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Talking With Your Pediatrician

How to Talk to Your Pediatrician

When I was pregnant for the first time, I began my search for the perfect pediatrician. I made appointments to “interview” the perspective doctors and take a look at their practice. It seemed like the right thing to do, but many doctors were not accustomed to this type of “meet and greet”. I do think however, that they all appreciated my interest. Building a relationship with your doctor takes time and a willingness to fully participate. Over the years I got to know Dr. B and he became very well acquainted with my family. I asked many questions and discussed best practice when there was a choice. We didn’t always agree, but our discussions and disagreements were respectful. That respect helps you when tough decisions are to be made.

I continued to ask questions and often came prepared with information for my doctor to help with assessing the issues. It is important that if you disagree with your doctor’s advice, you should ask for a second opinion. You need to feel comfortable with the path you take. Below are a few tips on how to talk with the doctor. I combined my ideas with the CDC’ s recommendations. Remember you are the expert on your child. It is up to you to give the doctor the information he needs to understand your whole child. You are a team when it comes to your child’s medical and developmental health.

  1. Prepare for your visit to the doctor: If you have specific concerns, write them down so you don’t forget in the moment. Bring in that paper to help you relate your concerns to the doctor. If you are concerned about development, give specific instances or examples to help your doctor understand more fully your concerns. For further information request that your doctor perform a screening to assess where your child is developmentally.

  2. Ask all your questions at the visit: If your doctor seems to be in a hurry or you are unable to get your questions answered, ask if you can have follow up appointment or phone call. Take notes as to what the doctor has said to help you explain to a family member or when you need to follow up.

  3. Make sure you have processed what the doctor has said and understand what to do next. ( Restate what you have heard)

Your doctor may tell you to wait until the next visit or call a local community resource, or he may give you specific directions.

Be sure to follow up on activities and instructions when you are home, and then tell your doctor how it went.

There are many important decisions we as parents make as we navigate our children through childhood. Listening to our family and friends is not always helpful. Trusting our doctor to know the facts and give us sound medical advice is essential.

For more information on possible developmental concerns/milestones and what to do next: www.cdc.govbe/actearly

Should I Spank?

Is It Ever Alright to Spank?

Over the years in my work with children and families I have heard many parents say,“ I spank my child when they misbehave; it works,” and then add defensively, “I was spanked when I was a child and I am well adjusted.”

Spanking was a “hot topic” when I was a new mother 30 years ago and it is still one today. When a child is out of control we feel limited in our ability to control the situation. Spanking does often stop the behavior for a short time, which calms the immediate situation. While it stops the behavior it does not teach what we do want to see the next time.

Sal Severe, Ph.D, and author of the book How to Behave So Your Children Will Too! writes, “A spanking can result in good behavior, just as a candy bar can buy peace and quiet in the supermarket. Using candy to quiet a tantrum is a temporary solution- you will be feeding your child a lot of candy to keep him quiet in the further. In the same way spanking is a temporary solution.”

As a parent, we all want to teach our children how to behave as a future member of society. When we spank we are teaching our child that hitting is the way to solve a problem. We are also teaching them that when I am older or bigger I can hit too, and finally we are teaching them that although we say hitting is wrong…our actions show it is alright. This behavior is confusing to the developing child who wants to emulate his parent.

If we understand that discipline means to teach and we acknowledge that we want to teach our children what to do rather than what not to do, then spanking is not an effective method of discipline.

When your child is out of control, remember that it may be a normal part of the development of self… growing independence. It may also indicate a child who is over stimulated or dis-regulated. Knowing ahead of time what triggers your child will help you in your response. Children with disability often have trouble with regulation throughout the day. Setting up boundaries, routines and limits ahead of time will help you to think through the issue before acting, and will help your child anticipate what to expect. Prevention is key to positive behavior. As they grow, consequences for poor choices are necessary, but if the consequence correlates with the offense i.e. loosing the toy when you throw it, then behavior can be changed.

“A child who is spanked is likely to remember your physical force far longer than what he did wrong. Therefore hitting a child imparts no lasting lesson about the right way to behave.” Parenting, A Guide to Positive Discipline, by Paula Spencer.

If you are interested in learning more about positive discipline and strategies that work, sign up for our next Positive Parenting Class which will be offered again in February. You can call your counselor for more details.

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