Welcome to my blog! I am Dr. Lauretta Stombaugh (Dr. S) and I have been part of the Hendersonville Pediatrics family for over 8 years. I have decided to share this blog because I feel that it is vital for parents and caregivers to be well-informed as well as have access to solid, accurate medical information. Your children are our children and we take pride in the excellent care we provide here at Hendersonville Pediatrics. Please join me monthly (or every two weeks if my four kids allow me time to write!) and I will in turn provide interesting, helpful and maybe even comical blogs. Please share a link to my blog! Ready, set, go!!
“It's A Big World”
I first introduced my oldest child to music when she was about 3 months old. It was a song called " It's A Big World" by Renee and Jeremy. I found it on YouTube while desperately searching for lullabies to soothe her. Since then, it has quieted my own kids and many of my patients. Infants, toddlers and even younger children seem to calm down when listening to this lullaby (usually in the car). Parents on the other hand likely feel bittersweet as it can be irritating at best, but halts the piercing screams. Music can often change our moods, bring us back to past experiences and instantly allow us to connect with our current mood. Even for those of us who are not thought of as music lovers we can easily assimilate it into our lives and our children's lives with a positive impact. Music should be a part of our kids' lives just as reading, outside time and pretend play should be. Whether it be a mommy and me music class, instrumental music during nap time, singing with mom or dad, try to make music a part of your days with your littles. It can help develop language skills, listening skills and creates a time to bond. It can also help to develop their neural connections.
Now, the question many of you may have is " when do I introduce formal music instruction to my kiddos?" There are various opinions out there, but most of what I've read says around 4. It also varies depending on which instrument. For example, piano lessons should start no earlier than 5y. At this age, their fingers are large enough to navigate the piano and they have a longer (albeit still short) attention span. Piano is a great starting point because the finger movements on the piano are easier than say the guitar. Guitar playing requires a fair amount of fingertip pressure so they say 8 y is a good age to start learning. Voice lessons at around 13 y bc of proper breathing techniques and vocal cord development. Another important consideration is the interest of the child in a particular area. If they aren’t at least a bit interested they will easily become overwhelmed. Similarly, if they start formal instruction too early, they may become overwhelmed. On a positive note, even if they do not stick with the one instrument, the principles that they learn with one will likely translate to the next.
So remember to sing even if you can’t carry a tune (our kids never care)….just another way to engage your kids. Dance too. It's good for the soul.
First kid, we read the books about how to have a good sleeper. Second kid, we read the parenting books. Have you visited the online parenting sites? Have your relatives added their opinions about how to raise your children? The bad news is, I have no magic plan to pass on to you, as I do not know each of your children the way that you do. The good news is that there IS a way to discipline your children without screaming, shaming, spanking or spoiling:) I promise to help you learn some of these ways. Check out the end of this blog entry for some specific techniques or download the app “Positive Discipline Parenting Tool Cards” by Jane Nelson.
Most of us strive to raise competent, capable and confident children. We can do this by empowering them to do things for themselves depending on their developmental level. Also, by sticking to routines so that expectations are set. If you are like me, your kids act up at the most embarrassing times and when you are doing 5 other things (like changing diapers, wiping snot, putting shoes back on, trying to drink your cold coffee). I like to tell my patients' caregivers to try and remain “kind and firm” (an approach similar to that mentioned in Jane Nelson's Positive Discipline series). It is not necessary to " punish" for successful child rearing and better “to guide" children. I believe in thoughtful parenting, not permissive parenting. So this does not mean we are best friends with our children. It means teaching them in a way many of us might find foreign. Most of what we know is rooted in our experiences. The truth is, on paper the “kind and firm” approach seems fluffy, almost corny. But, if you have screamed, shamed, spanked or spoiled, is this consistently working for you? Yes, your child may briefly stop the behavior, however, do they have repeated offenses? Mine certainly do. Plus, the conflicts escalate until we are both more angry and not listening to each other. Definitely not a win win. So give it a try. Experiment with being “kind and firm”.
Remember that although you may favor one discipline technique over another, it will depend on the personality and developmental level of the child. For example, let’s talk about teeth brushing. If a 15 mo resists brushing their teeth, you are not going to kindly and firmly explain about cavities and plaque. You may distract, sing, speak in a calm voice, involve the toddler. If you are dealing with a 3 yo, kindly explain that we do this before bed so we can keep our teeth from getting yucky. Involve him/her and pick your battles. Is it really necessary to have a wrestling match ending in tears (the child’s not ours…usually) just before bed? Lastly, the older child, you can be “kind and firm”…ask them what they need to do to get ready for bed. How can they show you that they can do it on their own? Do they want healthy teeth or cavities?
It’s ok to be flexible during summertime/ school breaks. Bedtime can be a little later as long as overall the child is sleeping close to the recommended number of hours per day. Maybe there is more time for play, but be sure to encourage continued learning through reading often, educational activities and monitored screen time. You should expect some resistance during times of transition like the start of summer break or the start of a new school year. If you have a strong foundation these times will prove to be short lived.
The basic framework should be set early on as to what is acceptable in an individual family. Some families eat dinner together, while others order takeout and eat separately. Some families watch TV, while others do not own a single TV. Some are structured, others dance with the wind! My house seems to be a mix among all of these. Yes, this pediatrician’s kids watch tv. I was secretly ecstatic when the American Academy of Pediatrics recently updated their take on screen time (insert bells and whistles). Old recommendation: no screens under 2. New one: limited screen time under 2 with an adult present in the room engaging the child. So I am not ruining my toddler’s ability to think after all if I allow some screen time? Yeah! Oh the things that make me excited these days. Along with double gas points Tuesday at Ingles. I could have fabulous Tuesdays!
Here are some helpful tips I have learned/modeled after the positive discipline approach:
ask don’t tell. say, “What do you need to do to get ready for bed?” instead of “please brush your teeth” “brush your teeth” “brush your teeth!!!!!” set expectations ahead of time. say “we are going into the yogurt store. i expect that you will be calm and use your manners. if you misbehave we will leave and go home” (so painful I know, but be consistent and always follow through - and grab your own yogurt before you leave!)don’t pamper (Jane Nelson has a card addressing this). if you coddle a child, they expect it from everyone else. they become my worst nightmare - the entitled young adult! if you allow them to develop and experience, they learn to be self-reliant and confident even when things aren’t going as planned.encourage them. don’t praise them. geez, i had this all wrong at least through kid #1 (of 4). avoid saying “good job” “excellent artwork” and be specific. “good job finishing your homework on your own. you must be very proud.” “excellent picture - you chose some really pretty colors. you are very creative”.
Parenting is hard. You’ve got this. Remember that some limit setting is a necessary part of discipline. Figure out what best fits your family and your individual child. You are the loving parent, not the cool friend.
(your friendly pediatrician with an angry 3 yo at home- mad because I put milk in his chocolate milk)
"Don't see me!"....this is what my little boy tells me a few times a day. Sometimes it is because he is drawing on the wall, other times it is because he wants to hide and eat fruit snacks. Usually, it is because he has to have a bowel movement. He just turned three and we have attempted potty training a time or two before, but resorted to waiting a few more months because we were hitting roadblocks. We would get him to use the potty daily, willingly, although not every time he needed to go. We would have him run around without a diaper (pretty normal for him), watch his siblings, bribe him with M&Ms and cookies (yes my kids eat some sweets), but with a few steps forward, we would move a few more back. We realized he is simply not ready. Yes he can stay dry for a few hours,
I confess. I spy on my kids. Daycare drop off - I waited around the bend of the hallway listening to my kid scream in dismay and thrash about. First day of Kindergarten - I peeked through the glass window, lingering quietly, just to see her sitting obediently in her chair at the "blue table". While my kids are fiddling about playing in their fairy garden, you can sometimes find me hiding somewhere - listening to their innocent conversations as it is heartwarming and I know that they are safe. My curiosity takes over. The first time I let my oldest cry
I know this number because I’m a pediatrician AND because I’ve called it twice (in 7 years, after 4 kids…once every 2 kids is not so bad). So, yes even your neighborhood pediatrician can get into a dangerous situation with their own kids. I am very careful. I buy the safety gadgets. I lecture my older kids and my patients about choking hazards more than they would like to hear. I lock up my dishwasher detergent pods (more on those later). But it is inevitable