- Special Report: How Resilience Can Get Us Through the Pandemic
- 25 Scientific Tips For Raising Happy (& Healthy) Kids
- Don't be fooled by their height
- Support the shy ones
- Live in the moment
- Tell them how they feel
- Slow down
- Limit distractions
- Be polite
- Remember, teenage tantrums are real
- The golden rule
- Stick to the basics
- Ashland Bellefonte Cancer Center
- How to Talk to Doctors When They Don’t Listen
Special Report: How Resilience Can Get Us Through the Pandemic
I t was supposed to be the happiest time of my life: I had moved from New York City to Washington, DC, to enroll in a graduate program in international relations at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
My career was on track. My health was good. And oh, yes: I was engaged to a kind, brilliant, charming, and honest man, a Navy doc who was opening hospitals for pediatric cancer patients in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Life was rocking — except for my gnawing suspicion that the sweet, noble doctor might not be as sweet (or noble) as he’d purported to be.
Was he really a former Navy SEAL? Could he really have rescued his ex-wife when she was held hostage in Iran? I questioned almost every utterance that came his mouth; he, in turn, attacked me for having “trust issues.
” I began second-guessing everything about myself, my beliefs, and my perceptions; not only could I not trust him, but I could no longer trust myself.
Twelve months into the relationship, I left. I couldn’t live in that liminal space between fact and fiction and not know which was which. I then promptly beat myself up for being such a horrible, mistrusting commitment-phobe. Why did I have to be so suspicious? Why couldn’t I have a normal relationship other people?
Besides the emotional despair, there were logistical issues. The future I’d anticipated was suddenly derailed. I’d given up my place in Manhattan, I had no money, and nowhere to go. Plus, I still had classes and work to deal with. Now what was I supposed to do?
Come up with a plan. Figure it out.
So I did. I wrangled a magazine assignment about Washington hotels, which I clearly had to test out in person. I commuted to DC once a week by bus and continued my studies at Hopkins.
I sold my engagement ring (which, for the record, I tried to return to my ex but he told me to keep) and even began dating again. In short, I turned lemons into lemon meringue pie.
It wasn’t fun, it wasn’t pleasant, but I refused to let some guy bring me down, even if he was a war hero.
A year and a half after I left him, he was arrested for writing fraudulent prescriptions for narcotics. Not only had he forged the names of his colleagues at the Pentagon (where he actually did work), but also those of his deceased relatives, his former father-in-law, a smattering of fictional counterparts — and me.
He had not been a SEAL nor any kind of special operative; he met his ex-wife in medical school. After the shock wore off, elation set in. I’d been right to dump him; the dude was bad! (The woman he was engaged to — while he was engaged to me — agreed.
) He spent the next two years in prison, and I ended up writing a book about deception, based largely on that experience.
What I went through was traumatic and, clearly, psychologically damaging. But I did learn a few things from it, most notably how resourceful I am. Rather than flee the country in humiliation and despair, I figured a way a hole. I didn’t give up on my goals; I just rejiggered them.
In a strange way, it was very similar to what is going on today with the coronavirus: Nobody really knows what the real story is, or who is giving us the straight facts, or how everything is going to play out.
Our heads are all spinning. On the other hand, no one died in my story. And I didn’t have to self-isolate (though I wanted to). My small world was spinning control, yes. But it didn’t feel the end of the world.
The word for this is “resilience,” derived from the Latin word resilire, meaning to rebound. And it’s a skill — yes, skill — we need to develop.
25 Scientific Tips For Raising Happy (& Healthy) Kids
A father and son bond over kite-flying. (Image credit: Sergej Khakimullin, Shutterstock)
There are many ways to raise happy, well-adjusted kids, but science has a few tips for making sure they turn out okay. From keeping it fun to letting them leave the nest, here are 10 research-based tips for good parenting.
Don't be fooled by their height
(Image credit: Dreamstime)
No matter how tall they get or how grown-up they look, your kids are still just that … kids. And parents of older children especially need to remember this fact, according to Sara Johnson, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
The developmental period known as adolescence lasts about 10 years — from ages 11 to 19 — and it's regarded as a critical time for brain development. So it's important to keep in mind that, even as kids grow into young adults, “they are still in a developmental period that will affect the rest of their life,” Johnson told Live Science in March 2016.
Support the shy ones
(Image credit: altanaka/Shutterstock.
A little bashfulness is one thing, but kids with behavioral inhibition — a trait that refers to shyness and also extreme caution in the face of new situations — may be at higher risk of developing anxiety disorders, according to researchers. And parents who shelter kids demonstrating behavioral inhibition (in effect, encouraging this inhibition) may actually make the situation worse.
So how do you support shy kids? The key is to get them their comfort zones without trying to change their nature, said Sandee McClowry, a psychologist at New York University.
Why not just break them of their shy habbits? Research has shown that shyness is a part of some children's character and a very difficult trait to change.
In other words, it's better to work with shyness than against it.
“That acceptance of the child is a huge, huge thing,” McClowry told Live Science in September 2016.
Live in the moment
(Image credit: szefei/Shutterstock.com)
Adults tend to constantly think about the future, but kids — especially preschool-age kids (ages 2 to 5) — live in the here and now, scientists say. To get on a kid's level, parents need to learn how to live in the moment, too, said Tovah Klein, director of the Barnard College Center for Toddler Development in New York City.
This is especially true when it comes to communicating verbally with a young child, said Klein, who is also the author of “How Toddlers Thrive” (Touchstone, 2014).
Instead of telling a 3 year old that it's time to get ready for some future action, going to school, parents should give their child a set of instructions, Klein told Live Science in August 2016. Replace ambiguous statements “it's almost time for school” with clear, simple explanations and directions, such as, “We need to leave for school. It's time to get your coat.”
Tell them how they feel
(Image credit: Alena Ozerova/Shutterstock.com)
While older kids are widely regarded as the kings and queens of self-expression, young children often lack the vocabulary to properly label their own emotions, according to researchers who study child development.
Kids ages 2 to 5 are just starting to understand emotions fear, frustration or disappointment, according to Klein.
You can help your kid express herself by calling out such emotions when you see them. For example, a parent might say, “It's disappointing that it's raining outside, and you can't go out to play,” Klein said.
(Image credit: Soloviova Liudmyla/Shutterstock.com)
The hectic schedule of adulthood doesn't always vibe with the relaxed pace of childhood, according to Klein.
“Children move at a slower rate,” and parents should try to match that pace, Klein said. By scheduling extra time for the little things, a bedtime routine or a trip to the grocery store, parents can turn hectic chores into more meaningful time with their children, she said.
(Image credit: NotarYES/Shutterstock.com)
Do you check emails or scroll through your social media feeds while spending quality time with your kids? Because you shouldn't, Klein said.
It's hard to be really engaged with your kids if you're distracted by a bunch of other things. And this distracted presence can take a toll on children, who might feel you're not really there for them when you're attention is divided, Klein said
“Children don't need their parents’ attention 24/7 and 100 percent of the time,” she said. But when your kids do need your full attention, you should give it to them without any caveats.
(Image credit: Oshvintsev Alexander/Shutterstock.com)
Want to raise polite children? Try adding the words “please” and “thank you” to your own vocabulary.
Kids learn how to interact with others mainly by observing how grown-ups do it and then modeling that behavior themselves, according to Klein.
So if you treat everyone — from cashiers and bus drivers to teachers and family members — with respect and politeness, chances are your kids will, as well.
Remember, teenage tantrums are real
(Image credit: Sabphoto/Shutterstock.com)
Just when the tantrums of your child's toddler years seem ancient history, you can expect such emotional outbursts to make another appearance.
Adolescent kids (ages 11 to 19) deal with a lot of social, emotional and mental stress that they don't yet have the ability to process or cope with, according to Johns Hopkins' Sara Johnson. This can result in some serious tantrums, which might surprise the unwary parent.
In such situations, parents should stay calm and listen to their children, said Sheryl Feinstein, author of “Inside the Teenage Brain: Parenting a Work in Progress” (Rowman and Littlefield, 2009.) Modeling levelheaded behavior is a good way to teach your teen the proper way to deal with all that stress.
The golden rule
Using harsh words with teens may actually lead to worse behavior, a new study finds.
(Image credit: Dad and teen photo via Shutterstock)
We'll keep this one short and simple: Thou shalt not yell at your teenager. Seriously, just don't do it.
The more you yell at a teen, the worse they're ly to behave, according to a study published in 2013 in the journal Child Development.
Stick to the basics
(Image credit: Vasilyev Alexandr/Shutterstock.com)
“There are a lot of different ways to raise kids, and there's not one formula that works for every kid,” said Amy Bohnert, a psychologist who researches child development at Loyola University Chicago. But surely there's some kind of recipe for success when it comes to parenting, right?
Kind of: Bonhert said the first basic rule of being a good parent is fostering a secure and warm attachment with your kids.
That way they know their needs will be met and that they'll have a place to go when they need comfort.
And as they get older, kids need freedom to explore their own identities and make mistakes, but in a safe and age-appropriate way, Bonhert told Live Science in 2011.
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How to Talk to Doctors When They Don’t Listen
You’re in the room. That tiny one with the examination table, the sink, the little chair, and the fluorescent light. Your doctor, running late, finally pops through the door. Quick pleasantries are exchanged, and then it’s down to business.
You explain why you’re there. You go over your symptoms. Already, you feel you’re off to the races, and you’re probably right. Research says you get only seconds to talk before the doctor jumps in with a word, question, comment, or redirect.
It all seems so scripted. Does the doctor even hear what you’re saying?
Not all visits are this, of course. But many are. Studies show most complaints about doctors don’t have anything to do with their medical skills. It's mostly about poor communication.
A recent study found that 75% of doctors believed that they communicated satisfactorily with those in their care. Only 21% of the people treated by those doctors said that their talks went well.
Somewhere, there’s a disconnect. That can be devastating.
The more you and your doctor talk with each other — really, really talk — the better the chance you’ll feel better.
“I always tell my patients that we’re a team. It’s you and me, working together for the betterment of your health,” says Ada Stewart, a family doctor with the Eau Claire Cooperative Health Centers in Columbia, SC.
“We gotta work this together,” Stewart says. “You may not agree with all that I say, and if you don’t, then I need to know … But I think the biggest thing is to have that trust. To have that patient-physician relationship. That’s really important.”
But what if that bond isn’t there? What if you don’t feel you’re being heard?
How do you get your doctor to listen? Really, really listen?
Jot down some notes before you go. Have an idea of how you want your time with the doctor to go. Make sure you talk about what you want to talk about. Ask questions. Listen to the answers. Follow up.
Even more, have your health story ready when you get to the office. And tell it, says Leana Wen, MD, a doctor in Baltimore and the author of When Doctors Don't Listen: How to Avoid Misdiagnoses and Unnecessary Tests.
“Doctors end up asking about symptoms rather than the story. And [people] then get conditioned to talk about their symptoms instead of their stories,” Wen says. “Studies have shown that over 80% of diagnoses can be made just by listening.
“By that, they mean listening to the story, the open-ended story of what happened, rather than asking a list of yes-no questions,” she says.
Don’t go into that little office, Wen suggests, simply saying your chest hurts. Tell the story of it. For example:
- When it started
- If it’s been painful before
- What you were doing when your first felt it
- How it felt
- How often you feel the pain
That can really help clear things up.
“If a [person] were allowed to tell the story, they might also feel more listened to as well,” Wen says.
Leonard Reeves, MD, a family doctor from Rome, GA, says some old-school listening can really help your doctor.
“The old rule when I was in medical school, back in the old days of stone tablets, was that if you listen to the [person] long enough, they’ll tell you what’s wrong with them,” Reeves says.
Be straightforward and open-ended in asking questions, and be honest if you feel you’re not being heard. Some suggestions:
- “I’m worried that we aren’t communicating well. Here's why I feel that way.”
- “I need to talk with you about X. I feel I can’t. Can we talk about this?”
- “I know you're busy, but I need to talk about X with you. Can we get some time on the calendar?”
- “Can you help me understand X?”
Consider bringing a friend or family member to your appointment. Someone else may catch things you miss, or ask a question you haven’t thought of.
Be honest and accurate. Some people go to the doctor and don’t tell the whole truth.
“Things that they don’t feel comfortable with, mostly,” Reeves says. “Whether it’s use of illegal drugs or alcohol use. Maybe it’s sexual in origin. But you need to be able to build up that relationship between your physician and yourself that you feel you can tell them whatever you need to tell them.
“These things do impact your health.”
Ask about the best way you can contact the doctor with other questions.
Give feedback about the doctor’s care and your office experience.
Robert Arnold, MD, a doctor who heads the University of Pittsburgh’s Institute for Doctor-Patient Communication, says doctors and those in their care should do what nurses often do — a “teach-back” moment.
“At the end of the visit, [you] say to your doctor, ‘I want to make sure that I have it right. So what you want me to do is this,” Arnold says. “And what the doctor could do is say, at the end of the visit, ‘Just to make sure we’re on the same page, tell me what you’re going to do.’”
In addition to a lack of time, doctors face other barriers to good communication, including:
- Jargon that is often misunderstood by those in their care
- A general lack of, or perhaps a breakdown of, simple communication skills, including picking up nonverbal cues
- Fear of being sued
- Avoidance of emotional and social issues
- Cultural barriers between doctors and who they’re serving
- Feeling confrontational after resistance or questioning by those in their care
Doctors are trying to do their part to communicate better, following educational models with names AIDET — Acknowledge, Introduce, Duration (allowing an adequate amount of time to talk), Explanation, and Thank You — and RESPECT (Rapport, Empathy, Support, Partnership, Explanations, Cultural Competence, and Trust).
Some experts push the “Four E's” of effective health care communication: Engage (building a rapport), Empathize, Educate, and Enlist (inviting those under their care to actively take part in health care planning).
many doctors, Reeves remembers when doctors could take the time to truly listen to people’s problems. With all those barriers to good communication, though, with full waiting rooms and the burden of keeping electronic medical records, it’s getting more difficult every day to make that connection.
“We have gotten away from [good communication] because we’re so pushed to see the next [person],” Reeves says.
“If we can ever get it to the point where physicians can actually sit down, listen to the [person] and be involved in their care, rather than feeling you’re making widgets every day and you got to turn out the next one, then I think we, as a society, are going to be healthier and, to be honest with you, happier.”
If there’s a communication problem, though, it’s probably up to you to fix it.
And if you can’t?
“You should always find a doctor that you feel that you can trust and you think is listening to you,” Wen says. “If you don’t think your doctor is listening, how can you trust that he or she is making the correct diagnoses and treatment recommendations for you?
“I would say, though, that it is important to give your doctor another chance, because maybe there’s something that you can do, too,” Wen says.
“But if you feel you’re still not being listened to, maybe it’s time to look for somebody else who you’re more comfortable with.”
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American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: “Committee Opinion: Effective Patient-Physician Communication.”
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: “Academy News: Engage, empathize, educate and enlist to ensure communication.”
Ada Stewart, MD, Eau Claire Cooperative Health Centers, Columbia, SC; member, board of directors, American Academy of Family Physicians.
Johns Hopkins Medicine: “Don’t Be Shy: 4 Tips for Talking to Your Doctor.”
Leana Wen, MD, Baltimore; author, When Doctors Don't Listen: How to Avoid Misdiagnoses and Unnecessary Tests.
American Cancer Society: “The Doctor-Patient Relationship.”
National Institutes of Health: “Talking to Your Doctor.”
Hospital for Special Surgery: “Doctor-Patient Communication: An SLE Workshop Support Group summary.”
Robert Arnold, MD, professor, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; director, Institute for Doctor-Patient Communication, University of Pittsburgh; medical director, University of Pittsburgh Palliative and Supportive Institute.
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality: “Use the Teach-Back Method: Rule #5.”
Leonard Reeves, MD, Faith and Deeds Free Clinic, Rome, GA; associate dean, Northwest Clinical Campus of the Medical College of Georgia; member, board of directors, American Academy of Family Physicians.
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