Whether your child’s response to going to the doctor is to scream, kick, and throw a fit, or to cry and beg you with pleading, tear-filled eyes to not go, this reluctance to see a doctor is about fear and stranger anxiety – and just the thought of getting a shot. The best way you, as a parent, can prepare your child for a doctor visit is to make the visit less scary and unfamiliar. But how? Even some adults dread doctor visits. Here are five ideas that can help you comfort your child before and during a visit to the doctor.

Be there and set a good example

If possible, accompany your child to the doctor as opposed to sending your child with a family member or caregiver. Children feel safe with their parents, and the doctor’s office is no exception. When your child is scared, sometimes you may share that fear – but in this case, don’t show it. If you feel calm and relaxed about the visit, the chances are those feelings will rub off on your child. And certainly, if you show fear and anxiety, those emotions will exacerbate your child’s fears.

Bring familiar books, videos, and toys

Does your child have a favorite stuffed animal, blanket, toy car, or doll? Bringing one or more of those items can help make your child feel calmer and less anxious. Furthermore, these items can serve as a distraction so that your child is not too focused on the actual visit. Books, games, and toys can keep your children occupied in the waiting room or the doctor’s office before the doctor arrives, so their anxiety does not build.

Play doctor at home

Roleplay a doctor visit at home with your child. Find toys or household items that could serve as doctors’ instruments to look in their ears and listen to their heart so your child gets an idea of what to expect during the exam. Then, let your child play doctor – or parent of the patient. You can have fun with the game while exposing your >children to what goes on during a real exam so they are less frightened of the upcoming visit.

Talk the visit through and validate their fears

Don’t lie and don’t tell them not to feel one way or the other. If your child asks if he or she is going to get a shot, don’t tell him or her “no” when the answer is most likely, “yes.” You can validate their fear of getting a shot and also take the opportunity to calmly tell them that the shot will feel like a pinch and only last a second. Walk them through the whole visit so they are less anxious about what will happen. Sometimes not knowing is worse than knowing what to expect.

Promise a reward

There is nothing wrong with telling your child before the doctor visit that you will give them a lollipop, ice cream, screen time, or a visit to the playground after their appointment. It can give them something to look forward to and nudge them to go through with the visit. Just don’t make the reward contingent on their behavior, because that may lead to more anxiety.  

If you have emergency health concerns for your child, you can contact the medical professionals at Clear Creek ER in League City Texas 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They’re experienced at treating a wide range of pediatric conditions, and also at making your child feel comfortable. Clear Creek ER offers designated, child-friendly examination rooms stocked with toys and books to entertain your child during your visit.