Guest Post By Emma Sturgis
Visits to the pediatrician can be frightening your child, but they are also important for their health and well-being. Although you can’t take away the pain of a shot or promise a pain-free visit at every trip, there are ways to keep your little one calm in this scary place.
Keep Yourself Calm
Depending on why you are taking your child to the doctor, you might find yourself experiencing some nervousness. While this is understandable, it’s important to remember that your little one takes her cues from you. If she knows you’re nervous or frightened she will be too. Try to stay calm and upbeat no matter why you’re at the doctor. Your confidence will inspire the same in your child.
Buy your child a toy medical kit and play with it together. Let your child play with the kit by giving you or a favorite stuffed animal a checkup. You can also pretend you’re the doctor and act out what will happen at the doctor when you go. This makes the process feel more familiar and less intimidating, easing your child’s fear by making the unknown familiar and comfortable.
One Stop Shopping
Not every doctor or specialist provides the same services, but try to find a doctor or medical center that offers a wide variety, like Rural Health Services Consortium Inc. If, for instance, your family doctor and dentist work together, your child can get both types of medical attention at one location. This way he has only one new place to get comfortable with rather than several locations. If your family doctor is able to provide x-rays, your little one won’t have to go to an intimidating hospital to get them. The more services you can find under one roof, the better.
Some parents call it positive reinforcement. Others bribery. Whatever you call it, giving your kids something they want works. One option is to pack a special bag full of fun toys and favorite treats for your child to open at the doctor’s office. This gives them a reason to look forward to doctor visits. If your child fears the doctor, slip the receptionist a favorite treat or toy that the doctor can give to your child. This allows your child to create positive associations with the doctor rather than scary ones.
If you plan ahead and keep your own emotions in check, you greatly increase the odds of keeping your child calm at the doctor’s office. If a visit is scary or painful, replace the frightening memory with a happy one. Simply schedule a wellness visit where there will be no shots or scary activities so that your child doesn’t experience pain every time he visits a doctor.
Always be open and honest about why you’re taking your child to the doctor, as well, so that he understands what is happening and why. Helping your child develop a good rapport with doctors in his youth increases the odds that he will continue working closely with important health partners in adulthood.
More About the Author
Emma is a freelance writer based out of Boston, MA. She writes most often on health and education. When not writing, she enjoys reading and watching film noir. Say hi on Twitter @EmmaSturgis2
*Photo courtesy of Emma Sturgis