Dealing with sick children is never easy, but it can get even tougher when you have to take them to the doctor. The doctor’s office is a big, intimidating place, and it can be scary for kids who already feel under the weather. Your child will likely be full of questions, especially about uncomfortable situations that await him. The following tips for preparing your child for a visit to the doctor will allow him to get through the event with the least fear possible, allowing him to adapt a healthy attitude towards maintaining his health.
Clear Up the Mystery
The first thing to do is to explain exactly what is going on. If a child’s mind is left to wander, he may come up with all types of frightening scenarios. Get an idea of what tests he could possibly undergo, and explain to him the actions the doctor will take so that he will be comfortable during the process. It can also be beneficial to explain how you as a parent visit the doctor for similar things when you are ill.
Be Up Front About Pain
Parents generally have success with kids by taking one of two approaches when facing shots and other painful procedures. They can either distract the child with toys, blankets and other items from home, or they can discuss with the children that fact that they are likely to experience a small amount of pain but will feel better in the long run. When talking to your child, emphasize the fact that he will receive a treat, such as a sucker or some type of good consequence, after enduring the brief amount of pain.
Children develop memories and anticipate experiences based on associations. If your child thinks of a doctor’s visit solely as an uncomfortable experience, then he’ll begin to dread making the trip. Start him off on the right foot by always rewarding him in some fashion after a successful visit.
Make the Environment Your Own
Children often feel uncomfortable during a doctor’s visit simply because they are in new surroundings. No matter how much you explain to them the reasons behind the visit, the pure “newness” of the experience can cause problems. Avoid that sense of isolation by taking the time to show your child around the waiting room and help him explore the actual office so he can see everything is OK and that there is nothing to fear.
The doctor is technically a stranger who can be intimidating. One great way to get past this is to ask your doctor to temporarily ditch the white coat, at least for the first few visits, until your child gets used to the doctor’s methods and personality. Seeing a helpful person in street clothes can be a little more relaxing for some kids than dealing with somebody in a cold white uniform.
Schedule Early Visits
The longer a child has to anticipate the visit throughout the day, the greater the possibility that she’ll come to dread the task. Make your appointment as early in the day as possible so that the activity can be over and done with, allowing her to file the experience away and go about her day.
Prepare for a Wait
Parents often must face a wait before the doctor is able to get to them. Children easily become impatient, which can lead to bad behavior quickly. The longer they must wait without anything to keep their attention, the more negative the experience is likely to be. Bring juice boxes, snacks and favorite toys to help pass the time without incident. Be sure to check with the office about their policies regarding food and drinks prior to your first appointment though. It could make bad things worse if you pull out your child’s favorite snack only to be forced to have to put it away.
The Big Helper
Children love to be assistants in all situations. Using this fact to your advantage when visiting the doctor can be as simple as allowing them to “help” fill out forms before entering the actual office. Other tasks to get them involved can come through informing the doctor of your strategy. The more involved the child is in the process of maintaining his own health, the better.
Allow Them to Express Themselves
Younger children can find a visit to the doctor to be easier when they can project their feelings outwardly. An easy way of allowing them to do this is to let them bring stuffed animals or imaginary friends who may also being “feeling ill.” Encourage the child to comfort this friend before entering the office (which actually allows him to comfort himself). Some doctors will even be happy to offer your child’s stuffed friend an exam of its own.
Kids need support in situations where they feel vulnerable. One parent may not be enough. If possible, schedule an appointment when both parents can be at the child’s side. He’ll feel as if he has greater strength and is in a safer environment when the entire family unit is present.
Submitted by Isabella Harris at Nanny Jobs