I remember sitting in the doctor’s office as a child. Despite the toys and coloring books meant to distract me in the waiting room, I sat stoically in my chair next to my mother, my short legs dangling from the seat. The nurse opened the door and gave me a giant white smile and reached out for my hand. My heart began to thud. They wanted me to go into that door, into the unknown and I already knew what happened after that from watching television.
They were going to give me a shot and it was going to hurt. It was going to hurt very badly.
Looking back on it I wonder if my fear of the doctor could have been prevented. My siblings were never petrified of the doctor so I have to wonder- why me? It seems my parents got some new tricks up their sleeves after using me (the oldest child) as a learning-tool (sorry, mom…but you’ve been caught). If you’re a parent, you certainly don’t want to drag your child kicking and screaming into the doctor’s office. So here is some advice on what to do to prevent your child from being afraid of the doctor based off of my simple observations of my own parents and younger siblings:
- Pretend/Role-Play: When your child knows what’s going to happen behind that door, it can be a lot less scary. Get some toys and show your child exactly what’s going to happen in the office. Check their temperature, listen to their heartbeat, and take a look inside of their ears. They’ll become not only familiar with the tools but with each move the doctor will make. Make it fun! Don’t forget the lollipop at the end!
- Read Books: This strategy is efficient in two ways. You not only get to cure their fear of the doctor but you’re letting them learn through reading. Find children’s books that explain what going to the doctor is like with their favorite characters such as Dora the Explorer.
- Show Them In Real-Life: Showing your child the experience before they have their own can be another way to help. Take your child to their older sibling’s or your own appointment. They will be able to see step by step what will happen at their own appointment and figure out that it is no big deal. They’ll watch your reactions and see that there is nothing to be afraid of.
- Bring a Toy: Have the doctor demonstrate on your child’s stuffed animal or favorite toy. Once their “friend” finishes his checkup, your child is sure to feel a bit better about the situation.
- Show Your Confidence: If you act nervous then your child will know. You must be the strong rock in the situation. Tell your child “I know you’re going to do a good job. You’re a big kid!” and your child will believe you.
I hope something here helps your child with their fear! Feel free to comment with any other strategies you can think of!