Posts Tagged "child"


‘Normalize it’: How to discuss adoption, donor conception with your child – National

by BBG Hub

Your child will eventually pop the big question — “where do babies come from?” — and your answer will have a lasting impact on the way they think about what it means to be part of a family.

This is especially true if your child was adopted or conceived with donated sperm or egg (also known as third-party reproduction), because their origin story will affect them in many ways as they age,

That’s why, in Shelley Steenrod‘s opinion, it’s crucial to be open and honest with your child. She’s a professor of social work at Salem State University in Massachusetts.

READ MORE: How to build a growth mindset in your kids: ‘They are going to be unstoppable’

“It’s essential for kids to know who they are and where they have come from,” she said. “It’s very important for them to integrate all aspects of themselves and their history into their whole self.”

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If you choose not to tell your child the truth, you run the risk of them finding out later in a different way — like through a DNA test.

“We live in such a high-tech world, children are going to find out one way or another,” said Steenrod. “As the holder of that information, you want to be somebody who shares it with your child in a way that’s going to be loving and nurturing and not surprising.”

Here, Steenrod and other experts share tips for telling your child their unique origin story in a loving way.

Tell the truth from the beginning

Keeping your child’s story a secret can inadvertently associate adoption and third-party reproduction with feelings of “guilt and shame,” said Steenrod.

“Families can be created in all different kinds of ways, and that’s something to be celebrated.”

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That’s why it’s critical to tell the truth from the outset. For Steenrod, this means talking openly about your child’s origin story long before they ask questions about it.

“You’re building it into the narrative of your family’s story and planting seeds that later, can become flowers … you can then tug on and pull on to talk about more complex pieces of adoption,” she said.

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Why a 27-year-old Canadian woman chose to be single and pregnant

Why a 27-year-old Canadian woman chose to be single and pregnant

Nikki Martyn, program head of early childhood studies at the University of Guelph-Humber in Ontario, agrees: “We need to start having these conversations with children right away,” she said.

“We are where we came from.”

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Martyn recommends building the story in a physical way, using something like a scrapbook. This will give your child an item they can go back to and say, “this is where I came from.”

“Emphasize how important they are, how much they were wanted and how much they were loved,” she said. “If this is what they are told early, they’re never going to question it.”

Expect to talk about it often

Your child’s origin story is a big part of who they are, so they’ll likely have questions about it for years to come.

At first, said Steenrod, focus on the basics. “Say ‘I want to tell you how families are made’ and then include all the ways out there,” she said. “Totally normalize it.”

Slowly and when you think they’re ready, reveal to your child a little bit more of the story.

Why training your child like a dog may be a bad idea

Why training your child like a dog may be a bad idea

As your child grows up, they’re going to develop the cognitive and emotional resources necessary to have more advanced conversations about it.

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“There may come a time when they start to think, ‘If my birth mom could choose not to keep me, she could have chosen to keep me. Is there something wrong with me?’” said Steenrod.

That’s when you want to re-emphasize “the child’s strengths and how lovable they really are.”

READ MORE: How to stop a bully when it’s your own child

If your child’s origin story contains trauma or some other adult subject matter, it can be tricky to find a good time to tell them the whole truth.

According to Martyn, it’s up to you and your empathy to know when it’s the right time.

“At a very young age, it would be [something along the lines of] ‘your biological mom wasn’t able to take care of you because she was having a hard time,’” she said.

Challenges of parenting highly sensitive kids

Challenges of parenting highly sensitive kids

When the child gets old enough, you can elaborate on struggle and pain — feelings that children understand. If their biological mother suffered from addiction, for example, you can explain the science behind addiction.

“All the while, you’re emphasizing that [the child] was your greatest gift,” Martyn said.

Emphasize love, connection and commitment

Many parents worry how this news will affect a child.

Parenting expert Caron Irwin suggests focusing on “tangible examples of the love and connection and commitment that your family has” during and after each discussion.

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“The thing that makes a family is the traditions and the rituals and the love and the connections and the things that you have that are unique among you all,” she said.

If you’re worried, try following the conversation with a “photo album of a special vacation” or “finish up … with the special hug that you have with your child.”

“Those kinds of things are going to … give them security,” she said.

READ MORE: Sisters ‘pre-create’ wedding photos with dad who only has months to live

Martyn backs this up — it can feel like the truth might hurt them, or it might make you less of a parent, but that’s not the case.

“They don’t need to be protected from their origin story,” she said.

“There’s nothing wrong. That’s why we have to re-frame it and celebrate these differences.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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How to stop a bully when it’s your own child – National

by BBG Hub

Parents naturally want to protect their children from bullying, but what happens when your own kid is the one doing the taunting?

“For children who do the bullying, [their] parents very rarely know that it’s happening,” said Dr. Wendy Craig, the head of the psychology department at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont. and the scientific director of PREVNet, a bullying prevention organization.

“They’re not going to hear it from their children.”

Bullying is a real problem in Canadian schools, research shows, and it can have serious consequences.

READ MORE: Grieving Toronto mother questions whether bullying led to son’s death ruled suicide

In a classroom of 35 students, between four and six kids are bullying others and/or are being bullied themselves, according to research published by PREVNet.

While it takes different forms, bullying is targeted abuse that is often repeated. Children who bully use power and aggression to hurt or control their peers.

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Bullying has negative affects for both victims and perpetrators: children who are bullied can develop mental health issues, suffer low self-esteem, have academic problems and even attempt suicide.

For those who bully, the harmful behaviour can lead to academic problems, difficulty in relationships, substance use and delinquency, PREVNet noted.

Warning signs your kid is bullying others

While most parents don’t realize their child is bullying, experts say there are warning signs.

Craig says kids who bully tend to be aggressive with others, or have combative ways of solving conflict.

B.C. father says more action needed to stop bullying

B.C. father says more action needed to stop bullying

“They might be become emotionally disregulated,” she said. “So they get angry quickly, and they might have a perception that is ‘everybody’s out to get me.’”

They may also have items in their possession that do not belong to them, Craig said.

“They may not be able to give you a good explanation as to why because they might be involved in extorting or taking things from other students,” Craig explained.

Because bullies abuse power to exert influence over others, child and teen bullies may be socially skilled or popular at school.

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READ MORE: Experts say zero-tolerance policies aimed at stopping bullying aren’t working

Parents should watch out for “asymmetrical relationships” with peers, said Tracy Vaillancourt, the Canada research chair of children’s mental health and violence prevention at the University of Ottawa.

These unbalanced relationships mean a child may have friends who seem “to give in” to all their requests and demands, Vaillancourt said.

There’s also factors that put kids at risk for engaging in bullying. These including challenging home situations, witnessing bullying or coercive behaviour modelled by others, or being victims of bullying themselves.

It’s important to note, however, that there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to identifying bullying behaviour in your child, said Toronto-based child psychologist Joanne Cummings.

Ontario education minister responds to boy’s tragic death, reportedly victim of bullying

Ontario education minister responds to boy’s tragic death, reportedly victim of bullying

A lot of parents only discover their child is bullying when school staff informs them, Cummings added.

“Every person who bullies is different,” Cummings said.

“That’s a really big point because we sort of stereotype and think bullies do it because they are insecure or they feel gratified [from it], but that may or may not be true in every case.”

How to deal with your child if they’re bullying others

Before you talk to your kid about bullying, it’s important you process your own emotions, Cummings said. It can be very hard for parents to hear their kid is harming others, and they often are in denial.

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READ MORE: Family, friends of Hamilton teen fatally stabbed gather to mourn at funeral

Vaillancourt adds parents may also become defensive, which inadvertently rewards their child’s behaviour.

“You cannot fix what you don’t acknowledge,” she said.

If a teacher or principal is the one informing parents of a kid’s behaviour, it’s important caregivers work with the school to solve the bullying problem, Craig said.

“Engage with the school — they’re experts and know how to deal with it. They can also refer and support you in getting the supports in place that you need for your child,” Craig said.

“You should also come up with a progressive discipline approach so that your child has a clear idea of what your expectations are and what will happen if they violate these expectations.”

Calgary Board of Education releases independent review on school bullying

Calgary Board of Education releases independent review on school bullying

You may also want to talk to the parents of the child your kid is bullying, Vaillancourt adds. Though this rarely happens, she says reaching out to parents can help deal with the situation.

“The parents of [bullying] targets would be comforted to know that you acknowledge that your child’s behaviour is not appropriate, and that you are taking steps to remedy the injustice,” she said.

Listening to your child and having an open and honest conversation is key, said Craig. Talk to them about what bullying looks like and why it’s wrong.

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These conversations should not be one-offs, but ongoing.

READ MORE: Back to school raises concerns about bullying

“We need to be open to what our children do and recognize children as individuals who are learning how to engage in relationships in positive ways,” Craig said.

“You need to be observant of your child’s behaviors and how they treat others… Have you noticed a shift in their behaviors? Have you noticed that they’re aggressive? Do you intervene? You need to be consistent and supportive.”

Will bullying stop?

These conversations can help reduce the risk that a child will continue to engage in bad behaviours. Cummings says many children partake in bullying behaviour at some point in their development, and most outgrow it.

“They get caught, they get lectured, then their empathy is raised,” she said. “They come to an appreciation of why what they did was wrong and they move off that behavior.”

Still, to ensure a child does outgrow bullying, parents need to be engaged in their lives. It’s not enough to assume a kid will stop on their own — especially if they’ve repeatedly bullied others.

Family friend speaks at vigil for Hamilton teen fatally stabbed outside high school

Family friend speaks at vigil for Hamilton teen fatally stabbed outside high school

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“When you have a student who has been identified as bullying others in at least three situations, that’s when you should start thinking about if it’s chronic,” Cummings said.

In such cases, a child should see a professional such as a psychologist to address the underlying issues. If the bullying continues, victims can be seriously harmed.

“Kids who have had real peer victimization — they’ve been injured or humiliated in a really severe way — it becomes as adverse of a stressor as child abuse or other forms of abusive relationships,” Cummings continued.

“The child’s coping mechanisms for stress in their brain and nervous system get reset. They’re always looking for great danger.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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How old should a child be before they can trick-or-treat on their own? – National

by BBG Hub

There comes a point in every child’s life when trick-or-treating with their parents is no longer “cool.” Instead, they want to go out with friends.

As a parent, this moment can be scary and full of unanswered questions: Are they old enough? Can they handle the responsibility? Can I trust them?

Unfortunately, said parenting expert Vanessa Lapointe, the answers to those questions won’t be the same for everyone.

READ MORE: Celebrating Halloween can get expensive. Here are easy ways to cut costs

“It’s not always as easy as [saying] a straight-up age,” Lapointe told Global News.

Whether your child is ready to go door-to-door without you will depend on a variety of factors, including your location, their personality type and more.

Here, Lapointe offers some things to consider before approving your child’s first solo adventure.

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Factors to consider

The first thing to think about is the size of your neighbourhood and how many people would go out on Halloween.

“I grew up in a really small town … so it would’ve been really normal for us [to go out alone] at quite a young age,” Lapointe said.

Now, Lapointe lives in a suburb of Vancouver, where she receives an average of 400 kids at her door on Halloween. “It’s like mayhem.”

Candy or cannabis: can you tell the difference?

Candy or cannabis: can you tell the difference?

Once you’ve given thought to the kind of environment your neighbourhood will present for your child, consider how it could affect your child.

“We have to map that onto, developmentally, where your child is at and what they’re going to have to be able to manage in order for that to be a fun experience for them,” said Lapointe.

“Ultimately, what we need is for kids to be able to be independent and out enjoying Halloween night in the same kind of way.”

READ MORE: Fake cobwebs and other Halloween decorations could be hurting wildlife

Development happens at a different pace for every child, according to Lapointe.

“If you have a kid who’s not quite as mature, they’re not going to be able to manage a particularly chaotic environment really well until closer to 11 or 12 years of age,” she said.

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“Are you dropping them off in a neighbourhood unfamiliar to them or are they trick-or-treating around their home neighbourhood? Are there checkpoints along the way if something were to happen? How busy do you expect it to be?”

How to carve pumpkins like a pro

How to carve pumpkins like a pro

For Lapointe, it also matters who the child is going to be out with. She has two sons, ages 12 and 15.

“Even for my 15-year-old, sometimes the ‘yes’ or the ‘no’ in terms of the activity that he’s requesting independence around depends on who he’s going to be with,” she said.

“Ask yourself what kind of tone that group of friends will set [for your child].”

Independence can be a good thing

Experts say autonomy, even experienced in small bouts, can be a great way for children to develop confidence in themselves.

“It’s a wonderful thing for kids to be able to face a challenge, rise to the occasion and conquer,” said Lapointe.

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“It gives them a boost in terms of self-esteem. We’re really doing right by them to give them those kinds of opportunities.”

READ MORE: ‘Sexy’ burgers and ‘hot’ Mr. Rogers: The designer behind those viral Halloween costumes

Lapointe advocates for a “ladder up” approach, increasing the amount of independence your child is allowed over time.

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“You could allow your 9-year-old to go with their friends and walk ahead of the parents, maybe even half a block,” said Lapointe. “Then you kind of linger behind from far away, you’re watching [and] you can get a sense of where they’re at.”

This can play into what happens next Halloween, when your child asks to go trick-or-treating alone again.

“You don’t have to sink or swim.”

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Parenting Playbook: How to keep your kids safe in crowds

Parenting Playbook: How to keep your kids safe in crowds

Parenting expert Caron Irwin agrees  — you should be preparing your child slowly over time, if trick-or-treating without you is something they’re set on doing.

“If they haven’t had any experience doing anything independently, like walking to a friend’s house to play or walking to school … I’m not sure that Halloween would be a great first sort of foray,” she said.

“Previous experiences really help signal whether your kid has the skills and the strategies to manage and cope with the environment.”

READ MORE: RIE parenting: An alternative way to raise kids that’s about ‘perceiving a child as a person’

As an added bonus, Irwin says promising your child small moments of autonomy can give them something to strive towards in all the other months of the year.

“They would have to earn that privilege by representing that they have the respect, understanding and maturity to understand and uphold the family rules,” said Irwin.

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How to prepare your child for trick-or-treating alone

It’s important to make your child aware of potential danger, but sometimes, this can paralyze them with fear.

Lapointe knows the double-edged sword all too well. “We’re giving our kids all of our anxieties. We’re the ones that wire that into them,” she said.

“As a parent, think about how to not be fear-based in the way you share that kind of information with your children.”

Family Matters: Cultivating a Growth Mindset in kids

Family Matters: Cultivating a Growth Mindset in kids

When speaking to your kids about potential danger, Irwin recommends using the term “tricky people.”

The term gives you a chance to explain that there are “people in the world who have different behaviours, say things and will respond in different ways to children or people who are vulnerable,” said Irwin.

“[Tricky people] will try to trick others into doing something outside of their values, their comfort, their norm. I think that’s a very tangible way to define it for kids.”

This will make it easy for your child to identify “tricky people” when you’re not around, said Irwin.

READ MORE: Riding solo: What age should a child take transit alone?

Lapointe focuses on empowerment.

“Give them the idea that the world we’re living in is big and exciting and okay to be adventuring around in, and then have your conversation flow from that kind of energy rather than … from this fear-based, scary kind of place,” she said.

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“Give them the road map, let them know what the rules are, but you don’t have to load them with fear.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Imaginary friends can have ‘real life’ benefits for your child, experts say – National

by BBG Hub

Whether it’s an alien from another planet, a stuffed teddy bear come to life or just a play pal from summer camp who lives far away during the school year, it’s very common for children to have imaginary companions in their lives.

In fact, a study by psychologists at the University of Washington and the University of Oregon found that, by age seven, 65 per cent of kids have had one.

And, according to parenting expert Alyson Schafer, they’re also completely normal. “Oh, the beauty of a young mind that’s still fresh and open and creative!” she told Global News.

READ MORE: ‘You’re going to see a different kid’: Why sleep should come before activities

“Play is the language of understanding for children. They learn through play and they’ll turn anything into play, if you give them the opportunity,” said Schafer.

For some kids, this could mean “typical” play activities, like building blocks or dolls. For other kids, their creativity is so strong that they create a brand new persona out of thin air.

“This is a creative choice that they make… they don’t need a physical object, much like a favourite stuffed bunny or a love blanket,” Schafer said.

“There’s nothing abnormal about it — it’s really brilliance, because they’re not constrained by other social norms.”

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Jillian Roberts, child psychologist and professor at the University of Victoria, agrees. “Kids are highly imaginative… one of the wonders of childhood,” she said.

According to Roberts, a child’s capacity for imagination increases a great deal in the pre-kindergarten years (roughly between the ages of two and four).

“It actually helps to eventually build the foundation for abstract thought, which comes to fruition in the tween to early-teen period of time,” said Roberts.

“Imaginary friends give [kids] an opportunity to practice their budding social skills in a safe environment they can control.”

However, there’s no reason to worry about your child’s imagination if they don’t have a pretend friend. “All sorts of children with varying levels of creativity may develop imaginary friends,” she said.

Should I be concerned if my child has an imaginary friend?

In Schafer’s view, imaginary friendships are to be encouraged.

“If you watch how they interact with their imaginary friend, a lot of times, because they have to play both themselves and create the world of their imaginary friend, they’re learning different perspectives,” she said.

READ MORE: Meet the parents who homeschooled their kids while travelling the world

“They’re problem-solving and learning to deal with one another, because the imaginary friend often takes a different perspective.”

In situations when the imaginary friend gets in trouble or plays cooperatively, your child is actually rehearsing real social situations.

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“That’s wonderful practice for social skills in life and trying on different outcomes,” said Schafer.

“They’re getting these enriched experiences through this form of play… it’s something to be celebrated.”

However, Roberts believes there could be cause for concern if your child struggles to make friends in “real life.”

READ MORE: Caring for the caregiver: Raising children with a disability or chronic disease

“If that were the case, I would work to build their social network and also work on the development of social [and] friendship skills,” she said.

“Scouts and Brownies and Beavers… are all good programs for that purpose. You can also speak to the school counsellor.”

If your child has an imaginary friend beyond the age of 10, Roberts recommends a psychological consult “to ensure that overall development is on track,” she said. “But overall, I wouldn’t worry.”

Pay attention to the content of the play

Imaginary friends offer endless opportunity to your child: opportunity to practice playing nicely with others, to flex creative muscles and to deal with confusing emotions.

Schafer encourages caregivers to pay attention to the content of a child’s imaginary play, because if they’ve been traumatized, it will likely come through in their play.

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“For example, children who have been traumatized [by] seeing [things like] domestic violence or sexual abuse,” said Schafer. “You’re going to see that in their play. That’s something that would set off alarm bells.”

She also warns that sometimes, children can use imaginary friends as a means to manipulate parents or caregivers — and that’s when a line needs to be drawn.

“It can get in [the way] of relationships in the family,” said Schafer. “If a child wants to bring an extra chair to the table and feed their imaginary friend, I’m fine with that. What I’m not OK with is wasting food.”

READ MORE: The cost of raising a child? Now there’s a calculator for that

In her view, if the imaginary friend starts to disturb the family order, something needs to change.

“You don’t want to give the child so much power for the reality of their imaginary friend that their imaginary friend is no longer being a co-operating member of the family,” she said. “They can’t be used as an alibi.”

How to treat your child’s imaginary friend

There are some things parents can do to further encourage curiosity and imaginative play.

For Roberts, this means not making a big deal out of the new imaginary friend.

“If your child wants to talk about their imaginary friend, fine,” she said. “But don’t force them to.”

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Schafer takes this one step further and recommends asking questions about the imaginary friend.

“Tell me about your friend. What do they look like? What does your friend like?” she said.

“There’s no right or wrong.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Like mother, like child: Living with the same disease as your mom – National

by BBG Hub

When Vishma Sookdeo’s mother was 25 in Trinidad, she almost had a near-death experience.

Kamla Sookdeo was battling an ongoing chronic kidney disease, and as result was taking medications every day to avoid relapse.

Living in a country with not as much access to adequate healthcare, in the early days, Vishma told Global News her mother was told to “go home and make [her] will.”

“She didn’t have as much research or technology to help diagnose her [condition] earlier,” she said.

Today, Kamla, 67, has been diagnosed with lupus, an autoimmune disease that attacks the body’s immune system. People with the condition can experience fatigue, joint pain, chest pain and sometimes butterfly-shaped rashes on their face.

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When Vishma turned 27, she got seriously ill.

“My story kind of began around the same age as my mom’s did,” she explained. Her condition sent her to five hospitals in Toronto between the months of August 2016 and December 2016. In that short period of time, Vishma had no idea what was happening to her body — and rightfully so, she was terrified.

“I almost died from this mysterious illness [at that time, doctors were unsure of her condition] that damaged my kidneys to about 30 per cent and gave me a stroke and vision loss,” she said. “I lost my ability to walk and had to relearn using a walker for a while.”

A mother herself, she was later diagnosed with ANCA Vasculitis, an autoimmune disease that causes the swelling of blood vessels.

Kamla Sookdeo (left) and Vishma Sookdeo (right). Photo provided by Sookdeo family. 

“I was scared,” she said. “During that time my mom really gave me the strength to know that survival and healing your body and mind was a choice. I remember thinking that as close to death as my mom was, she still survives… knowing her journey gave me hope.”

It’s common for parents and their children to have the same illnesses or diseases. According to The National Center for Biotechnology Information in the U.S., common diseases that run in the family can include everything from coronary artery disease to Type 1 diabetes to types of cancer.

Heart-wrenching for parent and child

This process can be stressful for both the child and the parent. Child psychologist Dr. Jillian Roberts, the founder of parenting resource website Family Sparks, based in B.C., said it can be “heart-wrenching.”

“While it is essential that you do not dismiss or downplay [your children’s] pain and unique challenges, it is also vital, however, that you emphasize that they are strong, capable, and are only getting stronger and more resilient as a result of their illness,” she continued.

READ MORE: Baby born without skin, undergoing treatment that could save his life

She said it’s important to remember you were family before the illness.

“You need to remain a family first, and cope with the illness second,” she said. “The illness should not commandeer your family: stick to your normal rules and routines to help contribute to a sense of normalcy for all your family members, including yourself.”

She added children need to remember that their only job is to be a child, and to do this they need to be encouraged to play, laugh, create, and explore as they normally would.

WATCH: The high cost of rare diseases

Sometimes, children can be resentful towards their parent for “passing down” an illness. “If your child is resentful, it is important that you both empathize with them, and validate their feelings,” she continued. “Think about incorporating phrases such as, ‘I know this is really, really hard. You are very strong for going through this.’”

For some parent and child relationships, Roberts added there can be a special bond. “This gives you a special sense of empathy, and better than anyone else, you know what you child is going through. Use this opportunity to strengthen the bond between yourselves, and re-frame the situation to focus on the positive when you can.”

And through those days that feel extra tough, parents should take a break. “It is not necessary to prove that you can do this on your own. In fact, it can be harmful to both you and your child as your stress can seep into other areas of your life, and manifest in unproductive, harmful ways.”

‘I was kind of in shock’

Kendra Dempsey of Hamilton, Ont. was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes before she was four in 2000. “I [wasn’t eating] for about a week, I was constantly thirsty, and always running to the bathroom,” she told Global News. “My nanny [grandmother] came to visit and said that I had lost significant, noticeable weight in such a short period of time — that’s when my parents brought me to the doctor.”

But the 23-year-old’s mother, Marie Dempsey, 52, was diagnosed with the same illness last year — an extremely uncommon diagnosis.

“Despite the familiarity with the disease and how it presents itself, due to caring for me for so many years, my mum didn’t assume she had Type 1 Diabetes, and just attributed these symptoms to aging,” she said. “It wasn’t until one morning that she noticed her legs really hurt that she was concerned.”

Marie used one of her daughter’s old glucometers to test her blood sugar. Turns out, it was high. 

Marie Dempsey (left) and Kendra Dempsey (middle). Photo provided by Dempsey family. 

Due to her age, the doctors in the emergency room thought my mom would have Type 2 Diabetes, but her health profile from a very recent physical examination by her [doctor] would indicate that she must have Type 1,” Kendra continued.

“Ultimately, the doctors in the emergency room sent my mom home and said the local diabetes clinic would follow up with her in a couple days to sort things out. I was furious when I heard this.”

READ MORE: McGill research offers hope for curing rare genetic disease affecting Quebec children

Marie would have needed insulin to treat herself, and after more back-and-forth with the hospital, she was officially diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.

I was kind of in shock — in all honesty I still am, months later,” Kendra said. “Normally, when a parent-child pair both have Type 1 Diabetes, the parent was diagnosed prior to ever having children, and there’s a genetic aspect to the disease.”

Marie Dempsey (left) and Kendra Dempsey (right). Photo provided by Dempsey family.

These days, the two’s medical journeys seem to overlap. “It’s strange that I’m in a role now where I’m the one who gives her diabetes advice, when for so many years she was the one teaching me,” she said.

“We’ll chat about how high or low blood glucose symptoms present themselves for us if our blood glucose level, discuss what foods seem to impact our blood glucose levels the most no matter how much insulin we receive and just vent to each other about the general frustrations of living with this disease.”

‘She truly is my hero’

For both Vishma and Kendra, Mother’s Day feels extra special every year. “Mother’s Day to us both as moms and as daughters is a day that we hold so dear as we get to honour our closeness,” Visham said.

“I know that without my mother’s strength, positivity and love I wouldn’t be here, let alone alive. We get to take a day to truly appreciate the genuine and deep connection that makes our lives worth living.”

Vishma Sookdeo as a child with her mother. Photo provided by Sookdeo family. 

This year, like other years, Kendra will write a note to her mother ans shower her with a small gift.

READ MORE: 17-year-old Toronto girl living life to the fullest with Cystic Fibrosis

“Any day I get to spend with my mum is a great day in my books — she truly is my hero,” she said. “She is so smart, so caring, hardworking and considerate. She does so much for myself and my dad, and also does so much for the rest of her family.

“There are no words for me to express just how incredible of a person, friend, and mother she is, and I like to use Mother’s Day as an opportunity to try and remind her just how much I love her, and how thankful I am that she is my mum.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Parents, do you ever pick a favourite child? Experts say it can hurt siblings – National

by BBG Hub

It’s a truth some parents may not want to admit, but at some point, some experts suggests parents do have a “favourite” child.

While it may not be the type of “favourite” a kid has when they choose a parent, sometimes parents give more attention to one child compared to the other.

According to a poll by British parenting site Mumsnet in 2018, 23 per cent of parents said they “favoured” one child more than the other, often the new baby, New York Post reported.

The poll, which looked at data of 1,000 people, found parents were more likely to favour the youngest child. About a quarter said they favoured the eldest child, while middle children came in last place. Most respondents (64 per cent), on the other hand, said they had no favourite child.

READ MORE:  ‘Snowplow parenting’ is preventing young adults from learning ‘basic life skills’

Dr. Barbara Howard, a developmental behavioural pediatrician, previously told the New York Times there can be behavioural problems for the child who doesn’t feel like they are the “favourite.”

“It’s impossible not to have favorites, and we do know that the perception of favouritism is one of the biggest factors in sibling rivalry,” she told the site.

“Often the child is trying to get the attention of the parent who is rejecting them — the more you push a kid away, the more he will come at you.”

And when the child becomes needy or seeks too much attention, she said, the parent doesn’t respond well.

“Often the parent doesn’t like the kid that much, or the kid perceives it.”

Is it really favouritism?

Maureen Dennis, a parenting and lifestyle expert based in Toronto, told Global News that sometimes one child needs more attention than the other, but this isn’t favouritsim.

“There could be any number of reasons why that child needs a little more attention,” she explained. “They may have a medical reason, they may be going through something, or they just might be the kind of kid who needs a little more support in life.”

Sometimes, parents relate more to one child than the other.

“If you love playing hockey and one of your kids also loves playing hockey, it’s natural to be excited to share that together,” she said. “But it can also make it hard for another sibling that doesn’t enjoy the same things as you but still wants to have the same opportunities for your attention.”

She added it’s not that the parent loves the hockey player any more than the other child — they’re just easier to relate to.

WATCH: Challenges of parenting highly sensitive kids (April 2)

READ MORE: Kids often pick a favourite parent — don’t let it ruin your relationship

“It could also be more about personalities. You might have one child that is very outgoing and doesn’t need as much of your attention and another child who is more dependent on you in certain situations,” she continued. “The greatest and hardest things about kids is that they are all different and just when you feel like you’ve figured them out, they surprise you.”

Dennis said parents also have their own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to giving attention.

“We have to go beyond our own feelings to figure out how to relate to each child and to understand why they are either seeking more attention or why they are complaining they are not getting enough attention.”

The risks of having favourites

Often, when parents show favour for one child over an another — intentionally or not — there could be a risk of ruining your relationship with your child.

“It takes time and patience as a parent to understand your own kids and to find the time to truly enjoy what they enjoy,” she said. “Playing Barbies, watching football, bird watching, playing basketball or practicing ballet might not be your thing, but you need to make yourself available to them and share in their interests.”

Another risk is creating sibling rivalry and jealousy.

“Some siblings get along better than others, but it is pretty hard to keep every thing ‘even and fair’ all the time in daily family life,” she said.

READ MORE: ‘I have no regrets’: What it’s like to be estranged from family

“If a child needs some additional attention and the other child is feeling left out or jealous, that is the time to have a conversation about why they are feeling that way and what they both need at that moment. It can also be as simple as explaining that everything doesn’t need to be fair in the moment but over time we each get special time and moments together.”

And if your child does call you out on your picking a favourite, rework how you spend time with them.

“One of the best ways of making sure you are on top this is to spend time with each child one-on-one,” she said. “Have conversations, laugh and enjoy each other, make memories — this is really important to start when they are young.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Competitive sports can be life-changing. Is your child ready to take part? – National

by BBG Hub

Eight-year-old James had only been doing recreational gymnastics for six months when his coach asked him if he wanted to compete.

According to his mom, Jackie Patrick, James was always very athletic and competitive. He loved skiing, soccer and basketball, but he never found a sport he really loved — until gymnastics.

“My older son was very content doing more solitary things, like reading… but [James] liked to be among other people in an environment that was active, with lots of things moving around,” his mom said — so the gym was a good fit.

READ MORE: Why ‘no-cut sports programs’ can benefit students and school

By the time he was nine, James was spending six to nine hours per week in the gym on training alone — and that was before the time spent actually competing.

Because of the time investment, Patrick made a concerted effort to get her family involved.

She joined the board at James’ gymnastics club, she brought her older son to competitions as much as possible — she liked to make those weekends away “bonding time” — and she made sure James truly understood what he was committing to.

“It’s very important to open up the doors of communication with your child [and] discuss what it is that they want,” said Patrick.

WATCH BELOW: 1 in 3 families going into debt for children’s extracurricular activities: Ipsos poll

Parenting expert Gail Bell agrees — communication is key.

“You need to make sure your child wants to do this,” said Bell. “Sit down beforehand to lay out the expectations and make it very clear.”

For Bell, it’s most helpful to write down the schedule on a piece of paper or a calendar.

“Kids are very visual,” Bell said. “For example, explain that on Wednesdays, they must be at the swimming pool by four. That means they can’t stay on the playground and play after school.”

Whether your child is thinking about playing a competitive sport or is already, there are some things you should consider.

Is your child old enough to compete?

According to Richard Monette, managing director of Active For Life, children shouldn’t specialize in most sports until they’ve reached the age of puberty. (Although there are some exceptions, like gymnastics.)

“Every sport in Canada is mandated by a long-term athlete development model specific to that sport,” said Monette. “That’s mandated by Sport Canada, and that dictates… what each child should do within their involvement in their sport at a specific age.”

The model is based on science, and it exists to prevent children from being injured, among other things.

READ MORE: 41-0? Minor hockey groups say kids’ games should be about fun, not scores

“When you overtax certain parts of your body when you’re younger, you’re [more prone to injury],” said Monette.

“As well, if they specialize early and they get to age 14 and they’re sick of that sport or they’re burnt out, then they have no other options.”

When children do a multitude of activities, they develop many different skills. This will help them stay active well into adulthood because they will have more options for engaging with sport.

Is your child actually having fun?

“Is your child running out of school, eager to go? That’s a kid that’s having fun,” said Bell.

Bell recommends choosing a trial period. That way, both you and your child have a date when you can quit if it’s not working for your family.

“I highly encourage parents to re-evaluate every term or semester,” said Bell.

Coaches can also have a big impact on whether a child is enjoying themselves.

WATCH BELOW: The cheapest, most expensive extracurriculars in Canada: Ipsos poll

That’s why, for Patrick, it was crucial to constantly check in with James about how he was getting along with his coaches.

“There are different types of coaches: Some are overly competitive and very self-absorbed, and others are [focused] on the growth of the athlete,” said Patrick.

“You want a coach who has your child’s best interests at heart.”

Make sure you’re in it for the right reasons

“‘Is this for me or my child?’ That’s a key question to ask,” said Monette. “For some parents, it’s difficult to remove their own ego from the equation.”

Bell has seen this happen many times in her line of work.

READ MORE: ‘Snowplow parenting’ is preventing young adults from learning ‘basic life skills’

“In competitive sports, we know that a lot of parents are over-involved,” said Bell. “I would strongly suggest the parents ask why they want this for their kids.”

If it’s because you’re living vicariously through your child, then it’s probably not the best scenario.

It’s all about striking a balance

You should also ensure your child has enough time to do other things outside of the sport they play at a competitive level.

“When is their downtime? When are they getting to the park, just to play? What other sports are they playing? Is this impeding on their sleep time? Their homework time?” Bell said.

In the same vein, kids shouldn’t be allowed to shirk responsibilities because they play a competitive sport.

WATCH BELOW: How to keep your kid’s schedule from getting out of hand

“That’s not creating a balanced child,” said Bell.

“If the whole world becomes about that sport, and that sport doesn’t turn out for them, or they get injured, or they realize they don’t love it as much… there’s a big hole in their life. We don’t want to make it all about [that one sport]. That’s just one thing they do within their whole life.”

Competitive sports aren’t the only option

Patrick said her son learnt most of his transferrable life skills from his time as a gymnast.

“Commitment, dedication, persistence and resiliency… and those attributes really transfer to university studies and to the workplace,” Patrick said.

Bell agreed that competitive sports can teach a child several great skills, but she emphasized that those shouldn’t come at the cost of the child’s happiness.

READ MORE: ‘Bitter, angry and frustrated’: Why some parents don’t enjoy spending time with their kids

“There are tons of values that kids learn from sports… that we can apply to real life, but it’s not the only place you can learn them,” said Bell.

You can also learn these skills from other activities, such as music or school work.

“If a child has talent, that’s great, but it has to be kid-driven. And if you have a very driven kid, it’s the parents’ responsibility to talk to them about other aspects of life,” said Bell.

“Sports can be a lifelong joy… but they should be for enjoyment.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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When should your child stop using a stroller? – National

by BBG Hub

Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, of Jersey Shore fame, was on vacation with her family at Disney World when she posted a photo of her kids Giovanna, four, and Lorenzo, six, seated in strollers.

The photo, shared to Instagram on Wednesday, sparked debate about whether Polizzi’s kids are too old to be pushed around.

Some users suggested Giovanna and Lorenzo were too big for strollers, while others defended Polizzi, saying: “If she wants to put her kids in a stroller, let her!”

Polizzi, who is expecting her third child this summer, wrote back: “They walk! But in large crowds, I prefer they sit their a****s down. Saves me the stress of not losing my offspring.”

Polizzi has since deleted the comment.

One user said the photo was “a perfect example of why Disney is enforcing stricter guidelines on strollers,” referring to Disney’s new stroller policy, which will take effect May 1.

According to Disney World, strollers greater than 31 inches in width and 52 inches in length will be prohibited. “Stroller wagons” will also be banned.

READ MORE: ‘It has made me a better person’: What it’s like to raise a child with autism

While strollers can be great for outings that require lots of walking, parenting expert Alyson Schafer cautions against overuse.

“Out of context, I don’t think anyone should judge anyone who’s got a kid in a stroller because we don’t know the situation,” said Schafer.

“Whether it’s a stroller or putting kids in a pull wagon… all of those things are called ‘passive transport,’ and if it means that the entire vacation… is going to be better accommodated by younger kids, I think it’s a really fantastic idea.”

WATCH: Challenges of parenting highly sensitive kids

However, Schafer is worried that using strollers all the time can become unhealthy.

“We have a crisis of obesity,” said Schafer. “We do not put demands on our kids to actually walk, including four-year-olds being carried everywhere or put in strollers for short distances even though they can walk.”

Parenting coach Robina Uddin thinks you should encourage your child to walk whenever they can, but training is required before they can go long distances without help.

“I don’t think a child should be in a stroller beyond three years,” said Uddin. “After 24 months, you should be weaning your child [off the stroller] with little bursts of walk that lead up to longer walking periods.”

Otherwise, Uddin said, you’re not giving the child the exercise they need.

READ MORE: ‘Snowplow parenting’ is preventing young adults from learning basic life skills

For Schafer, it’s up to parents to get kids doing more active — rather than passive — transport.

“They’re not going to get any stronger and be able to actually walk a farther distance if we don’t train them, just like us training for a 10-kilometre run,” said Schafer.

The age at which your child is ready to graduate from stroller to walking will depend solely on their physical development.

“A rule of thumb: take time for training and then never do for a child what a child can do for themselves,” Schafer said. “If your four-year-old can walk to the mailbox and you know they can and they’ve done it before then that’s it. It’s no longer a stroller option.”

WATCH: Tips for parents who hate parenting

According to Uddin, a big issue is when the stroller becomes less a comfort for the child and more a crutch for the parents.

“Parents will go to the mall and put the kids in the wagon because they’re not walking fast enough, and that’s a disservice to the children,” said Uddin. “The child will not really develop the strength and conditioning if they’re not allowed to do the walking.”

Your child’s legs may get tired after 30 minutes, but if you don’t ask them to walk one hour now, they won’t be able to walk one hour later, Uddin told Global News. At some point, she explains, parents need to put in the work.

READ MORE: ‘Bitter, angry and frustrated’ — Why some parents don’t enjoy spending time with their kids

If your child is confused about why their little brother or sister still gets to use the stroller, explain that everyone in the family plays a role.

“There are some brilliant devices out there right now. There are strollers where a baby can go in the stroller part but there’s a standing part at the back so older kids aren’t being infantilized,” said Schafer.

Another good option is to allow the older child to use a scooter alongside the stroller.

“[That way], they can keep up with the parents, and it feels a little more independent,” Schafer added.

Ultimately, it’s important to teach your child that different people have different needs.

WATCH: Walking to school — Less popular but better, safer choice

If your child puts up a fuss about not being allowed to take the stroller, try to put a fun spin on their new mode of transportation.

“You could say ‘let’s race home,’” said Uddin. “Distract them every time they want to go into the stroller with something fun you’re doing on the way.”

READ MORE: Should we f**king swear around our kids? Parenting experts weigh in

Whether your child loves to be carried, pushed in a stroller or pulled in a wagon, there will come a time when they’re too old.

“You can speak to any doctor, and they’ll tell you that one of the biggest things we’re doing wrong is carrying our kids when they’re way too old,” said Schafer. Not only do the children get too heavy to be lifted, but they come to rely on being carried for when they’re feeling lazy, she explains.

“Make [walking] a non-negotiable. They’ll get it if you’re consistent.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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‘It has made me a better person’: What it’s like to raise a child with autism – National

by BBG Hub

Miles Clayton was two years old when his mom, Christine, started to notice subtle behavioural differences between him and his twin brother, Benjamin.

“He wasn’t using his language as much… he wasn’t responding to his name very often… [and] he would do a 300-piece puzzle in 40 minutes. That’s amazing, but it’s not normal for a two-year-old,” Clayton told Global News.

Miles was diagnosed with autism shortly before his third birthday, and that’s when everything changed for his family.

READ MORE: Canadian autism group calls on federal government for national strategy

“The diagnosis opened up the doors to get into the Ontario Autism Program. That’s where you get [financial] support, but to get that support, there was a wait list for three years,” said Clayton, who lives in Ottawa with her family.

In the meantime, Miles required around-the-clock care. He needed therapy to teach him basic life skills like looking somebody in the eye or laughing appropriately. He also needed speech therapy, occupational therapy and physiotherapy.

While the Claytons waited to reach the end of the wait list, they were faced with a decision: place Miles in the public education system or pay for private care.

WATCH (March 21, 2019): Mother of child with severe autism says Ford government’s ‘enhanced’ plan leads to ‘generation of lost children’

“If you go into the public school system, you’re not paying for anything because they’ll give you an educational assistant,” said Clayton. “The challenge is that an educational assistant is not a therapist, and, unless you have a very severe child, usually the assistant is looking after your child and maybe three others.”

For these reasons, the Claytons paid for Miles’ private care out of pocket for three years.

“We were fortunate. We had the financial resources that we were able to pay for things privately… but [it] was really expensive. It was about $85,000 a year,” said Clayton. “Most people are in a different financial position. I recognize how fortunate we are.”

READ MORE: Infection during pregnancy increases your baby’s risk of autism, but not by much: study

“Like many parents, we remortgaged our house, we took out our RRSPs and we borrowed from family. You do what you have to do for your kids.”

Clayton says the costs are so high because Miles is on the severe end of the spectrum, but it’s different for everybody.

“Some kids need a lot less, but Miles [needs] a one-on-one, dedicated teacher all day, every day,” Clayton said.

As with anything, there are positive and negative aspects to having a child with autism. At present, parents across the country are most concerned about the quality and cost of care provided to children on the spectrum.

The same kind of therapy doesn’t work for every child

While Miles was on the wait list for the Ontario Autism Program, he underwent Floortime therapy.

“Floortime… is based on the premise that kids with autism do certain things, like not look you in the eye, because they have sensory needs that aren’t being met. And Miles certainly had a lot of that,” said Clayton.

“Imagine there’s an editor in your brain, and that editor in your brain filters out all the noise.”

For a lot of kids with autism, says Clayton, there is no editor. Suddenly, the footsteps of the person walking past you are just as loud as the person you’re talking to.

During Floortime, a parent or therapist gets down on the floor with the child to play and interact with them at their level in an effort to reduce distractions and let the child control his or her surroundings.

READ MORE: Understanding ABA therapy for children with autism

However, Floortime isn’t funded by the Ontario Autism Program. Once accepted, the Claytons were given direct funding for Miles to do applied behaviour analysis (ABA), which he does now.

ABA is one of the most common types of autism therapy, and it’s based on the principle that if you do a certain behaviour, you get a reward.

“[It’s] learning life skills through behaviour modification,” Clayton said.

Floortime helped Miles manage his sensory needs so that when he was accepted into the Ontario Autism Program, he was ready to advance to ABA — but Clayton isn’t sure he would be where he is today without what he learned in Floortime.

“There are a lot of other [therapies] in use that aren’t funded but work very well,” said Clayton.

WATCH (March 21, 2019): Amy Schumer speaks out about husband’s autism

Lisa Palasti, director of RDI Professional Training Canada, can attest to that. She teaches parents and children Relationship Development Intervention, another form of therapy that teaches those with autism the foundations for forming social connections.

“[In RDI], we’re developing the mind. We’re developing the mental tools and the mental habits that are going to help an individual develop dynamic intelligence,” said Palasti. “That’s the ability to flexibly think, to plan, to predict, to widen your perspective, to learn from your experiences and to develop a strong sense of self.”

Although this form of autism therapy could be a good fit for many children across the country, it’s currently only funded in British Columbia and Alberta, said Palasti.

“What a child might need at the age of 10 might be much more involved than what a child might need at the age of four,” Palasti said. Until more kinds of therapy are funded in more places, kids could be missing out on the treatment that fits them best.

READ MORE: ‘Autism Reality Experience’ helps people understand what it’s like to live with autism

Funding continues to be a major issue across Canada

Living in Ontario, Clayton is extremely concerned about what will happen to Miles’ care when the new Ontario Autism Program takes effect.

“Right now, Miles’ therapy is funded, and based on the recent announcement from the minister, that funding will be extended for six months,” said Clayton. “After that, Miles will be allowed access to $5,000 a year, but he needs $80,000 a year. We have no more house to mortgage, we have no RRSP to draw upon.”

For Clayton, this policy change will affect Miles’ health care and his education.

“The last thing we want to do is stop his therapy because right now… it’s working. He’s clearly in this period of having a developmental leap, and I don’t want to take that away from him. His therapy is not just therapy — it’s how he learns.”

WATCH (Feb. 25, 2019): Family with 2 children with autism react to long wait times for ABA therapy

But the concern about funding isn’t limited to Ontario.

Kelly Johnson, who lives in Montreal, has a nine-year-old son on the spectrum. She’s also concerned about her child’s access to services.

“[If a child was] already able to get public services… once they get diagnosed with autism, they go onto a separate wait list, and all of a sudden, the same services that would’ve been applicable (like speech therapy or occupational therapy) disappear,” said Johnson. “It’s almost like you go into a black hole of wait lists.”

READ MORE: Autism spectrum disorder affects 1 in 66 Canadian children, report says

Johnson’s son goes to a special semi-private school that focuses on children with autism. It’s called Giant Steps, and there are only two in Canada — one in Montreal and one in Toronto.

Giant Steps is partially subsidized so Johnson has to pay for part of her son’s education. She also pays for most of his speech therapy and occupational therapy, too.

“The typical health insurance plan will cover up to $500 a year, and to give you an idea, an average speech or occupational therapy session is between $80 to $150,” said Johnson. Her son needs one session of each per week, which means she maxes out her coverage in the first month of every year.

Autism is only a difference, not a disability

Having a child with autism comes with its challenges, but Clayton says it has many beautiful parts, too.

“[It has] made me a better person,” Clayton said. “I’ve learned that laughter and looking on the bright side of things can really get you through anything. I’ve learned to be much more accepting of others and not to judge people the way I might’ve in the past.”

Miles has brought Clayton’s family closer together, and his autism has taught her more about other people.

“Having a kid with autism has really strengthened the bond in my family. I have a wonderful husband… and I could not imagine going through this journey with anybody else,” said Clayton. “It’s tough to have a sibling with autism, let alone a twin. But at seven, [Benjamin] shows a maturity and a kindness towards his brother that inspires me every day.”

WATCH (Aug. 30, 2018): Lethbridge car wash a soothing experience for five-year-old boy with autism

Miles loves to be hugged, he loves to be cuddled and he loves to be chased, Clayton said.

“Having a back-and-forth verbal conversation with my child — which Miles just had with me for the first time last week — that’s a miracle. A week ago, we put on the song Happy, and he started to dance. That has never happened before. That’s a miracle,” said Clayton.

“When he looks me in the eye… when he tells me he loves me… when he laughs at something funny… for us, those are miracles, and I get to experience those every day.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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‘They know what they’re doing’: Why do some parents intentionally make their child sick? – National

by BBG Hub

Gypsy Rose Blanchard murdered her mother in 2015.

The 23-year-old Missouri woman had spent most of her life in a wheelchair, told by her mother, Dee Dee, that she had muscular dystrophy and was unable to walk. Gypsy was also led to believe that she had a long list of other illnesses and ailments — cancer, brain damage, epilepsy, sleep apnea, eye problems — and subsequently underwent various surgeries and invasive treatments.

But, it turns out Gypsy was not, in fact, sick.

After she secretly started dating a man named Nicholas Godejohn she met online, the couple plotted to kill Dee Dee so Gypsy could be free from her control. Dee Dee’s murder garnered much media attention due to the nature of the crime, but also because it raised awareness of a lesser-known condition called factitious disorder imposed on another, or Munchausen by proxy.

The story of Dee Dee and Gypsy is the subject of a new television series called The Act.

WATCH BELOW: Study links exposure to infection in the womb to increased risk of autism, depression

What is factitious disorder imposed on another?

Factitious disorder imposed on another is when a person fakes or lies about a loved one’s health. It’s related to factitious disorder, which is when someone falsifies symptoms or lies about their own health.

“Factitious disorder imposed on another is a type of mental illness in which a caregiver intentional creates, causes, or exaggerates illness or injury in another person,” Karen Salerno, a social worker at the Cleveland Clinic who works with people affected by factitious disorder, told Global News.

“They change test results to make someone appear ill, they can physically induce symptoms, such as poising, suffocation and inducing infection. They may also try to falsify medical records.”

READ MORE: A bestselling author faked having cancer, but he’s not the first. Why do people do it?

While factitious disorder imposed on another is often discussed in terms of parents (usually a mother) lying about their children’s health, Salerno says it can happen to anyone at any age. She’s seen cases where an adult child has intentionally lied about their elderly parent’s health, and caused them harm.

When it comes to parents inflicting this abuse onto their child, the kids are most often under the age of six, Salerno said. The Cleveland Clinic says factitious disorder imposed on another is rare, and affects an estimated 2 out of 100,000 children.

In one U.S. case, a mother claimed her young daughter had cystic fibrosis, but medical experts found she faked her child’s disease. Investigators found the mom infected her daughter with harmful bacteria, and also suspected she removed blood from the child so that she would become anemic, CNN reports.

Dr. Marc Feldman, a psychiatrist at the University of Alabama and an internationally-recognized expert in forms of medical deception, previously told the Canadian Press that parents behind this kind of abuse are typically seeking emotional gratification, but at the cost of the child’s well-being.

WATCH BELOW: One-third of pregnant women think cannabis is okay to use during pregnancy, review says

“Usually that comes in the form of seeking attention and sympathy,” he told the outlet. “So they present themselves as the caregivers of terribly ill children, whose illnesses are defying diagnosis. And predictably, they get a lot of care and concern from immediate family as well as the community.”

Feldman said many of these parents are dissatisfied with how their own lives have turned out and feel out of control. Successfully manipulating the beliefs of “high-status professionals like doctors allows them to feel once again in control.”

While Salerno says factitious disorder imposed on another is a mental illness, the person on the receiving end is experiencing abuse. Experts estimate that about six to nine per cent of kids die from this abuse, and another six to nine per cent end up with long-term disability or permanent injury.

READ MORE: Meet the 71-year-old woman who doesn’t feel pain and doesn’t get anxious

“It’s typically a repeated pattern of repeated behaviour,” she said. “In my clinical experience it’s intentional … and they know what they’re doing it.”

How do caregivers get away with factious disorder imposed on another?

New show The Act, staring Patricia Arquette and Joey King, shows the depth of Dee Dee’s deception.

Dee Dee took her daughter around from doctor to doctor, lying about her health in various healthcare settings. This resulted in unnecessary medical testing, operations and treatments.

WATCH BELOW: Virginia woman facing criminal charges after allegedly faking child that California couple would adopt

Salerno said this behaviour is common in people who carry out factious disorder. When a caregivers moves a patient from hospital to hospital or across the country, it makes it difficult for healthcare professionals to know a patient’s true medical history.

This is why doctors need to be educated about the condition, researchers say.

The most obvious hint of factious disorder imposed on another is if children return to hospital with recurrent illness — they’re injured, or bleeding, or they’re fighting infection. Kids should also be interviewed individually when they’re being assessed.

What causes factitious disorder and is it treatable?

Salerno said there’s not a clear cause of factitious disorder, or factitious disorder imposed on another. What is common in a perpetrator, however, is a history of trauma.

READ MORE: These injuries are a common cause of stroke in young people: Here’s what you need to know

“There is some thought it may be linked to certain biological and psychological factors, such as experiencing — in the case of the caregiver — some sort of trauma in their childhood, either abuse or neglect, divorce of their parents, a death of a parent or interpersonal family dynamic issues,” she said.

“The caregiver is doing it for some kind of attention, and that can be different for the individual person.”

When a child is being abused, Salerno says it’s important social services intervene, and the kid receives medical treatment. For perpetrators, they need to seek psychotherapy and cognitive behaviour therapy.

Do other parents or family members know what’s going on?

In the television show Sharp Objects, based on the book of the same name, one of the main characters Adora (Patricia Clarkson) lands in jail after police discover she is deliberately poisoning her daughters, played by Amy Adams and Eliza Scanlen. (It turns out Adora is also behind her deceased daughter’s death).

WATCH BELOW: Mystery illness leaves teen blind, doctors searching for answers

Adora’s husband is quiet about his wife’s behaviour, and does not intervene. While it is unclear how much he knows, Salerno says it’s common for family members to be unaware of factious disorder imposed on another.

“In my clinical experience, when I’ve told family members, they’re usually very surprised and shocked, because it’s counter-intuitive,” she said.

“Because on the outside, it looks like the caregiver is doing everything possible to help the sick person, so they’re going to a lot of appoinments and really advocating for the person to get better.”

READ MORE: Is there a relationship between mass shootings and suicide?

As in the case of Gypsy, her parents separated when she was a young child. Gypsy’s father, Rod, also believed his daughter was sick and was unaware of Dee Dee’s abuse.

“I think Dee Dee’s problem was she started a web of lies, and there was no escaping after,” Rod told BuzzFeed.

“She got so wound up in it, it was like a tornado got started, and then once she was in so deep that there was no escaping. One lie had to cover another lie, had to cover another lie, and that was her way of life.”

With files from the Canadian Press

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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