Big kids, little kids, well-behaved kids, and tired kids — one way or another, sticky fingers are in your future. With some respect, humor, and crayons, you can make everyone’s experience more enjoyable and promote a healthy outcome. Here are six tips for healthcare professionals working with children.
If you work specifically in pediatrics, you might have the luxury of colorful walls, fish tanks, and soft, kid-friendly chairs. Even if your office isn’t designed for children, a few fun additions can make your space warm and welcoming for your youngest patients.
Create a “kids’ corner.” Include an activity table for toddlers, a basket of plastic dinosaurs, a stack of picture books, and keep paper and crayons on hand at all times.
Communicating to children about their health means putting yourself in their shoes.
Going to the doctor is scary. Even a checkup can be intimidating for a child, but if the child is sick or injured, it can be terrifying. It may be an act of bravery just to hold still.
Acknowledge the child’s bravery as you interact with them. Use supportive language that affirms their position, such as: “I’m sure that hurts. You must be very strong,” or “I don’t like shots, either. Great job holding still.”
It’s a good policy to explain what you’re doing before you do it with any patient. Use vocabulary that is appropriate for the age of the child you’re treating and explain what you’re about to do before you touch them
A child has the same right to be involved and informed in his or her care as an adult. Our youngest patients might not be able to understand the terminology or implications, but they want to, and should be, involved. They usually have questions, too.
When communicating a treatment or getting health history, address your questions to both the child and the guardian. A zealous parent may try to step in and answer for their child, and the parent’s answer is certainly important; but children have valuable information about themselves as well. Be sure to give the child a chance to answer for themselves on their terms.
Kids are empowered when they are involved in their own care, just as adults are
To appeal to children, it helps to have common points of reference. Kids are more plugged into pop culture than ever, with favorite YouTube celebrities, gaming characters, and musicians. Familiarize yourself with the culture of our youngest generation.
Promoting a good relationship with young patients fits into Joyce University’s holistic nursing philosophy, whether you’re a medical assistant, nurse, occupational therapist, or other healthcare professional. Compassion and respect for patients of all ages is a cornerstone of care.