When Adolescents Cry at the Doctor’s Office

June 9, 2020
When adolescents cry at the doctor's office, it may be for a number of reasons. It's essential that we pay attention to what these tears are trying to communicate as a means of emotional expression.

What does it mean when adolescents cry at the doctor’s office

When adolescents cry at the doctor’s office, is it a good thing? Is it inappropriate? Does it mean that they’re oversensitive? What does it mean? Well, there’s no single concrete answer. Rather, it depends on a number of different factors. For example, it may have to do with the reason for the appointment – be it a routine checkup or a specific illness or discomfort… Or it may have to do with something else.

Whatever the reason may be, we can say off the bat that, in order for teens to cry during an appointment, there must be fertile ground for them to do so. But, what’s more, it also means that the health professional has created a space where patients can not only ask questions but also express their feelings.

When Adolescents Cry at the Doctor's Office

The emotional availability of parents, on occasion, can help adolescents open up about their own emotions. However, when adolescents cry at the doctor’s office, it may also be because emotional manifestations are being blocked in their families. In this case, it would seem that teens find an outlet where they can channel their emotions.

The role of emotions in the making of decisions

In recent times, there have been many advances regarding the role that emotions play in reasoning and decision making. In this sense, philosopher Martha Nussbaum points out that emotions aren’t mere accompaniments of cognitive processes. Rather, they’re the “connective tissue of moral knowledge.”

Aspects to point out

  • The expression of emotions is important. And when it takes place during a doctor’s appointment, it’s essential that health professionals take enough time to pay attention to these emotional manifestations.
  • It’s also important to identify if the crying has to do with a crisis of distress that requires additional consultation or closer monitoring.

Will children that cry at the doctor’s office become adolescents that cry at the doctor’s office?

Just because some children tend to cry at the doctor’s office doesn’t mean they’ll continue to do so once they reach adolescence. In fact, it’s normal for small children to cry when they go to the doctor – it’s almost to be expected.

When Adolescents Cry at the Doctor's Office

The fear of getting a shot or of some other scary medical procedure can cause a lot of children to cry during doctor’s visits. However, the crying usually stops once they understand there’s no threat. As children mature and develop, this habit of crying tends to go away.

Conclusion…

  • Set aside enough time for doctor’s visits, especially when tending to adolescents.
  • Don’t overwhelm adolescents with questions while they’re crying. Sometimes, just listening and offering them a tissue are the best things we can do.
  • Reach out to a close adult in the case that the teen has come to the appointment alone.
  • Always assume the level of emotional commitment that the crying requires.
  • Morris DB. (2000). Illness and culture in the postmodern age. Univ of California Press; 2000 Aug 30.
  • RODRIGUEZ TORRES AL, Jarillo Soto EC, CASAS PATIÑO DO. (n.d.). La consulta médica, su tiempo y duración.