The fostering of mental health during the early periods of childhood is an area in which the pediatrician plays a vital role. There are two parts which have particular relevance for the pediatrician. One has to do with counseling around a particular problem or symptom, and the other is concerned with helping parents to understand the various stages of child development in order to prevent some of the difficulties which might otherwise be encountered. These two aspects were considered in this presentation.
COUNSELING IN RESPECT TO A CHILD'S BEHAVIOR
When a mother complains about her child's behavior, how can a pediatrician go about investigating it? What does one look for? And if emotional disturbances are uncovered, what can one do about them? In the field of child psychiatry there is no neat answer to every problem. A behavior problem is not a clinical syndrome any more than a symptom like fever or headache is a disease. Furthermore, the clinical syndromes in the field of child psychiatry are not as yet very well defined. There are variables among the determinants of most human behavior which are hard to identify and to evaluate, and usually there are some that are unknown. This leads to the necessity of tentativeness at first in planning for a child's treatment, and uncertainty, often, as to prognosis.
For anyone, the effectiveness of what is done depends greatly upon how adequate an understanding of the child's environmental background one is able to acquire. Such aspects of the environmental background as the emotional atmosphere of the home, the personalities and emotional adjustment of the parents, the feelings of the parents toward the child and his behavior, and the feelings of the child about the people around him, are all important.
- Copyright © 1960 by the American Academy of Pediatrics