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Family Rituals & Traditions
From Chapter 3:
Medical Concerns, Childproofing, & Safety
10 Defining Principles
- Pick a pediatrician with whom you feel that both you and your
child can build a relationship based on mutual trust and respect. Ask for
recommendations from friends and other parents, and take the time to interview
pediatricians until you find one with whom you feel comfortable. Your
pediatrician should not make you feel intimidated about asking anything on your
mind concerning your child's well-being. Consider your pediatrician an important
partner in caring for your child.
- Participate actively in your child's health care. Even before
routine office visits, think through questions and observations ahead of time.
Make sure you fully understand your pediatrician's concerns, advice, or
prescription instructions before you walk out of the office. Ask as many
questions as you need to clarify things. You know your child best and can serve
as his most passionate advocate.
- If your baby suffers from colic, take heart that it will almost
certainly end after three months, and hunker down for the duration, recognizing
that your best efforts may not pacify his crying. Go easy on yourself, as
consistent crying wears every parent down. Trade off with your partner each
evening or every half an hour during your child's bouts of colic. Give yourself
an outlet from time to time before it becomes too much for you. If you feel
yourself losing composure when you are alone with your crying baby, simply put
him down in his crib for a few minutes and step out of the room to give yourself
a brief, guilt-free respite. While your baby's crying can make you feel
terrible, it's no reflection on your competency as a parent.
- Go to a pediatric emergency room instead of a regular emergency
room if you have a choice, as the whole staff will be geared toward kids and
will have pediatric specialists on duty. Consider your options before
rushing to an emergency room. Call your pediatrician if you are not sure whether
your child's illness or injury qualifies as an emergency. She will often be able
to provide you with better and faster service. Patients who arrive by ambulance
and patients with serious injuries take precedence over stitches, sprains, and
sometimes even broken bones, especially in large, urban hospitals, which are
notorious for long waits of several hours or more. Your pediatrician can help
you triage the situation by either seeing you on a sick call at the office or
meeting you at the emergency room.
- If you do find yourself in the ER, try to stay calm, comfort your
child, and clarify any medical information you don't understand in the chaos
that may surround you. Don't be embarrassed to ask detailed questions to
help you better understand what a doctor says, and always ask for a second
opinion from the attending physician if you question or disagree with a proposed
course of medical action for your child. If your child needs a procedure that
leaves you faint of heart, such as stitches, don't feel guilty about stepping
out for the duration to allow the medical staff to work, and returning a few
minutes later as the comforting, heroic parent.
- When your child needs hospitalization, stay calm, positive,
reassuring, and hopeful. As always, your child will take his cue from your
emotions. Let your child know what's going to happen. Be honest and forthcoming
about what he should expect -- hospitals are scary enough without lies and
surprises. If your child's behavior regresses while he's hospitalized, allow him
this comfort. Avoid losing your temper with him if he becomes overly frightened
as a result of his experience. Console him as much as he needs it, and let him
draw from your strength.
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