Friday, November 16, 2018

Don’t Choose a Doctor for Your Children

Teach Your Children How to Manage Their Own Medical Health

Anyone who looks at my family’s medical records might think I have a fear of commitment – there are 6 of us and between us we see 4 different doctors, and we’ve “tried on” several more besides. When my children were infants and toddlers I made the call as to who their pediatricians or family doctors were, but as they get older I want them to learn how to manage their own health. They can’t do that if I am making all of the decisions for them and then suddenly setting them free when they turn 18. By encouraging them to find a doctor of their own choosing I want them to learn how to do two specific things:

Learn how to manage their own health as much as possible.

Be comfortable with the physician who provides their care.

Healthcare is such a personal  and integral part of a person’s life. My OB/GYN has seen more parts of me than anyone else, has delivered all of my children, and is someone with whom I feel completely safe and trust with my medical health – but I chose him – no one else chose him for me. Our children have their own personalities and their own ideas about who they feel secure with and why. Some of them might prefer a sense of humor, others might want someone who is never late. Encouraging our children to recognize their own needs and find a way to pursue them extends much beyond their medical health.

How to Help Your Child Choose a Doctor

I’m not saying you should let your child have complete and final call, and you end up driving 2 hours each way to appointments that aren’t covered by insurance. You still get to be the guiding hand, but in a way that allows for your child’s individual needs to be met.

  • Begin by having a conversation with your child about why it is important to trust and feel comfortable with a medical caregiver – whether it is a natural path caregiver or pediatrician who studied at 3 elite hospitals. Your child can be the most physically healthy person around, but we can’t predict the health needs of our children. There may come a point in time where your child does need medical care and it is very helpful if your child already feels secure with the person providing the care.
  • Talk with your child about what is important to her when it comes to her medical caregiver. My daughter has a female family practice provider, while my oldest son chose a male pediatrician. Gender wasn’t the only thing influencing their decisions. My son – who plays almost any and every sport – has a doctor who specialized in sports medicine.
  • Read and review the bios of potential physicians or caregivers with your child. Many hospitals and clinics have these online or in brochures.
  • Ask if your clinic has “meet-n-greet” appointments where you have 10 minutes with the doctor just so that your child can meet him or her and go over general questions. Some clinics do this free of charge, or have very inexpensive fees.
  • Don’t feel locked into your choice, especially if your insurance allows you to change practitioners.

How to Help Your Kids Take Charge of Their Own Medical Health

When your children are ill are you the kind of parent who gives all of the details to the doctor – providing all of that important information like how much food they are able to eat, what their temperatures have been, and how much they are or aren’t sleeping? I used to be that parent – when my kids couldn’t do it for themselves. Now I see that encouraging my kids to take the lead on their doctor visits not only helps the doctors make better diagnoses, but it teaches my children how to be responsible for their own medical health. My kids know which medications and items they are allergic to and when their last physicals were, but they are also learning how to truly communicate with their medical caregivers.

Before entering the visit, I remind my kids that I want them to do the talking – sharing what their concerns are and describing them to the doctor as completely as possible. It isn’t a time for shrugging shoulders as a response in true teenage fashion.

Sometimes doctors get so used to just asking parents what is going on that they direct them only to the parents. I have found when I enter the exam room with my child that if I look at my child when the doctor asks a question, he can read from my body language that my child can and should be the one to answer.

For my older children I ask if they want me in the exam room or not with them during their visits. As teenagers they are getting old enough to make those decisions and have that privacy.

Even though I encourage my children to take responsibility for their own healthcare, I still reserve the right to fill in some missing blanks and ask my own questions of the doctor. My 10 year old son is about as subtle as you can get, so when I took him in for his last doctor visit he told the doctor “I have a cough that won’t go away.” While that was very true, he failed to mention that the reason (and maybe because I didn’t tell him) I made the appointment was because he told me he didn’t have the energy to go sledding with his friends, something he would normally rush to do. As soon as I told the doctor that key piece of information, she knew it was more than just a cold and paid more attention to his symptoms – which were actually from pneumonia.

We so often want to wrap our children up in security and keep them safe and healthy (bubble wrap comes to mind), but we when do this we can overlook their needs to learn how to become more responsible for their medical health, a lifelong skill that can truly be life changing.

Related posts:

  1. Tips for Choosing a Pediatrician or Family Doctor
  2. How to Choose the Right Pet with Your Child
  3. How To Choose the Right Daycare for Your Child

View full post on Parenting Tips For Raising Successful Kids |

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