School physicals are due. Which parent personality are you?
School physical season is here. Which parent personality do you fall in?
It’s that time of year again, coaches are pressuring you for your child’s athletic forms and school nurses are sending out letters threatening that your children can’t start school until they have their shots.
School physical season is one of my favorite times of the year for many reasons:
- It’s really fun to see kids grow up and get big over time.
- I love watching my patients’ personalities mature.
- I love that the visits become progressively more about my relationship with the child in addition to my relationship with their parents.
- For the most part everyone is healthy and happy.
- For most children, the promise of a new school year and new beginnings is exciting.
I have a few things on my agenda for each back-to-school checkup.
I want to talk about diet, exercise and sleep. I want to talk about how school went last year and what the plans are for the upcoming year.
But checkups are more than just about what I want. In order for the checkup to be a success, it must meet the goals of the child and parent. Parents are all over the place when it comes to their expectations for physicals.
Here are just a few examples:
1.“Let me get out my list.”
Whether your weapon of choice is a spiral-bound notebook or long thumb-scrolling iPhone lists, you know who you are. And frankly, I love you. Having a guide that directs the visit through any questions and concerns that you have is beyond helpful. It keeps me from having to talk about stuff that’s not important to you and wasting both of our time. So, bring it on, Listers, and I promise not to roll my eyes.
2.“I’m just here to get my form signed.”
No worries. That may be all you need and that’s great. In the meantime I can provide a quick screen for height, weight, body mass index, high blood pressure, heart murmurs, risk for sudden cardiac death, hearing and vision (and much more). I can also screen for drug/alcohol abuse, depression, attention problems and other school issues. “Here’s your form, thanks for coming in.”
But seriously, even in those children who come in with no apparent concerns or complaints, we do pick up health problems that need to be addressed to maximize your child’s ability to function well in school or compete at their best in their chosen activity.
3.“I’m not worried, but __________ wanted me to ask about __________.”
This is a tricky one. I’m totally cool with it, but it can be hard to get at exactly what the concerns is if that person isn’t there to ask questions. My advice … if that person is close enough to be providing this type of advice, they could probably come to the appointment. If the concern is coming from the child’s teacher, a quick note explaining what is going on can be really helpful.
Just don’t leave it up to chance that we can figure out what the problem is, especially if you don’t quite understand why they are concerned. Get specific information about the concern or have them come along.
I’m sure there are many more ways that parents think about their children’s checkup, but these are some common ones I notice.
No matter what, regular checkups are an important part of helping you maintain your child’s health. Good health increases their ability to be present for and to participate fully at school and extracurricular activities.
Which category do you fall in? Is there a different one you think I should include?
Sports EKGs are free through the month of August at specific locations in Arlington and Fort Worth. Cook Children's offers a $25 Sports EKG (electrocardiogram) screening test at our Cardiology offices in Mansfield, Southlake and Denton. Adding a sports EKG to your child’s physical can help detect most heart conditions that may lead to sudden cardiac arrest. Click to learn more.
For school physicals, visit your local Cook Children's pediatrician. Click to find one near you.
Justin Smith, M.D., is a Cook Children's pediatrician in Lewisville . He attended University of Texas, Southwestern Medical School and did his pediatric training at Baylor College of Medicine. He joins Cook Children's after practicing in his hometown of Abilene for four years. He has a particular interest in development, behavior and care for children struggling with obesity. In his spare time, he enjoys playing with his 3 young children, exercising, reading and writing about parenting and pediatric health issues.