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Key tips for communicating with and examining children

Major points

  • Keep using their name!
  • Make it a game (e.g. in an abdominal exam, pretend you are trying to find out what they had for breakfast and keep naming cereals)
  • Keep interacting and asking questions (e.g. ‘So Billy, are you missing school today?’, ‘What lesson would you be in?’, ‘What’s your favourite subject?’, ‘So is that what you want to do when you’re older, Billy?’)

Other tips

  • If child is crying, let them calm down and see you talking to parents/siblings
  • Involve child wherever possible
  • Even babies like to hear a reassuring voice
  • Befriend child before examining
  • Position yourself at their level
  • Distract with toys
  • You can pretend to listen with stethoscope on parent’s knee and then on child’s arm to reassure them; or examine a teddy
  • Use parents to distract them
  • Use simple words, e.g. hurt, sore, funny, brave
  • Undress in stages
  • Sometimes you just need to persevere
  • Reward and praise them 
  • If noisy, try using toys or bottles etc.
  • Keep checking they’re OK
  • Warm your hands before touching them

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