MY GO-TO MOVES WHEN EXAMINING A CHILD
Pulling back the curtain a bit. DON'T TELL ALL THE KIDS, YOU'LL BLOW MY COVER.
- •SwaddlingI can't say enough about the power of a good snug swaddle -- and it has to be good and snug -- for an infant. It's a like a mute button in the shape of a burrito.
- •Belly jigglingFor an infant especially, there is something very calming about having their stomach softly jiggled. Put your whole hand over their belly and very slightly (not hard, or jostling) almost vibrate your hand. Works best once already swaddled. (@donnie this is what I did that first night you guys were home with Monkey and he mysteriously stopped crying)
- •Name tag distractionReally anything shiny and not dangerous. It's why my name tag clip has a cute panda on it. The littler ones only care that it has color, the toddlers like pandas, and I think it's adorable. Pleasing for children of all ages. Pen lights also work well here.
- •Rubber glove balloonJust blow into a rubber glove and tie off the bottom. Parents can easily do this too to distract their kid while in a doctor's office. Goes over huge, like, 90% of the time.
- •Listening to my own heart, then mommy or daddy's heart, THEN your heartThe bonus of the stethoscope is that it doesn't hurt, but when I see a toddler eyeing me warily from the start of a visit, I always employ this trick to show them it's safe. Also, letting them stay in their parents arms/laps as long as possible (which can be the large majority of the exam).
- •Playing airplane on the way up to the exam table if they seem gameKids eat this up. My job is the best.
- •Giving a kid the stethoscope to listen to themselfBest for toddler through pre-teens, easy to do and fascinating. It's pretty cool to hear, honestly, no matter your age. This is also a relief to parents who are pretty tired of telling their kid to stop grabbing my stethoscope when I just hand it over.
- •Always mentioning what I hear when I listen to their bellyThis is my favorite move, because even grown teenagers will let slip a little giggle when I claim to hear pancakes, a hamburger, or a roaring monster.
- •Making the patient hook their hands together and pull hard when checking for knee reflexesThis a complete fake out. The only reason I do it is to distract them from my trying to elicit the reflex, which is easy to suppress if you're thinking about it. It makes a little nervous to disclose this; it's like a trade secret.
- •Asking if they're ticklish when pressing on their abdomensIt actually makes no difference, though I'll often examine more slowly if they say yes, to help them cool out. Mostly, the act of talking to answer helps them relax their belly enough that I can press to feel what I need to, and the question gives them an excuse for why they were feeling weird about some lady touching their belly.
- •Finishing out with "any bumps, bruises, scratches, or rashes you want to show me?"Universally useful question. In infants the parents will already have shown me anyway, most of the time. Toddlers will proudly point out a bug bite. School age kids will admit to things their parents don't always know. Teenagers often bring up sports injuries that they'd been ignoring.