The date on your calendar is looming — your child’s appointment with one of our pediatricians — and you’re not all that keen to get there, thanks to your child’s reaction. We assure you, this is normal.
One poll among parents of kids between the ages of 2 and 5 found that half of kids were scared to go to the doctor most or some of the time.
Our team of pediatric specialists here at LaSante Health Center acknowledges that trips to our center aren’t exactly geared toward fun. Between getting immunizations and seeing us when they’re sick, your child may not have a positive association with doctor’s visits.
To help, we’ve pulled together four tips that might make the visit go a little smoother for everyone involved.
Educate your child about the benefits of a doctor
Children are sponges. They love learning, so educating your child about the importance of visiting a doctor is a great idea. And you can make the learning fun with children’s books that tackle this very subject — visiting the doctor.
For some ideas, click here for a list of recommended books that educate and entertain and take some of the mystery and anxiety out of visiting the doctor.
Try not to label the fear
Kids are naturally fearful, especially of strange people and strange surroundings, but try not to label it fear in front of them. You want to put them at ease and let them know that you’ll be there, but avoid using terms like fear and anxiety.
Putting a more positive spin on the visit will normalize it and replace fear more quickly. So instead of saying, “Don’t be afraid,” approach the visit more matter-of-factly and just say, “OK, we’re off to see the doctor.”
Rewards are good, up to a point
Visits in which there are shots involved aren't really pleasant for anyone, no matter their age. If you know that your child will be getting some shots, it’s perfectly fine to say that, once it's done, you can go for ice cream or whatever reward works best for your child.
But if it’s just a routine visit and we’re not doing anything uncomfortable, a reward might create an unproductive precedent. Instead, position the visit as the reward — your child will get great care and be more healthy after they visit the doctor.
Get them involved and give them choices
When you first arrive, allow your child to have some control. Let them pick where you sit and what they read. We do our part and allow them to choose an arm for the blood pressure reading, for example.
When you allow your child to make their own decisions, they’re more invested in the visit and feel as if they are more in control. This agency can go a long way toward easing fear and anxiety.
If you have any more questions or concerns about bringing your child to see us, please contact our clinic in Brooklyn, New York, today. We serve the Flatbush and East Flatbush, Crown Heights, Park Slope, Little Haiti, Little Caribbean, and Prospect Lefferts Gardens communities.