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Health Information Questions Help Kids Open Up

Being both a pediatrician and a mom has taught Gina Lowell, MD, what questions encourage kids of all ages — and their parents — to open up.

Questions for Parents

"When children see their parents are comfortable with me, they'll feel comfortable talking too. So taking time to just chat and laugh with parents is important," says Lowell. 

"I always ask, 'Is there anything you're worried about today?'"

Questions for Toddlers

"When toddlers come in with a brand-new sibling, I ask, 'What's the best thing about your baby sister? What's the hardest thing?'"

Questions for School-Age Children

"Now that my own kids are older, I know what my patients are actually doing in school. So I can ask questions like, 'Do you know your sight words?' And I ask about friends — kids love talking about their friends."

Questions for Adolescents

"When it's time to raise sensitive issues like smoking, drinking and sex, I ask the parents to step out of the room. Then I ask for the child's permission to discuss these things. They almost always say 'yeah.' Respecting their privacy and getting their buy-in makes them more willing to talk."

So what questions do kids ask Lowell? "They always ask about my teeth! I have a crooked tooth, and kids are so honest — they just say, 'Is your tooth going to fall out?' The 5- and 6-year-olds are probably thinking about losing their own teeth and wondering, 'What will that be like?' They also ask me about my own kids — which is just so thoughtful."

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