Going to the doctor for your child, even for a regular health check-up, doesn’t seem easy. Especially the toddlers and young ones aged 2-8 years show a considerable meltdown, sometimes also a tantrum.
And the ONLY reason for it – FEAR! Kids fear the doctor visit because they think doctors hurt, either by giving shots or bitter medicines.
That’s not the sole reason kids fear the doctor visit. There are some more:
- Fear of separation – many children fear that their parents may leave them alone in the examination room and wait in another room.
- Fears of the unknown –children trust their parents the most. The doctor is not much known to them, even if you have had quite a few visits to him. So, they are apprehensive of what he will do, how will he handle their problem, etc.
So, what’s the solution?
Well, that’s SIMPLE.
PREPARE YOUR CHILD FOR EVERY VISIT TO THE DOCTOR!
By preparation, I mean that help your child overcome his fears and anxieties related to the doctor visit. And once you do so, your child will cry less and co-operate more to visit the doctor.
Now, let’s see how to prepare the child!
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How to prepare your kids for the doctor visit?
1. Tell about the appointment in advance
Some parents don’t reveal about the doctor’s appointment to their child or inform only at the last hour. (This is for regular health check-ups). They think this helps to keep off the child’s crying.
However, when you inform at the last hour, it comes as a surprise for your child. It makes him more stressful, and he thinks what’s wrong with him that needs a doctor.
It strengthens his belief system ‘I must fear doctors’ because that’s why you didn’t tell him. He might even lose trust in you and the doctor.
So, the next time you visit the doctor for your child’s regular health check-up, inform the child about the upcoming appointment a day or two in advance. This will lessen his/her anxiety about it.
If you visit for the diagnosis and treatment of a specific illness, inform the child a few hours before the appointment.
IMPORTANT: Don’t inform about the doctor visit many days prior to the appointment. It will make the child apprehensive.
2. Reveal the reason
Besides just informing about the appointment, also tell him the purpose of your visit. Whether it’s for a regular health check-up or to diagnose and treat an illness.
Explain that a regular health check-up is a well-child visit and all kids go to the doctor for such visits.
Say: “The doctor will check on how you are growing and developing, ask questions and also examine you to make sure that your body is healthy.”
If you are visiting for the treatment of any illness, say “The doctor needs to check you to find out the problem and how to fix it so you feel better.”
Children are likely to be less fearful when they know why you are taking them to the doctor.
3. Talk positive about the doctor
Stay positive when you talk about the doctor visit to your child. Tell him that a doctor is a friend who ensures he stays healthy and continues to learn and play. And he can also ask questions he may have to the doctor friend.
This creates a positive image about the doctor, clinic, and examination in the child’s mind and makes him comfortable.
Talking positive about the doctor should be a regular affair; not only when you have to visit his clinic.
Like avoid saying, “If you don’t listen to me, I will take you to the doctor and get you an injection”. Such statements heighten the kids’ fear and make them more rebellious towards a doctor.
4. Address the questions
Your child may have lots of questions about their upcoming doctor visit. Answer these questions to your best and never shrug off. Such a response will not help your child; rather make him more anxious and confused.
Second, be honest with your answers. For example, if your child will have a shot or if any examination will be painful, tell them the truth and reassure that it won’t hurt for long.
If you don’t know the answer or aren’t sure about it, tell them so. Probably you won’t know everything that will happen during the examination.
5. Read books about going to the doctor
Kids learn best from play or story books. Use a doll or a teddy bear to show a young child how the doctor will measure his height and weight or examine him.
Take help of the children’s books that help explain a doctor visit.
This will help the child understand how the doctor might:
- Use a blood pressure cuff
- Look into his mouth and throat or hold the tongue down
- Examine his eyes and into the ears
- Listen to his chest and back with a stethoscope
- Tap or press on his tummy to listen to or feel what’s inside
- See if his “private areas” are healthy
- Tap on his knees
- Check his feet
IMPORTANT: Assure the kids that what you taught them about the privacy of their bodies is still true, but doctors, nurses, and parents must sometimes examine all the parts of the body. Emphasise that these people are the only exceptions and you will accompany the child in the examination room.
6. Reassure the child
If you take your child to the doctor because of an illness or other condition, discuss the health problem in a neutral language and reassure your child.
Stay supportive and keep reassuring your child that the condition is not his or her fault and that many kids have had it.
In every case, explain your kid that going to the doctor is not a punishment. Help him understand that adults go to doctors just like kids do and the doctor’s job is to help people stay healthy and fix any problems.
Few other points to keep in mind for doctor visit
- Prepare a list of questions you may have at home prior to the day of visit. Involve your kids in the activity if they are old enough and have questions you can’t address.
- Reach the doctor’s clinic 10-15 minutes earlier than your scheduled time of appointment.
- Make sure your child is well-fed and not sleepy when you take him to the doctor. These can lead to irritability and stronger meltdown at the clinic.
- Carry his favourite toy/book to keep him distracted in the waiting room, during the shots, or examination.
- Your child might feel anxious on seeing other crying children at the clinic. Reassure him and talk positive about the environment at the clinic.
Conclusion on doctor visit for child
Fear and anxiety towards a doctor is natural for the kids. But, as a parent, the power lies in your hands; a power to relieve this fear and prepare your child for the doctor visit.
You have the power to choose the right doctor/paediatrician for your child, talk positively to the child about his illness and the doctor, address all his questions about the visit, and reassure him that everything is/will be OK with him.
So, note down these points and follow them before your next planned visit to the doctor.
Any specific issues with your child when visiting the doctor? Drop them in the comments below and I will answer them!
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