While nobody likes visiting the doctor, young kids tend to have the toughest time with their medical checkups. This fear is may even worse when there are shots involved. It is up to the parent to find a way to calm these fears to ensure their child gets the medical treatment needed to stay healthy. These are the six things you can do to help your kids feel less afraid the next time they visit the doctor.
Discuss the Visit Beforehand
Your child is far more likely to stay calm during a visit to the doctor if they know exactly what will happen during the appointment. Sit down and have a productive conversation with your child a day or two before their scheduled appointment. You need to make sure to be completely honest with them. Lying about shots is only going to create trust issues. It may also be a good idea to perform a rehearsal of the visit using medical toys.
Bring a Distraction
Distracting your child is a great way to calm their nerves in an exam room. If they are focused on something else, then they will not even realize they are about to get a shot. Let them watch a video, play games or listen to music on your smartphone throughout the entire appointment. Bringing their favorite toy or stuffed animal can also help your young child feel more at ease.
Control Your Emotions
Young kids are very adept at reading body language and social cues. This is why it is very important to control your emotions leading up to the appointment. If you get stressed out about the upcoming visit to the doctor, then your kid is going naturally get very nervous too. Stay calm throughout the entire process. It is also important to avoid raising your voice or getting upset if your kid starts to misbehave during the appointment.
Provide Validation and Empathy
There is nothing worse than being told that your fears are irrational. Do not blow off your child’s fears. Validate these fears and show empathy for their pain. Let them know that you understand that they are scared, but it is something that must be done to help them stay strong. Not only will this help them feel a little better, it will also help you build a stronger relationship with your kid.
Be There for Them
If your child has any fears about seeing the doctor, then you absolutely need to be by their side throughout the entire visit. The comfort of a parent being there with them will help calm their anxiety as a complete stranger examines their body. Hold their hand and talk to them while they are sitting on the exam table. If this is not providing enough comfort, then you may need to sit on the exam table with your child.
Provide a Small Reward
Everyone in the world responds well to a positive reward system. Your kid is far more likely to behave during their doctor’s appointment if they know they will be rewarded afterward. A trip to the ice cream shop, movie theater or toy store is a great reward. Give them a reward immediately after leaving the doctor’s office. The reward will help your child associate a positive memory with their visit to the doctor, which should help calm their fears in the future.