7 Strategies To Help Children Feel More Comfortable During Doctor Visits
Want to help children feel more comfortable during doctor visits? Here's how to help make things easier on them
If you took a poll and asked children how they feel about going to the doctor, the chances are that the majority would not say thrilled. In fact, some children can be fearful of visiting the doctor, and who can blame them? After all, a doctor’s visit is full of unpleasantries, such as shots, tongue depressors and cold examining rooms. However, for the health and wellness of your child, sometimes it’s necessary to go see the doctor. Here are some strategies you can employ to help your youngster feel more comfortable at doctor visits. 1. Be There Even though you may have a job that’s demanding, try to be there for your child when he has to go to the doctor. A child that has his parent by his side will be much more comfortable than a child that has to go to the appointment with a babysitter or grandparent. Children take their cues from their parents, and if you go to the appointment and act like you are comfortable and trust the doctor, your child will be much more likely to do so as well. 2. Pretend at Home If you have a very young child, you may want to try role-playing or pretending with her before you go to the doctor. For example, if your child has a toy doctor set, you can talk about the different tools and how the doctor uses them. Then, you can demonstrate them on your child and let her demonstrate them on you. If your child doesn’t feel comfortable with the toy tools, ask an older sibling to participate. You can also choose to read positive and pleasant books about going to the doctor to your child and talk about the story. 3. Make an Appointment for an Optimal Time Although it may be inconvenient for you, try to make your child’s appointment for a good time for him. If you have a younger child, you’ll want to avoid making an appointment that might coincide with his nap time because that could be a disaster. You’ll also want to avoid mealtimes because a hungry child can be a cranky, uncooperative child. If you have an older child, try not to make an appointment that will cause him to miss sports practice or another favorite activity. 4. Don’t Give More Information Than Necessary to Your Child There’s no need to worry your child ahead of time with the prospect of a doctor’s appointment – especially if it’s a well-child visit and immunizations are involved. You can wait until the day of the appointment to let her know. Keep things light and positive. Focus on what you’ll do after the appointment. Perhaps a stop for ice cream or a visit to the playground at the park will be possible. 5. Bring Along Something Comforting and Something Interesting Typically, a doctor’s office is not a place you want your child exploring — especially if the waiting room is filled with sick children who are touching all of the toys. There are some doctor’s offices that have a separate area for sick children and a separate area for well children, such as the example you can see on PediatricCenter.com. But not all of them will be. Bring along an item, such as a blanket or stuffed animal, that will comfort your child. Also, bring along a book or something else entertaining or interesting to keep your child from wanting to explore. 6. Don’t Be Afraid to Let Your Child Sit on Your Lap When you have a very young child, such as one that’s toddler-age, she may be reluctant to be away from your side. Don’t force your child to get on the examining table. Instead, allow her to sit in your lap. You can even ask your pediatrician if the examination can take place on your lap. Depending on how involved the exam needs to be, the pediatrician may likely agree. If your child is more comfortable on your lap, the exam will likely go more smoothly. 7. Change Doctors if Needed You likely know your child better than anyone, so if there’s no chance your child will ever warm up to his pediatrician, then you may want to consider seeing someone else. Everyone’s personality is different, and some pediatricians just won’t be a good fit for your child. Don’t force your child to keep seeing a doctor that makes him unhappy or uncomfortable. Instead, do some research to find a pediatrician that’s a better fit.