It’s not surprising that kids have a fear of going to the doctor’s office. Even though many pediatricians try to make their facilities fun and inviting, kids know that there are frightening things that can happen there. They can get shots or undergo other procedures that can be unpleasant.
Since kids often have a fear of going to the doctor, it’s important that parents take the necessary steps to help them feel comfortable and safe when visiting the facility. There are several ways that parents can help their kids feel at ease during their visit.
Talk About the Visit Beforehand
Talk about the visit beforehand and give your kids a play-by-play guide as to what to expect. This will help them feel comfortable and safe when they enter the facility. Explain that you’ll be coming to the office and that the staff members are friendly. Then, let them know that they can play in the waiting area.
After you’ve entered the exam room, tell them about the nurse who will be there and how they’ll be able to meet the doctor. They’ll also be able to ask questions about their condition. Finally, tell them that they’ll additionally get to meet the doctor and explain how he’ll look at their body.
Read Books About Doctors
There are many children’s books about visiting the doctor, and finding an appropriate one to read together can help your kids understand what’s going to happen when they go to the facility. Relating to the characters in the book will also help them feel comfortable and safe. You can also take the books with you to the doctor or read them at the office. Having a book together can help distract the kids while you wait.
Before the visit, encourage your kids to pretend that they’re the doctor and play with various toys such as dolls and stuffed animals. They can also use their pretend skills to bandage their injuries and perform other medical procedures. They can additionally bring the pretend patient to their own visit to offer support and comfort.
Validate the Child’s Feelings
It’s hard for many parents to talk about the importance of being safe and secure for their kids. We tend to want our kids to feel protected and have nothing to fear, which is why we often tell them that everything is fine. However, telling them these things can make them feel scared, which is why they think we’re not listening to them. Instead of telling them how to feel, try talking about their fears and explaining why you understand.
Don’t Lie or Sugarcoat
Most kids don’t want to go to the doctor due to their fears about getting a shot. This usually occurs when you promise them that they won’t get one, even if they’re due. This is a poor strategy, as it will make them feel less secure and make them distrustful of you. If you don’t promise to keep your word, then they will feel less safe and will leave the visit without getting the immunization.
Unless your child has already stated their fears, don’t talk about shots. Also, avoid making assumptions about what’s going to happen to them. Ensure you explain that the doctor wants to help them, even if the ways they help might be a little painful in the meantime!
Have a Reward They Can Anticipate
Reward them for being able to handle difficult situations by giving them something that they can anticipate. This can be a hug, an ice cream treat, or a sticker. Having a reward makes it easier for them to deal with the unpleasant parts of the visit.