How to Keep Children Preoccupied in the Pediatrician’s Office

kid drawing with a pencilAs a medical assistant (MA) working in the pediatrician’s office, one of the most common challenges that you will encounter is handling the children who are in the waiting area. It’s not enough to simply leave them in the hands of their parents or let them make noise and run around. To be an effective medical assistant in this scenario, you have to be creative in keeping kids of different ages preoccupied so that you can avoid disturbances and accidents in the clinic or office.

Child-Friendly Videos and Movies

You can actually show a range of children’s videos and movies in the waiting room. Make sure to choose movies based on the age level of the majority of children currently present. However, you cannot completely depend on this single form of entertainment because there will usually be some kids who will not like what is being shown or who may not be capable of watching for more than a few minutes due to a short attention span. Before you can show movies, you must have a good quality television, placed in a central place for viewing. You should also have a DVD player or VCR in order to play a variety of movies.

A Reading Corner with Books of Various Levels

It is always good to incorporate a reading corner into a pediatrician’s waiting room. The reading corner should have a variety of books at various reading levels, as well as low shelves where the kids themselves can choose the books that they would like to read. There should also be a mat, rug, or comfortable chair where some children can sit down to read. As the MA, you should plan the layout with the pediatrician you work with, as well as discuss any furniture and materials you will need to purchase.

Every now and then, it would be a good idea to have fun and educational worksheets available for the children to work on after they are done reading.  A story map is one example you can use here that works for all books. Have some blank story maps and a set of directions for the children to follow after they read a story. There are many options and examples you can download for free on the Internet.

A Variety of Art Activities Minus the Mess

If you have a spacious waiting area available, you can set up an art station with coloring books, crayons, papers, stamps, scissors, glue, sequins, and more. Just be sure to use the safety scissors that are most often used in preschools and day care centers. It is also not advisable to include painting supplies, as these can be quite messy.

From time to time, you can prepare a poster about an art activity that the children can accomplish with the guidance of their parents or companions. Be sure to make the necessary supplies available and also to anchor these activities on health-related  topics. For instance, you can have a project on body parts where the little kids can color a printout and the older ones can form bodies and body parts with the use of colored clay.

Meanwhile, if there is only a small amount of space in the waiting area, you can just place these things on a shelf and distribute them to kids who are interested to engage them in some quick and easy art fun.

Toys, Puzzles, Blocks, and Other Manipulatives

Another way to keep children occupied in the pediatrician’s waiting room is to give them toys, puzzles, blocks, and other manipulatives to play with. These types of activities can keep children of various ages busy for a long time. Kids are usually engrossed by hands-on endeavors where they can be creative and use their imaginations. Building things is fun for most kids. Choose materials that cater to a wide range of age and ability levels so that you will not have to provide much guidance.

Exciting Rewards

You can have a reward bin for well-behaved kids, as well as those that complete various waiting room activities. For example, children who complete the art project or ones who complete the reading worksheets can choose an extra prize from the reward bin. Some possible prizes could include stickers, candy, small toys, and other inexpensive items they can pick from. These rewards can also be given to those who have “survived” a visit to the doctor or who have shown courage in going through something scary, even if it’s just a customary checkup.

Try to apply one or more of these suggested methods for making kids behave in the pediatrician’s office. If you are able to pull it off, you will surely have better control and management of the waiting area. Even better, the kids will love you. Remember that setting up these activities will not only grab the attention of the children, but it should also keep them quiet and well-behaved. If their children aren’t misbehaving, the parents will be happy and grateful too. By keeping kids busy and preoccupied in the pediatrician’s waiting room, you are also likely to reduce anxiety. If they associate fun with the doctor’s office, they will actually be looking forward to the next visit, rather than dreading it.