Contrary to your present beliefs, children are not just tiny adults. While they are extremely smart capable, intelligent, and wise in their own right, their minds and bodies work differently than adults. However, similar to adults, children complete their physical therapy when they feel comfortable and confident in their care providers.
Your pediatric patients may be far and few between or you may deal with them on a regular basis. Whichever scenario applies to you, it’s always a good idea to make sure that you’re effectively and properly handling patients correctly; no matter their age.
Keep it Simple
Your pediatric patients are smart but they probably haven’t spent most of their life studying physical therapy. Keep your treatment explanations simple and easy to understand.
No need to be condescending! Maintain your composure, be patient, and remember that you were once a child before. If you can’t explain something simply you may not know it was well as you think you do.
Keep It Positive
Kids are responsive to your mood. Meaning, if you’re in a bad mood, they’re going to be in a bad mood. Staying positive and upbeat will help them remain positive and confident about their treatment.
Even for adults, treatment can be scary. The uncertainty, the physical, emotional, and mental pain that every PT patient experiences, no matter what their age, can be exacerbated by your attitude.
However, kids are particularly susceptible to bad moods. To get the most out of each treatment session, keep it positive, keep it light, and most importantly don’t let them leave without having at least one good laugh! After all, laughter is the best medicine
You think you get bored as an adult? Imagine being a kid in physical therapy! While PT might be YOUR passion, theirs is probably more akin to playing outdoors, video games, and making TikToks.
Keeping the treatment engaging and fun will help ensue that they’re having a good time. When you associate fun with treatment, children are more likely to want to complete their treatment.
Some ways to make to make treatment more fun are:
- Turn each stretch or exercise into a game
- Make a points system
- Use rewards
- Tell jokes
- Ask questions
Engaging with your pediatric patients will help you get to know them better. And, as you probably know with your adult patients, when you’re familiar with each other on a deeper level, they’re more likely to connect with their treatment.
Before deep diving into treatment start with these questions with your pediatric patients:
- Who is your favorite Youtuber?
- Do you have a favorite Tik-Tok personality?
- What’s your favorite game
- Do you have a favorite subject in school?
With this information you can develop a treatment plan that aligns with their interests, keeps them engaged with treatment, and is fun for them to complete.
Patience is learned and even for adults, it’s not always the easiest virtue to practice. Pediatric patients come with their own set of unique challenges. They may lose interest sooner than adult patients, they may not totally understand why you’re there or how you can help, and they may be totally disinterested in physical therapy.
Being patient with your pediatrics patients is crucial to their experience with you. When you’re struggling to find your patience, remember a favorite teacher or instructor you had either as a kid or an adult. How did they react when you were being difficult or visibly losing interest in the lesson?
Your favorite instructor is likely your favorite because they never got mad at you. They simply adjusted their teaching style or lesson plan to help you learn the information.
Your pediatric patients deserve your respect just as much as your adult patients. Being respectful means addressing them by the name they’d like to be called, never treating them as less than, and never resorting to verbally belittling them.
When you think about your favorite teacher or instructor in the past, they probably left such a positive impression because they respected you as a person. It didn’t matter how old or young you were, they spoke to you and treated you as your own person.
Maintain this same mentality with your pediatric patients for a positive treatment experience.