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Pediatric Assessment: Children’s Developmental Stage


Despite the development of new high-tech diagnosis methods, physical examination remains one of the central procedures that help to understand the overall health condition of the patient. The general principles of physical examinations are similar for all age groups; however, there are numerous nuances that a healthcare professional should know to ensure the best patient outcomes. This is especially true for pediatric assessment, as examinations of children differ depending on their developmental stage. The present paper overviews adaptations that should be made depending on the children’s developmental stage using a case scenario.

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Comparing Physical Assessment of School-Aged Children

The peculiarities of the physical assessment of school-aged children depend on their developmental stage; however, there are several principles relevant to all ages of children. First, it is crucial to establish rapport between the child and the parents to ensure cooperation (Jarvis, 2020). Second, assessment of pubertal development is central in all school-aged children (Drutz, 2020). Finally, a physical examination should evaluate every system, including cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, and central nervous systems (Jarvis, 2020). Jarvis (2020) notes that during the period before puberty, psychological, social, and behavioral factors begin to have a greater effect on the child’s health.

Healthcare professionals must modify their approach to children to ensure the effectiveness of the examination process. For instance, depending on age, care providers need to establish rapport with children and parents. The methods for establishing rapport differ depending on their age: younger children may prefer playing, while older children may not like playing (Drutz, 2020). Additionally, older children may need additional education about their bodies in comparison with younger ones (Jarvis, 2020). Older children may feel shy when talking about their bodies, especially in the presence of their parents (Jarvis, 2020). Thus, the healthcare professional must adjust the process of physical examination accordingly.

Case Description

The present paper discusses the case of Ben, a 10-year-old boy, who presented to the clinic with the symptoms of a common cold. According to Ericson’s theory of psychosocial development, Ben is still in his 4th developmental stage of psychosocial development, which is called Industry vs. Inferiority (Cherry, 2020). At this stage, interactions with the social world play a central role in the child’s life, as he forms a strong self-concept (Cherry, 2020). According to the theory, Ben needs to develop a sense of competence in some areas (Cherry, 2020). Since the number of social interactions increases, the influence of the family decreases, which may cause problems with communication inside the family.

Assessment Strategies

When assessing Ben, it is crucial to take into consideration his development stage to cooperate with the patient and parents effectively. According to Ericson’s theory of psychosocial development, Ben is more likely to start forming his self-concept, which implies that it is crucial to emphasize his dignity during the assessment (Cherry, 2020). This includes being at the same level when speaking to Ben and allowing him to answer the questions before his parents (Jarvis, 2020). At the same time, it is crucial to praise the child’s success in school, sports, or any other activities to build rapport (Cherry, 2020). This implies that care providers should ask Ben about his achievements and demonstrate their interest in the matter. Finally, care providers may consider asking the child about his pubertal development without parents to ensure his trust. Thus, Ben’s case demonstrates how assessment strategies can be modified to meet children’s unique needs according to their developmental stage.


Physical assessment is crucial for the early diagnosis of diseases. The principles of physical evaluation of school-aged children are similar for all ages; however, some nuances care providers should know to ensure effective assessment of children depending on their age. These differences can be explained by Ericson’s theory of psychosocial development. In Ben’s case, the care provider should emphasize his dignity and focus on his achievements to ensure rapport and active communication. Additionally, it would be appropriate to discuss pubertal development without parents.


Cherry, K. (2020). Industry vs. inferiority in psychosocial development. Verywell Mind. Web.

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Drutz, J.E. (2020). The pediatric physical examination: General principles and standard measurements. UpToDate. Web.

Jarvis, C. (2020). Physical examination and health assessment (8th ed.). Elsevier.

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