Make Going to the Doctor Fun for Kids
Taking a child to the doctor's office can be a daunting task for any parent. The doctor's office can seem intimidating, cold, and unfamiliar to children, making the whole experience more traumatic than it needs to be or should be. Prior to going to the doctor's office, speak to the child about what goes on at the doctor's office. Explain what they do, how they do it and for what reasons. Remember children are smart and only need a little guidance from their parents and guardians to feel at ease in the doctor's office.
Engage the child in conversations about what a doctor does. This could include explaining the procedures such as listening to the child's heart and lungs with a stethoscope. Describe what the purpose is and why they pay special attention when listening to the heart. Ask them questions like, "Why do you think a doctor listens to your heart?" Speaking about the job the doctor performs will make the office and appointment seem more familiar, which allows the child and the parent to relax.
If the child is a toddler or of young elementary school age, play a body parts game. Having the child name body parts as the parent points to them is a great way to spend the time waiting for the doctor. Try having the child rhyme other words with the body parts and do this every time you visit a doctor. That way the child will think of the fun they have had and look forward to it. Smaller toddlers and babies will need a bit more attention in the waiting room, and reading a book is a perfect way to engage them.
Point to pictures in the book as you read, and let the baby know what the objects are, just like reading at home. Relate the pictures and stories to things in the child's life, so they make a connection. For example, if a picture shows kids playing outside, mention that the child likes to play. Ask them questions as well; things like, "You like to play in the sandbox too, don't you?" or," When we get home, let's play outside in the sun." The main objective is to keep the children occupied during the process of seeing the doctor.
With older kids, ask them to tell you what each person does in an office. Again, this makes the office seem more familiar if they recognize the different people in the office by their jobs. This will also prepare them for what is to come in the appointment and lessens the anxiety they may be feeling. If the child asks questions, answer them to the best of your abilities; most of the questions will be easy enough to answer. The more they know the more comfortable they will feel.
When leaving the doctor's office, summarize what happened in the appointment. Topics like, "The doctor said you are a very healthy boy/girl," or "The doctor is giving you medicine to make you feel better." Assure them that the medicine will help them to feel better so they can play with their friends again soon. If any specific questions come up, by all means answer them. Bear in mind that this is to make the doctor's office fun and inviting. Make it into a game by engaging and occupying the child while waiting, during and after the appointment. This will make a parent's experience all the more enjoyable.
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