Posts Tagged 'family support'

Child life specialists: Improving your child’s hospital visit

child life specialist with little boy patient

As certified child life specialists with Beaumont Children’s, our role in the hospital is unique. We are trained professionals in the developmental impact of illness and injury. But what does that even mean?

What we do

Child life specialists help infants, children, youth and families cope with the stress and uncertainty of acute and chronic illness, injury, trauma, disability, loss and bereavement. We provide evidence-based, developmentally and psychologically appropriate interventions, which include therapeutic play; preparation for procedures; and education to reduce fear, anxiety, and pain. We work with the multidisciplinary team, as well as the entire family, to meet the needs of patients, siblings and parents alike to promote a culture of family-centered care throughout all hospital encounters.

We help children by:

  • Educating them on diagnosis, procedures and treatment plans through the use of medical play.
  • Preparing for tests, procedures, and/or surgeries (patients, siblings and family).
  • Supporting them during invasive procedures through the use of distraction and coping skills.
  • Engaging patients in therapeutic and expressive activities to help them cope with fears and anxiety.
  • Advocating for the unique needs of patients and families during and after hospitalization.
  • Promoting family-centered care through psychosocial and emotional support.
  • Normalizing the hospital environment in an effort to promote optimal growth and development.

child life specialist drawing with a young patient and her mom

In order to create a comforting and normalizing environment for patients and families, our department provides additional services. These include pet therapy visits, daily recreational activities that give patients an opportunity to meet and socialize with one another, and special events like our annual holiday parties and Dream Cruise Parade. We also have a schoolteacher and board-certified music therapist on staff.

Where we work within the hospital

Beaumont child life specialists cover multiple areas, including the Center for Children’s Surgery, Pediatric Oncology and Hematology, the inpatient Pediatric and Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Short Stay and the Emergency Center. We also have part-time coverage at Beaumont, Troy in its inpatient pediatric unit and emergency center.

Our department attempts to see all children who are hospitalized to provide an assessment of their coping and psychosocial needs. Much like other disciplines, we receive consults from the medical team for patients and families in need.

child life specialist working with young boyChild Life Services is able to do this with the support of Children’s Miracle Network. We hope to expand our services in the future to reach all pediatric patients in Beaumont Health, including the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, pediatric specialty clinics, Pediatric Radiology, etc. We truly love what we do as well as the patients and families we serve! 

Favorite moments from our child life specialists

  • “I had a patient who was afraid of her anesthesia mask. I built rapport with the patient and got her to engage in activities with me to build rapport and trust. I provided preparation with the anesthesia mask to help her become familiar with it. I was able to have her lay down while I was blowing bubbles at her. In the end, she was breathing with the anesthesia mask on while popping bubbles to make it less traumatic.”
  • “We had a 4-year-old who refused to walk admitted to the pediatric unit. She wouldn’t even walk to the playroom. We brought in our pet therapy dog and she walked the dog around the unit multiple times.”
  • “A 7-year-old in the emergency room was screaming and crying whenever a nurse tried to touch her cut. I overheard the nurse say they were going to sedate this patient in order to clean out her wound. After talking calmly with this little girl and explaining (in a developmentally appropriate manner) the procedure of cleaning out her wound, she realized it wasn’t so scary. She engaged in deep breathing with me as the nurse cleaned and wrapped her cut without having to sedate her.”
  • “There was an 11-year-old patient who had severe second degree burn. The patient was extremely anxious and fearful of the painful daily dressing changes and physical therapy sessions. After a medical play session and extensive preparation, the patient worked with me to come up with a positive coping plan that included deep breathing, use of a stress ball, parental presence, and taking 10-second breaks every minute. All of these things helped with coping and compliance with the treatments she was undergoing during this stressful hospitalization.”
  • “A 10-year-old patient came to the emergency center and needed an IV. Her nurse informed me that this patient was very anxious and could use child life services for preparation and procedural support. I worked with this patient by providing education, preparation, and familiarization so that she knew what to expect during the procedure. To provide her with more control and mastery, she performed the procedure on a medical play doll before her own IV start. When it came time for her IV, she was no longer anxious and knew exactly what to expect and how to help make it less painful with deep breathing and distraction.”
  • “I helped create a school program that was manageable for a heart transplant patient. All of his second semester of senior year was spent inpatient. Even though every day was a challenge for him, he was able to graduate on time with his class!” – Schoolteacher
  • “I have many favorite memories of being a music therapist, but there are two that stand out above the rest. My first memory is of a cancer patient using songwriting through her journey and how she used music to express her emotions. The second is developing a heartbeat bereavement program to give parents the gift of music and a piece of their child to hold on to.” – Music Therapist

– Beaumont Children’s Child Life Team: Lisa Kristoff (CCLS), Rose Freigeh (CCLS), Michelle Staubach (CCLS), Amanda Lefkof (CCLS), Jenn Ernst (CCLS), Caroline Wall (CCLS), Holly Platis (MT-BC), Janis Traynor (Schoolteacher), Kathleen Grobbel (CCLS, Manager)

Helping your child through difficult times

sad girl holding teddy bear

Life happens!

Life events (whether good, bad, or ugly) are sometimes difficult to deal with and often stressful to children. Why? Our children try to make sense of what is happening to them or around them and can have difficulty understanding and adapting.

Stressful times

Even as adults, there are times when we seek understanding and reassurance that what has happened to us is something that others have also experienced. However, children may not have the life experiences and knowledge of events such as death, or divorce. They may be unaware that other children their age have experience with these events.

Other times, people in our lives who we consider friends may be mean to us and cause us to be anxious or afraid. Being the target of a bully or watching a bully incite fear in another is not a pleasant thing to see and can be confusing to a child.

Then there are also the occasions that children need to learn from their mistakes. Learning to share, be a friend, and self-awareness are also characteristics that we hope to instill in our children.

Helping make sense of difficult situations

As parents we take pride in taking care of our children. We often think we are helping them with their problems by our daily talks at the dinner table or at bedtime just before tucking them in with that last good night kiss.

We try to explain things to our children. We talk to their teachers or care givers and do what we can to make the situation better for them. Innately, we don’t like to see our children struggle with things that we may perceive as a natural part of growing up.

A child’s behavior speaks volumes. When a child struggles with something, we often see acting out, crying more often, or even withdrawal. To a child, his problem is very real and he is seeking ways to deal with his feelings. Oftentimes, a child will feel alone or like he is the only one who has had these experiences. But knowing that others their age have experienced the same issues can help a child get through these difficult events in their life. Like adults, children need tools to help them understand what is happening in their world.

Books as tools

As adults, we seek out books and resources to help us when we need a better understanding of what we’re facing. We need to remember that books are valuable tools for people of all ages.

Books can be a key to unlock those feelings of fear, isolation or sadness to a child. They can validate a child’s feelings and empower him to handle issues that come his way.

There are many developmentally appropriate books to help our children over the hurdles to gain insight and understanding. The spectrum of books ranges from simple picture books to chapter books with characters solving their problem.

Below is a list of challenges that occur in all of our lives, along with selected books that may be helpful to your child.

Death of a loved one

Death of a pet

Toileting

Perseverance

Sharing

Bullying

Hope

Individual uniqueness

Kindness/respect 

 Overcoming Challenges

Divorce

Feelings

Coping with a disability 

– Lori Irwin, M.Ed., is a Parenting Program volunteer. She’s a former teacher of children with severe disabilities in reading, a consultant with a leading educational book publisher, and a mother of two adult children.

 

The difference between rewards and bribes

serious looking girl with ice cream

Unaltered image. Marcin Kargol, Flickr. CC license.

When working with parents of challenging children, the topic of rewards (or, in behavioral language, “positive reinforcement”) typically comes up early in consultation or treatment. Parents often express some concerns about rewarding their children for acting appropriately, and invariably I’m asked if providing rewards is simply a dressed-up version of bribing kids to behave well. This is a great question and I’m always happy to take the opportunity to explain the differences between rewards and bribery to wary caregivers.

First, let’s take a look at some definitions as they appear in the Oxford Dictionary:

  • bribe /brīb/ verb: to dishonestly persuade (someone) to act in one’s favor by a gift of money or other inducement
  • re·ward /ri-ˈwȯrd/ verb: to give something to (someone) in recognition of their services, efforts, or achievements; to show one’s appreciation of (an action or quality)

The differences should start to become clear simply from reading these two definitions. Consider the following three factors attempting to distinguish between these two very different methods of influencing behavior.

  1. Intent. Right off the bat, it’s clear that bribery has a negative connotation as it tends to be associated with questionable morals and/or conduct. For example, one might envision a sports referee being offered a monetary bribe in return for deliberately influencing the outcome of a game. So, the first way in which bribery differs from offering a reward is that it is usually intended to promote questionable or dishonest behavior, rather than encouraging “good” behaviors one might define as constructive, prosocial or fair.
  2. Timing. The second major way in which bribery differs from rewards, particularly as it pertains to changing child behavior, is in the timing of the delivery. While an effective reward is generally set up ahead of time (i.e., before the behavior has had the chance to occur), a bribe is offered in the middle of a challenging behavior episode, usually in the desperate hope that it will turn things around.
    Here’s a classic example. A parent takes a child to the grocery store. About halfway through the trip, the child starts to whine and complain. This quickly escalates into a full-blown tantrum. In an effort to stop this disruptive (and embarrassing) behavior, the parent offers to buy the child a donut at the bakery counter in return for better behavior for the rest of the shopping trip. The child stops crying, and the parent buys the child a donut (while making every effort to finish up the shopping as quickly as possible before another meltdown can occur!). In this instance, the parent delivered a bribe in exchange for improved behavior.
    Now, let’s consider the same scenario with the parent choosing to provide a reward instead of a bribe. Before the shopping trip, the parent tells the child that she will be able to select a treat from the bakery if she can stay seated in the cart and refrain from begging or throwing a tantrum while they shop together. (Note that the parent was very specific about the desired behavior, rather than simply telling the child to “be good”). If the child successfully demonstrates the desired behavior, the parent will reward the child with the bakery treat for a job well done. However, if the child is unsuccessful (e.g., does not remain seated or has a tantrum in the middle of the store), she will not receive a donut during this shopping trip. If she asks her parent if she can have the treat, the parent explains that the child she receives a reward when she behaves well in the store, and this time she did not behave well. The parent can then decide if the shopping trip will continue despite the undesirable behavior, if the child takes a consequence (e.g., time out in the car), or if shopping gets postponed for another time and everyone goes home. This decision will depend on the severity of the child’s behavior and the parent’s remaining reservoir of patience at the given time!
  1. Long-term impact on behavior. Both rewards and bribes have the power to influence child behavior. However, bribery tends to have only short-term positive effects and can often encourage undesirable patterns of behavior in the long run. In the aforementioned example, the donut bribe did result in an end to the tantrum in the grocery store. The parent might leave the store that day thinking that a donut was a small price to pay for a few moments of peace and a successfully completed shopping trip! However, the take-away message for the child is that a tantrum can lead to donut treats, while being helpful and cooperative in the store from the start has no positive consequences at all. The next time this child accompanies her parent to store, it is likely that a bribe may be necessary again (and it might take more than a donut to appease her). In other words, bribes can teach children to behave badly to get the things they want. A well-planned reward, on the other hand, encourages desirable behavior in children. In our example, the child earned a donut for displaying the “good” behavior the parent defined for her ahead of time. She earns nothing for a tantrum, which means that in the long run, she is more likely to display “good” behavior on shopping trips with mom or dad. Parents sometimes find it helpful to think of the use of rewards as a “contract” between themselves and the child. And for those concerned that their children will still be expecting treats at the grocery store until they leave for college, I offer the reassurance that rewards are typically faded out when desirable behaviors become habitual and they are no longer necessary to help shape the child’s behavior.

Do you have a strong-willed child? Are you ready to learn more about how to change his or her behavior for the better? Consider joining us for the The Challenging Child: Positive Parenting for Family Harmony, a six-session workshop where you can learn evidence-based strategies to help you reverse coercive cycles of child noncompliance, improve parent-child communication, and rediscover the things you love about your son or daughter.

– Sarah E. Baker, Ph.D., Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Center for Human Development at Beaumont Health

Beaumont’s Big Brother – Big Sister Class

big brother holding baby brother

The Big Brother – Big Sister Class continues to be popular among families year after year. Beaumont’s Prenatal and Family Education department offers approximately one or two classes per month at Beaumont Royal Oak, Troy, and Grosse Pointe.

This lively, interactive class is designed for children ages 3 to 8 years old (although 9- and 10-year-old children are also welcome). During the class, your child will learn what new babies are like and how to prepare them for their new role as a big brother or big sister. We use dolls and an educational DVD to keep your child interested and engaged.

Your child will learn the day-to-day care that a new baby needs. Children also learn how they can help mom and dad when the new baby comes home. Safety is discussed and stressed to the young child. Hand hygiene is another component taught.

A parent joins the child for the class. As your child learns about his or her new baby sibling, we will share written information with you on how you can prepare your child for the new baby’s arrival and how to help the big sibling adjust to the newest member of the family. Techniques are discussed to help the sibling understand the normal range of emotions during this time of family transition and how to express these feelings based on their age.

The Big Brother – Big Sister Class should be taken approximately four weeks before your new baby arrives.

Click here for more information or to register for an upcoming session.

– Maribeth Baker, RN, LCCE, HBCE, Program Coordinator, Beaumont Health Prenatal and Family Education

Share your expertise with new parents as a Parenting Program group speaker

woman interacting with babies and toys

Every year, more than 55 parent groups begin their six-month journey of support and education. The topics presented help new parents gain confidence, in turn building a strong family foundation.

The Parenting Program is always seeking qualified individuals who can give a few hours a month to provide the quality education that our families have come to expect. Please take a minute to consider this opportunity to volunteer.

What we look for in a speaker

You must have knowledge or experience in the topic that you’re presenting. Here are a list of suggested presenter backgrounds and recommended topics:

  • Pediatrician, physician assistant, nurse, nurse practitioner
    • Topics:
      • Common Childhood Illnesses
      • Feeding
      • Sleep
      • Development and Temperament
  • Nutritionist
    • Topic:
      • Feeding
  • Teacher, occupational and/or speech therapist
    • Topics:
      • Play and Reading
      • Development and Temperament
      • Speech and Language Development
  • Counselor, therapist, social worker
    • Topics:
      • Adjustments to Parenthood
      • Our Past and Parenting
  • Massage therapist or someone with certification or appropriate training and experience
    • Topic:
      • Infant Massage
  • Experienced dads
    • Topic:
      • Focus on Fathers (Our “dads only” topic)
  • Experienced parents
    • Topics:
      • Child Safety
      • Travel
      • Baby Sign Language
      • Play and Reading
      • Photography
      • Exercise

Note: Retired individuals are especially welcome to share their expertise in any of these topics.

What being a speaker involves

  • We recommend that a new speaker observe an experienced speaker to get a feel for the group dynamic.
  • Each presentation is between 45 minutes and an hour.
  • Speaker outlines are provided, as are topic handouts for parents.
  • We educate in a very informal way.
    • We meet in living rooms or classrooms, and typically sit in a circle with babies on a blanket on the floor.
    • Parents are relaxed and open to discussion.

One of the greatest benefits to being a group speaker is seeing the response of parents and babies. The experience is energizing and very rewarding!

If you are interested in learning more about becoming a volunteer group speaker, please call our group coordinators at 248-898-3233 or email them directly.

  • Betsy Clancy: Elizabeth.Clancy@Beaumont.org
  • Nichole Enerson: Nichole.Enerson@Beaumont.org

Even dads get the blues: Postpartum depression in men

silhouette of man with head down

Having a baby is an amazing and wonderful experience, but it can also be overwhelming and stressful. No matter how much moms and dads prepare for the day when they bring their little bundle of joy home, parents can still be shocked by the reality of life with a new baby. It can take time to find the family’s new groove.

This can be complicated further with the addition of the most common complication of childbirth: postpartum depression (PPD). A whopping 10 to 20 percent of new moms will experience PPD and/or postpartum anxiety, and that is only the number of moms who report it!

But what about the dads? Does PPD only affect moms? The answer to that is no. Research is showing that up to 14 percent of new dads in the United States (compared to 10 percent internationally) experience paternal postpartum depression (PPPD).

The symptoms may differ from traditional depression symptoms, making PPPD challenging to diagnose. These symptoms may include:

  • Irritability isolating or withdrawing from relationships
  • Working a lot more or less
  • Low energy
  • Fatigue
  • Low motivation
  • Poor concentration
  • Changes in weight or appetite
  • Impulsivity
  • Risk-taking behaviors, often including turning to substances (e.g., alcohol, prescription drugs, etc.)
  • Physical symptoms (e.g., headaches, muscle aches, stomach/digestion issues, etc.)
  • Anger and outbursts
  • Violent behavior
  • Suicidal thoughts

Untreated depression in dads can have incredibly negative effects in many aspects of life, including impacting their children. Depressed dads are more likely to be stressed out and neglectful, as well as more likely to spank their children and less likely to read/interact with them, all of which can cause long-term consequences for their kids (Nauert, 2015).

The good news is, much like maternal PPD, paternal PPD is easily treatable. If you or someone you know may be experiencing PPPD it’s important to get help. The sooner treatment starts, the sooner you’ll enjoy your new family and be the dad you always wanted to be! For more information please check out these websites:

– Raelle Plante, MSW, Postpartum Adjustment Coordinator with the Parenting Program at Beaumont, Troy

References:

What is support?

"Support" spelled out in Scrabble letter tiles

image credit: The Blue Diamond Gallery. CC license.

Support is unconditional. It is listening, not judging, not telling your own story.

Support is not offering advice. It is offering a tissue, a touch, a hug. It is caring.

We are here to listen, not to work miracles.

We are here to help parents discover what they are feeling, not to make the feelings go away.

We are here to help parents discover their own strength, not to rescue them and then leave them vulnerable.

We are here to help parents discover that they can help themselves, not to take responsibility away from them.

We are here to help parents learn to choose, even when the choices are difficult.

– Unknown

At the Beaumont Parenting Program, we are happy to support and educate first-time parents who deliver at Beaumont. We offer specialized support for single mothers, parents experiencing postpartum depression, families of multiples, and families with a child in the NICU.

For Postpartum adjustment support, we offer weekly drop-in groups. Read more about postpartum adjustment.

For families who lost an infant during pregnancy or as a newborn, Beaumont offers the “Looking Ahead” Bereaved Parents support group.

However, Beaumont Health offers a wide range of support groups depending on your need, from cancer care to eating disorders to women’s pelvic pain and more. Check out the complete list of Beaumont support groups.


Topics

Enter your email address and you'll receive notifications of new posts in your in-box.

Join 2,883 other followers

Free Developmental Screening

Confidential online developmental screening for children up to age 5

Awards