Preparing for your appointment

By Mayo Clinic Staff

You may start by seeing your child's doctor. After an initial evaluation, your doctor may refer you to a mental health professional who can help make a diagnosis and create the appropriate treatment plan for your child.

What you can do

Before your appointment, make a list of:

  • Signs and symptoms your child has been experiencing, and for how long.
  • Your family's key personal information, including factors that you suspect may have contributed to changes in your child's behavior. Include any stressors that your child or close family members recently experienced, particularly with regard to parental separation or divorce and differences in expectations and parenting styles.
  • Your child's key medical information, including other physical or mental health conditions with which your child has been diagnosed.
  • Any medication, vitamins and other supplements your child is taking, including the dose.
  • Questions to ask the doctor so that you can make the most of your appointment.

When possible, both parents should be present with the child. Or, take a trusted family member or friend along. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot.

Questions to ask the doctor at your child's initial appointment include:

  • What do you believe is causing my child's symptoms?
  • Are there any other possible causes?
  • How will you determine the diagnosis?
  • Should my child see a mental health provider?

Questions to ask if your child is referred to a mental health provider include:

  • Does my child have oppositional defiant disorder?
  • Is this condition likely temporary or long lasting?
  • What factors do you think might be contributing to my child's problem?
  • What treatment approach do you recommend?
  • Is it possible for my child to grow out of this condition?
  • Does my child need to be screened for any other mental health problems?
  • Is my child at increased risk of any long-term complications from this condition?
  • Do you recommend any changes at home or school to encourage my child's recovery?
  • Should I tell my child's teachers about this diagnosis?
  • What else can my family and I do to help my child?
  • Do you recommend family therapy?
  • What can we, the parents, do to cope and sustain our ability to help our child?

Don't hesitate to ask additional questions during your appointment.

What to expect from your doctor

Be ready to answer your doctor's questions. That way you'll have more time to go over any points you want to talk about in-depth. Your doctor may ask:

  • What are your concerns about your child's behavior?
  • When did you first notice these problems?
  • Have your child's teachers or other caregivers reported similar behaviors in your child?
  • How often over the last six months has your child been spiteful or vindictive, or blamed others for his or her own mistakes?
  • How often over the last six months has your child been easily annoyed or deliberately annoying to others?
  • How often over the last six months has your child argued with adults or defied or refused adults' requests?
  • How often over the last six months has your child been visibly angry or lost his or her temper?
  • In what settings does your child demonstrate these behaviors?
  • Do any particular situations seem to trigger negative or defiant behavior in your child?
  • How have you been handling your child's disruptive behavior?
  • How do you typically discipline your child?
  • How would you describe your child's home and family life?
  • What stresses has the family been dealing with?
  • Has your child been diagnosed with any other medical conditions, including mental health conditions?
Feb. 06, 2015

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