Whether it’s a routine check-up or a sick visit, the thought of going to the doctor’s office invokes fear and anxiety in many children.
For some, it’s the fear of the unknown. What will happen to me? Will I get a shot? Will the doctor be mean?
“It’s a very frightening thing for them,” says Dr. Hannan Alsahlani of Southfield Pediatrics.
In order to ease their worry, it is important for parents to communicate with their children and prepare them for what’s to come.
Answer any questions your child may have about the visit, including what routine things will occur.
“If they are getting shots, you should be up front with them beforehand,” Alsahlani says.
Lying to your children will only make it more difficult to get your child to go to the doctor in the future. After all, they will no longer trust your responses to their questions and concerns.
Preparing your children may also include playing doctor with them at home – touching their tummies like the doctor does or looking in their ears and down their throat.
Inform kids that doctors may be strangers, but it is safe for them to be touched by the physician – since that notion is different from the things you have already instilled in them about strangers and good and bad touches.
When it comes to getting to know a bit about the doctor, check out the office’s website for a picture and background information on the doctor, similar to what is available on Southfield Pediatrics’ website.
This way, your child is able to see the doctor beforehand, identifying the person who will be examining him or her.
Alsahlani also suggests showing your child a movie like, Elmo Visits the Doctor.
Children identify with Elmo, and this video is a perfect way to show them that it’s normal to be scared, but everyone goes to the doctor. It also displays what to expect when going for a doctor’s appointment.
Sometimes the fear of the unknown is hard for a young child to handle. By showing him the things that will happen at the doctor’s office and answering his questions honestly – you’ll help ease your child’s anxiety.
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This post was originally published in 2011 and has been updated for 2016.