Positive Counseling - Mother's e-Guide

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Counselling skills on feeding of Infants & Young Child

Counselling skill is important to be successful as a medical practitioner.
Counselling is essential in relating with caregivers and potential mothers.

The following areas are of utmost concern:

Listening and Learning Skills

  • Use helpful non-verbal communication
  • Keep your head level with the mother (or caregiver)
  • Pay attention
  • Reduce physical barriers
  • Take time
  • Touch appropriately
  • Ask open questions
  • Use responses and gestures that show interest
  • Reflect back what the mother (or caregiver) says.
  • Avoid using "judging" words.

Building Confidence and Giving Support Skills

  • Accept what a mother (or caregiver) thinks and feels, let the mother (or caregiver) talk through her or his concerns before correcting any wrong ideas or mis-information. This helps to establish confidence.
  • Listen carefully to the mother (or caregiver's) concerns.
  • Recognise and praise what a mother (or caregiver) and child are doing correctly.
  • Give practical help
  • Give a little, relevant information at a time
  • Use simple language that the mother (or caregiver) will understand.
  • Use appropriate counselling cards or take-home brochure.
  • Make one or two suggestions not commands.

Infant and Young Child Feeding: Three-Step Counselling Means

The following three-steps counselling means will help in counselling, solving problems and reaching an agreement with mothers (or caregivers) about infant and young child feeding. The three steps are: Assess, Analyse and Act.


Step 1: Assess -

(Ask, Listen and Observe)

  • Greet the mother (or caregiver) using friendly language and gestures.
  • Ask some initial questions that encourage her/ him to talk.
  • Listen to what is being said and observe what is going on using your listening and learning, building confidence and giving support skills.
  • Assess the age-appropriate feeding practices and the condition or health of the child and mother/ caregiver.

Step 2: Analyse

(Identify difficulty and if there is more than one, prioritise the difficulties).

  • Decide if the feeding you observe is age-appropriate and if the condition or health of the child and mother (or caregiver) is good.
  • If there are no apparent difficulties, praise the mother/ caregiver and focus on providing information needed for the next stage of the child's development.
  • If one or more feeding difficulty is present or the condition or health of the child or mother/ caregiver is poor, prioritise the difficulties.
  • Answer the mother's or caregiver's questions (If any).

Step 3: Act -

(Discuss, Suggest a small amount of relevant information, agree on doable actions)

  • Depending on the factors analysed above, select a small amount of information to share with the mother or caregiver that is most relevant to her or his situation.
  • Be sure to praise the mother or caregiver for what she or he is doing well.
  • Present options for addressing the feeding difficult or condition of health of the child or caregiver in terms of small, doable actions. These actions should be time bound (within the next few days or weeks).
  • Share key information with the mother or caregiver using the appropriate Counselling cards or Take-home brochure and answering questions as needed.
  • Help the mother/ caregiver select one option that she or he agrees to try, in order to address or overcome the difficulty or condition that has been identified. This is called reaching an agreement.
  • Suggest where the mother or caregiver can find additional support. Refer to the nearest health facility if appropriate and (or) encourage participation in educational talks or infants and young child feeding support groups in the community.
  • Confirm that the mother or caregiver knows where to find a community volunteer and (or) other health worker.
  • Thank the mother or caregiver for his/ her time.
  • Agree on when you will meet again, if appropriate.

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