During regular office visits, pediatricians are urged to find out how parents and young children are doing and to offer support where needed. (iStock)

Doctors advised to help parents of very young children

Crying, sleep and difficult behaviours may be very challenging for the parents of young children and the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) is calling on doctors to help. It has issued a statement urging doctors to ask parents open-ended questions to find out how they’re doing.

In Canada, most babies begin seeing a pediatrician a few months old after birth and regularly after that to get scheduled vaccinations. Health care is funded by the government and is free.

The CPS says these visits are A good time ensure children aged zero to six are forging the strong connection with at least one parent which is crucial to their healthy development. It has issued a statement detailing how doctors can proceed.

Parents may need advice on how to manage their children’s challenging behaviours. (iStock)

‘We know how important it is’

“We now know quite clearly just how important it is for young children to grow up in households that are nurturing, loving, stimulating and positive,” says Dr. Mike Dickinson, past president of the CPS. “On the flip side of that, we also know how detrimental it can be for children who grow up in households that have stress or neglect or negativity.

“Given this information we want to make sure that Canadian doctors are up to date and have access to that information. And we’re trying to empower Canadian physicians to bring this up as a topic of discussion whenever they see young families in their office.”

Open-ended questions may reveal much

For example, doctors may ask if families have faced any stressful situations since their last visit. Such a general question allows parents to bring up any problems they may face. Dickinson says often parents need reassurance that what they are going through is normal. But doctors can also offer advice and support and, where a problem is more profound, can refer them to other services that can provide help.

The CPS statement offers detailed advice to doctors on how they can conduct meetings with families and how to handle issues such as problems related to sleep, crying or challenging behaviours.

The document is available to pediatricians and to the public too, in hopes that parents too will embrace the importance of having a nurturing and loving relationship with their children.

The CPS is a professional association which represents more than 3,300 paediatricians, paediatric subspecialists, paediatric residents, and others who work with children and youth.

(photo: Jordan Pinder)

Dr. Mike Dickinson says pediatricians can find out much during regular office visits and can help parents facing challenges raising their young children. 

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