A visit to the doctor can be anxiety filled for a child, with its unfamiliar environment. It’s not surprising. The C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health asked a national sample of parents about their children age 2-5 being afraid of going to the doctor. They found that about half of parents reported their child is afraid of going to the doctor, at some or most visits (26%) or once in a while (24%). So how can a parent or guardian help ease their child’s fears?
Here are some tips:
- Prepare your child for what to expect. Speak briefly and concisely. But, don’t overpromise a child. If there is a possibility for vaccinations or blood draws, you don’t want to say the visit won’t hurt. Prepare them for what the shot may feel like and let them know it will be over quickly.
- Help your child build a relationship with their doctor. Let them get to know their doctor so they can build trust with them.
- Educate the child about doctors, by watching a show on doctor visits or playing with a toy medical kit.
- Keep the conversation light in the room by letting the doctor know your child’s interests.
- Be calm for your child. If you show anxiety yourself then your child may mirror that.