Kids need to understand docs do a lot more than give shots -- tell them docs help kids stay healthy and get well. Here’s how you can help quell their fears.
- Explain why you’re going. If it’s for a “well visit,” tell your child the doctor wants to make sure they are growing & that healthy kids go to the doctor to be sure they stay that way. They need to know that going to the doctor is not a punishment for any misbehavior.
- If your child is ill, explain that the “doctor will help you feel better.” Occasionally younger kids feel guilty about being sick, so assure them that the illness isn’t caused by anything they did. You can say “Sometimes children get sick and we’re lucky to have doctors who can find out why & help you get well.”
- It’s okay to admit to your child that you don’t know what’s wrong but that you’ll all work together with the doctor to find and fix the problem.
- If your child has an embarrassing problem, like bed-wetting or head lice, make sure you explain that it’s not their fault and that it happens to many children. Kids often feel incredibly embarrassed or guilty about things like this, so discuss it in reassuring language and then put on your best “no biggie” attitude.
- Tell your child what to expect. Play doctor with them at home with a toy medical kit. Use a doll or stuffed animal to show how the doctor will look in the mouth, eyes, and ears and listen to the heart with a stethoscope. Explain that the doctor may listen to the tummy, tap the knees, look at the feet, and glance at their “private parts” to make sure everything’s healthy. Assure your child that you will be there during the entire exam. Bring a favorite doll or stuffed animal along. Like me, your pediatrician may even give Mr. Ted E. Bear an exam, too.
- Speaking of private parts, most kids are taught that no one should touch them there, so explain that sometimes their bodies need to be examined everywhere, including there, to keep them well.
- Let your child know if a procedure is going to hurt a little or be embarrassing, but be a little vague on the details so that you don’t create unneeded fears.
- Watch your language. If you tell your five-year-old that the doctor will need to “take blood,” explain that it will only be a teaspoon or two. Some kids worry that all their blood will be taken!
From The Smart Parent's Guide: Getting Your Kids Through Checkups, Illnesses, and Accidents by Jennifer Trachtenberg.
Find out more about this book:The Smart Parent's Guide: Getting Your Kids Through Checkups, Illnesses, and Accidents