Talking to Your Child’s Doc

When your child’s pediatrician asks if we have any questions, us parents are sometimes caught like a deer in the headlights. You took the time off from work to make the appointment, picked up your child from school, trying to remember to validate your parking and now you’re expected to ask questions?

We usually do have questions or concerns to discuss with the pediatrician but sometimes they get lost in the daily circus of parenthood. We’re not bad parents for not being able to come up with topics to discuss on the fly. But some preparation and planning never hurts and it can help organize your thoughts about your child’s well-being. Here are some tips to help you prep for your child’s next visit to the doc.

Expectations

Frustrations can develop when there are unrealistic expectations from a pediatrician. Remember that there is no cure for the common cold and sometimes a wait-and-see approach is more appropriate than a prescription. Prior to your visit, go over the realistic expectations that you should have for the provider:

•    Helping you monitor your child’s health.
•    Explaining your child’s growth/development and what to expect.
•    Diagnosing and treating your child’s minor or moderate illnesses.
•    Explaining your child’s illnesses and treatment.
•    Providing referrals and working with specialists if needed.

Research

Thanks to smartphones, health information is accessible with just the swipe of a thumb. However with so much content being published online, it’s important to consider that some medical research and findings may be incomplete or inaccurate. Avoid websites that do not appear to be credible and discuss findings with your child’s pediatrician before putting them into practice.

Specifics

“My child is sick” is just as useful as telling your mechanic “my car doesn’t work.” Try to be as specific as possible when sharing concerns or symptoms with a provider. For example, if your child was suffering from a fever, record the temperature reading as well as the frequency of any subsequent vomiting or diarrhea that may occur. If you tried treating the symptoms yourself, it’s important to share what worked and what didn’t.

Jot it down

Whether it’s symptoms you’ve been experiencing or general concerns you want to discuss with the pediatrician, jot them down beforehand. One idea would be to keep a notepad in the house to be used for logging questions or symptoms as they occur. Not techie enough for you? Perhaps use a note taking app on your mobile device.

Avoid distractions

It’s best to be focused during the doctor visit so you can give your full attention when answering questions and taking advice.

•    Turn off your mobile device or set it to silent mode.
•    Leave siblings with a spouse, babysitter or relative, if possible.
•    If you have siblings with you, bring an activity to keep them occupied, such as a favorite toy or book.

Yes, this is more homework being added to your plate but it’s one of the most important and rewarding assignments you could ever have. Putting these into practice will improve communication and trust between you and the pediatrician - ultimately benefitting your child.