Tips to Help Kids Overcome Fear of Doctors
Make Their Visits Fun!
No child loves going to the doctor, but some kids are downright petrified. It's no surprise, considering that most kids don't like being handled by an unfamiliar person, let alone the fact that there's a chance they might get shots. Here are tips on how to help your little one feel a little safer and calmer during his next visit..
Accompany Your Child
While some parents need to have a grandparent or other care provider take kids to doctor's appointments, they should try to make the first visit or two, says Ari Brown, M.D., a Parents advisor and author of the Baby 411 book series. "If a child sees that a mother or father is comfortable in the new locale and that the parent trusts the doctor, then the child will l feel more secure," she explains.
Read Books and Role Play
Help your child know what to expect before going to the pediatrician. Purchase a toy doctor kit and a white lab coat for a pretend checkup so he knows what to anticipate. Demonstrate how a doctor might examine his mouth, listen to his heartbeat, or take his blood pressure. Or use a scale to show how his weight might be measured. You can also read children's books that share and illustrate visits to the doctor, such as The Berenstain Bears Go to the Doctor, Say "Ahhh!": Dora Goes to the Doctor, and What to Expect When You Go to the Doctor by Heidi Murkoff.
Provide Comfort and Control
Sitting on a high table while separated from the parent can make a child anxious. Consider having her sit on your lap so she feels more secure. As Dr. Brown explains, "They'll believe that nothing bad will happen to them if Mommy or Daddy is protecting them." Kids also don't feel in control because "a stranger is touching them and invading their personal space," explains Dr. Brown. Help your child feel empowered by giving choices, such as asking which ear she wants the pediatrician to examine first, in what order she'd like the doctor to check her chest, eyes, and belly, or if she would like you to hold her hand. Kids also pick up on their parents' cues and sense their comfort level. If you feel at ease, your child will pick up on it and feel better about the experience.
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