7 Ways to Ease Children’s Fear About Visiting the Doctor

7 Ways to Ease Children's Fear About Visiting the Doctor

When you are taking your child to the doctor, you want a place that is clean, orderly, and prepared for any emergency. You might wonder if they have all the tools they need nearby. You might wonder if they have a medical crash cart. What is a medical crash cart? A crash cart is a simple portable collection of emergency medical supplies and equipment to offer lifesaving and stabilizing medical treatment to a patient in distress. Almost all medical sites have one, not just hospitals. It’s common for children to consistently ask questions related to the doctor’s office when they have an upcoming visit. While some children are able to remain calm when going to visit the doctor, others become so distressed that the doctor is unable to render effective care without spending an abundance of time trying to calm them down. Toddlers tend to experience the most anxiety because they associate doctors with painful needles as seen on TV. This is relatively common and the fear of going to the doctor is an issue that many families deal with. In fact, 50% of all preschoolers and toddlers are afraid of visiting the doctor, primarily because of shots. But doctor visits are essentials in a child’s development years. Luckily, there are some things parents can do to alleviate their child’s fears.

1) Prepare Them for What Lies Ahead

Providing your child with a great deal of information about their upcoming visit can help to alleviate some of those fears. Ideally, parents can initiate conversations about going to the doctor using an age-appropriate book. Playing a tv show about going to the doctor can help them to prepare for what lies ahead. Oftentimes, fear of the unknown is what makes children dislike doctors. They simply don’t know what’s going to happen and since they associate doctors with needles, blood, and pain. Anything that can help to make going to the doctor feel familiar will help to make them comfortable.

2) Avoid Inadvertently Promoting Needle Phobia

It’s common for parents to tease their children about getting a shot. But statistics show that 89% of children aged four to six fear the doctor as a result of needles. And roughly 60% of children aged two to three fear the doctor for the same reasons. So, while a parent may say something along the lines of, “Behave or I’m going to tell the doctor to give you a shot,” even if it’s said playfully, it will create a negative association in the child’s mind.

3) Distractions

When it comes to going to the doctor so that your child can get an actual shot, parents should provide the child with something that can distract them as they wait for their shots. This could entail reading them a book or giving them a tablet to watch their favorite videos. Another distraction trick that works is to ask the child to cough, right before the doctor gives them their shot.

4) Practice at Home

One of the most effective things parents can do is to get a children’s doctor kit. A doctor kit is filled with plastic tools that children can play and become familiarized with. Parents can do things the doctor typically does, to get them to become more familiarized with the things doctors actually do such as to use a toy stethoscope to pretend as if you’re listening to a stuffed animal’s heartbeat. Additionally, parents should use the right names for each tool, so that when the doctor uses those same terms, it doesn’t sound alarming.

5) Give Them a Treat After the Fact

By giving your child a treat after every doctor visit, it will help them to develop positive associations with the doctor. As opposed to thinking about needles every time they have to visit the doctor, they may think about getting a meal from their famous fast food restaurant. This can help to make them motivated and happy about the concept of seeing the doctor. In some instances, they may start to beg you to bring them to the doctor, simply because they want that strawberry banana milkshake.

6) Don’t Make Promises You Don’t Intend On Keeping

Studies show that as much as 25% of parents lie to their children and tell them that there are no needles involved with their visit, even when there are. But by promising a child that they won’t get a shot, as to which they do get a shot, it will cause the child to lose trust in the parent as well as to increase anxiety levels for future visits.

7) Offer Support

As the child’s anxiety and stress levels rise, its natural for them to act out and become uncooperative. As opposed to restraining a child in a situation like this, it’s recommended that parents hold and hug them to help alleviate their fears. Comfort positions can help to make children feel safe as well as lower their anxiety levels.

About the author
Mrs. Hatland is a 30-something married, mom of 7 and the face behind the popular online publication, Motherhood Defined. Known as the Iowa Mom blogger by her local peers and “The Fairy Blogmother” worldwide. She has professional experience in working closely with clients on brand ambassadorships, client outreach services, content creation and creative social media advertising exposure.

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