Sunday, August 16, 2009

Your Child's Health

Your Child’s Health, by Barton D. Schmitt. A friend gave us this. It is a reference book, not only about common childhood illnesses and injuries, but also about behavior problems.
As a health reference book, I prefer it to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Guide to Your Child’s Symptoms, which we also have. GCS organizes its information in a chart, with symptoms in the left column, a one-sentence description of the possible cause in the middle column, and a short “Action to Take” in the right column. The “Possible Cause” is often a list of different things, and the action to take is often simply “consult your pediatrician.” Whereas YCH is organized according to common diseases and injuries. For each disease, there is a description of the symptoms and characteristics, a cross-reference to similar conditions, an explanation of the cause and of the expected course. It then says under what conditions to call the pediatrician, and gives helpful suggestions for home care. Net result: reading GCS you feel like a blindfolded person being told, “Take two steps ahead. Now one to the left,” whereas YCH lifts the blindfold or at least allows you peek out from underneath it. To be fair I should mention that GCS has illustrations and YCH does not.
On the subject of behavior, I mostly read YCH with fascination, imagining the day when Little D will be going through these stages (for example, toilet training). Many of the methods that are so well explained in YCH sound pretty good, especially in the realm of things such as toilet training that are merely training and do not involve sin in the child. In cases like this, it is nice to have a detailed description of one method of dealing with a certain kind of challenge. If I didn’t have that, I would again feel in the dark, not knowing what to do and terrified that it would be wrong. There is also a method for time-outs described in helpful detail.
However, as with any book, you cannot always trust YCH when it comes to heart issues. For example, one discipline method it recommends is withholding eye contact. According to How to Really Love Your Child, eye contact should never be withheld to communicate disapproval, and I agree.
Another example: its says you should ignore whining, and even certain mild kinds of tantrums. Of course how seriously you take these things depends on the child’s age, but in general I think whining should be addressed. In Don’t Make Me Count To Three, it’s recommended that you treat it as an issue of self-control. “Come back in five minutes and ask for juice with self-control in your voice.”
A third example: it recommends that you not make an issue of it if your teenager rebels in “minor areas” such as: clothing, hairstyle, music, interests (so far so pretty good), friends (!), religion (!!), and philosophy (!!!). On the other hand, what YCH considers “major areas” is: experimentation with drugs, truancy, or stealing. Truly, truancy is much more serious than religion. How can a parent expect to influence the child away from drugs, truancy, and stealing if they cannot teach them a religion and philosophy adequate to it?

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