Clinical Tip: Coaxing a toddler to walk

August 1, 2008

One way to encourage a 2-year-old patient to walk during an exam.

Coaxing a toddler to walk? Try the "magnet effect"

Observing a 2-year-old patient walking is an important part of the physical examination. The sticking point, however, has been trying to coax the child to walk without the help of Mom and Dad. Instead of commanding, asking, begging, or fighting, I have found the following maneuver more pleasant and effective. I ask the parent to stand with the child in one corner of the room while I stand at the opposite corner. I kindly ask the parent to change places with me without holding the child's hand. As this happens, the child will walk away from me and toward the parent even without being asked. I have named this maneuver "the magnet effect."

Jacob Urkin, MD Beer-Sheva, Israel