Parents across the country often fear the pediatrician as much, if not more, than their children do. Will your child behave? How will you calm your child’s fears? What happens if there’s a long wait? Your child will have dozens of medical appointments throughout their young lives; it’s important that you make the experiences as easy as possible, both for your child’s health and your sanity. Here are five tips for surviving your child’s appointment with the doctor:
If your child is old enough to ask questions about his appointment, don’t lie to him about what will happen. If he asks if shots will hurt, never tell him that they won’t. While vaccines aren’t a big deal for many children, some do experience a brief period of discomfort. Tell your child that it may hurt but it will only hurt for a moment. If you lie to your child, you will break the trust that you have built. Answer questions that your child has honestly and at an age-appropriate level.
The Internet can be a great source of information for children. If your child has a fear of the unknown, letting her know what will happen at the doctor is a great way to calm her anxiety. Look for videos on YouTube, books for your tablet, or even child-friendly web sites. Let your daughter take her favorite stuffed animal or toy to the doctor with her and plan a special outing for after the appointment. If you make the visit a positive experience, your daughter will be less anxious at the next one.
3.Pack a Bag
While most pediatricians’ offices have plenty of things for children to do, you may want to pack a small bag with your son’s favorite activities. Bring along books to read, small toys to play with or even a video to watch. If your son has something to do, not only will he be better behaved, but his mind will be occupied. The more occupied your son is, the less likely he will be to focus on his anxiety.
4.Check Your Attitude
You are your child’s biggest role model and it’s important to remember that. If you are nervous, stressed out or worried about your daughter’s appointment, she will mirror your mood. Don’t stress about the appointment and try to keep your cool if your daughter acts out of sorts. The more calm you can remain, the more calm your daughter will be. According to Dr. Brent Collett, a counselor at Seattle Children’s Hospital, children look to their parents for cues on how to feel about new situations. Try not to project the concerns that you have about your child’s visit.
5.Talk to the Doctor
If all else fails and a visit to the doctor becomes a stressful experience, talk to your child’s pediatrician. Pediatricians are used to fearful children and anxious parents and are often happy to give you ideas for making a trip to their office less stressful. Your child’s pediatrician may be able to offer wonderful suggestions that you haven’t thought of; use him or her as the great source of information that they are.
A trip to the doctor doesn’t have to be a harrowing experience for you or your child. By explaining to your child what will happen, giving them age-appropriate information and bringing along activities, your child’s trip to the doctor can be as pleasant an experience as possible.
Sarah Ross writes for education sites and recommends checking out the acute care nurse practitioner program offered by many schools.