SECTIONS: Background ~ Child and Family ~ Ages and Stages ~ What You Can Do
Raising a healthy family is important, hard work. At one time or another, nearly everyone needs support. It’s a good idea to think ahead about who might be able to help – family, friends, or health providers.
A family’s health and wellbeing is a blend of:
- The Family - Every family is different and needs unique supports. And the support your family needs will change over time. Your family may move, your children will change schools. You may have a new baby or a death or divorce in the family. It’s important to recognize how these changes affect your family and find the right support for each situation.
- Community – The area where you live will have resources to help your family. These resources might include shelters, food, clothing, and help getting fuel to heat your home. These supports are for everyone. Your culture, citizenship, religion, or disability will not matter. There are community supports that also help families learn about environmental hazards – conditions in your area that can cause health problems, such as lead paint or second hand smoke.
- Health Partnerships – A Medical Home is not a place. It is a way for children and families to receive health care from a primary care provider they know and trust. You can help create a Medical or Health Home for your child by using the following Checklist*:
- __ You are valued and treated as the expert on your child.
- __ You are treated as a central member of your child's health care team.
- __ You and your child's doctor share respect and trust.
- __ Your culture and religious beliefs are valued.
- __ Your doctor partners with you and your child, office staff, and others to learn about your child's medical and other needs.
- __ Your child receives his or her shots, well child visits, and urgent care.
- __ You get help finding specialty care or community services when needed.
- __ Your child's doctor provides helpful information to other people on the care team and helps manage your child's care.
- __ When your child gets sick or has a special health care need, you feel supported. You are provided information to help you learn about your child's ongoing health concerns.
- __ Resources for families are provided, such as Father's Network, Sibling Support Project, and Parent-to-Parent.
- __ Your doctor makes sure you understand the treatment choices
Family centered care takes into account the whole family!
- Children with Special Health Care Needs - Your primary care provider can help you learn about your child’s medical condition. She can also help coordinate your child’s care with other members of your child’s health team and tell you about area resources and supports.
Child and Family
Children learn from their parents, so set good examples. Eat healthy foods, get plenty of exercise and rest and take time to pursue your own hobbies. And, get involved in your community. This will help you develop partnerships with teachers, coaches, health providers and others who can help support your child and family.
Ages and Stages
- Infancy: Mothers and fathers have important roles in caring for their newborn. Parents need to talk about ways to share responsibilities so they each have a break and can rest. Even if parents are not living in the same household, both can still be involved.
- Early Childhood: Your child is becoming more independent. At the same time, your child may also be fearful of strangers, which can make it hard to separate from you or other family members. Talk with your health provider about ways to make transitions easier for you and your child. Your provider can tell you about early intervention services for young children who may have developmental delays.
- Middle Childhood: Your child is getting even more independent, but still needs your guidance and support. If your child needs special education services, you can get help and support. Watch how your child handles school, other children, changes in the family, and stress. If you think your child’s moods are more than a response to a good or bad day, talk to your health provider. He can help you figure out if your child deals with stress in an age appropriate way, or if it’s a sign of a mental health need.
- Adolescence: Do not let eye-rolling stop you from talking to your teen about school, friends, activities, and healthy behaviors. Your 11 – 21 year old still needs your support and guidance. Parents still have a lot of influence on their teen’s choices. Your healthcare provider can also talk to your youth about healthy behaviors and ways to avoid risky behaviors.
What Can Families Do to Promote Family Support?
If you have questions about your child’s health and development, speak to your healthcare provider. He or she can assess your child’s development, reassure you when things are on track, and provide guidance and support if your child needs help.
- Before your baby is born, you may want to find a pediatrician, family practitioner or other primary care provider who will be your partner and help care for your child’s health.
- Parenting can be overwhelming. If you ever think you might hurt your child, seek help. Call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline – anytime (24/7) at 1-800-4-A-CHILD.
- You may want to join a playgroup so you can connect with parents whose children are at similar ages. While the children play, the parents can talk and share stories, ideas, and resources. You can discuss good ways to hand children’s moods and behaviors.
- Be a healthy role model for your child. Eat well, exercise, talk to your children about their day, and avoid risky behavior.