Doctor’s visits can be scary for children. Do we blame them? A lot of us adults avoid the doctor’s office, and we actually understand that medical professionals are trying to help us. Add in children’s fears of new people and places, and you have a very frightening place for a child. Here are some tips for making a visit to the doctor’s office as comfortable for your child as possible:

Warn your child about the impending visit. It might sound crazy to give your little one extra time to worry, but telling them about the visit will give them time to mentally prepare. It will also teach them that they can trust you. It doesn’t have to be a week before; the night before or the morning of should be fine.

Explain the purpose of the visit. Let your child know that the doctor is looking to see how they are growing. Or if they are ill, tell them the doctor will try to help them feel better.

Walk them through what will happen. Tell them the doctor will look in their eyes and ears, listen to their heartbeat, etc. And if they have to get shots, let them know that too. Pretend to give your kids a check-up, and let them give you one too.

Don’t just tell them what is going to happen, show them! The night before my son was going to get a shot, we practiced “getting shots” with a ballpoint pen. We role-played what would happen if you were screaming and flailing our arms, and how to be brave. It gave a light-hearted approach to the whole ordeal. We had our son giggling by the end.

Read some books about other children going to the doctor. My son enjoyed a Berenstain Bears book that helped put him at ease. Your local library should have other books that would also be appropriate and helpful in calming fears. Books help them to know that it’s a normal part of life, and every child goes through the same thing.

Make sure your child is well rested. Schedule the appointment for a time of day when your child is generally happy. Make sure your child gets a good night’s sleep.

Arrive early. Your kids will feel more comfortable if they aren’t rushed, and can get a look at the office. Many offices have toys, fish tanks, or something interesting for your kids to look at to help them relax. If your office doesn’t, or you’d rather not have them playing with the toys, bring a quiet activity.

Let your child think up questions for the doctor. Help them write their questions down ahead of time so you won’t forget them. Giving children control of something, even something as simple as a question to ask, helps them feel more secure.

Concentrate on the good. Explain to them that your doctor’s office gives stickers for good behavior, a prize from a prize box, or even a really cool bandage. Your nurse should be able to let you know what your office does. You could also promise an outing afterwards. Remind them “We’ll go to the library/play at the park/get some lunch afterwards.”

Bring you child’s comfort item. Especially if you child is getting shots, it might be nice for them to cuddle with a favorite teddy or blanket, even if it’s just in the car afterwards.
Britney is the mother of three little boys, ages four and under. We're sure you can imagine what her house sounds (and looks!) like. As such, when she writes articles for Familius, they usually start in an effort to solve ongoing problems in her own ... Read More