It is common for children to fear healthcare appointments. The concept of going into the dentist or doctor might terrify them, as was the case with my oldest daughter after some traumatic dental appointments. Keeping your kids safe will be your main priority. Encouraging and supporting them is crucial. If you are looking to help your child feel more comfortable at appointments, there are some simple ways to help them reduce or overcome their fear. Here are some ideas:
No matter your child’s age, you should accompany them through every part of their visit.
FI am present in the room, which is common seeing pediatricians. Being present assures them that everything will be OK, settles their mind and helps them feel more comfortable. I will do this even when they are teens.
Find a family-friendly practice
There are many practices that put the needs of children first. Making their visit feel fun and exciting can be easy with sweet rewards and stickers. Finding a practice that has children’s games in the waiting room can help them take their mind off of the appointment and help calm their nerves.
Practice the environment/experience at home
You could play nurses and doctors at home with your children so that when they attend the appointment, it will feel familiar to them. You can find child-friendly medical-like toys that will make the equipment feel less scary and more fun and help your child overcome their fear of the doctor or dentist environment. It’s a good idea to explain what each tool/toy is for.
Bring their favorite toy to the appointment
Although the practice might have games in the waiting room, it might not help the child if the fear is too big. Bringing their own favorite toy along might help. Allow them to play with it when they want it so that they can be distracted.
Schedule the appointments at right time
Throwing your child’s routine off might make the entire situation worse than it needs to be. If you fit it around your child, they may stay calmer. For instance, your child might like to play after school with their friends. If so, scheduling their appointments before school will allow them to have something to look forward to and not miss out on playing with their friends. I avoid scheduling appointments during naptime.
Lead by example
Being a positive and strong leader in front of your child can show them that they can be brave too. Taking them along to your own appointments can show them that everyone has to experience healthcare appointments at some stage. When they see how brave you are, it might encourage them to follow suit and eliminate their nerves.
Be honest about what might happen
Hiding what will happen during the appointment may make your child feel scared when something unexpected happens. For instance, if you hide the fact that they need an injection and a needle will be involved, then they might kick up a fuss when the doctor says it’s time for the injection. Prepping them and being honest about what the appointment will involve will reduce any unexpected fears and stresses.
I like to take the girls to get a treat after certain appointments as a reward for being so brave and good.