healthiest states overall in the country, and with globally renowned health care, Minnesota should not be in the middle of the pack for child health. … We’re no longer seen as a leader in child health as we once were.”

What happened?

Policy experts point to the increase in poverty as a determining factor in the state’s declining health outcomes. According to the report, “Growing up in poverty is one of the greatest threats to healthy child development. … [It] can impede children’s cognitive development and their ability to learn. It can contribute to behavioral, social and emotional problems and poor health.”

Minnesota’s rising rates of child poverty are exacerbating racial inequities that are among the worst in the nation, because communities of color and native communities are disproportionately impacted. Nearly 50 percent of all African-American children in Minnesota lived in poverty in 2012, along with 38 percent of American Indian children, 30 percent of Hispanic or Latino children and 20 percent of Asian children — this compared to 8 percent of white children.

The report goes on to state “the biggest challenge in an era of increasing inequality in income and wealth is the widening gulf between children growing up in strong, economically secure families within thriving communities and children who are not.”

Subscribe to MightyA call to action

Minnesotans are taking note. Efforts are under way through organizations and initiatives aimed at providing our children and families with economic stability, affordable housing options, and access to high-quality child care and development opportunities.

At Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, we are committed to helping all children lead healthier lives, and are actively involved in supporting efforts to address some of the economic and social determinants that have profound impacts on child health. We are hopeful that new policies, funding and programs will help lift our children out of poverty. You can be a part of our work by joining our advocacy efforts.

See a quick snapshot of how Minnesota ranks in other areas of the report.

Ryan Earp is an intern with the Advocacy and Child Health Policy team at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.

Define safe boundaries for kids and play

Encouraging the learning and exploration process will increase your child’s confidence and creativity, and defining safe boundaries and rules will keep you both happy. (iStock photo / Getty Images)

Encouraging the learning and exploration process will increase your child’s confidence and creativity, and defining safe boundaries and rules will keep you both happy. (iStock photo / Getty Images)

By Dex Tuttle

Not long ago, I watched my toddler daughter, Quinnlyn, as she played with her favorite blocks. She picked one up, stacked it carefully on top of another, and repeated until she had a tower four or five blocks high. Without warning, she pummeled the tower while sounding her signature high-pitched battle cry, sending blocks flying in all directions. She immediately seemed to regret not having a tower and ran to pick up the blocks to start the process over.

Young children begin to understand their world by cause-and-effect experimentation. Psychologist Jean Piaget was one of the first to put this concept into organized thought.

This behavior is apparent with my daughter: “If I stick my hand in the dog’s water dish, my shirt gets wet. This pleases me and I must do this each morning, preferably after mommy helps me put on a clean shirt.”

Then, something occurred to me as I watched Quinnlyn build and destroy her tower; there is a trigger missing in her young mind that could change her behavior: She does not understand consequence, the indirect product of an effect.

I began to notice this in her other activities as well. At dinnertime, we give her a plastic fork and spoon so she can work on her motor skills. If she’s unhappy with how dinner is going, she throws her fork and spoon on the floor in a fit of toddler rage. She is then immediately puzzled by how she’ll continue her meal now that her utensils are so far away.

Subscribe to MightyAs frustrating as toddler tantrums can sometimes be for parents, I’d love to be in my daughter’s shoes. Who wouldn’t want the satisfaction of taking all those dirty dishes that have been in the sink for two days and chucking them against the wall? That decision, of course, would be dangerous and reckless and I have no desire to clean up such a mess. And, with no dishes in the house, I’d be forced to take a toddler to the store to shop for breakable things; not a winning combination.

There’s an important lesson here for safety-minded parents: Kids will explore their environment in whatever way they can. It’s like the feeling you get when you find a $20 bill in the pocket of a pair of pants you haven’t worn in months, or when you discover the newest tool, gadget or fashion. For toddlers (and us adults), it’s fun finding new things and learning new skills; it’s motivating and creates a feeling of accomplishment. However, the cognitive skills of a toddler haven’t developed beyond that cause-effect understanding.

This is why we need to consider the environment in which our young children play. I recommend giving them plenty of space and opportunity to experiment without worry of the consequence:

  • Make sure stairs are blocked off securely and unsafe climbing hazards are eliminated; encourage kids to explore the space you define.
  • Create a space to explore free of choking hazards, potential poisons and breakable or valuable items; leave plenty of new objects for children to discover, and change the objects out when the kids seem to grow tired of them.
  • Allow children to fail at certain tasks; be encouraging and positive without intervening as they try again.
  • If possible, discuss their actions and consequences with them to help them understand the reason for your rules.

Encouraging the learning and exploration process will increase your child’s confidence and creativity, and defining safe boundaries and rules will keep you both happy.

At Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, we care for more pediatric emergency and trauma patients than any other health care system in our region, seeing about 90,000 kids each year between our St. Paul and Minneapolis hospitals. Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis is the area’s only Level I pediatric trauma center in a hospital dedicated to only kids, which means we offer the highest level of care to critically injured kids. When it’s critical, so is your choice – Children’s Level I Pediatric Trauma Center, Minneapolis.

Dex Tuttle is the injury prevention program coordinator at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota and the father of a curious and mobile toddler. He has a Master of Education degree from Penn State University.

Life jackets greatly reduce risk of drowning

(iStock photo / Getty Images)

(iStock photo / Getty Images)

By Dex Tuttle

According to the Minnesota Water Safety Coalition, it’s estimated that half of all drowning events among recreational boaters could have been prevented if life jackets were worn.

As a parent, it doesn’t take much to convince me that the safety of my daughter is important, and more specifically, directly my responsibility. This statistic is alarming. Especially since drowning is the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children ages 14 and younger.

My daughter, Quinnlyn, loves the water. It’s easy to get caught up in her excitement and joy as she splashes around and giggles that addicting toddler laugh, so much so that I often forget the dangers inherent in water for a child who is oblivious to them.

Subscribe to MightyStill, as an attentive parent, it’s hard for me to believe that drowning is an ever-present danger for my little one. That’s why it’s important to consider the staggering statistics around near-drowning incidents.

Since 2001, an average of 3,700 children sustained nonfatal near-drowning-related injuries.  To spare you the details, check out this article.

When protecting your children around water, there’s little to nothing that can supplement uninterrupted supervision. However, a life jacket will provide significant protection for your little ones and help instill a culture of safety in your family. Here’s how to know if it fits right (thanks to the United States Coast Guard):

  • Make sure your life jacket is U.S. Coast Guard-approved on the label on the inside of the jacket.
  • Ensure that the jacket you select for your child is appropriate for his or her weight, and be sure it’s in good condition. A ripped or worn-out jacket can drastically reduce its effectiveness.
  • Football season is here again (YES!), so consider the universal signal for a touchdown – after the life jacket is on and buckled, have your child raise his or her arms straight in the air. Pull up on the arm openings and make sure the jacket doesn’t ride up to the chin; it’s best to find out that it’s too loose before getting in the water.

At Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, we care for more pediatric emergency and trauma patients than any other health care system in our region, seeing about 90,000 kids each year between our St. Paul and Minneapolis hospitals. Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis is the area’s only Level I pediatric trauma center in a hospital dedicated to only kids, which means we offer the highest level of care to critically injured kids. From the seriously sick to the critically injured, we’re ready for anything.

When it’s critical, so is your choice – Children’s Level I Pediatric Trauma Center, Minneapolis.

Dex Tuttle is Children’s injury prevention program coordinator.

Family screening tests risk of developing type 1 diabetes

(iStock photo / Getty Images)

(iStock photo / Getty Images)

The McNeely Pediatric Diabetes Center is part of an international research network called Type 1 Diabetes TrialNetThe center is screening relatives of individuals with type 1 diabetes (T1D) to see if they are at risk for developing the disease. The TrialNet research study offers a blood test that can identify increased risk for T1D up to 10 years before symptoms appear.

Subscribe to MightyTrialNet offers screening to individuals:

  • Ages 1-45 with a parent, brother, sister or child with T1D
  • Ages 1-20 with a niece, nephew, aunt, uncle, grandparent, half-brother, half-sister or cousin with T1D

Screening is available in the McNeely Pediatric Diabetes Center (located on the fourth floor of the Gardenview building at Children’s  St. Paul, 345 N. Smith Ave., Suite 404. There is no fee to participate, and parking vouchers will be provided to all participating families.

For more information or to refer eligible families, contact Brittany Machus, clinical research associate, at brittany.machus@childrensmn.org or (651) 220-5730.

Mother shares story of her hero

By Courtney Kile

When you think of a hero, chances are it’s someone who has helped you or inspired you – your parents, a teacher or a religious figure. My hero is about 3 feet tall, likes cheesy pizza and is obsessed with the PAW Patrol. He’s my son.

I married my husband, Robert, in 2009. Before the ink was dry on our marriage license, we were ready to make our duo a trio. Every month I’d take a pregnancy test, only to be let down. After nearly two years of infertility and loss, we were thrilled to find out I was pregnant! My dream was coming true.

Courtney Kile was pregnant with her son, Sullivan, in 2011.

Courtney Kile was pregnant with her son, Sullivan, in 2011.

At 20 weeks, we found out we were having a boy. His name would be Sullivan James, “Sully” for short. He was healthy, and everything looked great. Pregnancy was tough, and after being diagnosed with pre-ecclampsia at 37 weeks, doctors decided it was time for Sully to arrive.

I was prepped for surgery at our hospital in Duluth, Minn. On Nov. 14, 2011, Sullivan James Kile came screaming into the world at 6 pounds, 8 ounces; he was perfect.

Sullivan "Sully" James Kile was born Nov. 14, 2011.

Sullivan “Sully” James Kile was born Nov. 14, 2011.

When I finally got to see him, he was in the level-two nursery with an IV and oxygen cannula. Robert and I were told that because Sully was early, he just had to “turn the corner,” and that’s why he had low oxygen saturations.

Very early next morning, I surprised to see Sully receiving an echocardiogram. Once the test was finished, the nurse told me the doctor was on the phone. That’s when my world came crashing down.

“Courtney, the Life Flight team from Children’s – Minneapolis is on their way,” he said. “They will be there in five minutes. I think Sully has something wrong with his heart and he is going to need surgery. You should probably call your husband.”

It was like being hit by a wrecking ball. All I remember was barely being able to dial my husband’s number and screaming at him to get to the hospital.

I went back and held Sully. I was rocking him in a chair when Robert arrived, his eyes red-rimmed from crying. Everything was a blur. As the life flight team updated paperwork, the nurse at our local hospital turned to us and said, “Why don’t we take a few pictures, ya know, just in case.”

Just in case? Just in case of what? This was not how this was supposed to go. We were in shock. We took a picture together and then Sully was taken to another hospital a mile away to a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). His umbilical cord chunk had been removed and replaced with a central line IV. He was given prostaglandins to help his heart function properly.

Shortly after his birth, Sully had to be flown from Duluth to Children's – Minneapolis.

Shortly after his birth, Sully had to be flown from Duluth to Children’s – Minneapolis.

While I was signing releases for the transport, Robert looked at me and said, “I have only held him twice.” The flight nurse from Children’s overheard him and picked up Sully and gave him to Robert for a hug. It’s overwhelming to be a new dad, and after being thrown into a situation like this, it was comforting for Robert to have a moment with his new baby boy. Sully was taken to the airport, and Robert and I set off for the excruciating two-hour drive to Minneapolis.

Shortly after we arrived at Children’s, the cardiologists gave us our answer: Sully had pulmonary atresia with tetralogy of Fallot. When a baby is in utero, the ductus pumps the oxygenated blood to the lungs. Once a baby is born, the ductus closes and the pulmonary valve takes over. Sully’s pulmonary valve was covered in tissue and couldn’t open. When his ductus started to close, he wasn’t getting enough oxygenated blood to his lungs. The prostaglandins they gave him in Duluth were to keep the ductus open. Sullivan was scheduled for surgery the next morning. He was too young for a valve, so they were going to put in a shunt to temporarily pump the blood properly until he was old enough for a valve placement.

Subscribe to MightyWe were transferred to the Cardiovascular Care Center (CVCC). Sully was placed in a huge bed, with wires everywhere; I just wanted to hold him.

As I cried to myself, his amazing nurse looked and me and said, “Do you want to give him a quick snuggle?” I nodded and she expertly picked him up ­– wires, tubes and all – and put him in my arms. It was important to us to have those special moments where we could be parents in the midst of all the chaos.

The next morning, Sully was sedated and prepped for surgery. To say we were scared would be an understatement. We gathered around him and said a prayer. Then they wheeled him away. Waiting for him to get out of surgery was hard, but a social worker repeatedly checked on us, making sure we were OK. Just as I was about to crack under pressure, Sully’s surgeon, Dr. Frank Moga, came and told me that everything went perfectly. I calmly walked to the bathroom and lost it. Relief washed over me.

Sully had heart surgery at Children's.

Sully had heart surgery at Children’s.

We were told that it takes most children 10 days to two weeks to leave the hospital after surgery because they have to learn to eat. Sully shocked doctors by learning to eat immediately. They were impressed by how quickly he was healing. Six days after open heart surgery at 3 days old, we got to take our boy home the day before Thanksgiving.

Six days after open heart surgery at 3 days old, Sully went home the day before Thanksgiving in 2011.

Six days after open heart surgery at 3 days old, Sully went home the day before Thanksgiving in 2011.

We planned how it was going to be when we brought Sully home, but nothing prepared us for our new reality of medicine, an oximeter and scale. I was a germaphobe, coating everyone in hand sanitizer. We were glad to be home, but there was a dark cloud looming knowing that Sully would need a total repair surgery for his valve in the next few months. Luckily, his team at Children’s calmly handled my anxiety and answered all of my late-night phone calls and emails. Every follow-up appointment and conversation brought hope and confidence. The staff at Children’s taught me how to advocate for my son and made me feel that I had a voice. Whenever I would second guess myself, I would remember the surgeon telling me, “We see children every day, but you see yours every day.”

At 5 months old, Sully had to have a second surgery.

Sully appears to be waving at the camera in this photo.

When he was 5 months old, Sully’s cardiologist, Dr. Marko Vezmar, told us it was time for surgery No. 2, which would take place exactly 6 months after his first surgery. The anxiety returned. My saving grace was that I knew we were coming back to a safe place.

Sully Kile

At 5 months old, Sully had to have a second surgery.

As hard as the first surgery was, the second one was far worse. We knew him now. We knew his personality. But once again, the team worked miracles. After eight days on the CVCC, with constant love and support from Sully’s care team, we were sent home.

After his second surgery, Sully was ready to go home again.

After his second surgery, Sully was ready to go home again.

We pulled away from Children’s, and I cried. Six months of living in uncertainty and limbo were over. No more oximeter, no more scales, no more meds; it was done. We could be a normal family– at least our own version of “normal.”

Today, Sully is an active 2½-year-old with shining blue eyes and a heartbreaker smile. He spells his name, likes to sing Zac Brown Band songs and turns his nose up at broccoli. He seems like your average toddler, but Sully is a warrior.

Sully celebrates his second birthday with a cupcake.

Sully celebrates his second birthday with a cupcake.

Sully was destined to be ours and show everyone what a fighter looks like. He‘s the definition of miracle and hero. He’s my best friend, and he’s here because of Children’s. I’m thankful to everyone at Children’s, from the nurses and surgeons who were by his side, to the cafeteria worker who remembered me every morning – they all made those tough days a little brighter.

Sully’s strength has inspired us and others. Because of the support we received from Children’s, Robert and I knew we had to help our fellow heart families and heart warriors. We started a nonprofit for cardiac families in Minnesota called Project Heart to Heart. We’ve been able to help other families and made lifelong friends.

It’s not the norm for most, I guess, but this is our world. I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m the mom of a miracle.

Picture10Many people never get to meet their hero; I gave birth to mine.

New Minnesota immunization requirements take effect in September

Minnesota’s new immunization requirements take effect Sept. 1, and with August serving as National Immunization Month, we urge parents to get their children’s vaccinations updated ahead of the upcoming school year.

The Minnesota Department of Health's statewide requirement changes were made to protect kids from measles, whooping cough and other preventable diseases. (iStock photo / Getty Images)

The Minnesota Department of Health’s statewide requirement changes were made to protect kids from measles, whooping cough and other preventable diseases. (iStock photo / Getty Images)

The Minnesota Department of Health’s statewide requirement changes were made to protect kids from measles, whooping cough and other preventable diseases.

Getting vaccinated before September is important.

“Vaccines take about a month or so, in general, to really be full force and working for your body effectively,” Pamela “Gigi” Chawla, MD, Children’s senior medical director for primary care, said in an interview with KARE-TV. “We want kids to be ready for their school year.”

The new requirements include:

  • Hepatitis A and B vaccinations for children enrolling in child care or school-based early childhood programs
  • Pertussis vaccine added to tetanus-diphtheria vaccine for seventh-graders
  • Meningococcal meningitis vaccine for seventh-graders

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, vaccinations given to children in the past 20 years will prevent an estimated 732,000 deaths and save $295 billion.

Looking to schedule an appointment? Contact one of our 12 clinic locations.

Changes to state’s immunization law (KARE-TV):

Collaborative caring in eating disorders

(iStock photo / Getty Images)

(iStock photo / Getty Images)

By Pam Macdonald and Janet Treasure

Eating disorders have a profound impact on individuals, as well as the people who care for them.

Eating disorder symptoms have immense social and emotional ramifications for families and loved ones. Symptoms vary and can be frightening, intrusive, antisocial, anxiety provoking and frustrating. The behaviors involved in limiting calorie intake, increasing calorie expenditure, or uncontrolled calorie intake, take many forms. The physical consequences are alarming and distressing. All semblance of normality disappears, social life evaporates, future plans are put on hold and interactions around food increasingly dominate family relationships. It can feel akin to living within a maelstrom.

Promoting beliefs that sustain hope and empower families may be an important step in reducing caregivers’ feelings of helplessness and interrupt unhelpful interactions.

Subscribe to MightyResearchers at King’s College London are equipping caregivers with tools aimed at reducing distress and boosting care-giving efficacy to support their loved ones on the road to recovery. Headed by world eating disorder specialist Dr. Janet Treasure, who will be speaking at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota on Monday, Aug. 4, the caregiver skills training is intended as an adjunct to the individual’s treatment program. The skills training program is the result of several empirical research studies and has been designed to provide caregivers with information on treatment goals, prognosis and maintenance factors to which they are entitled, without breaching patient confidentiality.

Utilizing a “dolphin-like” approach of warmth, gentle nudging and negotiation caregivers are taught how to listen to and analyze their emotional responses while reflecting upon what they might need to change in their own situation. Dr. Treasure’s interventions incorporate basic motivational interviewing techniques. The goal is for caregivers and professionals to work in partnership to promote the following:

  • Strengthen the caregivers’ belief in their own abilities to make change possible
  • Give caregivers the opportunity to express concerns about the cause and effects of the illness
  • Discuss the basic principles of behavior change
  • Teach good communication skills (the ability to express and process emotions)
  • Promote respect, satisfaction and a unified approach within the family (and extended family) unit
  • Learn the skills of problem solving
  • Maximize caregiver skills (warmth with limits and boundaries)
  • Highlight those factors which may be aggravating the problem
  • And, above all, encourage caregivers to practice self-care.

Are you a dolphin parent?

The skills training intervention uses a series of lighthearted animal analogies to encourage the caregiver to reflect upon his or her default caring style; for example, a kangaroo does everything to protect, keeps their loved one firmly in the pouch in an effort to avoid any upset or further stress, while the rhinoceros, fueled by stress, exhaustion and frustration, or simply one’s own temperament, attempts to persuade and convince by argument and confrontation. Emotional responses are captured with the help of the ostrich, who avoids talking and thinking about the problem, frequently due to the difficulty in coping with the distress of challenging eating disorder behaviors. The jellyfish becomes engulfed in intense emotional responses. These may include high levels of self-blame or perfectionist tendencies with regards to parenting skills or expectations of what it is to be a “good parent.” As illustrated above, the goal of the intervention is to promote a dolphin-like behavioral approach to caring and a St. Bernard emotional approach, responding consistently – reliable and dependable in all circumstances.

Dolphin parenting presentation

Children’s Center for the Treatment of Eating Disorders is sponsoring a short presentation by Dr. Treasure from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 4, at the John Nasseff Conference Center, 333 Smith Ave. N., in St. Paul. No registration or fee is required to attend.

The Center for the Treatment of Eating Disorders

The Center for the Treatment of Eating Disorders delivers the leading evidence-based treatments to patients of all ages and with all types of eating disorders. After a comprehensive assessment, the team develops an individualized approach for each patient. We offer customized inpatient and outpatient treatment for children, adolescents and adults. We use the latest evidence-based treatments, including: family-based therapy (FBT) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – Enhanced (CBT-E).

Everyone on the team — including psychiatrists, psychologists, hospitalists, dietitians and social workers — has special training in motivational strategies and the core treatments for helping children, adolescents and adults with anorexia, bulimia and other eating disorders. We offer inpatient treatments for young patients through college age at Children’s – Minneapolis, and for adults at Abbott Northwestern Hospital.

Janet Treasure, Ulrike Schmidt and Pam Macdonald co-edited “The Clinician’s Guide to Collaborative Caring in Eating Disorders.”