Taking your child to the doctor’s appointment might be one of the most stressful and challenging things you need to do as a parent. Your kid will naturally have their concerns, and they will most likely be very anxious. As parents, you have a job to calm them down and make sure they handle the appointment as best as possible. These steps will help you calm down your child so that they can gain more trust and feel better about any future appointments you will be having.
Prep Your Kid in A Way That’s Best For Them
You, as a parent, know you, child, better than anyone else. That is not only extremely helpful when it comes to detecting their fears and concerns, but also when it comes to helping them and preparing them for the appointment. For instance, some kids get even more anxious when they are told about their upcoming appointment too early, while others need a few days to prepare themselves. It differs from one child to another, and the mother will know the best how to approach her own children regarding this issue.
Make a List with Your Child
Make a list of all the things that both you and your child are worried about before going to the appointment. Ask your child about their concerns and openly talk about them. Then, assure them that it’s all going to be fine because the doctor will give them all the answers they need before the appointment.
Let Them Play Doctor
You can also prepare your child for the appointment by letting them play the doctor. Give them toys they can play with, and “fake” treat pretending to be doctors. Show them what a regular appointment looks like. Once your child sees that the doctors pose no harm, they will feel more comfortable going to appointments.
Get To the Appointment A Little Early
Getting to the appointment a little early can mean a lot to your child. If they are already anxious, showing up in a rush to the appointment can only worsen their anxiety symptoms even more. Showing up early will give both you and your child the time to prepare and calm down.
Validate Their Feelings
You can’t prevent your kids from feeling anxious and worried about their appointment, but what you can do is validate their feelings and show them you care about their concerns.
Ask them about their fears and find out where they come from. You can start by asking if they are afraid if it’s going to hurt them. In most cases, they will say yes. Tell them that you understand their concerns and explain the appointment process so that they know there is nothing in there that will harm them in any way. Listen to them without interrupting them to show them that they are heard. However, don’t talk too much. It can make them even more anxious. Simply validating their feelings and being there for them means a lot. And after the appointment, you can treat them with something they like to reward them for their bravery.
Use the Number Scale To Talk About Pain
The number scale can be very useful in this situation. Use it to talk about pain with your children. Ask them to tell you what kind of pain they expect to experience and let them know that vaccines are only a one or a two on the pain scale. Once they have a specific number, I mind it will be easier for them to relax. They will have something to hold on to and expect.
Build their trust
You need to build their trust not only for you but also for the doctor they have an appointment with. Let’s say you need to take your kid for the regular dental appointment. Your kid is more likely going to trust the doctor if you choose a reliable family dentist that is going to be familiar and friendly with the whole family. Seeing a reliable and friendly face will help your kid overcome their fears more easily when going to appointments and regular check-ups.
It’s extremely challenging to keep calm when your kid is freaking out, but you have to do it for them, especially if you have to hold your kid down for shots. You need to remember that you’re a parent, and therefore you’re in charge. Keep reassuring them that you’re there for them, and there is nothing to be scared of. If you show them you are panicking too; they are only going to grow even more anxious. Once your child realizes you are there for them, they will calm down.
One of the worst things you can do to your child at the appointment is to apologize for the appointment. That will only increase their anxiety because saying you’re sorry only indicates that something bad or wrong is happening. Stay calm and keep reminding them that this visit is for their own good.
Encourage Your Child to Ask Questions
Lastly, create a calming and positive environment where kids feel comfortable asking questions. Show them that their concerns and feelings are valid by encouraging them to speak up and ask questions regarding their worries. Not only that, encourage them to ask about anything they might find confusing. They have the full right to speak to the doctor and not just sit there and listen to your conversation with the doctor. They have every right to be informed about their own health.
In conclusion, children’s’ fear of doctors and appointments is almost inevitable. What you need to do as a parent is to make sure they feel safe by giving them answers and making them feel validated and hurt. These are just some of the most effective steps you can take when taking your child to the appointment.