Make Pediatric Health and Well-being Care a Priority
June 21, 2021
Often, we only think to schedule a doctor’s appointment when we are sick or need a vaccine. This is even more common when we consider how we may view healthcare for kids. After young children get their immunizations, they often are not seen again for years, and then it is usually only for the occasional flu bug, ear infection or injury. This is sick care. When we think about health care, we have to begin thinking in terms of, not only preventing disease, but also promoting well-being.
Regular Well Exams are Key to Prevention
There are many advantages to having annual check-ups with a healthcare provider. This is especially true for children. Working with a trusted care provider can connect families with the tools and strategies they need to support their child’s healthy development.
Consider the following important facts:
- Prevention of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and even cancer begins before a child is even born.
- Not only are physical diseases preventable, but many mental health conditions are also preventable and highly treatable when caught early.
- Well-exams are covered in full by all insurance plans, an indication of how effective this relationship is when it comes to preventing disease and improving overall well-being.
Adventist Health Women’s and Family Health providers are well versed in caring for the developmental needs of children of all ages, including infants, adolescents, teens, and even young adults. Adventist Health Family Nurse Practitioner Ann Batchelder shares that, “When a family has a newborn baby, parents get tons of advice from well-intended family members and friends. It can be very confusing, and it is nice to be able to bounce ideas or questions off a trained and certified professional. Having a relationship with a care provider can help with that.”
One thing that is true for all children, however, is that their bodies and brains develop very quickly. We have all heard of the book “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” but the series kind of phases out after the first year. So, what should we expect for years 2-18? Well, it can vary a lot. “Every child is different. It is so hard as a parent to know if you are doing things right,” says Adventist Health Nurse Practitioner Erin Oldenkamp.
By establishing a relationship with a care team, healthcare providers can get to know each child and work with parents to develop specific strategies to support healthy development specifically for that child. In addition to providing developmental and physical assessments, including dental, hearing and vision screenings, they can guide healthy bedtime routines, social media and screen time exposure, and even support for the parents as caregivers themselves.
What kids eat and drink, their physical activity levels, dental hygiene, and sleep patterns are all key – not only for lifelong weight management and disease prevention, but also for developing a positive sense of self from a young age. These are protective factors for a child’s mental health, affecting how they feel about themselves, how resilient they can be in the face of adversity, as well as for brain development – laying the foundation for academic success. Proper nutrition, sleep and exercise even play a role in how well children regulate their emotions, which helps with social development and the ability to make friends. A medical provider can co-coach with parents along that journey and provide referrals to positive community supports that can help that child gain the skills they need to be successful physically, socially and mentally.