Pediatrician parents weigh-in with tips and tricks
Getting through those tough parenting moments with a bit of humor and insight can sometimes be an uphill climb. Here are a few pieces of sage advice from local pediatrician parents on some parenting hot topics: parenting older kids, staying out of the waiting room and potty training.
Parenting for the Ages
Parenting across the ages brings forth different challenges. Dr. Scott Moore (Green Tree Pediatrics; parent of kids ages 14, 19 and 21) noted that while parents often over-parent younger children, it becomes easy to under-parent as kids get older. But we must remain vigilant, as teen years are when decisions become more complicated, the magnitude of those decisions become much bigger and consequences are more impactful. Dr. Moore says it’s really important to “push yourself to make the reach” when they’re older, as teens need you to listen and help navigate complicated issues.
For all ages, establishing predictable routines around meals is the structure kids need to feel secure in their environment. Showing young ones that it’s okay to eat that suspicious looking broccoli has deep anthropological roots, noted Dr. Paul Turke (of Turke and Thomashow Pediatrics;grandparent of two grandkids, ages 10 months and four years). In the evolution of human behavior, humans were risk averse to eating unfamiliar things as a means of self-preservation—show kids it’s okay by taking that first bite!
Dr. Moore emphasized “rough rules of the road” when it comes to meals and nutrition.
“Split the division of labor and make it simple,” Dr. Moore said, “parents figure out the what and when, kids figure out how much of each.”
An Ounce of Prevention
If you want to stay out of the waiting room, wash your hands! Good handwashing hygiene will keep illness at bay. Dr. Omkar Karthikeyan (IHA Child Health-WestArbor; parent of toddlers ages 2 and 4) said kids normally get sick ten to twelve times a year. While staying hydrated, using saline nose drops and a humidifier can go a long way to alleviating symptoms, you’ll want to watch out for high levels of discomfort and prolonged high fevers (102 degrees plus for more than a day or two). Dr. Turke notes that most pediatric offices have a nurse on call that can help determine when to bring your child into the doctor’s office, and Dr. Karthikeyan emphasized that the doctor your child sees the most is who knows best what your child needs.
Dr. Turke suggests taking a zinc supplement to reduce the length of a cold by up to 40%, which research shows to be very effective. Dr. Karthikeyan recommends getting the flu shot every year to reduce the severity if and when you or your child come down with the flu.
When it comes to potty training, Dr. Turke emphasized letting kids find their way in their own time. Kids become naturally curious around two years old, and it’s the parent’s job to “let the interest blossom in a positive way.” If parents become too pushy, kids feel anxious and may avoid the potty altogether, resulting in a contest of wills (spoiler alert: you won’t win).
Some folk wisdom that rings true is that “You can potty train your child when they’re ready, or UNTIL they’re ready,” Dr. Karthikeyan noted, “readiness and willingness are critical. Toddlers have very few things they can control entirely—eating and using the bathroom are chief among them.”
So how do you know when a child is ready? They should be able to talk about the potty and perform the basic skills needed—pulling pants up/down, flushing, washing hands. This is usually around two and half to three years of age. At this stage, Dr. Karthikeyan recommends devoting an entire day all about the potty, and play a game of “what would you do if you had to go to the potty right now?” and then RUN to the potty and sit down. After doing this five to ten times, you should be pleasantly surprised later when you realize they’re getting the idea.