Managing Your Child’s Physical Health
What You Should Know and What You Can Do
Finding a doctor for your child
- Should be done well before your baby is born. Start looking about three months before you are due. Find out the limits of your health plan. Take recommendations from your own doctor's office, community health center, and/or other parents. Meet the doctor before your baby is born and make sure you feel comfortable with him or her.
- Pediatricians focus on the physical, emotional, and social health of children from birth through adolescence and are familiar with their preventative health care needs.
- Family physicians are trained in pediatrics and other areas and are qualified to care for patients of all ages. They can see your entire family and will know the medical history of the whole family as well as any social or emotional issues.
- Pediatric nurse practitioners are specially trained in obtaining medical histories, performing physical examinations on children, making medical diagnoses, and providing counseling and treatment. They may specialize in a particular area and work closely with doctors in hospitals, clinics, and private practices.
How to talk to your child's doctor
- Make the most of your time together. Keep in mind that doctors have a limited amount of time to spend with each patient, so be as specific about your concerns or your child's symptoms as possible.
- Don't be afraid to ask. In addition to performing routine check-ups and managing illnesses, your child's doctor is also someone you can consult on a variety of other issues, such as behavioral and emotional problems, learning disabilities, or problems at school. Often times the doctor might refer you to another specialist of tell you who to contact and how to go about addressing a problem.
- Follow the doctor's orders. Make sure your child follows through on the doctor's orders. If this means taking medication for a short term illness like an ear infection,stopping the prescribed medicine might make it come back. If this means following a treatment plan for a chronic condition such as asthma or ADHD, missing doses of medication can alter your child's health and make it difficult for both you, your child, and the doctor to manage your child's illness. If you feel that something is not working, talk to your doctor.
- It's ok to take a second opinion. You know your child best, and if you feel uncomfortable with the doctor's advice, it is ok to take a second opinion. Although your child's doctor is one of the best people to go to when you have a concern, there are many people concerned about and involved in the care of your child, including family, friends, teachers, counselors, and possibly others. You can draw upon each of their expertise in addressing your child's needs and keeping your child happy and healthy.
This information was compiled by Sunindia Bhalla, and reviewed by the Program Staff of the Massachusetts Children’s Trust Fund.
Healthy Kids, Happy Kids