THE “D” WORD
DEALING WITH YOUNG CHILDREN
As usual, I was late. I picked up my purse, threw the diaper bag over my shoulder, grabbed my keys, stuffed my toddler under my arm and ran out the door. As I pulled out of my parking space, I heard a little voice from the back seat, “Where am I going?” she queried.
I put on the brakes and stopped. How would I like to be stuffed in a car and taken along without a clue? I took a moment to fill her in as to where we were going. Often, we forget that our youngsters are thinking people, not extra baggage, and need information.
So, Suggestion # 1 is remember that you are dealing with a person - small with limited information but an intelligent being just the same.
This is especially true when your youngster is in a medical situation. Sometimes mom, dad and doctor talk over the child’s head and forget to include the little one in the conversation.
I drove a neighbor and her daughter to the hospital once. The three-year-old had a possible broken leg. The doctor and her mom were deep in conversation about X-rays while the little one got paler and paler. Finally, I asked her if she knew what an X-ray was? She didn’t. I explained that it was like a great big camera that would take a picture of her leg and then the doctors would know if it was broken or not.
“And it doesn’t hurt.” A little color seemed to come back to her face.
I had learned the hard way to give information carefully from experience with my own son who needed X-rays when he was about that age. I told him they were going to take a picture of his bones. Mistake. He knew very well that the bones were under the skin and figured that if they were going to take a picture of his bone they were probably going to remove his skin. He hid under a chair and I had to do a lot of unexplaining to get him out and cooperating.
Another time, I handed my son a cup and told him that the doctor wanted him to pee in the cup. He asked me why and I said so that the doctor could run tests to see if there was any blood in the urine. My son replied that he wasn’t going to pee blood and locked himself in the bathroom. It took a bit of back-stepping to get a simple urine sample from the kid.
Therefore I give you Suggestion # 2. Give your child information about what is happening. And I add, “Good luck.” I hope you are far more tactful than I was.
Suggestion #3: listen to your child. Everyone wants to be heard. Take a moment to hear what your child is telling you. You may have a different opinion but at least you’ve acknowledged that you understand.
When my son was little we lived in a small town. The only pediatrician for miles was still a drive to the next town for us. So I took my son to the local “family practice” doctor. When we came out my son announced, “That Doctor doesn’t like children.” I let him know that next time we’d drive the extra miles and see the pediatrician.
That does not mean that you do anything they say. Forget that. A statement like, “I hate that nurse that gave me a shot!” gets this kind of comment, “Your really hated getting that shot, didn’t you?”
Suggestion #4: bury your ego. I think we probably did that the second we had children but you can count on your child not to make you look good in medical situations.
When my daughter was six, she had to get a shot. The nurse had stayed during the lunch hour to give her the shot. As I carried my unhappy daughter out, she leaned over my shoulder and called out a parting shot to the nurse. It was not a very nice word. One used to refer to female dogs.
Surprisingly, I didn’t drop her. No. I kept walking as fast as I could with my little bundle through the double doors and out to the parking lot. I buckled her in her car seat and got in the other side. I turned to her and said quietly but determinedly, “ You do not talk to the nurse like that – ever!” then I drove home.
Luckily, she never did that again. Not to say my ego was safe after that. In fact by the time she was 10 I had dropped my ego so completely that I considered myself enlightened.
So from this enlightened mom, I send you my humble suggestions just to let you know someone else has been there – and survived. Hugs to you and your little challenge.
Copyright 1996 - 2002 Arlyn Serber