Making Mayo Clinic safe for its youngest patients
4/4/2022 by Arne Graff, M.D.
Taking children to a clinic appointment can be difficult. While waiting to be seen, kids want to run around the waiting area, talk loudly and disrupt a generally quiet room. And sometimes a parent or even an older sibling will try to manage the children by a soft tap or push, or even a hard slap.
However, this kind of response does not create a safe environment for the misbehaving children or other patients in the waiting area. The waiting room is scary enough without seeing someone push or hit someone else.
To create a safe area for all our patient, Mayo Clinic is participating in a national program and creating what are called "No-Hit Zones."
A No-Hit Zone is an environment where no one shall hit another person.
How you can help
If your children become disruptive — talking loudly, running around or crying, for example — you can work to redirect their energy. Talk to them calmly. Ask if they want to walk around the waiting area with you and look at something new. Try to play a game with them or offer them a different activity. You can even reach out to Mayo Clinic staff for stickers or a cup of water to disrupt the behavior.
Understand, too, that Mayo Clinic staff will step in if they see anyone hit anyone else. They will remind you that Mayo Clinic is a No-Hit Zone where hitting is not tolerated. They also will help you redirect your child in a nonviolent way.
Mayo Clinic recognizes that as a parent, you choose how you discipline your children. However, in the No-Hit Zone at Mayo Clinic, you're asked to follow the policy of nonviolence.
To help you better understand what a No-Hit Zone is and how to encourage good behavior, you can use the information in this Mayo Clinic booklet: "Keeping Kids Safe: This is a No-Hit Zone."
Arne Graff, M.D., is a physician in the Mayo Center for Safe and Healthy Children and Adolescents at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. He completed his residency in family medicine at the University of Wyoming in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and his forensic medicine fellowship at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. His practice includes clinics in Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin for consults in child maltreatment and neglect.