Monday, May 5, 2008

Parents Don't Know Their Babies

A paper found that about one in three parents don't know the basics about child development. About 10,000 parents were surveyed about their 9 month old babies. Nearly 99 percent of the parents were mothers. One in three answered four or more questions incorrectly. From the article:

  • the study found that many parents don't know that 1-year-olds can't tell the difference between right and wrong, and often don't cooperate or share when playing with other children.
  • A lack of proper understanding of a child's development can cause assorted problems... For example... a mother might expect an 18-month-old child to sit still for a doctor's appointment, even though children that age are normally curious and like to wander around.
  • "A mom could misinterpret a child's normal curiosity as intentionally being defiant, and could respond with harsh discipline, withdrawal of affection and repetition of that pattern over time," ... "That could hinder the child's potential for full growth and development."
Surprising? Perhaps no. Parents are increasingly busy with often more than one job. Society is more fast and intense with 24/7 communications, fast food, and seemingly a long list of things to do to keep up with the neighbors. Can pediatricians close the knowledge gap by informing parents at well child checks? Certainly that is only part of the solution.

If I hadn't gone to medical school, I would be completely clueless about my children's development. Although I'm still hardly an expert, at least I have some basic information even though it took four years and tens of thousands of dollars in tuition. Despite this "advanced training", I find that books by Dr. Spock and What To Expect in the First Year extremely valuable and worth a read. Being a doctor and being a parent are two different things.

Raising our children is our most important job. The information is out there. You need to find some time in your day and get educated. It might make the job a little easier.

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