Many parents say they wouldn’t talk to doctor about kids’ behavior or emotions

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MERRIAM, Kan. -- When your child has a fever or rash, you don't hesitate to go to the doctor. But would you also talk with your doctor about your child's temper tantrums or trouble with homework? A new poll finds many parents don't speak up even though doctors say they should.

Fever and cough are why Finn Grummert's mom brought him to Shawnee Mission Pediatrics. She says she would also come here to talk with the doctor about her children's behavior.

"Yes, I would. She's my first stop. I would call them about most everything," Holly Grummert said.

The new National Poll on Children's Health from C.S. Mott Children's Hospital at the University of Michigan found 60 percent of parents would talk with the doctor if their child had been extremely sad for over a month. That could be a sign of depression or even possibly a thyroid problem.
But only half would share that their child was having temper tantrums that seemed worse than in other kids their age.

"It can be a sign of poor sleep, poor nutrition, something else going on in the child's life -- anxiety, potentially even on the spectrum of autism," Dr. Lisa Avery said.

Half of parents would talk with the doctor if their child seemed more worried or anxious while only 37 percent would mention that their child was having trouble organizing homework.

"That could be attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity disorder that can be a sign of underlying depression if they're not doing well in school," Dr. Avery said.

In the survey, many parents said they just didn't think behavioral issues were medical problems or they'd rather handle it themselves.

"They don't know who to talk to," said Grummert.

She also said they could be embarrassed.

"Or no one else's kid acts like this. This is the worst. We're alone," she said of why other parents may not speak up.

Dr. Avery says parents shouldn't be afraid.

"That's what we're here for. We have connections in the community," she said.

If the pediatrician can't help your child, she knows who can.