Is your child acting up? Here’s how a pediatrician can help.
Poor grades, fighting with others, lashing out at parents—If you find yourself dealing with these issues, no doubt you’re concerned about your child’s behaviors. Whether the teachers have complained or you’ve seen these issues in your household, it’s essential to address these concerns with your pediatrician.
Pediatricians and Behavioral Health
While a pediatrician is there to provide your child with medical care, which means that they are focused on physical health, that doesn’t mean they can’t recognize behavioral, mental or emotional issues. Since pediatricians often spend the most time with your children and have seen them grow up through the years, they are often the first to spot problems. That’s why you must have a long-standing pediatrician you know and trust.
When to Be Concerned
It’s natural for a child to be sad when they get sick or lose something important to them or a date with a friend gets postponed; however, if your child is dealing with recurring emotional and behavioral issues that are impacting their daily life, well-being and routine, then it may be time to speak with your pediatrician. Behavioral health concerns that may require a further evaluation with a pediatrician include,
- Anger and irritability
- Outbursts and temper tantrums
- Defying adults and acting out
- Harmful behavior, whether harming themselves or others
- Avoiding social interactions
- Trouble focusing and a drop in academic performance
- Changes in mood
- Sadness or hopelessness that lasts more than two weeks
- Thoughts of suicide
- Stealing, lying and other risky behaviors
How a Pediatrician Can Help
There are many factors a pediatrician will take into account when a child comes in for a behavioral health assessment. Certain factors include,
Any changes to your child’s environment could impact their behavioral health, leading to these problematic behaviors and habits. It’s essential to take all aspects and factors into account so that we can provide the proper diagnosis and treatment plan to help manage behavioral issues. From learning disabilities and separation anxiety to autism and ADHD, a pediatrician can help your child cope with many behavioral health problems.
Yes, kids will be kids, but that doesn’t mean you should let recurring or problematic behaviors slide. If you are concerned about your child’s behavioral health, it’s time you turned to a pediatrician to discuss behavioral health options.
Get the facts on your child’s ideal diet and more.
We know how challenging it can be for kids to get all the nutrients they need from diet alone, especially if your child has food allergies, dietary restrictions or is simply a picky eater. We’ve compiled the top questions about childhood nutrition. If you have questions, your pediatrician can provide additional info and support.
When Can I Start To Introduce Solid Foods Into My Baby’s Diet?
You should begin to incorporate solid foods into your baby’s diet at around 6 months old. By 7-8 months, your child should be eating a lot more solid foods, from veggies and fruits to yogurt, protein and whole grains. Let your child sample one food at a time, which is also the best way to spot any food allergies. Talk with your pediatrician if your child develops a rash or other problems after consuming an allergenic food.
How Much Water Should My Child Consume?
It’s important for everyone to stay hydrated, and that includes children, too. A good rule of thumb is for your child to consume as many eight-ounce glasses of water as their age. For example, if your child is six years old they should consume six eight-ounce glasses of water. Of course, if your child is out in the sun or playing sports it’s important that they consume more water. Fruit juices and sodas are not considered a good alternative for ensuring your child gets enough fluids every day. Water is always the best and healthiest choice.
Is It Okay for My Child To Eat the Same Thing Every Day?
When it comes to your child’s diet it’s best to spice things up and add variety and rotation to daily meals. Sure, there may be some foods that your child just loves more than others, but it’s important that they are getting a good balance and mix of healthy fats, protein, fiber and complex carbs.
I’m Concerned About My Child’s Weight. Now What?
If you are worried about your child’s recent weight gain or that they aren’t eating enough, you should talk with your pediatrician about the best ways to help them manage their weight through proper diet and exercise. We can provide effective solutions and advice for how to tweak your child’s current diet to support their weight gain or loss needs.
These are baseline numbers that may fluctuate based on certain factors, so it’s important to speak with your child’s pediatrician to determine your child’s own dietary needs.
Learn more about developmental and behavioral disorders in children.
A growing child can greatly benefit from visiting their pediatrician regularly for routine checkups. No, a child doesn’t have to be sick to visit the doctor. These regular wellness visits can help our pediatrician spot issues such as developmental delays and behavioral disorders that require special care and treatment. Here’s what you should know about common developmental and behavioral problems in kids and how a pediatrician can help,
Types of Developmental Disorders
Developmental disorders fall under the categories of,
- Cognitive (e.g., mental retardation; learning disabilities)
- Motor (e.g., cerebral palsy; muscular dystrophy; spinal atrophies)
- Behavior (e.g., anxiety disorders; autism; ADHD)
- Vision, hearing and speech (e.g., delayed language acquisition; hearing or vision impairments)
Some of the most common types of developmental disorders in children include,
- Autism spectrum disorders
- Cerebral palsy
- Genetic disorders
- Intellectual disabilities
- Spina bifida
- Down syndrome
Signs of Developmental and Behavioral Disorders
Warning signs and when they appear seem to vary from child to child. Some parents notice developmental delays as early as infancy, while others may not notice these concerns until they start school. Some warning signs include,
- Difficulty learning and academic troubles
- Delayed speech, unclear speech or difficulties communicating with others
- Social withdrawal
- Delay in crawling, sitting up or walking
- Has trouble completing everyday tasks such as grooming, washing hands or getting dressed
- Has trouble focusing on an activity
- Intense or extreme behaviors such as aggression, anxiety, irritability or frequent temper tantrums
When to See a Doctor
If you notice any of these delays, we understand how concerning this can be. The good news is that you don’t immediately need to run to a specialist for help. All you have to do is turn to your pediatrician for an evaluation. A pediatrician can perform a thorough assessment to determine if your child may be displaying signs of a developmental or behavioral disorder. Your pediatrician may recommend more in-depth testing, which may require turning to a mental health professional for an accurate diagnosis.
Suppose your child displays behavioral issues, or you notice that they aren’t reaching certain developmental milestones. In that case, it’s important to speak with your pediatrician at their next appointment or to call their office to find out if you should bring your child in for an evaluation.
Keep your child safe while enjoying fun in the sun.
School’s out for summer, and your child may be gearing up for outdoor adventures, summer camps, swim team, and other activities. Of course, keeping your child safe is of the utmost importance to all parents and pediatricians. Here are some helpful tips to keep your little one safe all summer long.
Recognize Signs of Heat Exhaustion
When kids get dehydrated, which is quite common on hot summery days, they are more at risk of heatstroke and exhaustion. By recognizing the symptoms of heat exhaustion in your children, you’ll be able to bring them indoors and prevent them from developing heat stroke (which can be incredibly dangerous, especially for young children). Signs of heat exhaustion include,
- Body temperature between 100 and 104 F
- Increased thirst and sweating
- Clammy, cool skin
When you notice these symptoms, it’s essential that you bring your child into a cool place and make sure that they drink lots of liquids to stay hydrated. You can also help lower their body temp by applying cool compresses to their skin.
Keep Kids Protected from the Sun
Sunscreen isn’t just for adults; it’s also for kids. Just one sunburn can increase your child’s risk for skin cancer in the future. That’s why it’s important that you have them lather up with a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
It’s important that you apply a generous amount to their face and body about 30 minutes before going outside. If they are going to be playing or swimming outdoors, it’s essential that they reapply immediately after coming out of the way or if they are sweating.
Know Water and Swimming Safety
Summer often means a lot of time spent in the pool or by the water. While the water can be a ton of fun for kids, it’s also important that they practice proper water safety habits to prevent drowning and other accidents. Make sure to keep an eye on your child, even if there is a lifeguard on duty. If your child is new to swimming, you may want to enroll them in a swim class that can help them develop strong swimming skills.
Keep Bug Bites at Bay
Along with protecting your child from the sun’s powerful rays, you must also protect them from mosquitos and other pests that could sting or bite them outdoors. Apply insect repellent before your child goes outside. There are many insect repellent options on the market these days, some of which are made from DEET-free and natural ingredients that are safe for all ages. Ask your child’s pediatrician if you are unsure which insect repellent is safe for them.
Summertime is the best time to be a kid, and these helpful tips will ensure a smart, safe, and fun season for the whole family. Don’t forget to schedule your child’s back-to-school physical with your pediatrician, especially before the sports season begins.
Be able to spot the warning signs of anxiety in your child.
Anxiety is undoubtedly on the rise, not just for adults but for children. The pandemic has certainly left kids feeling uncertain and worried about the future. It’s important to pick up on the signs that your child might have anxiety so you can talk with their pediatrician about tips and strategies to help them better cope with the issues they’re facing.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms?
Children with anxiety may display these behaviors or motions,
- Anger and aggression
- Mood swings
- Unexplained physical symptoms such as stomachaches
- Nail-biting and other “nervous habits”
- Appetite changes
- Social withdrawal and isolation
- Issues focusing or concentrating
How Can I Help My Child?
It’s important to figure out the type of anxiety your child is dealing with to help them cope with these emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. There are certain habits you can start adopting now that can help your child better deal with their anxiety symptoms,
- Don’t try to reason with your child when they are panicked or anxiety
- Help them take deep belly breathes to help stabilize their sympathetic nervous system
- Validate your child’s fears and listen to them; never dismiss them or tell them to “buck up”
- Don’t avoid the fear, which can often make it worse, but help your child face the fear with baby steps (talk to your child’s pediatrician about the best ways to do this)
These are some helpful tips to get parents started when they notice their child’s “worry brain” taking over. Of course, if you suspect that they could have a true anxiety disorder, it’s important to speak with your pediatrician right away.
How Are Childhood Anxiety Disorders Treated?
In most cases, your pediatrician will provide a referral to a psychotherapist that works with children. The first appointment, or intake session, will allow the therapist to get to know your child and determine if they have an anxiety disorder. Cognitive-behavioral therapy tends to be the ideal treatment option to help children talk through their fears and discover effective coping strategies to help them face and overcome their fears. Sometimes medications are prescribed in conjunction with therapy and lifestyle changes.
Worried that your child might have an anxiety disorder? If so, this is the ideal time to speak with their pediatrician to find out if they could benefit from additional diagnostic testing or talking to a mental health professional who works with children. A pediatrician can provide resources, support, and referrals.
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