Child psychologist Dr. Jean Clinton stops in Sioux Lookout on northern tour, discusses positive parenting and child development
Andre Gomelyuk - Staff Writer
The Kenora District Best Start Network extended their northern discussion tour of the importance of social connections and meaningful relationship to Sioux Lookout, by inviting guest speaker, Dr. Jean Clinton to town on Sept. 15.
Clinton, an infant, child, adolescence physiatrist, with 35 years of experience, is also a clinical professor at McMaster University.
The Sioux Lookout stop was sponsored by Sioux Lookout First Nation Health Authority’s departments of Community Approach to Wellbeing (CAW) and Developmental Services, which was led by Candi Edwards, an associate director who overseers Preventing in Chronic Diseases, Harm Reduction and Raising Our Kids programs for the organization.
The event took place on Thursday, Sept. 15, from 5p.m. to 7p.m. at Royal Canadian Legion, with a light meal of chili prepared by the Legion Ladies Auxiliary.
Dr. Clinton shared her support for the Best Start Network as a great motto for how the community works together, “BSN is great, their thinking about, how we can create, bring the silos, a community. All kids are our kids. All kids get a chance to thrive. How to support families, to know we can raise them well.” Dr. Clinton led a discussion with attendees on safe nurturing relationships and the importance of reliability, secure attachments and youth development effects on neuroplasticity and our brain. Dr. Clinton elaborated on neuroplasticity and the needs for a secure attachment as, “The neurons, the brain is plastic, it changes by experiences, what we know… a loving, a nurturing, consistent, a response home. Want to create a society where those kids, all kids, have strong foundations of predictability.” The presentation focused on two primary take-away messages which identified different parenting styles, and different kinds of stress, as Dr. Clinton described healthy stress as vital for child development. As well as the effects of different parenting styles, whether you are brick wall parent, jellyfish family, or uninvolved, she shared, “the best is to be kind, firm, and fair.”
“When a family is pregnant, they are both pregnant and the role of the partner is to be like a pillow, absorb and buffer the stress of a woman being pregnant,” said Dr. Clinton. She continued, “If we got moms or dads really depressed then they will not be available to help that baby on how the world works. They won’t be there for the baby’s needs. If they have drug or alcohol problems, they can’t be there, that’s why we need a community.”
Dr. Clinton shared with participants that we really need to pay better attention to the teachings of the elders. She shared a recent medical article regarding the impacts of stress during pregnancy, and its affects to the developing fetus stating, “This has been a teaching for 2000 years and the white scientists are just figuring it our right now? We really need to start paying better attention.” Dr. Clinton wrapped up the discussion on children managing and building their emotions by parents who are great co-regulators stating, “Being a co-regulator, lending you their calm, you have to have some calm in the first place. What are my buttons? Okay, if I’m getting this upset, I need to give myself permission to breath. Why? At the end of the day, people will forget what you said, what you did, but will never forget how they made you feel. As kids are coming home, is coming home feeling like a refuge? A safe place? Or does it feel like a warzone? What I’m hoping is that some of this will open the ideas and questions, how can I make my home feel safe?”
To inquire on how to contact Approaches to Community Wellbeing for programs and support people can email at [email protected] or call their toll-free line at 1-866-337-0081.
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