Children are typically ignored in our everyday adult lives of social interactions and business dealings. It is much easier to allow the parents to describe the symptoms and explain what is going on with their son or daughter, but if we as physicians fail to personally make a connection with the child, we not only run the risk of not learning important information from them, but the opportunity to help them relax into the examination, treatment and future visits.
When it comes to treating children, I always make a point of engaging the child in conversation and play as much as possible. Even when talking with the parents, I intentionally maintain more eye contact with the child. The children I have seen are usually surprised and pleased to receive the kind of attention I give them as they are accustomed to adults talking about them rather than to them.
How we as doctors treat children belongs in the same class as one of our most vulnerable patients. It is crucial, then, to be sensitive to their feelings and try to read their emotions from the moment we approach them. It is easy to forget as adults that we are giants to children. So, as quickly as possible, I either sit down or crouch down to be closer to eye-level with them. When they are more comfortable with us, we are then better able to address their needs.
A child’s formal education might be rudimentary but we must not underestimate their inherent intelligence and ability to quickly form judgements about a new ace. Children also tend to be very aware of their environment and perceptive to what is going on around them, so it is always wise that a physician consider the environment where we meet with them, and also what is said in front of them.
Communicating with children is not so difficult if we can recover our own childlike playfulness. The point of all this is not to appear goofy to the child, but to make their visit more fun and safe feeling than scary.
Frankly, I love my interactions with children and enjoy their honesty and the fact that they hold nothing back of what flits through their minds. It’s a great help in discovering and resolving some of their unrealistic fears attached to their visit and thereby putting them at ease.
For more on my treatment of children specifically, pick up my Healing the Mind and Body, Volume 2. To arrange an appointment for your child, simply call us at (949) 481-0118 or complete my pre-appointment survey.