She won’t pull up to your house in a way cute mini cooper and stay for a week to help you figure out how to keep your 2-year-old from banging his head on the wall. But Dr. Teresa Baird at the Oklahoma City-County Health Department does have no nonsense advice on how to tackle your child-raising issues. And most importantly she has perspective.
Sometimes when you’re in it up to your elbows, it’s hard to see the common sense solutions to your problems. My 3-year-old recently has been giving me fits. I’m almost certain that is an experience not unique to me.
Her teachers call her strong willed. I call her sassy. Except when the cashier at Target asks her what her name is and she crosses her arms and wrinkles her face, looks to the ground and growls, “I’m not talking to you, ” then I call her Satan. Not to her face of course, but later at night when I am telling my husband about our shopping adventure.
Truth be told, Cybil is probably a more accurate nickname. Because often she bounces right into public places smiling at people, introducing herself, and sharing wonderful information about her and her family. … Great 3-year-old stuff that often reveals more about me to perfect strangers than I am comfortable with.
I had to include that bit of information because I didn’t want to paint a picture one of those obnoxious brats that run around in restaurants issuing demands at everyone in their path, because she is certainly not that. And we certainly do not tolerate that kind of behavior.
Mostly she is a sweet and intelligent little girl, who is fiercely independent, stubborn and opinionated. And I know that if I can harness that and teach her how to use those qualities, they will serve her well in her life.
So the other day when I went to pick her up from her day care, there was a sign-up sheet for one-on-one sessions with Teresa Baird. The flavor of her PhD, I’m sure I once knew, but have since forgotten. I was familiar with the name because she consults with the center on their programming and had spoken at one of our parent nights. The sign-up sheet explained that she could give advice on difficulties we might be facing with our children. I scribbled my name hoping that I could talk fast enough to cover everything in the 30-minute allotment of time.
I ended up having to reschedule the meeting, and got to visit with her at her office for a whole hour. I learned valuable bits of information like ignore the bad and over praise the good and that I could hold off on trying to finish “Love and Logic,” for a few years. The latter part was a huge relief because I was really starting to feel like a failure for not even being able to get through the book that many covet as THE guidebook to parenting despite even having tried to listen to the audio version during my commute – what kind of mother was I? She gave me great things to try that made perfect common sense. The kind that is hard to have perspective on when your child turns into Satan in a public place. And even better it seems to be working.
But it turns out she does this for anyone, for FREE. It is part of the services that the Oklahoma City-County Health Department offer in their Child Guidance programming. She is even going to go to my daughter’s child development center and observe her in action and consult with her teachers on how they might handle her nap-time rebellion – for FREE.
They offer all kinds of services – for FREE. They will even set up lunch-and-learn-type seminars at your place of employment if there is interest. They do short term group individual and family programs for emotional, behavioral and learning problems, family relationship problems, early identification of speech, language and hearing problems. They do educational and consultative services through partnerships with schools, Head Start, Even Start and other community agencies. They do developmental assessment and screenings, agency referrals. They even offer parent education groups and workshops. They are a wealth of information that they are happy to provide.
Teresa even told me that I can call her once I started to put into practice the techniques that we discussed to tell her how it is going and get further advice. I’m going to try real hard not to become Bill Murray’s “What About Bob” character.
You can get in touch with the Child Guidance office at the Oklahoma City-County Health by calling 425-4412 or visit them online at http://www.cchdoc.com/Child%20Guidance.htm
- Lindsey Johnson