Talking to Children about Tragedy

Tips for speaking to your children about tragedies such as shootings, mass disasters, natural disasters.

US National Archives kids

Photo courtesy of National Archives

Unfortunately there have been shootings and other tragedies in many communities, large and small, in America. Children and teenagers are affected by disasters and tragedies just as are adults.

The most important thing that a parent can do is ask the child or teen his or her understanding of the tragic event, so that the child feels comfortable expressing emotion. Silence suggests to the teen that the subject is too awful to even discuss, even though of course, the teen is thinking and worrying about the event. Start by gently correcting any misconceptions. You don’t have to describe the event in detail, but allowing the child or teen to discuss her feelings is important.

Parents think toddlers don’t understand what they see on television, but toddlers recognize the emotions their parents are feeling. Preschool children may regress in their behavior and become more clingy. They may start sucking their thumbs, or wetting the bed. Other toddlers may act out. Strong emotions bring out strong behavior. When toddlers, preschool, and school age children see the disaster or tragic event on television, they think the event is occurring again and again. Keeping the television off to prevent retraumatization is helpful. Recording television programs and reviewing the broadcasts before the children see it can be helpful. Watching the television with your child so he can ask questions is also helpful.

School age children may also either act out or regress in their behavior. Sleeping in parents bed or skipping chores for a day or two is okay! It allows the child to feel more secure and safe. Security is a huge concern for children. Make sure they know that measures have been taken by law enforcement or the community, or that your family has a safety plan.

With teens, they may feel that life is meaningless and may take more risks than normal. Watch for this type of behavior because risky behavior can affect the adolescent in a significant way. Discussing positive actions carried out by heroes or bystanders can also be helpful. The teen may want to be closer to their parent for a period of time, to feel safe, and that is fine. Trouble sleeping and a decline in grades (transiently) can also occur. Some teenagers may try to avoid the people and situations that occurred at the time of the tragedy because these triggers cause

If your child or teen continues to have negative feelings and depression after 2 weeks, professional consultation with a physician, psychologist, or counselor will be helpful.

Last updated by Dr. Vee on October 22, 2015.

Antibiotic Overuse and the Development of Resistant Bacteria

WJXT Channel 4 Jacksonville CDC reports resistant bacteria pose serious threat to people.

The Centers for Disease Control has a new classification of the threat levels of different types of resistant infections. The most serious bacterial infections, which are very hard to treat, are carbapenem resistant enterobactereciae, Clostridium difficile and resistant strains of gonorrhea. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that more than 2 million Americans develop antibiotic-resistant infections each year and 23,000 die of the infections.

Bad Bacteria CartoonDoctors and patients can reduce the development of resistant strains of bacteria by limiting antibiotic use to illnesses that truly warrant treatment. Examples of infections that generally do not require antibiotics include upper respiratory infections. Patients should complete the entire course of antibiotics when prescribed. Stopping early or taking someone else’s antibiotic can increase the chance of developing resistant bacteria.

When you take an antibiotic, a certain number of bacteria develop resistance. These can overgrow and spread the resistance to other bacteria. When antibiotics are used, they kill bacteria throughout the body. When the beneficial bacteria in the gut are killed, serious bacterial infections, such as Clostridium difficile, can occur. Fluorescent green probioticsTalk to your doctor to see if an antibiotic is truly needed for your condition.

Resistant bacteria are in our meat supply, especially when animals are given antibiotics. Handwashing is the single most important measure to prevent ingesting these resistant bacteria. It is vital that you wash your hands before and after preparing raw meat, and don’t allow raw meat to come in contact with other foods. Washing hands after using the bathroom also helps prevent the spread of resistant bacteria.

Commonly missed areas of the hands with handwashing

Commonly missed areas of the hands with handwashing

Mayo Clinic Florida has patient safety and quality initiatives to prevent the spread of resistant bacteria and to decrease the number of hospital acquired infections.

Last updated by Dr. Vee on September 24, 2014

“Social at Mayo Clinic” YouTube Video Educates Mayo Clinic Employees about Social Media Best Practices

Entrance to Mayo Clinic Florida

Mayo Clinic Three Shields: Patient Care, Research and Education

Mayo Clinic FloridaBirdsall Medical Research Building

Using footage videotaped on his iPhone, Mayo Clinic Florida’s social media expert Jason Pratt developed a video viewed by all new Mayo Clinic employees about Mayo Clinic’s social media policy.

Video also highlights activities of Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media, including their social media residencies (Jacksonville and Scottsdale) and social media summit (Rochester).

Mayo Clinic Florida

Fountain on Mayo Clinic Florida campus across from Davis Building

Social at Mayo Clinic 

Here’s the description of the video on YouTube:

Mayo Clinic Florida

Davis Building

“Mayo Clinic encourages professional and allied health staff to use social media tools appropriately and productively. This video, originally produced for Mayo’s new employee orientation program, provides guidance on behavioral expectations as well as links and information from the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media on additional

Mayo Clinic Florida

Mayo Building and Hospital

training resources available through its Social Media Health Network.”

Last updated on May 17, 2013 by Dr. Vee


Dr. Vandana Bhide

English: Mayo Clinic Rochester Minnesota - Gon...

The Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

The Mayo Clinic in Rochester. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Healthcare Social Media and Physician eProfessionalism Mayo Clinic Florida Grand Rounds

Slideshare Healthcare Social Media and Physician eProfessionalism Mayo Clinic Florida Grand Rounds Presentation

The Internet is like Vegas. What happens there stays there...forever. You can take it down but you can't take it back!

The Internet is like Vegas. What happens there stays there…forever. You can take it down but you can’t take it back!

Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media Residency Helps Me with Patient and Physician Engagment in Social Media

I am attending the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media residency in Jacksonville, Florida. Like most physicians, I am passionate about engaging patients in a collaborative dialogue about health and wellness. I work in the Division of Hospital Internal Medicine at Mayo Clinic Florida. My goal is to help patients stay healthy enough to stay OUT of the hospital.

Mayo Clinic Social Media Revolution
Mayo Clinic Social Media Revolution

There is a dizzying array of health information on the web. It is overwhelming for both patients and physicians. How accurate is all that information? How should patients and physicians find accurate and user-friencly information relevant to their medical conditions? Which patient support group sites are valuable? How many have accurate health information?

I blog about health issues important to adult and children’s health. Unfortunately, I am “technology deficienct” so my goal for doing the social media residency is to learn in greater depth the “tools for social engagement.”

What I learned during the social media residency was best practices in using various social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube and wordpress blogs. Social media has limitless potential to advance patient and physician knowledge alike, and help them work collaboratively on medical care.

And I want to be part of the #Revolution!

–Vandana Y. Bhide, MD

View of Mayo Clinic Florida
Mayo Clinic Florida
Last updated on November 30, 2012 by Dr. Vee

Diane Morgan Recipe for Curried Pumpkin Hummus

MedHelp Healthy Curried Pumpkin Hummus Healthy Holiday recipe Vandana Bhide

Here is a healthy, low calorie holiday recipe developed by Diane Morgan. Pumpkin is a superfood, packed with vitamin A antioxidants and fiber. Chick peas are also a good source of protein and fiber. Remember to chop the garlic and let it sit for 5 minutes before adding to the dish to maximize its antioxidant properties. Garlic was once called the Russian penicillin due to its antimicrobial properties.

Curry powder contains turmeric, a powerful antioxidant (better yet make your own curry powder). Ginger aids digestion.

Serving size: 2 tbsp, Servings per recipe: 2 3/4 cups


  • 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 can (15 oz/430 g) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (15 oz/430 g) unsweetened pumpkin purée
  • 1 1/2 tsp finely minced fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt (I would eliminate this from recipe)
  • Optional garnish: toasted pumpkin seeds


1. In a small nonstick frying pan over medium heat, warm the oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the garlic and sauté just until beginning to soften, about 30 seconds. Add the curry powder and sauté, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute longer. Stir in the honey, remove from the heat, and set aside.

2. In the workbowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, process the chickpeas until finely mashed. Add the pumpkin purée, ginger, salt, and the garlic mixture. Process until the hummus is smooth and puréed. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Transfer to a serving bowl. Cover and set aside for 1 hour to allow the flavors to meld. Garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds, if desired.

Dip Do-Ahead: This dip can be prepared up to 2 days in advance. Cover and refrigerate. Remove from the refrigerator 45 minutes before serving.

PER SERVING: 36 calories; 1.0g total fat (sat 0.1g, mono 0.5g, poly 0.2g); 1g protein; 6g carbohydrates; 2g fiber; 0mg cholesterol ; 0.7mg iron; 126mg sodium; 13mg calcium

CREDIT: Diane Morgan, Skinny Dips: 60 Recipes for Dips, Spreads, Chips, and Salsas on the Lighter Side of Delicious, Chronicle Books (2010).

Last updated on November 27, 2012 by Dr. Vee