Communicating with Your Pediatrician

Let’s face it, doctor’s offices can be intimidating. Whether you’re there for an annual check-up or because your child is sick, knowing how to talk to the pediatrician can make all the difference. After all, it is your child’s health and development we’re talking about!You know your child best because you are with them day in and day out. So let’s talk strategy.

Be specific.If you have specific concerns, mention them! The doctor may be busy and have a lot going on, so it’s tough for them to pick up on everything. They also don’t see what goes on at home. Nothing is too little when it comes to your child. Bring it up, explain your concern, and see what the doctor has to say. Don’t just tell the doctor, “Jimmy is sick.” Explain to them what symptoms you’ve noticed and why you think he is sick. For example, “Jimmy has not been nearly as energetic, his appetite is low, and his temperature was 100°last night. This has lasted about 2 days.” Make sure to communicate clearly with the doctor. They don’t know what you don’t tell them.

Bring notes.As a parent, you are juggling a million things too! Make a note of things you’ve noticed in your child, document his or her milestones, and write down questions that you may have. This is a good time to put those communication skills with your child care provider to use! Before your visit, ask your child’s caregiver if there’s anything they’ve noticed that you can bring up to the doctor. Your appointment is your scheduled one-on-one time with the doctor. Make sure to take advantage of it.

Give updates.Again, the more information you share with your pediatrician, the more he or she can help. Was there a big change in the family? Is your child acting up in school more often? If nothing else, the doctor may be able to refer you to a specialist if they are unable to assist.

Make the most out of your relationship. You and your doctor are both busy people, so it’s important to be understanding and respectful both ways. Show up on time, be focused, and be pleasant. You want to establish a comfortable, positive relationship. This also includes having realistic expectations of your pediatrician. Trust that while you may know your child best, they do know medicine. You may want an antibiotic to treat your child’s cold, but the doctor may know that prescriptions aren’t always in the best interest of the child. If you disagree, have a conversation about it. If you really don’t feel right about it after a discussion, get a second opinion.

 It goes both ways. Make sure your pediatrician is communicating clearly with you,as well. Don’t leave the office before you completely understand any diagnosis or instructions the doctor has given you. It is also a good idea to take notes if there are specific directions for care going forward, other doctors that need to be contacted, or further tests needed.If you don’t understand the language the doctor is using, don’t be afraid to ask them to explain further! Ask every question you have; remember, nothing is too small when it comes to the health of your child.

The doctor’s office can be a stressful place for both you and your child. Using these strategies can help to reduce your uneasiness and ensure your visit goes smoothly. This way, you can leave feeling more confident, reassured, and with your questions answered.


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