A visit to the doctor’s office is a fun adventure for some kids. The promise of a sticker and a lollipop at the end of the exam is really all it takes to make them happy. Getting to listen to their own heart with the stethoscope only sweetens the deal.
But for other kids, going to the doctor is anxiety-inducing. The unfamiliar sights and sounds, the possibility of being stuck with a needle, the strange person poking and prodding and sticking a tongue depressor down your throat – all of these elements add up to make a doctor’s office a very scary place for some kids.
So what can you do to make your child less fearful? Try these tips from moms and dads around Vitals on preparing your child for a doctor visit:
- Accompany your child. If your child is afraid, it may be worthwhile to make sure you’re the one who takes her to the doctor rather than a grandparent or babysitter. Your presence will reassure her.
- Play doctor. Give your child a play-doctor set complete with a medical bag and doctor’s attire. Using the toys and a stuffed animal, show her what the doctor does during a routine appointment. Then, let her take a turn as doctor, examining her teddy bear and giving him a clean bill of health.
- Read a book about it. There are a number of children’s books available that describe going to the doctor with kid-friendly illustrations and language.
- Be honest. Don’t lie to your child and say she won’t need shots. Be open and tell her that she will sometimes have to receive shots at certain appointments, but that they’ll be over quickly and you’ll be by her side the entire time.
- Allow your child to sit on your lap for the exam. Having to sit on the examining table away from mommy or daddy only increases the concern in a fearful child. Instead, have her sit on your lap while you sit on the table, so she feels protected.
- Bring a guinea pig. Watching an older sibling be examined first, or perhaps a favorite doll that the doctor can do a mock examination of, will show your child that they have nothing to fear when their turn comes.
- Keep calm. If you’re nervous during the exam, your child will sense those feelings and believe that they should be nervous as well.
Is your pediatrician a pro at making kids comfortable? Tell us about his/her techniques below!