Some children start screaming at the mere mention of a doctor’s visit. You have to drag them into the office and call extra people into the room to hold them down just for an examination. This can happen to any parent and any child. My own doctor tells of his child who needs a team of people to hold him down for a shot. You don’t enjoy this and neither does your child.
A visit to the doctor can be a bearable if not enjoyable experience for both you and your child. Having a group of adults screaming and then holding you down on a cold hard table will do nothing to cure their fear of doctors. You need a better plan.
A Doctor’s visits will always increase our anxiety, even if it is just a routine exam. You have that thought planted in the back of your mind, what if? Your child can sense your anxiety. Then add on to this past experiences of your child screaming and your are really anxious. So the first thing to do is be calm yourself. Prepare yourself for the doctor’s visit.
Talk to your child about the upcoming doctor’s visit and tell them you are a little bit nervous. Let them know it is OK to be anxious. Then help them understand what is going to happen. Take them to the library and let them pick out some books about going to the doctor.
Next is to let them play out being a doctor. You can purchase an inexpensive stethoscope at the dollar store. Have them practice on their dolls or stuffed animals. Heap the praise on your child for doing a good job.
Be honest with your child when they ask about the doctor. The shot they are going to get does hurt so tell them so. But then tell them the hurt goes away. Explain to them what the doctor is going to do. Use their toys and dolls to demonstrate. Keep these sessions short so you do not get your child’s anxiety level up.
On the day of the appointment build up your child’s confidence. Have them choose a stuffed animal or doll to bring to the doctor along with some other toys to play with in the waiting room. They will be more comfortable with their own toys plus they can bring them into the examination room. Bring along some books to read to your child. You may have a long wait.
When you get into the examination room, continue to be very supportive and honest. Allow your child to climb on the table and sit in the different chairs. Encourage them to put their doll on the table and play doctor. Let them feel comfortable in the room. They will not break anything. There are usually paper cups and water if your child gets thirsty. If your doctor objects, you need a new doctor.
Applaud your child immediately after the examination. This is what you do whenever your child does something big for the first time so do it now. Make a big fuss over how brave and good they were. Afterward take them somewhere fun like the park to play. You will both need to unwind a little.
The author is a father and grandfather who was a chaplain in a children’s hospital.