28
May

Positive Talk With Children

Positive Talk with Children

Positive talk with children can be elusive.  Often, we get lost in the busy "to do list' of our lives.  When our children don't follow directions or listen to us, we fall into the usual negative talk.  "Stop that now."  "Don't touch that." "Leave me alone." Arguments, yelling, and fighting can take place. 

 

Positive Talk with Children

Positive Talk with Children - Photo by Anna Kolosyuk

It's impossible to stop all the frustrating times with our children.  However, remembering that sometimes we can change our reaction or approach, can prevent us from feeling bad.  And positive talk prevents some of the negative feelings our children develop from constant negative talk.  In addition positive talk with children involves the crucially important skill of listening.  Other important aspects of positive talk with children include remembering that you're talking with a child, asking questions, acknowledging feelings, teaching alone time, giving praise, and making apologies.

 

Remember That You're Talking with a Child

Talk to children at eye level.  When children are always looking up, especially when they've done something wrong, this is intimidating to them.  Plus talking at eye level shows your children you have some respect for them.

 

Speak simply.  A short sentence can go a long way.  Responding to questions or misbehavior with one simple sentence will help a child stay on task and understand more clearly.  Avoid a lecture.  Avoid going on and on.  At some point, they aren't listening.

Offer two choices, either of which you approve.  When children are given options, it encourages independence.  When you approve of either of the two choices that you offer, it creates an opportunity for happiness and not frustration.  For example, "Would you like to eat peaches or pears?"  They still may want chocolate chip cookies, but you have not asked them, "What do you want to eat?"  which incorrectly leads them to believe they can pick their meal or snack.

 

Ask questions only if you want your child's opinion/answer.  Asking, "Are you ready to go now?" gives a child the impression that if they are not easy, then you will wait.  If you are not willing to wait, then tell them, "It's time to go now," so that there is no confusion.  This allows them to know that there are times when their opinion matters.  Accordingly, it lets them know that other times you are the one in charge, making the decisions.

 

Listen To Your Child

Stop and listen.  We are often busy.  Day in day out, there's a lot to do.  There's laundry, meals, dishes, hosehold cleaning, work outside the home, family needs, and more keep us busy.  However, none of those tasks help us to listen.  Intentionally making the time to listen to our children can have a huge impact.  There are techniques on how to listen to your child that can be learned easily.  Our children can learn they are important by our interactions with them, not just what we do for them.

 

Set aside a time to listen.  When we don't have the time to talk, then it's good to be honest. We can let our children know that, "Right now is not a good time for me to talk with you.  I want to hear what you have to say.  I'll make some time to talk with you later."  Remember to tell your child a specific time when you will talk.  then stick to your word.  That way they will respect your time.  And they will still feel important.

 

Repeat or restate what you heard.  Often, we hear what our children said, but we interpret it incorrectly.  Other times, when we repeat it to them, and they realize that they misspoke.  This encourages our children to develop great communication skills.

 

Ask Questions

Ask open-ended questions.  "How are you feeling?" allows our children to express whatever is on their mind.  "You didn't like that, did you?" limits what they will say.  sometimes we need to hear all aspects of what their thinking, so that we can best help them.

 

Ask specific questions.  If there is a specific issue, open-ended questions may not give a parent the answer needed.  "What was your favorite part of today?"  "What upset you the most?" "Did you understand what you learned in math class today?"  These are some examples of questions that allow our children to narrow the conversation enough so that they know their specific positive or negative emotions and experiences are important.  You are less likely get short answers, such as "Good," "Okay,"  "Bad," which are conversation enders.

 

Feelings Are Important

Encourage all feelings.  It's okay to feel sad.  We often say, "Don't be sad," as if it's a bad thing.  This is hard to watch.  Sometimes children just need to be held until the emotion passes and/or they express their feelings.  Instead of pushing away unpleasant feelings, they will learn how to deal with their emotions, making them healthier children.  Encouraging our children to feel their emotions gives them mental strength as adults too.  

 

Share your feelings.  "You made me sad when you lied to me."  "I had a hard day at work today."  This teaches them to think of others.  It also shows them you are human too.  However, make sure you keep this simple, as a child can easily be overwhelmed by adult emotions and their wish to please their parents.  You want to share your feelings without making them feel responsible for your complete happiness.

 

Teach Alone Time

Teach our children to play by themselves. This will encourage independence which is essentially for their growth and development.  It will also allow parents to act independently while getting our own tasks done.

 

Teach children that parents need alone time too.  If you've ever been interrupted while on the toilet by your child, then you know the importance of your alone time.  Shouting, "Leave me alone!" is not pleasant.  Our children don't like it, sometimes getting their feeling hurt.  And we don't feel good about ourselves afterwards.  Explaining to our children that we need "alone time" for a certain amount of time and to carry out a specific task is important.  Our children will model after what we do, not just what we say.  They will learn from us that our time is valuable which will lead to the eventual realization that their time is valuable too.  It also teaches them that they are not the center of the universe.  We will not stop to fulfill their every need every moment of the day.  It teaches them that there is a time and place for everything.  Lastly, it also teaches them to appreciate everyone's need for alone time.  In addition, this helps teach them to be considerate of other people's time.  This form of positive talk with children explains actions and validating our children.

 

Praise Children

General praise is good.  "Good job!" is a form of positive talk.  However, it leaves some room for interpretation.  What exactly made it a good job?

 

Specific Positive Praise is better because it is an improved form of positive talk with children.  Let them know exactly what behavior or speech that did that you liked and why you like it.  This helps encourages positive behavior, and decreases negative behavior, improve self-esteem, and improves the parent-child relationship.  "I like how you sat quietly and completed your homework," is more likely to result in the child repeating the same specific behavior.  

 

Apologize

Admit when we are wrong.  There are times that we have gone too far.  We have said something that we shouldn't have said or did something we shouldn't have done.  Children seem to know exactly how to overwhelm us when we are already overwhelmed.  Simply saying, "I'm sorry.  I was wrong to say/do that specific behavior."  Then offer the change you'll make next time.  "I'm sorry I yelled at you.  Next time, I will tell you to stop playing video games or else I will turn off your device."  In addition, consider asking our children what consequence they would like for their behavior.  Usually kids know what they've done wrong.  They will come up with an appropriate consequence.  This is self empowering because they came up with the consequence.  This helps our children know what to expect and the consequences of their action if they don't listen.

 

Apologize simply.  "I'm sorry.  You were right and I was wrong.  And I'm so sorry."  This validates our children.  They learn that they have good behaviors.  Then learn their parents are human, make mistakes, and apologize when appropriate.  They also learn that it's okay to make mistakes.  No one is perfect.  In addition, parents are role models on how to apologize when we make a mistake.

 

Additional Resources

• Winning Ways to Talk with Young Children by Virginia State University, Cooperative Extension Service - Dr. Valia Vincell, Child Developmental Specialist.

 

• 25 Ways To Talk So Children Will Listen by Dr. Sears

• 20 Ways To Talk So Your Kids Will Listen by Robert Myers, PhD

 

• This blog also has information on Children & Affirmations and Daily Affirmations & Quotes that are helpful in general.

 

21
May

Coming Out To Your Doctor

Coming Out To Your Doctor - Difficult & Private

Coming out to your doctor may be difficult, especially for if you are a teen.  Often, a teenager comes out with a million thoughts running

Coming Out To Your Doctor

Coming Out To Your Doctor - Photo by Sharon McCutcheon

through their head.  Will my doctor accept me?  Will my doctor help me?  Does my doctor understand me?  Will my doctor tell my parents/keep my secret?  According to poll conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, 18% of all LGBTQ Americans refrain from seeing a physician for fear of discrimination

 

What If I'm Scared of Coming Out to My Doctor?

Coming out to you doctor may feel very scary and unsafe.  Consider asking your doctor if their office is a safe office where acceptance is commonplace.  Whenever the LGBTQ child is suffering, the most important thing I can say to them is, "You are safe.  You are safe here."  Because every child is special.  After all, one of the best gifts a pediatrician can give to any child, especially the LGBTQ child/teen is letting them know they are special and wonderful just as they are.  It is not my job to help the child/teen figure out their sexual orientation.  It is my job to make them feel comfortable enough so that I can help them with any health issues they may have to date. 

 

Come Out When You Are Ready

Coming out to your doctor can help you in many ways.  However, given the difficulty that this may involve, you may want to consider calling your/any doctor's office first to ask if they care for any LGBTQ patients.  Remember, you don't have to give your name out at the first call.  Ultimately, this may help you feel more comfortable and ready.  

 

How To Come Out To Your Doctor

There are many conversation starters you can use, such as "There's a conversation I need to have with you" or "How do you handle patient confidentiality?"  Consider telling the doctor in a matter-of-fact way.  Chances are, you are not the first LGBTQ patient they have ever had.  Follow up with a prepared list of questions that you have for your appointment.  There is a "Do Ask, Do Tell" brochure that may help answer questions about coming out to your doctor.  It is also important to know that there are laws that protect you and your doctor, so that your information is kept private.  Ask about confidentiality will make you feel safe as well.  In addition, you may consider bringing a friend, partner, or family member for support.

 

Doctors Can Offer Support in Many Ways

I've had teens come out to me as their doctor, some have been painful to witness.  Painful for me, because it incredibly hard to see someone suffer and be in such tremendous emotional turmoil and/or physical pain) for simply saying their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.  In the past, I reassured a transgender child in the midst of an immediate, intense, and severe panic attack by continually repeating, "You are safe.  It's okay.  You are safe here.  You don't have to talk about it, but if you do, I'm here for you."  I have had patients who became successful adults with great careers who thanked me for accepting them because I was the first person they came out to or that I cared for them and their issues with compassion and maybe even some tough love.  Most recently, I held and rocked a child that I cared for over 15 years until they stopped their uncontrollable shaking because they couldn't face themselves and their sexual orientation.   That child motivated me to write this blog.  I want to help other LGBTQ youths know that they don't have to suffer, that their doctor can help them.  Chances are your doctor cares and wants to help you in your journey to physical and mental health and peace.  

 

Do I Have to Tell My Doctor I'm LGBTQ?

It's best if you do tell your doctor.  Your doctor can't give you the best medical care if he/she doesn't know that you are a LBGTQ person.  A doctor needs to know a patient's sexual orientation, gender identity, and sexual activity history, to best help that patient and their medical and psychological needs. 

 

Medical Help & Disease Prevention Available

Sexual history will help me test for, diagnose and treat STDs.  Also, a pediatrician or internist will be able to teach you how to prevent HPV and offer the HPV vaccine to prevent this cancer and wart causing disease.  In addition, if you are HIV negative, but at high risk for developing HIV, then your doctor may start PrEP medicationWhat is PrEP?  Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is Truvada, which is a daily pill that when taken helps prevent HIV in people who are high-risk by up to 92%.  Your doctor may start this medication, if you agree to take it every day and follow-up with appointments every three (3) months.  Consider bringing a List of Top Ten Issues LGBTQ People Can Discuss with Their Doctor with you to your appointment.  In addition, if you are a transgender youth or adult, your doctor, yes, even your pediatrician, can refer you to a specialist for hormonal treatment.

 

Psychological Help Available

A doctor will also be able to make some psychological recommendations, if needed.  LGBTQ teens are more likely to suffer from anxiety, depression, have increased risk of suicide, abuse, may need referral to a psychologist, a psychiatrist, and/or a support group, like the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA), and GSA Network.  GSA is a student-led or community based organization.  GSA is an important resource on social media on Twitter (@GLSEN)  and Facebook.  GSA Network is also a resource available on Twitter (@GSANetwork) and Facebook.  Local support groups area usual available for GSA and GSA Network on social media and in as clubs many schools.  Lastly, your doctor is a source of support, simply be accepting you and caring for you.

 

Doctors Willing to Learn LGBTQ Issues & Needs

Your doctor may be comfortable with caring for you as a LGBTQ patient.  However, we are not classically trained to care for LGBTQ patients, so there usually is a learning curve.  However, if your doctor says, "I don't know how to care for that issue, but let me do my research; I'll get back with you on that particular issue," then you have a great doctor indeed.  A doctor that's willing to learn, cares for you, and is honest is the best kind of doctor.

 

Additional Resources for LGBTQ Teens & Parents

• Coming Out: Information for Parents of LGBTQ Teens is a helpful resource from the American Academy of Pediatrics. 

 

• How To Support Your Child Who is Questioning Their Sexual Orientation by Everyday Feminism which includes definitions of many LGBTQ+ terms.

 

• Transgender Children & Youth: Understanding the Basics by the Human Rights Campaign.

 

• Teens & Gender from an NPR interview which includes many gender terms, such as gender questioning, gender queer, gender fluid, agender, etc.

 

• Sexual Attraction & Orientation by Kids Health.

 

• This blog also has information on Children & Affirmations and Daily Affirmations & Quotes that are helpful in general.

 

 

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