5 Questions Pediatricians Wish Parents Would Ask
According to Children’s National Health System, most kid well visits last 15 minutes. This tiny window (which often doesn’t lend a lot of time for questions) can leave parents feeling stressed about their child’s overall health.
Due to this, Dr. Michael McKenna, pediatrician at Riley at IU Health, says it’s important to prepare well in advance of the appointment. “Write down everything you want to ask your child’s doctor and don’t just do this a day before,” Dr. McKenna says. “If your child’s appointment is two weeks away and you think of something at 2 a.m., get up and write the question down.”
He also recommends bringing what he refers to as a ‘passport:’ “Have a list of medications, other doctors and any previous diagnoses your child has or has had,” says Dr. McKenna. “But don’t worry about being too specific on the diagnoses. It’s the doctor’s job to probe for more answers related to the child’s health and to discuss care options with specialty doctors.”
Dr. McKenna says today’s pediatricians are more focused on a child’s complete health and are more knowledgeable in psychological, mental and behavioral health areas. Based on this wider spectrum, he recommends parents ask the following questions during their child’s well-visit:
- Is my child’s diet and weight OK? Height and weight are important factors in a child’s health. “Ask the doctor if there’s anything you need to change in your child’s diet, for example,” says Dr. McKenna.
- How can I get my child to sleep better? “Sleep is under-recognized,” says Dr. McKenna. “A lot of times, parents are asking their friends or reading books about sleep for children, but pediatricians are well versed in this topic and can provide help.”
- Can we talk a little about disciplining my child? “We want to know if Susie is having a hard time going to school,” Dr. McKenna says. “The more we know about what’s going on in your child’s life, the more we can provide better healthcare and recommend additional resources as needed. This also saves time and money in the long run for parents.”
- Can we discuss my child’s school performance? “We want to know how your child is doing in school and we can get you in contact with resources that can improve your child’s performance, if needed” says Dr. McKenna.
- Can we talk about _____? The “fill in the blank” is for those burning questions parents are likely to be embarrassed about asking their child’s doctor. Is there a certain sleep behavior that seems odd? “A lot of times, there’s not a good answer to these questions, but we can usually tell you at a higher level what it’s about.”
The bottom line, Dr. McKenna says, is to develop a strong relationship with the pediatrician and not to be afraid to ask any kind of question. “Don’t feel bad – this is why we’re here.”