Preparing Your Child for Doctor Appointments

Girl consulting a doctor

When children hear the words “We’re going to the doctor,” the common reaction is a mixture of anxiety and worries. This isn’t new, however. It’s widespread for many children to have fears when doctors and clinics are involved, whether it’s for a simple routine checkup or a visit to a specialist.

Most kids do not like the idea of being handled by an unfamiliar person, so this kind of concern is no surprise. But, this becomes a much bigger issue than it already is when the word “shots” gets thrown around. The thought of getting injections to make some children even more petrified. So, as a parent or guardian, what can you do to make the trips to a Salem doctor for kids less of a struggle? Here are some helpful ideas on how you can help children overcome their fear of doctors:

Tell Them Why It’s Important

Give children advance notice to prepare them for a visit. Talk about the purpose of the checkup in a way that would turn their fear into something positive. For example, if it’s for a routine check, tell the child that the doctor is only going to see how much they’ve grown and develop and make sure that their bodies are in healthy condition. You can also tell them that if they have questions about their health and body, they can ask the doctor anything.

Let them know that every healthy child goes to a doctor regularly. If, on the other hand, the visit is to diagnose or treat an existing condition, explain that the visit is to find out how they can feel better. Be extremely careful of the language you’ll use.

Validate Your Child’s Fears

Frightened girl cryingUnless you want to appear less credible and unsympathetic, avoid saying phrases such as “The shots won’t hurt,” “Don’t be afraid” or “Don’t cry.” What you can do is to let your child know that you understand why the experience may seem scary at first, but say that it’ll soon be over and that the two of you will overcome it together. Assure them that you are going to stay by their side throughout the process. Also, never make promises that you aren’t sure of, especially when shots are involved.

Otherwise, they will only mistrust you and make other doctor visits more challenging. If you’ve called ahead of time and learned that there would be shots, tell your child that they won’t be getting them all the time but only when necessary.

Bring Something that Could Keep Them Calm

A simple blanket or pacifier might do the trick. But, in other cases, bringing your child’s favorite toy can make the doctor’s job more comfortable as they do their examination. If you have older children who aren’t scared of visiting doctors, ask them if they could come to the clinic too and “show an example.” Let them be “examined” first, so the younger one would be able to relax. Once they see their older sibling do a great job, it would help calm their nerves, and they would be a lot braver.

Doctor visits may not be something that excites your child, but it’s a necessary part of growing up. Help them overcome their fears and grow up healthier and stronger.

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