Make the Most Out of Your Child’s Appointments
Learn how to work with your child and your child’s doctor for the best treatment possible.
By Linda J. Brown | Reviewed April 29, 2022
When it comes to treating juvenile arthritis, you, your child and your child's doctor should all agree on the treatment plan. Effective communication and working together as a team can help make that happen. Learn how to make the most out of your child's doctor's appointments so you can get the best care for your child.
Bring Labs and Results from Other Appointments
Make sure your child's doctor has all the information they need to successfully treat your child, such as lab test results and X-rays from other doctor’s appointments. If your child is a new patient, check to see if the new doctor's office has requested them from other doctors or if you need to bring them to your next appointment.
Keep a notebook and write down specifics to help you and your child remember everything from the appointment. Studies have shown that 20% to 50% of what is said in the doctor’s office is forgotten. Also, use your notebook to jot down any questions or concerns that occur between visits.
Involve Your Child
Make sure the doctor knows about your child's concerns, too. Depending on the child’s age, they may also want a notebook to keep track of new symptoms, medications and dosages, lab results and dietary changes.
Understand Treatment Options
Make sure that your child understands that there can be flexibility in some medical treatments. If a particular medicine is really bothering them, there may be a substitute, says Deborah Rothman, MD, director of pediatrics and rheumatology at Shriners Hospital for Children in Springfield, Mass. “But if you don’t tell your child's doctor of the problem, he or she won’t be able to help,” she says.
Negotiate When Needed
Don’t hesitate to negotiate with the doctor for something your child really wants to do. For example, if your child has arthritis but really wants to take dance classes, ask your doctor to explain the restrictions and then relay them to the dance instructors. Likewise, encourage your child to follow the doctor’s advice and teach them to watch for signs of a flare.
Let Your Child Speak Up
Encourage your child to voice opinions and concerns early, so it becomes natural as they get older. As a parent, you provide essential information about your child’s health, but the dialogue between child and physician is also important. “I have found that even very young children, 5, 6, and 7, can tell me what’s bothering them,” says Dr. Rothman. “It’s really important for them to start talking directly to me because even their parents are sometimes surprised by what they say.”
Improving Communication with the Doctor
Try these tips if communication isn’t working between you, your child and your child's doctor:
- Bring a list of questions to your child’s appointment and put your biggest concerns at the top. That way, if the doctor doesn’t have time to answer all of them, you will at least get answers to your priority questions.
- For any other questions or lab results, ask the doctor if email is an option.
- Be confident enough to ask for further explanation if you don’t understand or agree with something.
- Encourage your kid to ask questions, too, because no matter how small they think the question is, it will make a difference.
- If something isn’t working, let the doctor know and bring suggestions for improving the situation. Because pediatric rheumatologists are in short supply, it’s best to try to find solutions and common ground before switching doctors.
You, your child and their doctor are a team. Working effectively together requires communication, compromise and negotiation. And when the team goal is the healthiest and fullest life possible for your child, that's certainly worth taking the time to learn how to make it work for everyone.
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