Thursday, July 17, 2014

Preparing Your Child for a Doctor's Visit

When a child is told he or she is “going to the doctor” there may be fears and apprehension about what exactly is going to take place. As parents we can help relieve and, or prevent some of these fears by talking honestly with children before a doctor’s visit or procedure.
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Common Fears
  • Separation: Kids may fear that their parents may leave them alone with the doctor while they wait in another room. 
  • Pain: Kids are often fearful that the procedure or exam may hurt; they especially fear they may need an injection.
  • The doctor: Some children may be concerned by the doctor’s manner, and may even misinterpret his efficiency, speed, or detachment as dislike or rejection.
  • The unknown: Children may also fear that their parents are keeping information from them and that the situation is worse than they may let on. Additionally, some kids who have simple problems may be worried about having surgery or even death.
  • Punishment: Oftentimes children worry that their illness or condition is a punishment for something they have or haven’t done, and they may harbor feelings of guilt about this.

How to Help
  • Assure your child that you will be sure to stay with them if they want you to and if it is possible.
  • Explain the purpose of the visit in terms that your child can understand, and that won’t cause more fear or confusion.
  • Prepare your child in advance for the visit, and be sure to reinforce that the doctors and other medical professionals are there to help.
  • Be supportive and reassure your child that his or her condition was not caused by something he or she did, nor is it a punishment.
    • However, if your child is injured as a result of disregarding safety rules, explain the cause-and-effect relationship matter-of-factly, but continue to try and relieve guilt.
  • If possible, role-play with your child what they may experience during their visit. For example,
    • Look at eyes and ears
    • Tap on the knees
    • Look in the mouth (and explain the need to hold their tongue down with a special stick)
    • Press on tummy to feel what is inside
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Overall, communicate honestly with your child, in age appropriate terms that they can understand; but do your best to avoid causing them more fear and anxiety. Being honest with them will help them build trust in you and your relationship with them.

For more information see Kid's Health  

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