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Connecting Through Kids’ Culture

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Connecting Through Kids’ CultureProductively and effectively interacting with children as patients can be challenging in many ways, but it is important to attempt to establish a good rapport with the child from the beginning of your visit. Although much of the information obtained during the visit will come from the parent or caregiver, it is still important to connect with the child directly. This is best done by initiating a nonthreatening conversation using language and tone that is appropriate to the child’s age and level of understanding.

Another method that can be quite helpful is to bond with the child by relating to elements of popular culture with which the child may be familiar. Many children in the United States regularly follow a number of popular television programs. One such example is Dora the Explorer, an animated character who has adventures traveling around the world and is targeted toward preschool and early elementary school aged children. By acknowledging to the child that you are familiar with characters like Dora and know something about their activities, it may be possible to create a connection and even to establish a playful environment in which procedures that might otherwise be frightening may be carried out more effectively and productively.

This approach may not be used effectively by all physicians. Obviously you would need to have knowledge of the characters, shows, and other cultural connections that children typically make. It is also important to recognize that these “heroes” or “superstars” will vary by age and gender, requiring some homework on your part. However, for physicians who deal with children on a regular basis, it will be worthwhile.

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