Communicating with Children and Adolescents

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Audience – Healthcare Professionals

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When communicating with children, it is vital to remember that the child is the patient but the parent is a key person in any transaction. Serious illness in children is overwhelming for all parents, and even minor illness can be frightening.

Key core skills

Establishing rapport, listening, establishing the illness framework of the whole family, the open-closed cone, signposting the examination and performing it with sensitivity, explanation in terms the child and parent can understand.

 Key issue-specific skills

reassurance, interviewing more than one person at a time, (see under Adolescence),humour and fun.


Adolescents have a difficult time consulting their doctors. Adolescence is not a single stage of development; young people show considerable variation in psychological and physical development. A working knowledge of teenage culture is useful, especially for older doctors, and an understanding of contemporary interests and concerns.

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Useful phrases for eliciting concerns –

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