I'm a pediatrician. Part of what we do is to make our patients relax. This is also part of the exam, because a smiling, laughing kid is probably not a truly sick kid. And a ticklish belly is not an acute abdomen.
- The ear is an undiscovered country. Here there be lions, tigers and bears, oh my! I might have forgotten to mention the monkeys. When I first started, I just counted monkeys. Over the years, I've started to discover that they play basketball, hopscotch and, parchisi. They often cook meals, but they never wash their dishes. A few years ago, I had a patient who had just moved from Australia and wouldn't you know it, there is now an epidemic of kangaroos, koalas, and even crocodiles in ears now. Another kid moved from Florida and with him came a flamingo and alligator epidemic.
- I always ask children what they had for breakfast/lunch before I examine their bellies. Often, they can't seem to remember, so I ask them, "has your mouth been with you all day today?" When I do get the answer, I then need to find the various components of their last meal (ticklingly, of course), in great detail. "Here's the bun…and over here's the ketchup…and over here's the pickle relish…and the chips are here…and where is the hot dog? Is it over here? How about over here? Oh, heeeere it is!" Froot Loops are especially fun because you can find an example of each different color. If they can't remember, then I start to guess. Hamburger? Hot dog? Turkey sandwich? If I keep getting it wrong, the guesses get weirder. Mouseburger? Spider stew? Monkey brain soup?
- If there are siblings in the room, I'll say: "You must be Andrew (pointing to Lindsay), and you must be Lindsay! (pointing to Andrew)." They'll laugh and say: "nooooooo!" And then I say: "Oh, really?" And then I cross my arms and try again and still get it wrong. And then cross my arms even more (so it looks completely ridiculous) and still get it wrong. And then I'll finally get fed up and ask one kid what her name and when she tells me, I'll say: "Well, why didn't you say so?"
- "How old are you? Are you three? You don't look three. Are you eight? Ten? 42? You don't look 42."
- I'll count fingers/toes and get it wrong every time, then re-count, and re-count…this can occupy a good 60 seconds.
- If you have a paper or styrofoam cup, you can stick a tongue depressor through the bottom and voila! Instant baby rattle!
- In older kids, if I try to do a fundoscopic exam, I'll ask them to stare straight at their parent's or sibling's nose. "Is she making funny faces at you?" "Now that I brought it up, is she making funny faces at you?"
- With especially silly (and healthy) kids, I'll pick them up, cradling them in my arms. I'll tell them that the arm holding their legs is strong, but that the arm holding their head is –oops!– weak and let their head drop, letting them swing upside-down. This usually exposes a ticklish belly.
- "I have some excellent news. You have a heart. It's even beating! I wish I had a heart. All I have is a lump of ice-cold stone." (This gets a giggle from parents).
- With my 11yos who have to get their shots, I offer them the option of being marched out in the waiting room where they have all the boys or girls (opposite-sex) from their class waiting and we can give them the shots in the butt. Or they can get them here in the exam room in the arm. Which would they like? A bit of perspective works wonders. 😉 Although I did have one kid take me up on the offer.
Any games you play?
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