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Visiting the doctor can be a stressful event for both caregiver and child, especially as the child enters an age that requires multiple shots and vaccines. While the anxiety and fear seem uncontrollable, there are actually many things parents can do to help prepare their child for their doctor’s visit. Use these surgeon-approved tips to make your visit a more positive experience.

Be clear
For many parents with children who are afraid of the doctor, the idea is to avoid the topic until it is happening. The hope is that by not talking about it, there will be no built up anxiety. However, for children, this can actually may the experience that much more frightening. If you know what is going on and know what to expect, you are less likely to spend time imagining scenarios that are much worse than what really happens.

Be honest
It is extremely important to be completely honest with your child. If you feel uncomfortable with answering a question, rather than lie or over-promise, you could say that you do not know but you can ask the doctor when you get there. This helps to create trust, and doesn’t make the child feel blindsided or betrayed if things don’t go as expected.

Validation
Everyone should know the power of being heard and having your feelings validated. In most cases, simply being able to express yourself helps with the fear, and it allows caregivers the opportunity to showcase healthy ways to cope with anxiety or fear. If the child says they are afraid, let them know that is okay and you once felt the same way too. You can also explain that we continue to go to the doctor because they keep us healthy.

Distractions
The power of distractions is really learned once you are the caregiver of a child. What was a monumental problem seconds before can be easily forgotten with a child’s favorite toy, game or snack.

Photos, Videos, and more.
The issue of children being scared of the doctor is far from a modern concept. In fact, it is so common that there are actual kids shows created around it. For example, Doc McStuffins is a toy doctor that discusses vaccinations, being scared at the doctor, getting a shot, and more. The theme song for the show is one you can learn together and sing together as you get called into the exam room. Check out other preparation videos here.