Many kids are afraid of visiting a doctor or dentist. They get nervous before visits. They might cry, shout, refuse to go or even make themselves ill with worry. These fears are widespread, but it’s vital that you help them to accept their doctor and overcome their fear. Otherwise, they could grow up avoiding doctors, instead self-diagnosing or ignoring symptoms altogether. As children, this might not cause too much concern as long as they are healthy. But, in adulthood, this can lead to serious health problems and an unhealthy lifestyle. Here are some ways that you can help your child to accept their doctors and stop them dreading visits.
Take them with You
One of the leading causes of a fear of the doctor’s office is the unknown. On TV, people visit the doctor when there is something wrong. The doctor’s office has negative connotations which increase the fear. They worry about what could happen during their appointment. It’s important that you create positive experiences. So, don’t wait until something is wrong.
Book an appointment for yourself, just for a chat or a checkup. Take your child with you. If you can, warn your doctor beforehand so that they can help to make it a positive experience. Show your child that visiting the doctor is a good thing. It’s something that allows you to stay healthy and happy.
Remind them of the Routine
Before your child’s appointments, sit down with them and remind them of the routine. You could even write them a checklist if they are a little older so that they know what to expect each step of the way. Talk about checking in at reception, waiting for their appointment, what happens in the office and where you have to go for medication if it’s needed.
Take Toys and Games
One of the worst parts of visiting the doctors is waiting to be seen. They might feel ok about their visit but sitting waiting for a long time can give fear and anxiety the time to build. There might be toys and games for them there but taking their own makes things feel more familiar.
Role-playing is a wonderful way for kids to learn and become more comfortable. Buy or make some medical toys like a thermometer and dress up clothes and spend time playing doctors. Let your child examine you and make a diagnosis, then invite all their teddies and toys in for a checkup. Try to make it fun and normalize the experience.
Get Advice First
Even after preparations and visits, the doctors can be scary. If your child is ill, and terrified of going to the doctors, ring a pediatric hotline. They may advise you to go to the surgery, but they could also offer advice over the phone or online.
This is a much better option than forcing your child to go to the doctor’s office when they are ill, worked up and scared. That would only make things worse and increase their fear in the future.