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During the summer months, doctors’ offices in Carmel Valley are full of kids, usually healthy and rambunctious. They are either there for their check up or having to tag along as their sibling gets his or her check up. For some kids it is fun. For others it is agony.
I remember a certain San Diego family who came in recently for a well-baby visit. The youngest of three was 9 months old and her two older siblings were tagging along. Everyone was excited to be there but mom had read them the riot act: “Be good, wait patiently, it’s your sister’s turns today.”
But as we know, life with children is never that simple. One of the siblings just could not take it any longer and start to act up. He started hugging the baby just a little too tight, running around the small cramped exam room and declaring that HE was in charge. I could see that my visit was doomed unless I figured out something fast and effective. In a stroke of insight, (these are few and far in between) I sat down with this preschooler and told him that for sure he was going to be in charge! I instructed mom that when she got home she was to gather a timer and set it for 15 min. During which time Simon (name has been changed to protect the innocent!) was to be in charge of her. He could ask her to do anything that he wanted except no TV nor video games. Mom was to accept no interruptions and she was going to be the follower. Simon was going to be the leader. Simon was going to be in charge. Simon beamed! It was like he had hit the jackpot. Not only was he going to be in charge of mom but the doctor told him he could do so.
The rest of the visit of the younger sibling was a piece of cake. Mom and I were able to speak without the constant interruption and the older kids sat quietly, perhaps waiting for a lollipop too. Nevertheless, Simon had grasped the notion that it was worth behaving now if he could be in charge later, even if only for a little while!
May your summer be restful and the kids well behaved. May you create memories and be safe. And when needed, allow the children to occasionally be in charge.
Dr. de Freitas
Founder of Healthy Chats, Dr. Chrystal de Freitas is a pediatrician, author and mother of three children who has a special interest in health education. She completed her pediatric training at the University of Washington, in Seattle, WA, and has been in private practice for 22 years. She practiced with North County Health Services in Encinitas, for 6 years. In 2004, Dr. de Freitas opened her solo private practice of pediatrics, Carmel Valley Pediatrics in San Diego, CA.