There are three ways to use the new PKR:

  1. Browse and click on color-coded boxes that appear as if by magic as you scroll down.
  2. Click on a category for all the ParenTips under that particular category.
  3. Go to the Site Map (link) for an:
    • a) alphabetical list of all ParenTips.
    • b) A list of all 8 categories with every ParenTip in that category listed alphabetically.

Or mix and match! Have fun as you get the information you need!

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As parents you spend much more time with your child than the doctor does. Therefore, you will always know more about your child than the doctor does.

Because parents are the ones who must tell the doctor what’s going on in the child, you have a responsibility to learn to observe your child for signs of illness.

The big problem is deciding what symptoms are important. Which symptoms should be called to the doctor’s attention? What symptoms can be treated at home? What can be safely ignored?

In deciding whether your child’s symptoms warrant calling the doctor, think of the “Three P’s”.

The first “P” stands for two words beginning with the letter P: PERSONAL PATTERN. You know the personal pattern of your child, better than anyone else does. Does your daughter get a headache every time she has to get ready to go somewhere? If so, her headache is probably not significant. If your son, who never gets a headache, is complaining bitterly of a headache it could be important.

Another aspect of personal pattern is whether or not the child LOOKS SICK. Parents learn to recognize their child’s “sick look”. Some children get circles under their eyes; others look worried or distressed or very unhappy.

Still another aspect of personal pattern is whether or not the child ACTS SICK. Some children get fatigued early in the course of an illness. Many become irritable and out of sorts. A few, paradoxically, get “hyper” (they feel so cranky that they race around trying to find something to make them feel better).

The second “P” is PERSISTENCE. Many tummy aches go away quickly, some in minutes after the child passes gas or has a bowel movement, others in seconds after the child is distracted. But if a stomach ache persists–doesn”t go away that day or comes back every day for several days–it should be called to the attention of the doctor.

The third “P” stands for PROGRESSION. Are the symptoms getting worse? More frequent? Lasting longer?

If your daughter has a stomach ache that is unusual for her (not her personal pattern) you might suggest that she lie down for a while to see if she will feel better. If in a couple of hours she seems distressed and looks sick, if the pain is still there (persistence), and if it is getting worse (progression)–call the doctor.

If your son complains of a headache after going to a movie, he says the headache feels better after he rests for a couple of hours and the headache is gone the next morning–obviously you do not have to call the doctor.

I realize that most parents, especially new parents, are concerned about when to call the doctor. You don’t want to miss anything serious, but you also don’t want cry wolf and be “branded” as an excessive worrier by the doctor and his or her staff.

There’s no formula or recipe I can write here to cover every possible situation. But I do have two suggestions:

1) Develop at least some familiarity with illness in children. There are several excellent books on the market that help parents understand children’s symptoms and, further, delineate which symptoms are serious. Browse in the library or go on the internet.

2) WHEN IN DOUBT ALWAYS CALL THE DOCTOR. Your child’s doctor has two obligations. One is to take care of your child; the other is to alleviate parental anxiety. Don’t ever put yourself in the position of putting your child in jeopardy or feeling anxious all day because you didn’t call.