Five Questions to Ask Your Pediatrician at Your Child’s Next Wellness Visit
Updated: Mar 27
By Stephanie Haridopolos, M.D., Florida Healthy Kids Corporation Chair and Board-Certified Family Medicine Practitioner
As a parent, ensuring your child’s health and wellness is a top priority and, as a mother of three myself, I understand the stress that can go along with that. Scheduling and keeping routine appointments with a trusted health care provider – like your child’s pediatrician – is one way to make sure your child stays on track and is healthy and happy.
Getting your child the best care at an affordable price is a priority from infancy to adolescence. Fortunately, Florida KidCare provides low-cost, high-quality health care coverage options to make sure children throughout the state have access to the necessary health services they need to grow strong and healthy, both physically and mentally.
Beyond the regular childhood concerns like catching a common cold or falling off a bike, children’s mental health also must be examined and treated. Early research has shown the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have impacted children and many are experiencing heightened levels of anxiety and depression that must not be ignored.
Talking to your child about mental health provides an opportunity to share important information and guidance. Having an open dialogue helps decrease the stigma that often surrounds this sensitive topic. Children who are more comfortable talking about mental health concerns are able to better recognize the signs and symptoms in themselves and others, and are more likely to seek earlier treatment and extend more compassion to their peers.
In addition to talking to your child about mental health, kids need a regular routine and consistency in their lives to ensure they have a healthy mind. Yet, the typical forms of socialization, like in-person school, still may not be available to everyone. Wellness visits are the perfect opportunity to speak with your child’s pediatrician about their mental health and any concerns you may have that could be affecting their overall well-being. These appointments also give your child the opportunity to check in with a trusted professional and provide additional stability and consistency.
Most parents consider the many questions to ask a pediatrician during a wellness visit about their child’s physical health, yet few consider addressing mental health concerns. Here are five essential questions to ask your pediatrician at your child’s next wellness visit:
How do I know if my child is experiencing an anxiety and/or depression disorder?
Anxiety and depression disorders refers to multiple mental illnesses with specific symptoms. A child suffering from anxiety or depression may experience chronic symptoms that interfere with daily life — feeling distressed and avoiding certain situations. If you notice your child has had a change in behavior, appetite, loss of concentration or interest in activities, they may be facing an anxiety or depression disorder.
What do the behavioral changes my child has been going through mean?
During a wellness visit, take time to list your child’s symptoms – such as mood swings, social skills impairment, restlessness or problematic behaviors like tantrums – so they can be discussed with a pediatrician. Notifying your child’s pediatrician of changes in behavior may help diagnose anxiety disorders sooner. Having an open line of communication with your child’s pediatrician is the first step to learning more about their mental health.
Is there treatment available for my child?
Finding help from a doctor who makes your child feel comfortable is an important component in receiving effective treatment. It is vital to find a permanent medical home for your child so they receive consistent, trusted care. In addition to prescription medications, effective forms of therapy may aid in helping your child cope with anxiety or depression disorder. Ask your pediatrician if they have training and experience in treating anxiety disorders or if they can refer you to another health care professional.
How will this diagnosis affect my child in school or other social settings?
If untreated, anxiety and depression disorders often lead to poor performance in school and underdeveloped social skills. If your child is struggling, acknowledge their disorder with school administrators so accommodations can be made and teachers can monitor your child to keep you informed.
How can I help my child at home?
If your child has been diagnosed with an anxiety or depression disorder, it can be worrisome for you as a parent. Rather than tread lightly around your child and avoid their mental health disorder, work toward helping them manage it. Implementing structure is a great way to support your child, through such things as a bedtime routine.
When addressing your child’s health, it is just as important to seek mental health treatment as it is to treat physical health problems. It is critical to find a pediatrician who makes you and your child feel comfortable, especially when there’s a need for mental health guidance. Florida KidCare offers affordable health care coverage for children with a network of high-quality providers across the state where your child can establish a consistent medical home for necessary care.
To learn more about Florida KidCare’s benefits and service and the importance of caring for children’s mental health, visit floridakidcare.org.