Why is the introduction important?

The first step of the general examination is to introduce yourself to the child and his or her mother, father or caregiver (guardian). At the start, find out whether the child is a boy or girl. Always make sure that you know the gender of the child. If you get that wrong the parent may not trust you with your medical management. Never refer to a child as ‘it’. Always greet the child and parents with respect. This first meeting establishes the relationship between the caregiver (doctor or nurse) and the child and parents. The rest of the general examination and management of the child depend on a good, trusting relationship. A friendly, caring approach builds trust and confidence. Often in a busy clinic, the introduction is unfortunately bypassed. Always take time to ‘make friends’ with the child first before starting the examination. Avoid strong eye contact with toddlers until you have ‘made friends’.

It is very important to take time to establish a good relationship with the child and mother at the start of the general examination.

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