It is always a huge struggle for parents who have children suffering from fear and anxiety during a doctor’s appointment. Learn how to manage their fears and make routine checkups smoother.
Let’s face it: Not all people like the idea of visiting a doctor, there is always a feeling of fear and uncertainty when undergoing unfamiliar medical procedures, the pain and discomfort involved, and the anticipated diagnosis. But when it comes to kids, the idea of doctor’s appointments goes beyond fear, an anxiety that can turn into major meltdowns, making it difficult for parents to handle doctor’s visits more smoothly.
During medical checkups, children’s reactions may vary depending on their temperament and age. While some kids manage to stay calm, others become extremely distressed that any effort to soothe them down is useless. This anxiety can be so much worse for toddler-age children, especially when visiting a children’s dentist. They often create negative associations with a doctor’s appointment, from getting shots, separation from parents, and the fear of the unknown.
Still, doctor’s appointments play a role in a child’s overall health and well-being. In fact, those feelings of distress and fears can surface easily, only if you apply the right strategies. To make doctor visits a lot smoother, here are some ways to help an emotional child overcome their fear of going to a doctor and how to manage their emotions.
Talk about it
If a child needs to see a physician because of a condition or other illness, make an effort to talk about their health problem using neutral language while giving them reassurances. Do this by explaining to them that illness happens to many people. Remind them we have doctors to help identify the causes and make them feel well again.
If you have family members who went through the same illness, inform them about this information. It is a great way to ease their fears by informing kids that others went through the same condition as well.
When a child acquires a wound or severe injury because of ignoring safety rules, explain the situation that led to their injury while eliminating blame and reminding them to avoid such neglect again. If they continue to disobey rules, consult a doctor about their behavioral pattern.
But if the child develops a negative opinion towards doctors caused by rejection and embarrassment from other kids, work on it to eliminate blame and shame. Most people misunderstood certain conditions, such as bed-wetting, head lice, and constant scratching because of pinworms. This is an opportunity to reassure and stay supportive by letting the child know their condition is not their fault and many people go through it.
No matter the case, always explain to children that a doctor’s visit is never a punishment. Kids must understand that even adults visit doctors just like them, and a doctor will help them fix problems and stay healthy.
If children are not feeling well, they are not the only one who gets anxious. While it is natural to feel anxious when a child is sick, parents must learn to manage the anxiety in the right way.
More often, parents tend to feel anxious when their child is not well. This feeling may often reflect on their emotions and behavior. Once the child notices it, they will mimic that emotion and begin to imagine worse situations that may happen. They may suspect that a checkup is going to hurt or assume they are suffering from a terrible sickness.
When you feel anxious, express those worries to the physician at the right place and time. There might be questions that are not appropriate for a child to hear, which can only worsen their worry. Speak to a doctor if they are not around and let them know about your concern before the appointment.
Avoid making jokes and creating fears
Getting a shot is one of the biggest causes of fear among children during visits to the doctor. If the child needs to get a shot, always be cautious and avoid promoting needle phobia. Parents often give threats to children by pointing out that getting a shot is a punishment for their unruly behavior. Although they do this in a playful way, this type of disciplinary action will only result in negative associations on the children’s minds.
As much as possible, avoid using shots or a doctor’s visit as a punishment for a child’s behavior. You will only make it difficult for you and your child at the next doctor’s appointment.
Whatever strategy you choose, knowing and understanding the child’s fear is the crucial step to make doctor’s visits easier. Just like anyone else, children feel great when we validate those concerns and fears. Provide the support they need and establish their mindset that everything will be okay. Keep in mind that children who feel comfortable during routine checkups are most likely to trust doctors with their health concerns once they grow older.