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My Child is Afraid to Go to the Doctor

Kids Health Care

For some kids, going to the doctor can be a huge battle. For others, it's an adventure. Whether your child is one of the former or the latter, we've compiled a few tips to make doctor's visits more enjoyable for everyone. For very small children, certain medical procedures can be so anxiety provoking they cause your child to fear the going to the doctor altogether.

Nearly every parent has had to hold a child down as immunizations are administered or blood is drawn. If your child is one that has had to undergo several painful or uncomfortable procedures, she may be terrified of her healthcare team.

Talk to Your Child About the Doctor

No matter what, springing a surprise doctor's visit on your child is never a good idea (unless she loves going to the doctor), especially for kids that may be a bit hesitant. Make sure that you tell your child about the visit beforehand and discuss what the doctor might need to do at the visit. If it's a well-child visit, remind your child that the doctor will probably use his stethoscope to listen to her heart and chest and perform other procedures like looking in her ears and mouth. If it's time for immunizations, remind her that it'll all be over with quickly and that it's nothing to be afraid of.

Plan an Adventure with Kids

Most kids love an adventure. For some kids, planning a trip to the doctor can be as exciting as an African safari. Talk about what you'll do that day and what to expect at the doctor. Ask your child if she remembers reading books or playing with toys at the doctor's office and which books or toys were her favorites. You can even pack a bag with her favorite books, toys, or coloring books to distract her.

Give a Reward to Kids

There's a reason that most doctor's offices give small treats to children. For many kids, they know that sucker is coming and it's all they can think about the entire visit. If your child is afraid to go to the doctor, you can plan your own small treat like a trip for ice cream or lunch at her favorite restaurant after the doctor's visit. Some parents even take a small treat to the visit with them for immediate reward after the appointment. That way the child knows what's coming and looks forward to a successful end to the visit.

Set up Points and Reward for Kids

Set up a points and reward system. Establish the tasks or behaviors you wish your child to work on or comply with and give them points when they do. You can set up fun things for the kids to "buy" with their points such as extra time with mom or dad, a favorite treat, or watching a little extra TV.