If there is one thing that everyone “hates” about going to the doctor’s office it is the wait. Unfortunately, in pediatrics there are so many variables as to how the day may go, and too many times our patients end up having to wait. But one thing I have noticed is how parents handle the wait and how clever many a mother (or father) may be.
For many years our waiting rooms had toys and a very large fish tank for kids to enjoy while waiting. Of course, we have now succumbed to having TV’ in our waiting rooms. We also have a library area with books and puzzles. The fish tank is still there as well, but I think the TV gets the majority of eyes.
Once the patient gets to the exam room there may be another wait and this becomes more challenging for parents as the rooms are tiny and there is not a TV or fish tank. Many parents then use their cell phone or iPad to provide “in room” entertainment for their children.
Parents with older children will sometimes have their children bring their homework so they can get a head start on that. Adolescents often are either doing homework or updating their Facebook page or texting their friends and they barely look up when I walk in.
Here is a picture of one clever mom and her 1st grade son who managed to spend some quality waiting time in the exam room. She said that she always has spelling word flashcards in her purse (written on paper) and that she uses them to work on reading skills.
When I walked in the room there they sat with the cards all spread out on the counter. He was happily working on combining words to makes sentences! No mess, no electronics and what better use of waiting time. Not only was he getting his required reading done, he and his mom were having some quality time together, and it was even quiet!
It would work for colors, shapes and numbers for the younger ones and the older ones can learn their sight words or make sentences. I think this is much better method of learning than putting him in front of the iPad.
I hate it that they had to wait, and I continue to try to figure out how to shorten wait times, but this mom and son made the best of it!