Finding the Best Healthcare for Your Child: A Guide for Parents

Dec 5, 2023

Are you in search of the best healthcare for your child? We've all experienced a range of medical experiences, from excellent to not-so-great to terrible. I want to share a perspective that might surprise you. When seeking medical care for your child, you desire a professional who understands your family dynamics, cares deeply for your child's well-being, and considers all aspects of their life when making medical decisions. I’m here to tell you the best medical practitioner for your child is YOU. You, the parents, are the best healthcare advocate for your child and your child needs you to be in this overwhelming healthcare environment. 

Acknowledging Exceptional Medical Practitioners:

Let me clarify—I'm not discrediting the dedicated healthcare professionals on your team. The truth is, many exceptional providers offer valuable advice. I have some excellent doctors on my team, and if you've found reliable practitioners, keep them onboard. However, our fast-paced, revenue-driven healthcare system doesn't always prioritize your child's best interests. Locate good healthcare providers and keep them on your team.

Empowering Parents in Healthcare Decisions:

In this hectic healthcare environment, advocating for your child's well-being is crucial. Most importantly, your child's doctors want you to be an active participant and advocate in their care.

Consider Medical Advice as Suggestions:

Treat medical advice as suggestions rather than absolutes. Take time to explore all considerations, asking questions and understanding all available options. Different conditions may warrant distinct approaches, and not all decisions require immediate action. It's common for people to feel rushed into decisions, accepting a doctor's initial recommendation without exploring alternatives. Ask your child's medical practitioner plenty of questions, always probing for ALL available options. Some conditions may benefit from a "wait and see" approach, while others may require more immediate attention.

Exploring Concurrent Treatment Options:

Medical treatments aren't always exclusive to one method. As a physical therapist, I appreciate concurrent treatments, combining approaches like medication, acupuncture, chiropractic, and physical therapy. This holistic approach can significantly enhance overall outcomes.

Seeking Multiple Opinions:

Feel free to seek second or third opinions. Consistency in recommendations can simplify decisions, but differing opinions require further exploration. If you seek three different opinions and they align, your decision may become clearer. However, if opinions vary, your child's unique situation may demand a personalized approach.

Listening to Your Intuition:

After collecting information, tap into your intuition. Consider what feels right for you and aligns with your child's physical and emotional well-being. Also, weigh spiritual, cultural, and social aspects that are important to your family and lifestyle. 

Give it Time:

While some decisions may be urgent or emergent, if possible, create space between medical advice and your decision-making. Resist feeling pressured into immediate decisions, and avoid making choices you're not comfortable with. Conduct research, but be cautious of relying solely on Dr. Google and online sources. Seek input from others, recognizing that each person's experience is unique and your experience won’t be exactly the same as anyone else's. 

Respecting Differing Perspectives:

Recognize that healthcare decisions are deeply personal. Even if you disagree with someone's choices, respect is essential. Consider the example of Bob Marley, who had a melanoma skin cancer under his big toe and rejected doctors' advice to amputate the toe due to religious beliefs. He later died at age 36 of metastasis from the skin cancer on his toe to his lungs, brain and liver. His decisions, while not universally agreed upon, do not diminish the impact of his life. I love his last words to his son Ziggy, “Money can’t buy life.” It's essential to find healthcare providers who respect your decisions regardless of their recommendations.

Empower Your Child to Make Healthy Healthcare Decisions:

Empowering your child to make healthy healthcare decisions for themselves is the best and most important thing you can do. And it is an essential aspect of their growth and development. As they transition into adolescence and beyond, instilling a sense of responsibility for their own well-being is a valuable gift. Encourage open communication, ensuring they feel comfortable discussing health-related concerns and decisions with you. Teach them to ask questions during medical appointments, fostering curiosity and self-advocacy. By nurturing their ability to make informed choices, you contribute not only to their overall health but also to their development of essential life skills for the future. Remember, the goal is to raise individuals who are not only physically resilient but also empowered to actively participate in their own healthcare journey.

As parents, you are the ultimate healthcare advocates for your children. Embrace the role, utilizing medical practitioners as allies. Spend time exploring all aspects of your child's health, ensuring that the decisions you make align with what is best for your child. Remember, you are worth the effort, and your child's well-being is at the heart of it all.

If you ever need support navigating the current medical system to make a sound medical decision weighing on you, Bay Laurel Athletics is here to support you. Give us a call. 

Written by:

Dr. Laurel Mines, PT, DPT, OCS

Physical Therapist and Sports Mental Performance Coach