Visiting your child’s pediatrician can be scary for kids. Here’s how to prepare for a doctor’s visit, reduce his fears and make the experience positive.
During my toddler’s 18-month doctor’s visit, his pediatrician reassured us his behavior was normal. And by “this,” she meant a wailing, flailing toddler whom she had to contain in a wrestling hold.
He cried so loud she had to wait for him to calm down because she couldn’t hear through her stethoscope. “This is pretty common for this age,” she had told us. “We can expect similar behavior at the two-year-old appointment.”
As predicted, he acted the same way when he returned at two-years-old. But since she didn’t assure us he’ll act up again for the 2.5-year-old appointment, I was nervous. “Now we have no excuse!” I thought.
Considering that my toddler had acting up, this doctor’s visit didn’t seem any better than the previous two.
Somehow though, we breezed through the visit, with my toddler even laughing by the end of the session. What happened to my wailing, flailing toddler who wanted nothing to do with doctors?
Turns out we prepared for the doctor using the tips below.
Here’s how to prepare your child for a doctor’s visit:
1. Talk about the visit well before stepping into the doctor’s office
Let your child know about the visit a few days and again the morning of your doctor’s visit. Describe what to expect during the appointment. You might want to say, “The doctor is going to make sure you’re okay.” Or “She’s going to look into your ears, eyes, nose and mouth. Plus she’ll check your tummy, chest and back with that circle tool.”
2. Play doctor and patient
A few days before the appointment, encourage your child to play pretend doctor. She can examine your eyes and ears, or listen to your heartbeat.
Patients—toddlers and adults alike—can feel so vulnerable under a doctor’s eye. Role playing gives your child that control back when she gets to play the doctor. You can even get pretend doctor’s tools like these to use as props.
3. Bring a comfort item
Your child is sitting in a strange office being poked with needles and having your socks removed. A beloved toy or item can help calm a frantic toddler. For ours, it was his special Lovey. We like to bring his lovey around when we feel like he might need some extra comfort. We also brought one of his books so he can read something familiar.
4. Mention interesting objects in the office
Once you’re in the office, point out interesting things such as decoration or books. You can even tie in his interests with something at the office. For instance, my toddler loves pointing out lights (especially blinking ones) when we’re driving. So when it came time for the doctor to examine his eyes, ears and nose, we mentioned that the flashlight was just like the ones he likes to see.
5. Load up on snacks
A doctor’s appointment and meal times may not always line up together. Just in case, bring snacks and even your child’s lunch in case she gets hungry. You might schedule the appointment right before snack time so she can eat after all is said and done.
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Get more tips:
- How to Handle Raising a Child with Health Problems
- 9 Ways to Keep Kids from Getting Sick at School
- What to Do When Your Child Gains Too Much Weight
- Does Your Child Have a Fear of Public Restrooms? 6 Tips to Ease the Fear
- How to Help Your Child Overcome Fear
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