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Dr. Nicole’s Pediatric Advice to New Parents

Posted Jun 12 2009 6:31pm

by Dr. Nicole Sundene

The other day I joked on Twitter, “Oh my gosh I got so busy Twittering I forgot a baby on the scale! BRB (be right back)” and my doctor and nurse friends all thought that was pretty funny, because some days in a family practice or pediatrics setting we get so busy we literally feel like this.

Don’t worry… I am on a break from seeing patients while I prepare to move  down to Arizona.

A decade ago, I spent my first week medical assisting in pediatrics for the hospital, I weighed and measured so many babies that I would have nightmares that one would roll off the counter and fall on the floor. I would wake up in a panicked cold sweat from the new responsibility of parents entrusting the care of their precious child in my hands.

If you have spent years of your life doing Well Child Checks, measuring and weighing babies, determining what is normal and not normal you grow seasoned, and you grow to be more worried for the baby’s of the over-concerned, over-involved parents than those parents that are more nonchalant.

So now when my friends, family, or patients ask me for my most  faboo pediatric advice I now start with the following statement:

“You are going to mess up your baby no matter what so quit fretting about it, have fun being a parent, and just start saving for therapy now!”

Although it is all in good humor, new parents have the most questions, and are the most concerned about making sure they are doing the right thing. This is exemplified perfectly by watching a mom with a new baby versus a seasoned mom with five children….after a while the more experienced mom has to just “let go and let God” to some degree.

So why are we talking about this today? Because in the deep naturopathic therapy I do with patients, the discussion of “core wounds” often comes up. I like to get down to the nitty gritty and delve up the TRUE reason for the overeating, overdrinking, or inability to self care….drink water, eat veggies, exercise and so forth.

What are these “core wounds?”

They are emotional conditioning developed in childhood that follow us around in the form of BAGGAGE as adults and help trigger our daily dramas which then creates more drama. This is evidenced by the fact that some scenarios just don’t upset certain people while others are extremely traumatized. For instance, someone that was sexually molested as a child may find a massage class traumatizing, while others see it as a treat.

So how do we unwittingly cause these “core wounds” to our children?

We give them too much attention or not enough, we let them make all the decisions or we don’t let them make any, we force them to try a new sport or we don’t get them involved with any, we make them sit at the piano with the timer going or we don’t involve them in any creative expressions at all. We force them to go to church six days a week or we don’t give them any form of spiritual enlightenment. We expect them to be “just like us” rather than allowing them to express their authentic self.

Are you all starting to follow the pattern?

It’s the middle path of parenting that is the right way, and trust me it will save you a lot of headaches. Children need to be given choices often…so that when they are told something is, “not a choice,” they are okay with it.

One of my best friends always takes her “me time” with a splash of guilt, referring to herself sarcastically as “Mother of the Year,” but I think that every parenting relationship needs a healthy balance of “me time” and kid time….basically it goes back to the same old adage that we need to fasten our oxygen masks first…which is why I WOULD absolutely nominate her for the title of “Mother of the Year.”

Many new mothers become so obsessed and worried about their babies that they are scared to even leave the house….scared to let the baby sleep anywhere but right next to them, this overly obsessive behavior is what I call a “Family Medicine Crisis.”

With the divorce rate at 50%, a healthy marriage should always be the priority if you want healthy children. New parents need to set a “date night” six weeks from the day baby is born and commit to leaving the baby with someone….heck leave them with me! I love babies…it’s the toddlers that are terrifying.

I am sure it is tough to leave your baby….but this is tough love and you just HAVE to do it! You can’t let the baby take over your marriage….you can’t let the kids rule your house. They will be happier if they know you are in charge, that their parents are happy and spend time together.  Children need you to model a healthy marriage and staying at home all the time with your children is the fast track to divorce. Children are also a bit like dogs in that they need to know who’s in charge, and that if mom sets a rule - dad enforces it and vice versa.

Most importantly you NEED a break from your children and you need to do it guilt-free. In order to be a good parent you need to get away from them OFTEN, and in an orderly and scheduled fashion. Find neighbors to swap sitting with, ask family members to watch your baby, schedule your grocery shopping to be done without the kids when possible so that you can be at peace while you shop for healthy choices. Everyone in the store will thank you.

Of course you definitely should baby proof your house, and make sure that you are creating a safe environment for your child, as accidents are the leading cause of death in children.

Children need basic boundaries, children need to be told they are loved and hugged, children need to be recognized, they need to be “SEEN” they need you to “SEE” them….even if it is just five minutes of time you spend being present with your child…..a child’s version of “time” is so much different. Think back to how long it used to seem for Christmas or your birthday to roll around…That five minutes of PRESENT attention could be the five minutes that makes the difference and makes your child feel important to you.

Back to the children as dogs model (oh boy I’m sure I’ll get a ton of hate mail for this but bear with me….) when you are present with your children they are confident that someone is in charge….that you are in charge, that you are taking care of them.  Your daily INTENTIONAL acts of presence will save you loads of cash for therapy in the long run. It will also save you the daily headache of having a child that does not feel secure in their environment and their place in the family.  Children will then find your attention (just like dogs…he he) as the greatest reward of all.

Giving them this attention is simple. Every single day make a point to look them square in the eye and tell them how important they are to you, mention all the positives they have done, hug them and tell them you love them. Every single day.

And as for everything else….just leave it up to their future therapist!  *wink*

Everyone starts therapy in their 30’s and 40’s anyway when they finally realize they have been living in a continuously recycled version of their childhood drama. That the behavioral patterns of their teens and twenties are still failing them, that it is time to desensitize oneself from the drama and delve in to the past for a solid “core wound” healing.

~Dr. Nicole

Related reading:

Autism: Eight Questions Dr. Nicole Has For Parents

Children Are Eating Their Weight in Sugar Each Year

55 Healthy and Cheap School Lunch Ideas

Hot Dogs and Childhood Cancer

How to get Your Kids to Eat More Vegetables


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