Now Reading
Well-Child Checks: More Than Just a Sports or School Physical

Well-Child Checks: More Than Just a Sports or School Physical

by Annie Baker, M.D.

Although “back-to school” physicals or sports physicals are often what drive older children and teenagers into the pediatrician’s office, the annual physical is much more.

Although sports physicals are wonderful tools to help screen for potentially harmful conditions that are often sport specific, they do not address the overall health of the child.

School physicals also are often form-generated checklists which typically focus on the immunization history or screening any serious medical condition.

Why Well-Child Care

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents take full advantage of the Well-Child Annual visits with the pediatrician as it is one of the greatest benefits in health care.

Aside from the review of growth charts and immunizations, the Well-Child Annual visit is a designated visit to review a child’s entire health history, discuss preventative health issues, as well as anticipatory topics parents should be expecting to address in the next phase of their child’s development. Many aspects of the Well-Child Annual Exam are not done on problem-focus visits, In many Well-Child Annual exams, aside from the typical, height, weight & blood pressure monitoring, there is vision, hearing and urinalysis screening, along with developmental-behavioral assessments, nutritional counseling, and injury prevention. This is the one opportunity annually for the physician to cover the entire spectrum of a child’s health including physical, mental, social and emotional development.

See Also

For the teens it becomes  a more invaluable visit as it allows for the teen to have a designated visit for him or her to discuss those difficult topics. Aside from the physical changes of transitioning from childhood to young adulthood, it is a chance to discuss social aspects and decision-making regarding drinking, drug use, sexuality, and nutrition. Additionally, it provides the teen a chance to talk to an adult that is not his or her parent. This also provides the pediatrician with a sense of the teen’s emotional balance and level of self-esteem.

In today’s schedules it is sometimes difficult to think of adding one more appointment to your child’s calendar, yet during these years of growth, learning, physical and emotional development, it is important to ensure there is a healthy balance of all the aspects of your child’s life. Taking one day during each year to see the pediatrician helps accomplish just that!

Other Tips Regarding Well Child Annual Physicals

  • Schedule early, as some physicians do a limited number of Well-Child visits per day as to ensure acutely ill children are able to be seen appropriately.
  • When to schedule? Avoid the back to school rush-instead consider scheduling during the child’s birthday month, but not on the actual birthday- who wants to spend her special day at the doctor?
  • Come prepared. Have questions ready for your pediatrician regarding your concerns.
  • Remember, a child should be well of acute illness for the Well Visit! If a child is ill, call the office in advance.  It’s no fun to try to do a developmental assessment or discuss important topics such as preventative care with a child who doesn’t feel well.

© 2022 Texarkana Parent Magazine. All Rights Reserved.

Scroll To Top