Six tips for making doctor's visits less scary for kids

Any parent who’s taken a kid to the pediatrician knows that sometimes a child’s fear of the doctor can be more stressful than the illness itself. Make going to the doctor easier on your child with a few easy tips.

Because doctor visits are a reality of life, it’s important to coach your child through those fears. Ultimately, you want your little one to see going to the doctor as a pleasant and even fun experience, rather than something to fear. 

Tips for Making a Doctor's Visit Less Scary

1. Don’t make the visit a surprise

This is rule No. 1. A surprise visit to the doctor, when the doctor’s office is a source of fear, can lead to a screaming, crying fit. Always talk to your child about going to the doctor before the appointment. Tell them why the visit is necessary and what to expect. 

2. Acknowledge your child’s feelings

When you’re talking about visiting the doctor, ask your child what he or she is feeling about the visit. Listen to what your child has to say, then offer reassurance and empathy. It can sometimes even be helpful to share your own experiences and feelings about visiting the doctor.

3. Visit the “doctor’s office” at home

Pull out a toy medical kit and have your child play the role of doctor. If you know about a specific experience your child will have at the doctor — a shot, for example — include that in your pretend play. Being able to visualize what’s going to happen in a fun environment can help your child overcome a fear of the doctor.

4. Read books about going to the doctor

There are tons of great children’s books about visits to the doctor, likely including your child’s favorite characters. Read a few of these books to your child, or have him or her read them to you. The goal is to make medical visits seem like a normal part of life, not something to be scared about.

5. Keep your own attitude positive

If you treat the doctor’s visit like something to dread or another task on an endless to-do list, your child will see it as something negative, too. When talking with your child about an upcoming appointment, keep your tone positive and light. 

6. Take a stuffie along for the visit

Let your child bring a favorite stuffed animal or lovey to the visit. The stuffed animal can even “go first” when it’s time for something unfamiliar, like a shot or a medical examination. 

The bottom line? Take actions that can help keep your child grounded, providing him or her a sense of comfort and calm. That will make going to the doctor a more positive experience for both of you.

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At University Health, your child’s comfort and wellbeing are our top priorities. Learn more about our pediatric services at University Children’s Health in San Antonio.

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