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How to Communicate Effectively With Young Patients

People are complicated creatures, and language is a complicated tool. While kids’ vocabularies are expanding day by day, their lexicons are still limited. Health-related issues, in particular, can be very difficult to express as they may be feeling a sensation they have never experienced before. And feelings are difficult to put into words. This can be tricky for adults. There are tips and tricks many pediatricians follow that aid in effectively communicating with their young patients and teenagers. An ENT in Mount Arlington who is seeing young patients can learn some techniques from a pediatrician in Anchorage or a pediatrician in Tallahassee. They all incorporate similar communication methods to talk to their patients in a caring and productive way.

Count on Parents to Help

Pediatricians see patients of all ages and at different maturity levels, including newborns, toddlers, grade-school kids, and teenagers. For little children and shy introverted kids, doctors will want to gather as much information as possible from the parents. Toddlers, for instance, are often skeptical of doctors and it takes some time for them to get comfortable in an exam room setting. Start by talking to the parents. They will be able to inform you on a lot of background information. However, it’s important the children speak for themselves as well. Talking to the parents can give kids time to acclimate to this unusual environment. Once they see their parents trusting and communicating with you, kids might gain the confidence to talk for themselves. 

It is also common for kids to withhold information. Chronically sick kids do not like the constant poking and prodding on their bodies. To avoid more tests, it is not unusual for children to not admit how they feel. Parents can give you some clues as to their child’s behaviors when they are not feeling well. They may make a certain face or their body language changes. This unspoken language speaks volumes.

Don’t Be So Serious

Doctors have to build trust. For little kids, acting silly or funny can encourage them to open up. Some pediatricians use magic to distract and impress their patients,others use props or toys. You may consider taking off your doctor’s coat to look less intimidating. If a child is noticeably anxious or scared, you should give them physical space. Take a few steps back and allow them time to get comfortable. You can sit on a chair to get on their level, versus towering over them, which can make children uncomfortable.

Make Them Comfortable

A doctor’s visit starts in the waiting room. You will want to provide a fun space for kids to play or read while they are waiting for their appointment. Sitting in a dull room with nothing to do can build anxiety before the appointment. Consider building a magazine library filled with engaging reading material. There are digital projection games that display on the wall or floor. These active games will get them moving, releasing any tension they might have. Exam rooms should be equally as inviting. Consider covering up any intimidating medical equipment. You can also give patients time to get comfortable in the room before you start any exam. Let them try out your stethoscope or other tools that might be fun and interesting.

Know What Kids Like 

Doctors should research what is popular with kids. This way they can find common ground when their patients don’t want to speak up. If you can relate to their interests, they will start to feel more comfortable around you. Find out what video games are popular and maybe play them yourself. Discover what music they like and play it for them in the office. 

All doctors struggle with quiet patients, no matter if you are a pediatrician in Lincolnshire or a specialist in Boise so know that it comes with the territory. When this is the case, you may have to rely more than usual on their parents. With time, patients will start to gain confidence in a medical setting. New doctors will discover that they will improve their communication with practice, and time is on your side. Pediatricians often have long-term patient-doctor relationships with children, and through the years, they usually become very comfortable at their medical homes. If you want to communicate effectively with young patients, start by talking to their parents. Get to know what kids like, literally get down on their level, give them space and time to acclimate to your office, create a comfortable environment, and be fun or silly when you have to be. 

You want kids to trust their doctors. Pediatricians have the added responsibility of forming their opinions of healthcare. The better their experience is when they are younger, the more likely they are to get checkups and stay healthy as adults.


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