Some kids don’t mind visiting the doctor or dentist, but for many, it can be a distressing ordeal for everyone involved.
If you’re lucky, your child won’t need to visit a healthcare setting much outside of their routine vaccinations, but for some, they need to visit more often.
There are some things that you can do to make them feel more at ease during their appointments.
Start from a very young age
The earlier you start doing things, the more natural they seem to a child. For example, you could start to look at your baby’s gums and teeth as soon as they start to show. You can make a little fun game of it. Take them to a pediatric dentist as soon as they start to get teeth so that they can get used to the environment. That way, they’ll grow up without fear of the dentist chair.
Play ‘doctor’ at home
One of the things that scares kids about visiting the doctor or dentist is that they don’t know what’s going on and everything is unfamiliar. You can take some of the fear out of it by buying a toy doctors kit and role paying at home. Make it fun but describe whats going on while you’re doing it. You can pretend to take their blood pressure, listen to their heartbeat and check in their mouth and ears. Let them do the same to you as well.
Don’t spring a doctors visit on them
It’s tempting not to mention doctors visits until you’re there. While this might make your life easier in the short term, it can cause a lot of issues if your child feels they have been tricked or deceived in any way. Of course, not all doctors visits are planned in advance, especially if it’s an emergency, but when you can, let them know about it in advance and be positive.
Re-frame how you talk about doctors
Visiting the doctors can have a lot of negative connotations for kids and adults. Be careful how you talk about medical care around your children as they can pick up on your mood. Rather than concentrate on the illness aspect, talk about how doctors make us feel better and going to the doctors office is an adventure (even if that’s not how you feel).
Find some story books about visiting the doctor or dentist and read them with your child often.
You know your child better than anyone and what they will respond to. Try rewarding them for going to the doctors. It doesn’t have to be a with a toy or snack but could be with an activity or spending time together doing something.
A child who is afraid of visiting the doctors or dentist can be a very stressful experience. Being able to get them into a good place when it comes to how they think about the whole experience takes a lot of work from a young age, so it’s good to get started as young as possible.