Health Matters | 7 Tips to Ease Your Child's Anxiety About Visiti

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7 Tips to Ease Your Child's Anxiety About Visiting the Doctor

A visit to the doctor may not seem like a big deal to you, but for your little one the experience may be a little frightening. Check out these tips to ease your child’s anxiety about heading to the doctor:

Go with your child
Regularly accompanying your child to the doctor may help them feel more comfortable. Familiarity with medical facilities may help your child remain calm if an emergency occurs or requires him or her to visit the doctor alone.

Show them what doctors do
Give your child an idea of what a doctor’s visit is like. Play pretend or role play a doctor’s visit and explain that doctors are there to help them. Familiarizing your child with instruments such as a stethoscope may also help them be less nervous with the instrument in a medical setting.

Validate your child’s fears
Many children fear a visit to the doctor because of shots they may need. While your little one may be scared, never promise them that they will not get shots or tell them getting a shot won’t hurt. Instead, assure them that while the quick stick may be uncomfortable, it will be over quickly. Assure your child knows you are there by their side for support or to hold their hand.

Keep Calm
Children pick up on their parent’s emotions. If you are relaxed and calm in a medical setting, your child may also feel more relaxed. Having a child sit on a table away from their parent while a stranger examines them may cause your little one stress. Instead, try holding your child in your lap and involving them in the examination process. Ask your child which ear they would like the doctor to look at first, or if they mind if the doctor listens to their belly. This will help your child become more comfortable with a stranger poking and prodding.

Bring a friend
If your child has a favorite stuffed animal, blanket, or a pacifier, bring it along to the visit. While your company may be reassuring to your child, an old friend will allow them to have another form of comfort. If you have more than one child, try asking the older sibling if they mind being examined first. Seeing that their brother or sister is brave and the doctor won’t hurt them may lessen your child’s stress about going to the doctor.

Give them something to look forward to
Stop on the way home from the doctor’s visit for an ice cream treat, or to a park to play for the afternoon. If your child has something to look forward to, it might distract their minds from the fear. However, try not to base their fun activity on their behavior at the doctor. If your little one is still too stressed around the doctor, they may feel worse after losing their treat.

Participate in fun activities through your health care provider
Every year, Patient First offers free x-rays of your child’s Halloween candy. This is a fun activity for your child that will also help ease the anxiety of their next visit. The more comfortable your child is in a medical setting the easier their regular check-ups will be.

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