It is natural for young children to have fear around going to the Doctor. The first 2 years of a child's life is dedicated to doctor visits that require vaccines, strange instruments, and people in your child's personal space that they don't know. This is not only anxiety provoking for the chid, but can be stressful on the parent. Especially when the nurse ask for you to be the one to hold down your child as they quickly gauge needles in their little arms and legs. And if your toddler is anything like mine, the crying spell can lead all the way to the car. The shots will never be easy, yes they will still cry. These helpful tips will allow your child to feel safer, and present more calm. Easing the child, eases the parent. And I'm all about making a parent's job easier.
1. How you interact with the doctor models how your child will respond. Be positive, the doctor should be your friend. The more a child knows that mommy/daddy trust this person, they can begin to trust them too.
2. Pretend play! Down below is a example of a doctor kit that I allow Karter to use as she engages in imaginary play. I let her play doctor, and when she pretends to give me a shot I'll say "ouchy, that hurt, but mommy is being brave". This way I'm not ignoring the fact that it doesn't feel good, but I am complimenting her for following through. I'll then give her a friendly check up using verbal descriptions while she plays, remember the power in "praising" your child. If you give encouragement, the more prone a child will be to achieve the task.
3. Find a good book. Literature around several topics is a great way to comfort children. Visit your local library and request a book around dr. visits. My favorite is "The Berenstain Bears Go to the Doctor, Say "Ahhh!"
4. Allow for them to bring a comfort toy.
5. Provide lots of hugs and kisses. Because that's exactly what you need when you're hurt. Show empathy, validate their feelings, and never lie. If their getting shots, don't tell them they aren't. This will cause the experience to be worst. And once the trust is broken every doctor visit that follows will be challenging.
6. And the most important tip: FIND THE RIGHT DOCTOR. There are several pediatricians that are not child friendly, weird right. Find someone that presents like a person you would want to see as a child. This can be trial and error. But if this person is someone you need to trust with your child's health, then it's worth the battle.