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The Paediatrician’s role in understanding and supporting parenting practices through a health behaviour lens
  1. Ripudaman Singh Minhas1,2,
  2. Shazeen Suleman1,2
  1. 1Pediatrics, St. Michael's Hospital, Unity Health Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  2. 2Pediatrics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ripudaman Singh Minhas; ripudaman.minhas{at}unityhealth.to

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What’s the right bedtime for my child?

How do we cut down on junk food at home?

How do I decrease my child’s “screen time”?

When my child has an “episode”, should I give a “time out”?

Today, parents can access a myriad of online resources for advice on strategies to support their child’s health and development. A large proportion of families present annually to their doctor with concerns that require counselling around parenting behaviours, including management of obesity, sleep hygiene, screen time practices, reading and literacy at home, and behaviour management. Indeed, for many of these behaviours, there exist evidence-based recommendations or consensus guidelines that paediatricians can use to advise their patients’ parents. However, it is important to consider how comfortable paediatricians are in providing this advice, and furthermore, how effective they are in helping families to change their parenting behaviours.

Modification of these behaviours is known to impact long-term health outcomes. Households with excessive screen time exposure are associated with increased risk of speech delay, obesity and sleep problems.1–3 Likewise, families who incorporate structured bedtime reading routines are associated with improved social behaviours, emotional and behavioural regulation, sleep, cognitive development and school readiness.4 We understand that caregiving practices are deeply ingrained, being impacted by a multitude of factors such as parents’ own families of origin, culture, education background, parental mental health and financial resources.

There is well-established literature and numerous evidence-based parenting programmes that delineate key features of how parents can encourage positive behaviours …

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