Advocating for Your Child

Advocating can be a challenge at times. Especially when it comes to something medical. For some reason, we keep our mouths closed and follow the lead of a doctor or nurse. Maybe it is because we assume that they know better or we are too uncomfortable in the environment. Whatever the reason, it happens quite a bit.

As a child life specialist, I remember having my own run ins with doctors who wouldn’t allow me into an exam room to help a child during the procedure. It was incredibly frustrating and made me fight even harder to get them to accept me as both a team member. I had to just keep trying, educating them on the importance of my services and the benefits for everyone involved.

After many weeks of not giving up, I finally got them to understand and accept me. It was as if a light went off in their head and they realized that it did work. I was then asked to prepare patients, accompany them in all procedures and participate in medical rounds.

As a parent, I can see how it can be a struggle to advocate for our kids. I think that it is important to acknowledge who are the experts of our kids. It’s not the doctor, it’s the parents and caregivers. We know our kids better than anybody. We hold that power and need to voice it, even when it is not asked.IMG_3284

Here is an example

I had to take my 13 month old to get another blood draw done. I knew that the doctor was “old school” and would want to hold him down. Of course this goes against everything that I was taught as both a child life specialist and as a mother. I don’t want my child to be held down by two strangers and then experience a painful procedure.

I would rather have him sit on my lap while I hold him safety. He can have his pacifier, I can sing and talk to him softly in his ear. He will still have tears and be upset, but that is a normal coping method. The trauma of being held will be eliminated.

When I get to the exam room the doctor and her assistant ask me to lie him down on the table. I asked if he could sit on my lap in the chair and their response was, “No, it was more safe to have him lie down on the table.”

Time to Advocate

Here is where parent’s can lose the battle of advocating. We could just give in and say the doctor knows best and let’s do it their way or we could advocate for a position of comfort.

So I advocated again and asked if he could sit on my lap. I explained that he had gotten his last blood draw done this way before and it was successful. They agreed. I was shocked, but very happy. Needless to say they got it done within just a minute or two and he was back to himself seconds after.

So maybe we all learned something in that moment. I learned to stand my ground because I am my son’s advocate. I think that they may have learned that you can do a blood draw another way and it will be successful. Both the child and the parent were happy and that is what matters most.

Have you found yourself in a similar situation?

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