TBC 2018: A Beary Healthy Holiday! How to cure your child's anxiety at doctor's visits
Updated: Oct 24, 2018
Going to a doctor is rarely something anybody enjoys. However, when it comes to children, things can get downright ugly. It is normal for your child to feel nervous or scared before a visit to the doctor. When Derrick “D” was a baby, he really had no idea what going to the doctor really meant. Once he was 2-3ish, he started asking one question when I mentioned the word doctor which was, “Do I get shot?”. Our kids may not remember many details about their visit to a doctor’s office, but, they always remember how they felt and a painful shot is not something one easily forgets. I also had to put on a brave front for him since, I have to admit, I'm not a big fan of doctor's visits either. In addition, having to physically hold your child in place while a doctor gives them a shot can be traumatic for you and your chiId. I have since found that having him watch tv shows like “Doc McStuffins”, learning about medicine and the body at The Health Museum and preparing him for the next visit made a huge difference.
One of our favorite events that gives kids in Houston a great opportunity to participate in a “check-up” is the annual Teddy Bear Checkup at the Health Museum. D and I are excited to co-chair this event on Saturday, December 8 at The Health Museum. Children will head to The Health Museum with their teddy bear, doll or other favorite friend for a "Beary" special checkup! A breakfast buffet, holiday arts and crafts, appearances by Houston Ballet Nutcracker dancers, performances by a Christmas choir and pictures with Santa will kick off the event at 9:00am. Following breakfast, the museum educators and volunteers will help kids’ practice being a "doctor," check their bear's heartbeat, teach their bear healthy habits and much more! We are also excited to announce that Tiffany & Co. and Chopard have donated some beautiful children’s items to be raffled off during the event!! Tickets ($50/pp $250/host family) for the event are now available online at: https://www.thehealthmuseum.org/event/teddy-bear-checkup-2018-beary-healthy-holiday
If you can’t make it to the Teddy Bear Checkup, you can always use some of the following ways to make any trip to the doctor less stressful, ease your child’s anxiety or nervousness and make the whole process go by smoother.
Inform them Beforehand
Whether it’s for a vaccination, a routine check-up, or for seeking treatment for any medical issue, it might seem tempting to keep the child in the dark about the impending visit to the doctor. However, this might not be the best course of action to follow. Inform your child about the doctor’s visit beforehand and explain why it is necessary. But do so only on the day of the appointment or one day prior to it, so that the child does not have too much time to let the anxieties kick in and build up.
When you inform your child about the upcoming visit to the doctor, you can bet you will be faced with a myriad of objections and questions. Address each of these patiently all the while making sure to remain honest with your child. Walk them through the entire process that they can expect and don’t hesitate to be honest with them even if they ask you a question you don’t know the answer to. If your child asks you whether they will get a shot or not, be honest with them even then.
Don’t Negate or Belittle Their Fears
If your child tells you they are scared or nervous about going to the doctor, validate their fears. Tell them you understand but also explain why it is unavoidable. Do not try to negate their fears or ask them to be brave. For example, if your child is afraid to get a shot, then tell them that you understand how that might be scary. But also explain to them that the pain will only last for a couple of seconds.
If your child has older siblings who have been through a similar situation then ask them to explain the procedure to their younger sibling. Your child will be able to relate more to the experience of another child as compared to an adult.
Be There for Them
Take the child to the doctor yourself and stay there with them the whole time. Hold their hand, maintain eye contact, and explain everything the doctor says to you so that they can feel confident and well informed.
Manage Your Own Anxiety
Seeing your child unwell or at the doctor can be a stressful moment for the parent too. But it is important to manage your own anxiety and remain calm, collected, and in control of the situation in front of your child. This way, they too will be more confident about the whole experience.
Reward Them Afterwards
A promise of a bowl of ice cream, a trip to the park or any small incentive after a visit to the doctor can really help put your child’s mind at ease. Just make sure you follow up on these promises too after the visit to the doctor.