December 20, 2012

Christmas carols

Over the centuries Christmas has inspired countless songs. Which of the many pieces of vocal music written for Christmas qualify as true Christmas carols? Most writers assume Christmas carols to be those songs about Christmas whose tune and lyrics are widely known and whose popularity is maintained primarily through folk traditions rather than commercial promotions. By this definition, the fine Christmas works written by classical composers are not true Christmas carols, since they are musically quite complex and known to relatively small numbers of people. The fact that people sing carols for enjoyment and entertainment also figures in their definition.

This criterion might exclude a number of lesser-known church hymns, since people usually sing them only during church services. In addition, most carols take as their subject matter the legends, customs, or religious celebration of Christmas. Therefore, some people would not include popular songs such as “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” or even the hit song “White Christmas” in a collection of carols, since these songs achieved popularity through commercial mechanisms and do not address traditional Christmas themes or religious celebration. Others might quarrel with these criteria, arguing that the subject matter of these songs and the manner in which they achieved popularity simply reflect the commercial interests and cultural outlook of the twentieth century.

Why are these traditional Christmas songs called “carols,” anyway? Some scholars trace the English word “carol” all the way back to the ancient Greek word coros. In ancient Greek drama the coros, or “chorus,” appeared from time to time during the play singing commentaries on the plot and often dancing as well. By the late Middle Ages, the word “carol” had come to mean singing and dancing in a circle, as children do when singing “Ring Around the Rosy.” In the Middle Ages people caroled on many different occasions. By the sixteenth century, however, this musical genre had acquired a special association with the Christmas season, while its earlier association with dance was fading away. Already a large number of Christmas carols circulated throughout Europe. A number of these, such as the English “I Saw Three Ships” and the German “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming,” are still sung today.

Christmas Bonus

As Christmas approaches, many American workers look forward to receiving a Christmas bonus, usually a lump sum of money added to their December paycheck. This Christmas gift from employer to employee may have been inspired by English Boxing Day customs.

Although the Christmas bonus began as a voluntary gift, it evolved into an expected increase in one’s December salary. By the late nineteenth century many American employers had adopted the custom of distributing Christmas bonuses among their workers. These personalized exchanges often takes place at office Christmas parties, another new, late nineteenth-century custom. The boss himself usually presented each worker with their presents or money.

Often the employer tied the gift to the employee’s performance during the year. Christmas bonuses became increasingly common throughout the last decades of the nineteenth century, but between 1900 and 1920, these kinds of personalized exchanges all but disappeared. Labor unions, which grew in numbers and in influence during this period, began to bring the issue of the Christmas bonus to the bargaining table. Unionists argued that workers depended on these bonuses and needed to know in advance approximately how much they would receive. They objected to the nineteenth-century practice whereby the bonuses were distributed according to the whims of managers and bosses. As the twentieth century rolled on, their arguments prevailed. Christmas bonuses were increasingly calculated according to agreed-upon formulas. These formulas often took into account such things as salary level and years of service.

In recent years the number of companies giving Christmas bonuses has declined. Some firms have switched to year-round incentive programs that reward effective employees. Others provide employees with a lavish Christmas party or a day off in lieu of a bonus. According to the Bureau of National Affairs in Washington, D.C., about nine percent of companies with 1,000 or more workers distributed Christmas bonuses in 1999. Workers in small companies were luckier, with about 25 percent of their employers offering modest cash bonuses at Christmas time.

Brazil's visits and Christmas dinner

Christmas dinner provides a very special occasion for families and friends to visit. Brazilians eat Christmas dinner late in the evening on Christmas Eve. The meal often features roast turkey with farofa stuffing, which is made out of toasted manioc flour, onions, garlic, turkey livers and gizzards, olives, hard-boiled eggs, and bacon.

Other popular Christmas dishes include dried cod, an assortment of fruit, and a dessert called rabanada, which resembles French toast. Champagne, wine, and fruit punch often accompany the meal. Most families dine around 10 or 11 p.m. Afterwards, many attend the Missa do Galo, or Midnight Mass. These services may be held in Roman Catholic churches or on outdoor stages set up for the occasion. In recent years some people have begun to stay home to watch the television broadcast of the pope’s celebration of Midnight Mass in Rome.

Amish Christmas Customs

Most Amish schools prepare Christmas pageants. Since Amish children attend school right up till Christmas Day, the pageant is generally set for the afternoon of December 24. Parents and other relatives attend and watch with pride as their young people recite poems and take part in skits—many of which contain moral teachings about Christmas charity, faith, and love—and sing Christmas carols.

Earlier that day the children may have taken part in a gift exchange in which each child, having drawn a slip of paper with another child’s name on it, brings a present for that boy or girl. For most Amish, Christmas morning begins with farm chores. Afterwards the family gathers for breakfast and Christmas gifts in the kitchen. In nineteenth-century Amish families, parents set out plates on the kitchen table and piled their children’s presents on top. They usually gave their children things like nuts, raisins, cookies, candy, and rag dolls and other homemade toys. Other Pennsylvania Dutch families also set out Christmas plates in past times. The custom of setting out Christmas presents on the kitchen table seems to have died out among other groups, however. Today Amish families exchange a few useful gifts on Christmas morning. Typical gifts include simple toys such as skates and sleds, books, homemade candies and cookies, kitchenware, and household items. A large Christmas dinner completes the day’s activities.

On December 26 the Amish celebrate “second Christmas.” This custom, once common in Pennsylvania Dutch country, came into being so that those who devoted much of December 25 to religious observance did not miss out on all the Christmas fun. It’s a popular day for family outings, visits, games, and other leisure activities.

December 19, 2012

The Dawn of Christmas in Europe

Christianity gradually made its way across Europe, bringing Christmas with it. The holiday came to England, for example, via St. Christianity gradually made its way across Europe, bringing Christmas with it. The holiday came to England, for example, via St. Augustine, the first Archbishop of Canterbury, who reportedly baptized more than 10,000 English people on December 25, 598. Acting under the direction of Pope Gregory I, Augustine was also instrumental in bringing the celebration of Christmas to the area.

At the end of the sixth century, the pope instructed Augustine to make over the midwinter Yule festival into Christmas observances, emphasizing the importance of condoning any customs from the festival that could be found to contain Christian significance. It was a well-tested strategy, and it worked.

In ninth-century England, Alfred the Great declared that the twelve days between Christmas and Epiphany should be reserved for seasonal festivities, thus formalizing observation of the twelve days of Christmas in England. Alfred was serious about celebrating: As part of his declaration, he made working during this period illegal. He followed his own rules, even at great cost. In 878, he refused to go to war during the twelve days of Christmas. His failure to do so is said to have caused  England to lose the Battle of Chippenham to the Danes.

Christmas arrived in Germany in 813, via the Synod of Mainz, and was brought to Norway in the mid-900s by King Hakon the Good. By the end of the ninth century, Christmas was observed all over Europe with trees, lights, gifts, and feasts. The items that had held significance for the old religions were either tossed aside or altered to fit within a Christian context. Over the centuries, the holiday was increasingly reformed to contain fewer of the old pagan elements.

There are some who believe that King Arthur celebrated the First English Christmas in 521 with his Knights of the Round Table, without the input of either Augustine or Gregory. Given the legends surrounding King Arthur, however, this remains the territory of myth, rather than fact.

Who Is Santa Claus?

Although his roots reach back into antiquity, the man we know as Santa Claus has been refined and popularized largely through the media of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In fact, two written accounts—Clement C. Moore’s 1822 poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas” and the New York Sun’s famous response to young Virginia O’Hanlon’s 1897 query about him - probably did the most to establish Santa as a figure in the popular imagination.

But, even though his most memorable features are relatively recent, Santa Claus evolved from many sources over many years—most notably from the life and deeds associated with St. Nicholas, an early Christian bishop in the land of Asia Minor, in what is now western Turkey.

These days, the Vatican has its doubts about St. Nicholas. A special report penned in 1969 by senior Church officials concluded that many of the recorded deeds of some of the early saints—including the forerunner of Santa—may well be those of legendary heroes rather than historical personages.

The records of Nicholas’s life certainly appear to be a mixture of fact and fantastic myth, but there is no denying the impact that this revered figure had on the development of the Santa Claus tradition. As a saint, he remains immensely popular in Europe, where there are more churches named for him than for any apostle.

Ten Ways for Christmas

Top Ten Ways to Make Christmas Meaningful for Your Family

1. Find a favorite Christmas story and make it a tradition to read it aloud on Christmas Eve.

2. Share your good fortune with others at Christmas by volunteering as a family for a charity or non-profit organization that’s close to your hearts.

3. Decorate your home each year with a special item that you’ve chosen or made as a family.

4. Choose your favorite holiday baking recipes and share an afternoon with friends and family baking up a storm.

5. Create a calendar with a different family photo each month to send to family and friends who can’t be with you during the year.

6. Plan an annual family activity for the Christmas season: It could be picking out the tree, tobogganing down a nearby hill, even heading to the local zoo—anything that captures the whole family’s interest.

7. Light the candles of an Advent wreath in succession every Sunday during December, talking about their symbolic meanings, such as love, hope, peace, and joy.

8. Buy or make a special tree ornament each year for the children in your family, and present them with the whole set when they have their own tree for the first time.

9. Turn letters to Santa into an event, with hot chocolate, cookies, and plenty of colorful pens and stickers to help with the letter writing.

10. Make writing thank-you letters for gifts a much-loved tradition, too, with yummy treats and a fun reward when the letters are finished.

Befana (La Strega, La Vecchia)

On Epiphany Eve children in Italy go to bed expecting La Befana to visit the house during the night. She leaves gifts for children who have been good during the past year and warns those who have misbehaved. The name “Befana” comes from the Italian word for Epiphany, Epiphania. La Befana may also be referred to as La Strega, meaning “the witch,” or La Vecchia, meaning “the old woman.”

Although not much is known about the history of this figure from Italian legend, some authorities believe that La Befana may be related to Berchta, another witch-like figure who visits homes in central and northern Europe during the Twelve Days of Christmas and, especially, on Twelfth Night. La Befana also appears to be related to Baboushka, a Russian folk figure about whom a nearly identical tale is told.

Advent Candle

A number of different Advent customs require the lighting of candles. Some writers believe that the use of candles during Advent may have been adopted from the fires and lights that illuminated pre-Christian midwinter festivals. Before the widespread use of electric lighting, the twinkling candles not only served to dispel the gloom of the long winter nights, but also represented the hope of light and life to come. In Christian terms, the flame of the Advent candle represents the coming of Jesus, “the light of the world” (John 8:12).

Placing a lighted candle in the windowsill is perhaps the simplest Advent candle custom. In Europe during centuries past, a flickering candle in the window symbolized the offer of hospitality to nighttime wayfarers. Some believed the glowing light might even attract the Christ child. The Irish brought with them the tradition of placing a lighted candle in the windowsill at Christmas time when they emigrated to the United States. In the late nineteenth century groups of carolers popularized the custom in Boston. From there the practice spread to other American cities. The citizens of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, keep candles in their windows at Christmas time, though they trace their tradition back to the town’s Moravian founders. Christmas time candles also twinkle in the windows of historic Williamsburg, Virginia. The custom there developed as a means of decorating historic district homes in a manner consistent with the town’s colonial architecture and d├ęcor.

In the American Southwest people decorate the exteriors of their homes with luminarias, candles placed in brown paper bags filled with sand. This custom originated in Mexico. Many churches hold special candle-lighting services sometime during Advent. Often, each person attending is given a candle. The lighting of these candles then becomes part of the service.

Advent wreaths may be found in both home and church Advent observances. These wreaths contain four candles, one for each of the four Sundays of Advent. One is lit on the first Sunday of Advent. One more candle is lit on each of the following Sundays until on the fourth Sunday of Advent all four candles burn in unison. These four Advent candles may also be used without a wreath. 


Advent (Christmas Lent, Little Lent, St. Philip’s Fast, Winter Lent)

The word “Advent” comes from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming” or “arrival.” The Advent season serves as a period of spiritual preparation for the coming of Christmas. Advent calls Christians to reflect on both the birth of Jesus and on the Second Coming of Christ. In Western Christianity Advent begins on the Sunday closest to November 30, St. Andrew’s Day, and lasts till December 24, thereby extending over a period of 22 to 28 days. In the Orthodox Church Advent begins on November 15.

The Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran traditions view Advent as the beginning of the Church year. The liturgical color for Advent is purple, reflecting the repentant mood characteristic of early Church Advent observances. By contrast, many popular customs associated with this period joyfully anticipate the coming of Christmas.


Cognitive behavioral therapy is a school of psychotherapy that aims to help people overcome their emotional problems.

Cognitive means mental processes like thinking. The word ‘cognitive’ refers to everything that goes on in your mind including dreams, memories, images, thoughts, and attention.

Behavior refers to everything that you do. This includes what you say, how you try to solve problems, how you act, and avoidance. Behavior refers to both action and inaction, for example biting your tongue instead of speaking your mind is still a behavior even though you are trying not to do something.

Therapy is a word used to describe a systematic approach to combating a problem, illness, or irregular condition. A central concept in CBT is that you feel the way you think. Therefore, CBT works on the principle that you can live more happily and productively if you’re thinking in healthy ways. This principle is a very simple way of summing up CBT.

Child's growth and development

Growth spurts and growing pains

If your child wakes up with throbbing legs, you may wonder if you should take him to the doctor. The best thing is to reassure him and explain what’s happening – the skeleton’s being formed.

These growing pains are completely normal. The most likely causes are aches and discomfort caused by physical activity during the day. The pains are concentrated in the muscles rather than the joints. Growth spurts are linked to sexual development, so puberty brings pubic and underarm hair, fully developed sexual organs, and periods for girls.

Because your child’s limbs grow at different rates, he may sometimes feel clumsy, weak, and uncoordinated. This is because his nervous system is trying to adjust to the rapid period of growth. His ligaments and tendons get tighter and he may get pains in his knees during exercise. Therefore, teach you child the importance of stretching properly before and after exercise. Check how your child responds to touch when he’s in pain.

Children with serious medical conditions may not like to be touched, as touch intensifies the pain. But a child with growing pains feels better when he’s massaged, touched, and held.

The following may help your child with growing pains:

·         Offer him lots of cuddles and reassurance
·         Massage the painful area
·         Manually stretch your child’s legs
·         Put a heated pad on the painful area
·     Paracetamol or ibuprofen in the appropriate dose for his age may help
·         Explain what’s happening to him and why it hurts sometimes

December 18, 2012

Food allergy

Foods can make you feel sick for a variety of reasons, most of which have nothing to do with food allergies. This leaves the door open to ‘’quackologists’’ selling all sorts of ineffective cures and treatments for a host of ailments that they falsely attribute to food allergies. To avoid getting sucked in by misinformation, be aware that the following ailments are rarely, if ever, related to food allergies:

·    Food intolerances: The inability to digest a particular food, such as milk or wheat, is typically related to a missing enzyme in the digestive system that prevents a person from fully digesting the food.

·    Food poisoning: Some foods may have toxins or bacteria that make you sick. Just because a food makes you sick one time does not mean you’re allergic to it, although you should have your doctor check it out.

·     Histamine poisoning: When you have an allergic reaction, your body releases histamine into your system, which causes most of the symptoms you experience. Some foods, including strawberries, chocolate, wine, and beer, may contain enough histamine to produce similar reactions, but these are not bona fide allergic reactions.

·  Reactions to food additives: MSG (monosodium glutamate) and sulphites often cause reactions, but in these cases, the body has a chemical reaction, not an allergic reaction, to the additive, not to the food itself.

·    Other common ailments: Food allergy is blamed for everything from migraine headaches to irritable bowel syndrome, but most of these ailments are caused by something other than a food allergy. Don’t waste your time chasing the food allergy ghost. Work with your doctor to identify the real cause and obtain more effective treatments.


Cognitive behavioral therapy – more commonly referred to as CBT – focuses on the way people think and act in order to help them overcome their emotional and behavioral problems.

Many of the effective CBT practices should seem like everyday good sense.  CBT does have some very straightforward and clear principles and is a largely sensible and practical approach to helping people overcome problems. However, human beings don’t always act according to sensible principles, and most people find that simple solutions can be very difficult to put into practice sometimes. CBT can maximize on your common sense and help you to do the healthy things that you may sometimes do naturally and unthinkingly in a deliberate and self-enhancing way on a regular basis.

December 17, 2012


Fibromyalgia isn’t a one-size-fits-all kind of medical problem, but I can make some descriptive generalizations about it regarding symptoms, causes, and pain.

Sizing up the symptoms

Many people with fibromyalgia report that the following statements are true about their fibromyalgia symptoms. In fact, most people with fibromyalgia say that they have at least several, if not all, of these symptoms:

·         Flu-like pain that can be severe
·         A constant feeling of extreme fatigue
·         Several tender body areas that hurt
·         Overall body aches
·         Depression and/or anger
·         Feeling very anxious
·         Muscle stiffness and pain
·         Chronic back pain
·         Insomnia
·         Worsening of pain after physical activity
·         Mental malaise and confusion, often referred to as fibro fog

Many people with FMS (fibromyalgia syndrome) have other pain-based medical problems as well. Some examples of the array of medical conditions that people with fibromyalgia may experience, on top of the fibromyalgia that they already have (as if FMS isn’t enough), include:

·         Restless legs
·         Irritable bowel syndrome
·         Interstitial cystitis (a chronic, painful bladder condition that may feel like a constant bladder infection)
·         Tension headaches or migraine headaches
·         Benign joint hypermobility syndrome (BJHS; an often painful form of hereditary joint hyperextension)
·         Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
·         Chronic fatigue syndrome

Child’s Health

If you want your child to eat healthily, you need to serve her a wide variety of nutritious foods for energy, growth, and development. This means giving processed and junk foods a wide berth – but it doesn’t mean not being flexible. Food isn’t worth arguing over, and if your child insists on eating curly cheesy crisps, that’s fine – as long as they don’t form her staple diet. If most of the food your child eats is nutritious, you’ll be keeping her in tip-top condition.

Try doing the following to make sure that he eats well:

·         Give your child at least five helpings of fruit and vegetables a day – fresh, frozen, canned, dried, or juiced. You’re probably already aware of this important point, but there’s no harm in stressing it again. Fruit and vegetables contain the crucial nutrients needed to maintain a healthy digestive system, create new body tissue, fight infections, and a lot more. Try to offer your child at least one orange and one green fruit or vegetable every day, as they are known to be particularly beneficial and may help to prevent cancer and other serious diseases. Fruit or vegetable juice only makes up one of her daily portions of fruit and vegetables, no matter how much she drinks. That’s because other goodies in the flesh are not included in juice, and digesting whole fruit and vegetables benefits her system.

·         Make sure that your child eats breakfast. Studies show that if your child eats breakfast, she’s far less likely to become obese in later life. Skipping breakfast can cause blood-sugar problems and make your child’s metabolism sluggish, which is bad for the digestive system. Most experts say that breakfast’s the most important meal of the day: Breakfast eaters are less likely to contract diabetes or have high cholesterol, which is a known risk factor for heart disease.

·         Maintain your own healthy diet. You’re important too! Eating healthy food yourself is one of the best ways of getting your child into good habits, so make sure that you tuck in to your greens. Studies also show that children who have regular family mealtimes are more likely to have healthier diets than those who don’t. Snacking in front of the telly is a definite no-no.

·         Offer as much unprocessed food as possible, and get into the habit of reading labels on the foods you serve. Check for things such as hidden fats, sugars, additives, and salt. Foods with lots of preservatives and added flavourings are often deficient in essential nutrients and high in unhealthy (and unnecessary) chemicals. Salt’s a particular danger – it can cause health problems, including high blood pressure and heart conditions. And sugar (and sugar substitutes), additives, and colorings have been linked with everything from behavioural problems to physical ailments.

·         Get your child to drink six to eight glasses of water a day. Drinking enough fluids is vital. Water’s the best drink by far – try to keep sugary drinks and juices to a minimum, and don’t serve them at all between meals because they are lethal to tiny teeth. The British medical profession has been telling us for many years that most children aren’t drinking enough. Dehydration leads to many short-term and long-term health problems: Lack of water can cause headaches, constipation, and poor concentration, to name but a few things. A good way to tell whether your child’s dehydrated is to check the color of her urine. Her urine should be a pale straw colour: If it’s dark yellow, she may well be dehydrated. A sunken fontanelle (the soft spot on a baby’s head) can also indicate dehydration.

Spotting the Signs That Something’s Wrong

Even if you do everything right, your child’ll get ill – and probably quite frequently. This isn’t a bad thing: Your child’s body needs to come into contact with bacteria and viruses in order to build up a good resistance to the germs. In fact, some research shows that the more illnesses your child gets in the first few years of life, the healthier she’s likely to be later.

Of course, you won’t welcome every cold and tummy bug your child falls victim to. After all, caring for an ill child can be extremely worrying, especially when you can’t quite work out what’s wrong. Try to keep things in perspective:

All children get ill, and in the vast majority of cases the illnesses aren’t serious and don’t pose any threat to your child’s long-term health. However, if you’re at all concerned about your child, get her checked out by a doctor. And try to be aware of the signs of diseases such as meningitis, which need urgent medical treatment.

The person who can tell better than anyone else whether your child is ill is you. Follow your instincts: You’re likely to be able to spot when something’s not quite right. Signs that your child has a bug include the following:

·         A fever: The presence of a fever almost always means an infection. Fever itself is not dangerous – it’s the body’s normal reaction to the presence of foreign organisms – but you need to bring down your child’s temperature to avoid overheating, which can cause a febrile convulsion.

·         Irritability or lethargy: Your child’s behaviour may be influenced by a fever. The raised temperature may make her irritable, drowsy, or lethargic.

·         Coughing: This is a common sign that your child has an infection.

·         Vomiting and diarrhoea: Symptoms like these are usually associated with problems directly involving the tummy or bowel, such as gastroenteritis or food poisoning, although sometimes they occur for other reasons. Some children vomit if they have a high temperature; others vomit if they’re emotionally upset. Yes, diarrhoea really can be a cause for celebration! If your child is suffering from diarrhoea as well as vomiting, she probably has a tummy bug, which usually settles on its own with no ill effects. Vomiting without diarrhoea, especially if accompanied by fever, may have a different cause such as a urine infection. If you’re in doubt, speak to your GP or health visitor.

·         A rash: Rashes often suggests a viral infection. The presence of a rash doesn’t usually make the illness any more serious – in fact, it can help your doctor diagnose illnesses such as German measles and chickenpox. But if your child has a rash, ask your doctor to check it out to ensure that she’s not displaying a symptom of meningitis or another dangerous illness. The easiest way to test for meningitis is the ‘glass test’. Press the bottom of a glass on to your child’s rash. If the rash fades or disappears, it is almost certainly not meningitis; if the rash remains, your child may have meningococcal septicaemia (blood poisoning) – so call an ambulance immediately.

Child's Physical Development

Understanding Physical Development

From the moment he’s born, your baby starts to develop and is longing to learn. Your newborn uses all his senses – he can see, hear, feel, taste, and smell. At age 2 weeks, your baby follows movements, recognises faces, and begins to smile. He recognises the voices of you and your partner and reacts to loud noises.

Development’s rapid and continuous, but your baby will pick up some skills more quickly than others. The development of his body depends on the maturity of his muscles and nervous system: He won’t be able to walk or talk until these are functional. Your baby develops from head to toe, so he won’t be able to sit until he can control his head and he won’t be able to stand until he can sit down.

To gain complete control of his body, your child needs to master the following three types of skill:

·         Gross motor skills: These control the larger muscles needed for balance and movement – for example, to walk. Your child develops body control from the top down, starting with his head and shoulders and moving down to the arms and then the legs.

·         Fine motor skills: These control the smaller muscles, such as those in the hands and fingers. Your child learns how to use his arms, then his hands, and then his fingers. At age 3 months, your child plays with his hands and fingers. At 6 months, he grasps using his whole hand; by 9 months, he has an inferior pincer grasp (holding things with his first finger and thumb); and at 1 year, he has a primitive tripod grasp (using the thumb and first two fingers). By 15 months, your child uses his whole hand to pick things up. By age 2 years, your child is more dextrous and can hold a pencil and draw.

·         Sensory skills: These control your child’s ability to perceive the world through his senses – taste, touch, vision, smell, and hearing. Your child engages all five senses to learn as much as possible about his new environment. Encourage your child’s physical development by playing indoor games to help his fine motor skills. Outdoor play is also very important because it allows him to burn off excess energy.

Who Gets Fibromyalgia

Just about anyone of any age can develop fibromyalgia, but most research so far indicates that the majority of people with FMS (fibromyalgia syndrome) are of the female persuasion, partly because women are more sensitive to pain than men. This is a time where a little equal opportunity of pain would be preferable (if you’re a woman). But who gets fibromyalgia isn’t about fairness.

Although women are the primary sufferers of fibromyalgia, many men have been diagnosed with FMS, too, and some men with fibromyalgia go undiagnosed for years. For more information about some of the major patterns that have been identified so far among people who develop fibromyalgia, which you may share with these fellow sufferers.

What about children and adolescents? Do they have fibromyalgia? Sadly, yes. If your child or teenager has FMS, he may have a difficult time because most physicians, as well as the general public, still don’t realize that kids can experience chronic pain from FMS. Instead, they think kids are faking it when they say that they’re too sick to go to school. Maybe they are, but then again, maybe they’re not.

Child's Social Development

Developing social skills is an important part of your child’s growth. He needs to learn how to share his things, consider others, communicate well, and have a positive self-image in order to grow into a mature, emotionally balanced adult. Your child also needs to learn how to feed, wash, and dress himself and go to the toilet.

You can do lots of things to aid your child’s progress. Get him to socialise with other children, expose him to new environments on holidays and at playgroups, give him lots of love and affection, and praise and encourage him. All of these help him develop confidence, sociability, and independence.

From birth to 24 months

For the first month, your baby’s totally dependent on you. He communicates through touch, his eyes, crying, and smiling. He learns how to interact with you by watching your facial expressions.

By 3 months, your baby expresses his happiness and discomfort through different facial expressions. He enjoys touching and being held by you. At 5 months, he may be a little clingy and anxious about being separated from you or having to deal with strangers. He may play alongside other children, but not necessarily with them – this is known as parallel play.

By 6 months, your baby may be more accepting of other children. At 9 months, your baby’s familiar with his family and may still be wary of strangers. At 1 year, he’s affectionate towards you and enjoys playing with you. He may demand his own way. At 15 months, he’s keen to get out into the world and explore his environment – as long as you’re close by! He begins to use single words to communicate and points to express his meaning. He starts to develop a sense of himself as a person. He knows that he needs the toilet, but he isn’t yet able to control his bladder.

By 18 months, your child’s vocabulary has increased and he communicates more easily. He may express stronger emotions such as fear or anger. He signals that he needs to go to the toilet, and he can undress himself.

From 2 to 4 years

At 2–3 years, your child’s a lot more independent and able to feed himself with a fork and spoon, use the toilet, and wash and dress himself without your help. He may be prone to temper tantrums. He likes to pretend play – act out ideas and copy what you do – and parallel play – play alongside, but not with, other children.

At 3 years, your child is more aware of other children and more likely to interact with them – known as cooperative play – by sharing roles and activities. He may have a special friend and be less egocentric.

By age 4, your child forms longer-lasting bonds and friendships. He may have friends of the same sex. He can wash his hands and face and clean his teeth. By age 5, he can tie his shoelaces.

From 5 to 7 years

By school age, your child has more awareness of a special or ‘best’ friend and knows who he likes to play with – although this may change from day to day. He begins to be more social, as he’s now interacting with teachers, other children, and other adults. As a result, he start to develop values and becomes aware of what is and isn’t socially acceptable. He gains independence and confidence. Play time becomes more complex and competitive, with games such as hide-and-seek and school sports. Being popular with his peers is very important and has a huge impact on his self-esteem. This is an important and scary time in your child’s life, so talk to him regularly about school, his friends, and his feelings.