There are different reasons why kids are apprehensive and scared of visits to the doctor. Number one is the fear of pain. Vaccination hurts and they know it! Another is anxiety at the fact they are being separated from you while a doctor or nurse is examining them. Children aged four years and older already have a concept of sickness as well, and a trip to the clinic may trigger their hyperactive imaginations causing them to think they have a serious condition.
What’s the cure for fear of the doctor then? The truth is, sometimes, tantrums are inevitable and the best that you can do is to simply let the storm pass. However, there are still a couple of ways for you to comfort your child and ease their worries about doctors. Here are some tips!
Be open and honest with your child about when and why you are visiting the doctor. Don’t let it be a surprise. Wouldn’t knowing what’s to come be better than the unexpected? Explain in detail what the visit is for – a routine check-up or a scheduled vaccination – in such a way that they can easily understand. Tell them that grown-ups have to get check-ups, too, so we stay healthy. Talk about doctors in a positive light. Say that doctors are here to help Mommy and Daddy take care of you!
Admit it. You were scared of going to the doctor at some point in your childhood, too. I think we all were. Now that we’re older, we have come to fully realize how helpful and important doctor’s appointments are. We also know how to manage our anxieties better. However, kids do not. They don’t know how to process emotions the way we do, so it’s a good idea to affirm how they feel. Acknowledge their fear and let them express their feelings to you. Even as grown-ups we tend to get anxious about check-ups sometimes. Tell your child how check-ups make you worried yourself but the fact that you get to stay healthy makes you much happier. Here’s a tip: have them sit on your lap during the consultation so your child can be more at ease.
Let’s be honest here, getting a shot really does hurt! Like what we said earlier, don’t let the doctor’s appointment be a surprise. Vaccinations are usually scheduled, and that’s normally the purpose of your visit. So, it’s okay to tell your child they are getting a shot that day. Even though they’ve gone through it before, they can still be fearful of the pain. Acknowledge that it will be painful, but assure them it will only hurt for a short amount of time. If they’ve gone through a vaccination already and they’re going to get another, remind them how it was over so quickly. It’s also helpful to let them know you won’t leave their side through it all!
Often you’ll have to wait for some time outside the clinic until it’s your turn to be seen by the doctor. A couple of distractions would help the wait become more bearable for your kids. Allow them to bring a toy or book to pass the time. Don’t forget to engage and play with them. This will help keep them calm and occupied.
Another great tactic is through play! Give them a set of toys that comprise a doctor’s kit such as a stethoscope and a thermometer. You can take turns listening to each other’s heartbeat and checking temperature. This way, your child will be a bit familiar with the tools a doctor uses. Strange sounds and objects coming from a doctor’s clinic can make kids feel afraid. If you introduce some of these tools to them and explain what they’re for, it would help your kids realize these things aren’t so scary after all.
Doctors are professionals. You can rely on them to assist you in keeping your child calm. You can also be open to your doctor about what makes your child feel so nervous. It might be because they find doctors intimidating or they’re uncomfortable around someone unfamiliar. It could also be because of the clinic’s environment. What you can do is allow your child to ask questions to the doctor so they can participate in the appointment. It might also give them an opportunity to get to know their doctor. Talk to your doctor about your concerns so they’ll be able to adjust according to your child’s needs.
It’s not a bad thing to be scared of the doctor. We all experience anxiety over our health sometimes. What matters is always being there for your child when they need you the most and guiding them through their worries!
Browse our other articles on fitness and health for more tips and information.