Q: My friend hides her son away for months during cold and flu season. She either cancels get-togethers at the last minute, or shows up without her child. Both of our kids are strong, healthy three-year-olds but I am starting to see a social change in her son and worry about what will happen when he starts school. Any advice?
A: Exposure to germs leads to immunity — remember, most seniors were protected from H1N1. Assuming your friend’s son has no severe health issues, exposure to community cold viruses will help him build some immunity by the time he reaches school age. Your friend’s concern may stem from her own health anxieties, or anxiety in general; if that is the case, perhaps you can help her to recognize her behaviour as a problem and learn how to deal with her fears. Parents’ anxiety can certainly be transmitted to their children and may even affect a child’s emotional development. The good news is that many parents are motivated to change when they know it will help their kids.