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Fifteen-minute consultation: Guide to communicating with children and young people
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    Ask children's permission only if you can respect it
    • Bernard Laubscher, Paediatrician Department of Paediatrics, Lausanne University Hospital, Lausanne, Switzerland

    I read Davison et al’s paper with great interest.
    Congratulation for this summary of how, fortunately and/or probably, most experienced paediatricians routinely communicate with children and their families: the strength of their paper is that it describes in simple words good communicating skills which most paediatricians consider as obvious although without having themselves the capability to describe them so well.
    One of their suggestions deserves some discussion though: In Box 1, Davison et al recommend to ask the children permission to ask them or their parents a few questions. Involving patients is a requisite in a shared decision making model. Children’s views must be respected, as stated in the article 12 of the 1989 Convention on the rights of the child 1. However, given a child’s capacity of discernment, parental views may be necessary. If the child denies the permission, how will then the paediatrician seek parental views? Will the child consider his/her paediatrician as a trustful “friend” if he/she doesn’t respect his/her objection to question his/her parents? Will the child still trust his/her paediatrician if he/she tries and convince him/her to change his mind?
    It is a fair to give a choice to a child as long as the choice can be respected.

    1 United Nations, Human Rights. Convention on the rights of the child.

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.