Throughout her career, child development expert Claire Lerner, L.C.S.W., has worked
side by side with pediatricians to support children and families.
“I saw what an enormous influence pediatricians have on families to help them get
off to the healthiest start possible,” Lerner said.
Medical training, however, may include only a short rotation on parenting and early
“They (residents) don’t get a lot on how do you support a parent who comes in with
a child who is having major temper tantrums or has a temperament that is intense and
reactive and is working their ‘last nerve’ …” she said.
Lerner aims to fill that gap during a session titled “Promoting Positive Parenting
(F4063),” from 2-2:45 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 6, in room W414AB of the convention center.
During the session, she will outline a four-step process pediatricians can use to
develop a positive relationship with parents.
“You could have the most brilliant insight into what’s going on with a child if they’re
having a challenge, but if you don’t have a strong, trusting relationship with the
parent, it’s much less likely the parent is going to actually digest and act on your
very valuable information,” said Lerner, senior parenting adviser at Zero To Three,
a nonprofit organization working to ensure babies and toddlers benefit from early
connections that are critical to their well-being and development.
Lerner acknowledges that pediatricians have limited time for well-child visits. Rather
than taking more time, her approach involves using time in a specific way. The process
involves being empathic, avoiding judgment and prescriptive guidelines, seeking to
understand what is going on with parents and empowering them to solve their parenting
“Your job is not to solve the parents’ problems,” Lerner said. “Your job is to help
them understand what makes them tick and what makes their child tick and how to use
that information to make really attuned and sensitive parenting responses to their