Without a doubt, a trip to the pediatrician can be a traumatic experience for children. Chances are, there is something physically wrong or even worse, they need to receive the oh-so-dreaded shot. Or perhaps the doctor is viewed as a big and scary figure who will only make the pain worse. Keeping children calm at the doctor’s office presents possibly the greatest challenge of the whole experience. It is only fair and expected that doctors and nurses respect the angst that routine check-ups may cause children. Keep in mind that a fear of the doctor isn’t childish or dumb, but it is unsafe and can ultimately carry over into adulthood. Not only should we strive for comfort at a young age, but we should focus on building a foundation that supports anxiety-free doctor’s visits for a lifetime.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a parenting style that encourages and recognizes good behavior with words, smiles, and hugs. Parents should more so be guiding their children to positive behavior rather than using punishments or threats. Sticking to this parenting logic, visits to the doctor should not be punishments for children or brought on in a negative manner.
No matter how old the child is, prepare your child in advance for procedures or shots that they me receiving. Try to comfort them while also being honest. If your child is fearful of a shot, explain to them how it will help them and will decrease their chances of becoming sick. Under any circumstances, or no matter how upset you are with them, never use a shot or a doctor’s visit as a threat for bad behavior.
Not only can you try to prepare children before the doctor, but you can also be with them through the process. Treat them like you would in the comfort of their own home – read them a kids book or tell them stories during painful times of the exam. In some cases, children feel better hugging their parent during fearful parts or when the shot is given. If doctor’s allow, let your older children choose where the injection will take place providing them a sense of control. If guided honestly and comfortably by their parents, children are more likely to feel at ease during a doctor’s visit.
Additionally, pediatric doctors and nurses have the ability to comfort children through their own experiences in addition to their training. A good technique for doctors is to tell stories and explain the reasons for certain procedures. Sometimes they can also educate the child if they are interested and old enough to understand.
It goes without saying that children are highly aware and respond to their surrounds therefore it is important to keep the setting in mind. Doctor offices can invest in medical furniture such as Pedia Pals to create a child-friendly scene. Pedia Pals offers a variety of exam tables designed to entertain children, while keeping them safe. Simple instruments such as stethoscopes can also be designed vibrantly with bright colors and animal faces to distract children without compromising quality.
Ultimately, with the combination of at-home preparation and some effort from the doctor’s office, children can experience the pediatrician calmly and anxiety-free.