Scott Grant, MD., MPH joined us for a conversation on childhood trauma, how he approaches incorporating trauma-informed care into his practice, the transformational power of parenthood and his new Docs2Dads podcast.
Dr. Grant is a Board-Certified pediatrician who works in primary care and hospital pediatrics in Southeast Michigan. Professionally, Dr. Grant is interested in learning how childhood adversity and toxic stress affect children into adulthood, and how parents can break the cycle of generational trauma, to find joy in parenting, and develop happier, healthier children.
Dr Grant become interested in the effects of childhood adversity and toxic stress on health after hearing a TED Talk by Dr. Nadine Burke Harris during his residency. He was intrigued by the research linking a variety of adult health problems to traumatic incidents from childhood, and how he could potentially help with early interventions to prevent some of the downstream effects.
The awareness raised by Dr. Burke-Harris’ TED Talk was transformational for him, as he thought about the opportunity primary care pediatricians have to invest in relationships with the families that they serve, the potential to prevent some of these events from happening, and helping parents be more effective at buffering the effect of this trauma on their kids.
Pediatricians do a lot of education at early primary care visits, focusing on growth, development, and attachment with the family. Dr Grant shared problems with stress or trauma in the family, in the younger kids, usually affect children in one of three ways.
- Developmental delay from not engaging in developmental play and helping their kids learn and meet those developmental milestones
- They’re busy at work or because they are dealing with the other things that are going on in their life.
- They’re also having to deal with their own traumas.
As kids get older, it tends to present as behavioral issues. From seemingly benign things like constipation, to more extreme behavioral issues, like temper tantrums, and outbursts might be a sign that there might be something going on. That is where an open relationship with the family can help pinpoint what is normal and where the family could use some support.
Looking for areas of strength, he can then present education that is helpful, meaningful, and then suggest the right family supports. Dr Grant says his approach is well received by parents, and they appreciate getting plugged into supportive services. He acknowledges that not everyone has great role models during childhood and some parent just need guidance and information to develop their parenting skills. It also allows conversation to help parents understand that the things that happened to them when they were kids are still with them, and might still be affecting their health, and that it affects the way that they interact with their own kids.
One of the driving forces for launching the docs2dads podcast was becoming a father himself. Dr Grant acknowledges parenting can be stressful but changed his life in so many positive ways. He shares that becoming a parent is one greatest sources of joy in his life and that it has been transformational for him. In the process, he recognized there are not many supports for dads, and that they often aren’t comfortable in advocating for their children’s health. Most parenting information is geared towards moms, and dads just come along for the ride.