Everyday Etiquette: Waiting to See the Doctor
by Diane Gottsman

There’s little that’s more frustrating than sitting for hours in the waiting room of a pediatrician’s office with a little tiger (or two) sniffing, snorting and suffering with fever. All the while, rubbing elbows with other children in various stages of germ warfare.

A room full of sick children calls for a special type of protocol. Regarding the rights of others will put everyone at ease. The golden rule of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” definitely applies here, especially when we are dealing with those not feeling their best.

10 Tips to Proper Pediatric Office Protocol

Here are a few waiting room tips to help stressed-out parents and children better cope with the inevitable – and often protracted – wait at the doctor’s office.

1. Arrive on time. Arriving late throws everyone off schedule.
2. Keep your tissues to yourself. Make sure that little Lulu isn’t blowing and dropping tissues like rose pedals at a wedding.
3. Don’t offer food or toys to other children. This is not the time to share.
4. Respect the “sick” side and the “well” side of the office. Nothing is worse than finally being able to sit on the well side of the office and having three sick children come over to visit you and your child.
5. Pick up your trash. Don’t leave ZipLock™ bags with cereal and empty juice boxes lying around.
6. Don’t bang on the fish tank. Fish have feelings, too (I think!).
7. Don’t allow your child to draw on the professional photographs hanging on the office walls. It could be someone’s mother little Jimmy is drawing a mustache on.
8. Turn off your cell phone.
9. Don’t allow your sick child to approach a new baby in a carrier.
10. Do not leave your other children in the waiting room while you and your sick child go into the exam room. It’s not the responsibility of the office staff – or other parents – to watch – or discipline – your children. Do not allow your children to venture beyond the waiting room area unattended.

Diane Gottsman is a nationally recognized etiquette and protocol expert who leads age-appropriate etiquette programs for children as well as adults striving to fine-tune their skills. She has a master’s degree in sociology/education. For more information, check out

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