Getting Your Anxious Child To Go To The Doctor

As a parent, it is your job to protect your child from things that scare them. Unfortunately, children can develop anxiety over things that will help them as well. It is important to get regular doctor checkups regardless of what age you are. As a child, their systems are still developing and they may require doctor visits more often. During the first three years, your child should visit the doctor at least nine times for checkups, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. During these visits, they will receive immunizations, have their eyes, ears, and mouth checked, and receive a complete physical examination. No baby wants to be poked and prodded by someone they don't know. When visiting the doctor's office, many times a child will develop anxiety making the visit uncomfortable for both the child and parent. Here are some ways to overcome this anxiety.  

Create a Social Story

Your goal is to help relieve your child's anxiety and create an overall positive experience visiting the doctor. In order to do this, you need to make the visit more about how fun it is and less about your child's health. In an effort to do this, you may want to drop by the doctor's office just for a friendly visit. This will help the child to see that it is a fun place and not every visit includes shots and sickness.

Once you have returned home from your visit, you can then make a storybook that talks about all the sights and sounds your child encountered while they were there. This storybook serves as an educational lesson and helps relieve any anxiety they had about the doctor's office. 

Practice the Steps

Before you head to the appointment, you want to prepare your child for what to expect. You can do this by making it a game where you and your child role play. You can pretend to be the doctor and go over how a visit should be and then you can turn around and allow the child to pretend to be the doctor. By practicing what will happen during their doctor's appointment, they will be more aware and hopefully more relaxed when it comes time to go. 

Focus on the Fun

Not all doctor offices feature white walls and elevator music. Many family practices offer a kid-friendly waiting room. This means, there are fun activities and toys available in the waiting room to help distract the child from the wait and the appointment. Make sure you find a doctor's office that can relate to kids and provide a family atmosphere. If a child feels that they are valued, they will be more likely to let their guard down and ultimately be less anxious.