Preparing Your Child for a Doctor’s VisitJanuary 29, 2020
This week’s tip comes from Jennifer Reeves, a Child Life Specialist at Mount Sinai. A visit to the doctor, routine as it may be, can be difficult for many children. It is not uncommon for them to express anxiety the moment they step into the building. You are your child’s biggest support. Below are some suggestions to help you and your child cope with a visit to the doctor’s office:
1. Speak with your child about what will happen at his/her doctor’s visit.
Explain what the doctors and nurses may do during the examination. You can use the five senses as a guideline (for example, what your child hears, sees, feels, etc. during their visit). Common experiences include weighing the child on a scale, measuring the child’s height, checking the child’s temperature and blood pressure, listening to the child’s heart and lungs, and giving annual routine vaccinations.
2. Provide your child with the opportunity to role-play a visit to the doctor’s office.
Play is a powerful tool and children often use it to learn and process their thoughts and feelings. You can create items such as a stethoscope or thermometer out of paper; pretend medical kits are also easy to find in most retail stores.
3. Encourage your child to share his/her feelings about the visit and provide comfort.
Reassure your child that you will be with him/her throughout the visit. Consider bringing a comfort item or toy from home to help your child better cope.
4. Reassure your child that the doctors and nurses are here to help him/her stay healthy and strong.
If your child is due for vaccinations, reassure him/her that the vaccines are to help his or her body stay healthy and strong; they are not a punishment.
5. Encourage your child to think of questions to ask the doctor.
This can allow your child to feel empowered.
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