Let’s talk about visiting the doctor. The purpose of the visits are rarely just social calls to say Hi, how are you doing? Ninety-nine.nine nine percent of the time our visits to the doctor involve an issue that we need to be resolved sooner than later. For our kids, that usually means time is of the essence because no one wants to see their kiddos sick. What happens if you have to make multiple trips to the doctor’s office to see numerous specialists? The nerves and anxiety build with each check-in, x-ray, test, examination, and doctor visit. Here are my five tips to reduce stress during a doctor’s appointment.
- Prepare. Talk to your child about the upcoming appointment. Write it on the calendar. Let them know that in x number of days we will go see Dr. Jones. Any amount of preparation can take away the sudden surprise of going to the doctor. We have been to the children’s’ hospital to see different specialists throughout the years with the boys. One fantastic resource, we utilize, is the child life specialists. They are able to help prepare the child for any testing that may be taking place. Everything from drawing blood to surgery. The great thing about the child life specialists is that they have access to all of the medical materials so the kids can see, feel, and touch the equipment before the testing takes place. We were able to tour one of the operating rooms before the boys had their tonsils out. That is a definite plus to check out if your area has child life specialists to help you and your child prepare for the upcoming appointments/tests.
- Rehearse. Go over what will be happening at the doctor. Let them know that the nurse will want to give their arm a hug (to check their blood pressure). The nurses will want to see how big they’ve grown with their height and weight. The doctor may want to tickle their tummies and peek in their ears. When the boys would go for their appointments, the first question I would hear is “Am I going to get shots?” I’m a proponent of being as honest as possible with boys using kid appropriate language. I had one of our ped docs tell me not to sweat the shot question, but just to say “the nurses will tell us if we need shots or not.” She’d say we are okay with being the bad guys on this one. Shots don’t go any smoother for us, but it has definitely cut down on the whining for days in advance of the appointment.
- Pack a bag of fun. From time to time, appointments last way longer than they should make the rest of the day’s appointments that much later. You may not know that the doctor is running late until you are sitting in the examination room fifteen minutes past your scheduled appointment time. What to do to entertain the troops or calm the anxieties that may be on the rise. I love to have a bag of fun handy for that exact reason. We carry a small container of legos, maze books, bouncy balls, other small toys, and maybe a snack. If we burn through those choices, then I’m a fan of letting the child sit on the doctor’s chair to do a few spins.
- Advocate for your child. Your child needs you to be their voice. You must advocate for what is best for your child. We always try to take the doctor’s advice, because they are the professionals in the situation. But, I know that I am the mom, and I know my child best. If my gut is telling me something doesn’t seem quite right, then I know I need to speak up to voice my concerns to the doctor. If I don’t, who will? So, speak up about the sleep disturbances, picky eating patterns, poop problems, or questions about medications. Chances are the problem is probably pretty typical. Once the dialog is going advocating for your child will be a breeze.
- Pack your patience. It is not easy to pack up your child to take them to the doctor for check-ups, appointments, or tests. The doctor wants to help your child feel the best that they can, but sometimes that takes time. Time of trying a new med, time of waiting for test results, and time waiting to be seen by the doctor. Patience helps those transitions go so much smoother. The end result that we all want is a happy, healthy child.
Is there anything else you would add to the list to help reduce the stress of visiting the doctor with your child? If you have a question or comment, let me know!
All my best to you,