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The Real Battle Royale…Getting Your Kids Back From Fortnite



Ever since the introduction of Pong by Atari (ask grandpa), children have been drawn to video games.  Over the past 40 years they have developed in countless ways.  Graphics are better, games are portable (they can be played on tv’s phones, tablets, etc), games are more socially interactive (they can be played with groups of friends at different locations), and they have become infinitely more addictive.  The new gold standard exemplifying all these qualities is a game called Fortnite.


If you’re already well aware of the ins and outs of this monster, feel free to skip this paragraph.  For everyone else, here’s a quick information catch up.  Developed in 2017 by Epic games, Fortnite is divided into three distinct type of games. There’s a standard zombie-killing, save the world game, a more creative build your own battle world game, and then there’s the most popular of the three, Battle Royale.  Fortnite Battle Royale is sort of where video games meet the Hunger Games.  Up to 100 players compete in each mini game to become the final survivor.  Well over 200 million people worldwide compete in Fortnite Battle Royale, and the game generates hundreds of millions of dollars monthly.


What has made Fortnite the international phenomenon that it is?  There are several answers, all of which were carefully thought out by its creators. While all video games, and games for that matter can be addictive, Fortnite seems specifically designed to be universally appealing, and deeply compelling.  While it is loaded with violence, there is no bloodshed or gore.  Players just disappear when they are killed.  This makes it more palatable for parents, and more acceptable for younger audiences. Parts of the game are decided by chance, giving the gamers a feel of gambling rush.  When the final player of Battle Royale wins, the remaining 99 often don’t feel like they lost, but that they almost won, and jump at the chance to give a go in the next game.  Finally, there’s a huge social aspect to the game.  Not only can groups of friends play together from their own homes, but just playing can link you with all that is hot in social culture.  Just ask your kids to floss or dab, and you’ll see.


Your next question might be, “so?”  Yes, lots of children like video games, yet have active lives, good academic achievement, and occasionally shower.  For other families however, these and similar video games have led to significant sleep deprivation, school issues (failure to compete assignments, study for tests, or even attend school), detachment and isolation from family constructs, and, in worse scenarios, introduction to unknown internet solicitors and predators. There is already a niche of therapy dealing with video game “rehab”.


What’s a parent to do if every child, teenager, and Major League baseball player is hooked on this? As with every aspect of parenting, it’s all about increasing communication and involvement, setting limits, and using reward and consequence as tools to modify behavior.


Here are some tips to keep your little gamer from getting out of hand, or to reel them in if they’re already “knee deep in the dab” (okay, that’s not a thing, but you get the idea).

If your children are just entering the world of gaming:

  • Keep all gaming (and as much internet access as possible) in family areas of the house. Internet use should be monitored by parents, not behind closed doors. Gaming is no exception.
  • When possible, join in, interact, and use gaming as a tool to bring you closer to your children. (Be careful though…it’s not just addictive for children).
  • Set limits and ground rules early. Gaming and screen time, like any other entertainment or distraction, should be thought of as a privilege. If school assignments aren’t getting done, responsibilities at home are being overlooked, etc., you still have to supply food and water, but not video game time.


If you’ve already lost your children to the nite…

  • You will be much more effective at altering your child’s habits by adding activity as opposed to subtracting. Instead of saying “no more” of the games, have the alternatives planned. “Today we’re going to ride our bicycles to the ice cream place you like”.
  • Understand the timing and social aspects of the games. In Fortnite the games are fairly short, and kids are often playing with a group of other players, depending on each other. Saying, “stop playing the game NOW” may be met with lots of pushback and fighting. Saying, “this has to be the last game for today” may get you to a mutual agreement more easily.
  • While Fortnite is a free game, there are lots of purchases that can be made (character costumes. weapons, or the Battle Pass – ask your kids). If these are items your children are interested in, what better way to reward them for getting chores done, getting homework done without a fight, or just being the kind citizens you’re trying to raise.
  • If you think your child has a serious issue, with academics, athletics, and social interactions being negatively affected, now is the time to do something about it. Contact your doctor, school counselors, or any of a number of centers to get more information.


Video gaming will not be a passing fad.  Companies are making more money, and technology keeps advancing.  Alas, parenting isn’t going anywhere either.  The more you can involve yourself in your children’s activities, set firm limits, and keep communicating, the more likely you’ll be able to keep a healthy amount of video gaming in your home. You may even wind up with a somewhat tolerable teenager! Good luck out there.

Whose Homework Is It Anyway?- Reducing the after school frustrations and fights.

Whose Homework Is It Anyway?

We’ve all seen the Staples commercial; Dad dancing down the aisle, getting school supplies, relishing the approaching day when his kids will be sent back to their schools.  No longer his responsibility, no more refereeing, no more attitudes. Peace at last.

Now, back to the cold reality.  Yes, your children are begrudgingly pushed onto buses and out of carpool doors, but, in the blink of an eye, they’re back, and they have homework. It seems like homework is becoming a larger and larger portion of children’s education, and completing it has brought many families whole new challenges, frustrations, battles, and questions of self-worth, for student and parent alike.

At the bottom of this blog there is a link to a comprehensive article published by the National Association of School Psychologists.  But just in case you’ve only got a few minutes before it’s time for you to decipher the new method of division (“MOM, YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG!!!”), here are the bullet points.

  • Important Points to set as law starting the year:
    • Homework is considered important in your home – getting it completed and handed in on time is his/her responsibility, and he/she will be held accountable.
    • You will be there for support, within reason. Your presence during homework can be comforting for a child feeling overwhelmed.  Be there to answer questions, and aid with refocusing and self-confidence.
    • You will not be there to do the homework. This interferes with your child’s education, and promotes the feeling that he/she can not succeed on their own.
  • Ways you can support your child with homework:
    • Establish clear homework routines: timing, a place in the house,
    • Check in daily. Not to micromanage, but to find out what things are due and when.  This can help your child organize things, and even remind them of things they’ve forgotten.
    • It takes a village! Split the support with your spouse (pick your best subjects), or utilize other family members, local high school students, etc.
    • Incentives help. Giving your child something to look forward to at the end of a homework session or project could be the stimulus they need.
    • Keep communications lines open with teachers. Find out if homework is being handed it, if assignments are coming home correctly, or if there are things you or the teacher can be doing to make your children more successful.

It is important to instill as many of these tips as possible early in the year.  When kids fall behind with school, a level of pressure can get added that makes even simple challenges seem insurmountable.  Make sure your family is getting the support it needs, both children and parents!


Again, you can click for the full article from the NASP entitled Homework: A Guide for Parents


You’ve got this!!

But if you need some support, you know where to find us!


When Cute Feet Go Bad…Tackling Foot Odor

When Cute Feet Go Bad…Tackling Foot Odor

It’s Summertime.  The sun is shining, ice cream and watermelon abound, and…Oh my!!! What is that smell? You look to the back of the minivan in horror, wondering what sort of animal has met its demise.  Could it be?  Could that rancid odor be coming from the feet of my pig-tailed beauty?  How is that possible?!

That scenario, shocking as it seems, is actually quite common.  Yes, children’s foot odor is one of the better kept secrets of parenthood.  Children’s feet tend to sweat much more than those of adults, making it a good environment for bacteria to grow. The bacterial culprit is kyetococcus sedentarius (be sure to remember to answer in the form of a question if asked on Jeopardy).  These bacteria live on the oils and dead skin cells of feet and produce sulfur-like byproducts, hence the powerful odors.

The good news is there are things you can do to help.

Handy (footy) Tips:

  • Washing – Now, this isn’t to say that your child’s feet smell because they are dirty, but showering daily and having your feet be in soapy water may not be enough to remove the skin cells and bacteria causing the problem. Specialized soaks and exfoliating foot scrubs will do a better job of removing bacteria (there is no evidence showing that anti-bacterial soaps are effective).
  • Avoid using lotions on feet that can clog pores and increase sweating. Try to use powders for any conditions needing treatment.
  • Try to avoid plastic and rubber footwear that could cause feet to perspire more. More breathable fabrics are preferred (leather, canvas, modern mesh). Cotton or moisture wicking socks are helpful too.
  • It can be helpful to have a few pairs of footwear, allowing you to switch daily, and give sneaker a chance to dry and air out.
  • Sock changes after exercise or whenever wet.
  • Finally, some footwear has removable shoe inserts that can be washed separately.
  • If all else fails, send them to grandma and grandpa’s for the summer!!

Foot odor in your children can be frustrating and even embarrassing, but don’t be discouraged. With some preventative measures, and detailed cleanings, your children’s feet will be the envy of the carpool!


Old Tappan Pediatrics Receives National Recognition as a Medical Home

Old Tappan Pediatrics Receives National Recognition as a Medical Home

Old Tappan Pediatrics has been awarded recognition by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA).  The NCQA is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to improving health care quality. The Recognition Programs were developed to help clinicians and practices support the delivery of high-quality care. The Recognition Programs are built on evidence-based, nationally recognized clinical standards of care.  Simply put, these are evidence based guidelines to show that we dedicate ourselves to the complete care of our patients, during a time when more and more fast-food health care centers are opening, trying to treat patients in 3 minutes or less.

We continue to improve ourselves to serve our patients better, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  And now we’ve got the national recognition to prove it!  If you have any questions about our certification, please feel free to ask.

Camp and Sports Physicals

It’s that time of year again.  Our phones start ringing, the voices of frantic family members on the other end.  “My son just let me know that if he doesn’t get a check-up in the next 6 1/2 hours, he can’t play baseball, his future will be ruined, he’ll be destined to work on a corner in New York City, squeegee in hand”.  That’s a lot of pressure for a few well intentioned Pediatricians.

Physical season comes every year, like taxes and Taylor Swift romantic interests (sorry TSwift, but it’s true).  We do our best to accommodate as many appointments as possible, but we need your help to get everyone taken care of.  Often the requests come in bunches, and some patients are left going to school sports physical “car wash” events, where a group of health care people check various parts of your children for a few seconds, and claim them “fit for sports”.  These events relieve the schools of some liability, but do not do your child justice.  Yes, “breathe in, breathe out, turn your head and cough…done”, is very convenient, but we like to think that an annual physical should encompass a great deal more than that.

So pick up your date book, look ahead to the next few weeks, and make an appointment as far in advance as possible.  Set up a well visit for your child. Help us help you.

Enjoy your summer!