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Teaching Children to Take Initiative at the Doctors Office

Updated on August 2, 2011

Growing up I always relied on my parents to handle the communication when visiting my physician. Society somehow makes physicians out to be these all knowing supreme beings, and I was intimidated. I don't remember being encouraged to ask questions of clarity on what exactly was happening and why. This is definitely understandable. Parents want to do their job well and tend to lead the conversation. Commonly the physician will only speak to the parent as well. I

Getting the best Treatment

The best information is that which comes directly from the patient. When information is relayed through a third party, whether it be a parent, translator, or adult child of an elder, accuracy and validity are questionable. I would encourage parents to allow their children to speak directly to the doctor in order to describe the reason for the visit. A good course of action is to clarify these things ahead of time. A parent may help to synthesize their childs thoughts and promote certain questions to ask. Clarify the reason for the questions as well. Your child can arrive at the doctors office with a game plan and feel like he or she is heard. This benefits the child and allows the physician to function efficiently by selecting optimal treatment course.

Communication With Adults

In general, preparing for this interaction is setting up appropriate communication with adults and authority figures. By encouraging children to take an active role in their health, ask necessary questions, and convey details of their concern, they are getting practice for such interactions when they eventually become independent.


Instilling Confidence

It is also worth noting that children may become more confident with starting such interactions at an early age. They learn to stand up for their opinions and beliefs, focus on clear explanation and expression, and develop a greater sense of how to interact effectively within society.


Unfortunately medical research on this topic is scarce. Much of the research focuses on the interaction between the physician and parent or on the physician, parent, and child together. Conclusions drawn are that the child should have an active role and participate within the interaction. Future research will have to focus on acceptable levels of participation considering the child’s age, nature of the complaint, and the relationship of the parent and child.

Who Does the Talking at the Doctors Office?

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Taking your child seriously is a healthy attitude to maintain. They are intelligent, able to participate, and have their own needs. Certainly each instance must be taken into account as unique, but acknowledging the child is a great first step. Empowering them in this interaction is healthy and serves the child well in the future.


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