Going to the doctors is never going to be your child’s favourite activity. They are entering an unfamiliar environment, meeting strangely dressed people and potentially getting injections. But some kid’s fear is so crippling that they won’t even enter a doctors surgery. If this fear is left unaddressed, it’s more likely to worsen as they get older and could put their health at risk. As their parent, it’s up to you to help your child overcome this fear sooner rather than later. To help you get started, read through these useful tips to help you kids feel more relaxed at the doctors.
Use role play
Many children get nervous about doctor's appointments because they don’t know what to expect. In the days leading up to their check up, use role play to help your kids feel more prepared. Buy a toy doctors set and set up your own pretend doctors surgery. Encourage your children to use the tools in their set to examine their favourite teddy bears. You can also ask them to give you a check up if you wish. They can look in your ears, check your heartbeat and give pretend injection and medicine. Doing this will take some of the mystery out of the experience and can help your kids understand why they need a check up.
Validate and encourage
When you accompany your child to the doctors, it’s important to validate their fears. Let them know that you know it’s not pleasant but that you are proud of them for being brave. In addition to this, tell them you are going to be with them the entire time. This can help them feel more relaxed and a little braver.
Children often follow their parents lead. So if they see you talking to a doctor with ease, this encourages them to do the same. If you chat online with a doctor for advice on your child’s medical condition, encourage your child to ask questions too. This will show them that the doctor wants to help them and that they aren’t as frightening as they first thought.
Sit with them
Your child’s anxiety can increase significantly if they feel separated from you. So to avoid any tantrums, consider having them sit on your lap during their check-up. This will help to boost your child’s confidence and make them feel more protected. If they are too big to sit on your lap, another alternative is to hold their hand. Ask your child questions throughout their checkup to help them feel more in control too. You could ask them what eye the doctor can check first for instance. Just remember to not ask them for permission as it’s likely they won’t be willing to give it.
Reassuring your child that they are safe can work wonders when trying to ease their anxiousness around doctors. Depending on their age, you might also want to talk to them about why we need to go to the doctors and the benefits of good health. The safer they feel and the more they understand, the less stressed out your child will be during appointments.