Most parents turn to pediatricians as their trusted source of advice about child-rearing problems. Conversely, many pediatricians worry about the impact family and modern-day stressors have on children’s health. Yet a typical visit to the doctor is a difficult time for the kind of consultation many parents need. Until now.
Parent Connext™ was designed by Beech Acres Parenting Center staff with pediatricians to solve this dilemma, in partnership with the Mayerson Center for Safe and Healthy Children at Cincinnati Children’s. The program is funded by Bethesda Inc. and the Mental Health Recovery Services of Warren & Clinton Counties. The aim of Parent ConnextTM is to support, educate and connect parents to the next step on their parenting path. Parenting Specialists are located right in the pediatric practice, making them convenient for parents.
Parent Connext™ is on its own journey to demonstrate a positive impact on the quality of children’s health, parent and physician satisfaction, and long- term cost reduction, by intervening in potential future health problems before they get started. In its first seven months, Parent Connext™ has made impressive progress on its three-year journey to demonstrate stronger pediatric health care.
Testing in four pediatric offices thus far, as of the end of the fiscal year, 1588 families have been screened during well-child visits for stress from environmental and parenting factors. Beech Acres Parenting Specialists have received a total of 426 referrals, either through the screenings or directly from the pediatricians.
Through our Natural Strength Parenting™ framework, Parenting Specialists encourage parents to:
- shift from reactive to intentional parenting,
- focus on developing their child’s natural strengths (and their own),
- and mindfully notice each moment with their child as an opportunity to deepen their relationship and model important values.
One family recently referred to Sue, a Parent Connext™ Parenting Specialist, brought Natural Strength Parenting™ to life in their home. Literally. Frustrated by their son’s big emotions and often aggressive meltdowns, Kelly sought advice from her pediatrician. Sue was there to help.
Kelly and husband, Jon, identified living by values-based goals as a priority for their family. With Sue’s guidance and support, they convened a family meeting with their three children to create their family’s goals. They decided to ‘build their house’ out of values.
Once they decided what was most important to their family (happiness and joy), the parents and kids examined who they are as a family. These qualities became the foundation for their house of values. An exploration of each member’s natural strengths led them to see that their family is kind, respectful, responsible, accountable, healthy and safe.
Building on their strengths of teamwork and creativity, they made a poster together. A house. house of values. It was important for them to quantify what made their family unique. They listed their values as the foundation of the house. Under happiness and joy as the roof, they made a list of tangible items providing structure for their values.
After asking each other what their values looked like to them, their answers were:
- Stay calm when upset (Self-Regulation)
- Use respectful words (Kindness)
- Tell the truth (Honesty)
When they were finished they had a new perspective on who they are as a family.
Upon reflection, Kelly commented, “I found this process very valuable to my family. It has helped me accept who we are and to respond to each other in a more thoughtful way. I’ve also learned some strategies to use to help me respond appropriately during a meltdown. And, I’ve enjoyed learning about meditation. It has been a neat new tool for me to use for myself and with my son.”
Kelly and Jon learned several very practical tools by shifting from our typical reactive mode as parents to a more intentional and mindful approach based on a better understanding and appreciation of each family member’s natural strengths. This will help them stay grounded, and together when difficult challenges and stressors arise in their lives going forward. They also have firm validation of their family’s values and love for one another.
Parent Connext™services are currently available at select TriHealth/ GroupHealth Associates offices in Anderson and Kenwood, Pediatric Associates of Northern Kentucky and Landen Lake Pediatrics with designs to expand to more offices throughout the Greater Cincinnati area in 2018.
Special Thanks to Bethesda Inc. for their support of this program.