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I am the office manager at an oral surgeon's office and the staff is telling me that there is a problem with the patients being annoyed by loud children in the lobby. This is when the patient is in the lobby and in the room with the doctor.

What should the staff do when children are being children.... :
(Below are some of my initial thoughts)

  1. Inform the parent (before the appointment) that if they will be bringing children with them to the visit, we ask them to bring someone along to care for the children.
  2. If they are being loud: Have our staff tell the parent that the child is interfering with the surgeons and to ask the child if they are hungry or thirsty and if not, suggest to the patient that maybe taking them for a walk outside and returning in a few minutes might help.

Any thoughts?

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    Are the children (some of) the patients? Are the kids being left unattended in the lobby at any point, or are the parents present? – Acire Oct 28 '16 at 19:27
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    I'm also not really seeing this as directly a parenting question, since you're not in a role of caring for these children but just wondering how to discuss the problem with the various patients (those with the kids, and those annoyed by the kids). It's almost better suited to Community Building? – Acire Oct 28 '16 at 19:29
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    You also might think about scheduling parents who bring children to their appointments in certain time slots. People who have children of their own are (or should be) more tolerant of childish noise. Grouping them all together saves the nerves of those who have less tolerance for noisy children. Or, to change the message a bit, reserve certain time slots as "quiet slots", and bill them as being for elderly people who need a calmer (read "child free") environment. Instruct schedulers to find out if children will be present before scheduling. – Francine DeGrood Taylor Oct 28 '16 at 19:36
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    @Erica - If the parents are abandoning their kids to a waiting room while having their work done, the office staff is indeed acting in loco parentis. – anongoodnurse Oct 28 '16 at 19:49
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    @user24963 There is a different answer to that question for every parent. Just try not to make it sound personal (ie, "This is our policy, will you be able to comply and if not how can we help you comply?" and not "You need to do this...") Just be very clear in your policy and make sure it is communicated at the time the appt is made. And communicate equally, don't single people out. – Francine DeGrood Taylor Oct 31 '16 at 18:38
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If the office expects a lot of children, some inexpensive things to keep children busy can be very helpful. Some suggestions:

1) A small table with papers and crayons.

2) Some interesting posters in the wall (think colorful, eye-catching)

3) A small aquarium with few fishes.

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For children who are just accompanying parents who are patients, you could ask patients not to bring children on their visits, or to bring another caregiver.

Other possibilities: redecorate the lobby to have soft, sound absorbing surfaces instead of hard, sound reflecting surfaces; reorganize walls or partitions to reduce the transfer of sound from the lobby to the rooms with the doctors.

If the doctors mention the noise, then I'd definitely pass that along to the parents as well. It's more difficult to make an appropriate judgement with patients, since some adults who dislike kids may not be realistic about what level of noise to expect.

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    I like the idea of sound-absorbing surfaces. But mainly what this office needs is a play kitchen. And a few other toys -- but mainly a toy kitchen. – aparente001 Oct 29 '16 at 3:50
  • I really like the idea of the sound absorbing surfaces. This got me thinking as well. – user24963 Oct 31 '16 at 13:44
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Could you simply hand them an ipad or something alike to play with? Nothing quiets a child more quickly than a video or some interesting games. Or maybe a tv-dvd with some cartoons?

  • Not a bad idea, but that might be a bit expensive – L.B. Nov 3 '16 at 13:27

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