Yearly check-ups!Summer has officially arrived. If you're like me, then you've scheduled your children's yearly doctor and dentist appointments. I found these tips by ONDD to be very helpful!
38 Tips to Keep Your Kids Entertained and Stress Free When Seeing a Doctor
The idea of going to the doctor or hospital can be a very scary thing for young children, and even scarier for parents who can envision the screaming, kicking and temper tantrums that might ensue. Rather than hide behind an outdated magazine and pretend the child belongs to someone else, doing a few simple things before, during, and after your child’s visit can help make sure that the stress-level stays low and that your child gets the care that they need. Below is a list of tips and resources for making your trip to the doctor a piece of cake.
Do Your Research
Some of the most important things you can do to keep your child’s visit to the doctor stress free happen before you ever set foot in the office.
1. Choose the right doctor
It is extremely important to pick a doctor who both you and your child are comfortable with. You should take your time to research doctors in your area, ask friends and families for referrals, and tour offices. Click here for a few more tips on how to pick the right pediatrician.
Keeping your child entertained at the doctor’s office does not have to be a difficult task.
2. Be consistent
Once you find a physician that you are comfortable with and your child likes, it’s a good idea to stick with this person. It will help your child to know what to expect and feel more comfortable with trips to the doctor. (If there’s a particular nurse in your doctor’s office who your child reacts well to, it’s a good idea to request this nurse in advance of future appointments).
3. Pick the right ER
You can do a little research now to make an emergency situation go more smoothly, should you ever find yourself in that position. Check out the hospitals in your area and find out if any of their emergency rooms have child specific units.
Helping your child to understand what happens during visits to the doctor is one of the most effective things you can do to help minimize their fear and anxiety about what will happen.
4. Explain what’s happening
It’s important to use words that your child will understand when you’re explaining what happens at the doctor’s office. Using age-appropriate language, you should explain what your child can expect to see, hear, and even smell when they visit the doctor.
Using this technique is one of the best things you can do to help your child understand what will happen during their appointment. Your child can practice being the patient while you play the doctor, or you can reverse roles. You can also consider using a stuffed animal as a potential patient to show your child what the doctor might do to them during the appointment.
6. Read a book about going to the hospital
There are several books written just for children that help explain what a visit to the doctor or hospital is like. Click here for some suggestions.
7. Make it sound normal
In addition to the medical procedures that happen at a doctor’s office or hospital, there are also many “normal” things that go on as well - like watching TV, talking, playing with toys. By emphasizing these aspects of the doctor’s office with your child, you can help them see their visit as a more normal occurrence.
8. Be honest
It’s important that you honestly communicate with your child about why they are going to the doctor and what will happen while they are there. While it’s important to be sensitive and not scare them with too much information, your child will be less anxious before and during the appointment if they are prepared for what might happen.
9. Be specific
Children often don’t understand medical terminology, so it’s important to explain in detail what’s happening. For example, if the doctor has to “take some blood,” it’s important that your child knows that this is just a small amount to help them get better.
10. Give them some warning
Children should be told in advance of any pending visit to the doctor. This will allow them time to express any fears or anxiety that they might have and prepare in advance for the visit. With younger children, a day’s warning is probably good enough, so as not to give them too much time to worry about what will happen.
We all know what it’s like to sit in the waiting room, anxiously awaiting our name to be called so we can see the doctor. This nervous anticipation is even worse for young patients, so it’s important that you’re prepared to help make the waiting game as short as possible.
11. Bring your insurance information
It’s necessary to bring your insurance and prescription card to your appointment. This will help expedite the process and also help your physician’s office determine what your co-pay is and if you need to be preauthorized by your insurance company for any procedures.
12. Be on time
It’s very important to be on time for your child’s appointment, because if you arrive past your scheduled time, it might be hard for your doctor to fit you in. If you know that you have to fill out paper work or insurance information for your child before their visit, it’s a good idea to arrive 15-20 minutes early.
13. Make a list
You might want to write down any questions or concerns you have about your child’s health before you get to their appointment. This will help you remember what you want to say should your child’s anxiety or emotions distract you during their visit and prevent you from having to make another appointment for things that you forgot.
Make It As Fun As Possible
Bringing a few extra things along with you for your child’s visit to the doctor’s office or hospital can help make sure you have distractions on hand, should you need them, and keep your child entertained throughout the process.
14. Pack a snack
We all know that hungry kids are cranky kids, so it’s good to have some kid-friendly snacks on hand should your appointment take longer than expected. Click here for some snack ideas.
15. Bring a book
If your child has a favorite book, it’s a good idea to bring it along. It will help you kill time in the waiting room and serve as a comforting reminder of home for your child.
16. Know some games
If haven’t done so already, it’s a good idea to brush up on some kids games that you can play with your child to help the time go by. You can use this gamefinder to find something appropriate.
17. Let your child choose a “comfort” item
Does your child have a favorite stuffed animal or blanket? Let them bring it along to help them feel more secure and safe during the visit.
18. Bring some “just in case” items
If you find yourself in the position where you have to bring your child to the emergency room, it’s a good idea to bring a few extra things with you to make the process go smoothly. A toothbrush, a change of clothes and your cell phone charger are always good ideas to have on hand in case you have to stay overnight.
19. Pack a doll
More than just a comfort item, a doll can also serve as a great guinea pig during your child’s appointment. The doctor or nurse can demonstrate on the doll what they’re going to be doing to your child to help them understand.
20. Involve your child in the process
If you’re going to be spending more than one night at the hospital, it’s a good idea to let your child help you pack their suitcase and pick what you’ll be bringing with you. That way, you won’t forget anything that they might want and they’ll feel like they have more control over the process.
Get It Over With
One of the best things you can do to help reduce your child’s anxiety about visiting the doctor is to get it over with as quickly as possible. The tips below will help you do just that.
21. Make it go quickly
By using the entertainment tips above and being as prepared as possible, you can make the appointment go more quickly - or at least feel that way.
22. Learn how to present your child’s case
Quite often, parents find themselves as nervous and as flustered as their children when they see the doctor. It can be helpful to familiarize yourself with your child’s condition or symptoms before you go in, so you know how to help your physician understand what’s going on. Click here. to learn how to most effectively present your child’s case to your doctor.
23. Ask the right questions
If your child’s doctor says something that you don’t understand or you find yourself wanting more information, make sure you ask questions. This will help prevent an unnecessary trip back to the doctor’s office.
24. Know the medical historyKnowing your child’s medical history will help their doctor more quickly make a diagnosis and prescribe the appropriate treatments. To find out what’s included in a medical history,click here.
Below are a few general tips to help this process go as smoothly as possible, and to keep both you and your child calm and relaxed.
25. Get them accustomed to the process
If possible, it’s a good idea to bring your child along to another appointment before they go to their own. Whether it’s a sibling’s trip to the doctor or your own, taking them along will help them see what it’s all about.
26. Take a practice trip
If you have the time, you can go through a “dress rehearsal” appointment with your child if they are particularly anxious. Drive to the location, take a tour of the waiting room, and even meet some of the staff if at all possible.
27. If possible, schedule a check-up first
Your child is much more likely to handle higher stress medical situations better if they’ve been through the process already. So before you find yourself in an emergency situation, schedule a general wellness check-up for your child.
28. Stay with your child as much as you can
Fears of abandonment are often one of the largest triggers of a child’s anxiety at the doctor. By reassuring your child that you’ll be with them most of the time and sticking around through the appointment (and especially overnight, if need be), you can help alleviate some of this anxiety.
29. They can express emotion, you can’t
While it’s important that you allow your child to express what they are feeling about their visit to the doctor - fears, worries, etc. - it’s just as important that you maintain a positive attitude throughout the process. Children often respond to the stress levels of their parents, so by staying calm and collected, you will help them do the same. If you find yourself getting emotional, just briefly excuse yourself until you have regained your composure.
30. Be patient
You should try to be especially patient with your childhood during their visit to the doctor. It’s possible that they may act out due to their anxiety, and it’s important that you help them process these emotions instead of punishing them for them.
31. Get a babysitter
If you have other children, it’s a good idea to leave them with a babysitter or family member. This will allow you to devote your full attention to the child who is visiting the doctor.
32. Encourage visitors
If you find yourself in a situation where your child has to spend extensive time at the hospital, you should encourage people familiar to your child to visit (in accordance with hospital policy). Having friends and family visit will decrease feelings of isolation and provide comforting stability.
33. Pick a good time to go
If you have the luxury of scheduling a wellness exam for your child’s first visit, you should try to do it in either the spring or summer, when doctor’s offices are less busy. This will allow the doctors and nurses to spend more time with you and your child and allow for a less hectic atmosphere.
34. Don’t use the doctor as a threat
It’s very important that you help your child to see his or her doctor as a friend and ally. You shouldn’t say things like, “If you’re bad, the doctor will give you a shot,” as this will only increase feelings of fear and anxiety.
35. Use relaxation techniques to help your child stay calm
If your child is nervous during the doctor’s appointment, you can try calming techniques, such as slow breathing or blowing bubbles, to help lower your child’s stress and calm their nerves.
36. Debrief the visit with your child
Following the visit, you should spend some time discussing it with your child to find out how they felt about what happened. This will help you address things that can be modified for the next visit and find out what worked (or didn’t) from your preparations.
37. Reward good behavior
While it’s probably not advisable to make a trip to the toy store after every appointment, you can still reward your child for their bravery. If they make it through a difficult procedure or appointment, follow it up with something that they like, whether it be a trip to the park or a play-date with friends. This will help them to associate the doctor with things that are positive.
38. Trust your instincts and your child
If at any point during your child’s visit to the doctor, you or child is seriously uncomfortable with the manner or care of your physician, then find a new doctor. An uncommunicative or unsympathetic doctor will only increase your child’s anxiety and make it that much harder to treat their condition. You have options.
A little planning and forethought on your part can go a long way toward decreasing the anxiety of your child and making sure that they are calm, cool, collected and entertained during their visit to the doctor. By following these tips, you’ll keep their visit stress free. Which is just what the doctor ordered.
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