A child’s visit to the doctor can be a stressful and fear-inducing experience for both the child and parents. A child experiencing these feelings of fear may struggle to understand the need for medical attention and not understand that the doctor is there to help.
It can be hard to watch your child go through something scary and unfamiliar. To help make medical procedures less frightening for your children, here are some tips you can use to help them stay calm during trips to the clinic or the hospital:
Avoid Using Unfamiliar Medical Terms
When talking about medical procedures with their children, parents should refrain from using medical language. Using clinical terms like “shot” or “operation” can make the methods seem scarier than they are. When explaining these things to your children, try to use words that will be more familiar and comforting to them, like “medicine,” “prick,” or “checkup.”
Use Books and Videos in Explaining the Procedure
Consider using age-appropriate books or videos about medical procedures so that they have an idea of what it entails beforehand. Many of these will show the child there is absolutely nothing to fear and can really encourage them to go for medical attention.
Answer Questions Honestly
Children who are getting ready to head in for a medical procedure should not be over-talked to. While you shouldn’t frighten them, it’s also important to acknowledge their fears and answer any questions they may have. If your child asks, “Why do I have to get this vaccine?” explain that the doctor is doing this to help him be healthier and that it’s no fun to be sick.
Give Children Control Over Their Environment
One of the best ways to make your children feel more at ease during medical procedures is to make sure that they are in a familiar and comfortable place. You might consider visiting the doctor’s office ahead of time with your child or let them listen on the phone when you talk with the doctor so that they can hear the sounds and voices of people at the clinic.
Use Their Favorite Toy and Song
Keep children distracted with toys or activities before, during, and after the procedure. For instance, if your child is coming in for a blood test, you can let them hold on to their favorite stuffed toy while the blood is drawn. If they are up for a medical scan, you can let them listen to their favorite nursery rhymes to get distracted from the machine’s noise.
Prepare Your Child for the Procedure Ahead of Time
Ensure that your child understands what will happen before they go into the doctor’s office. For example, if they need an MRI Scan, prepare your child for an MRI Scan by letting them know that they will be in a tunnel of loud, humming noises for a few minutes, answering their questions, and assuring them you will always be there for them.
Be There For Your Child
Let your child know they are never alone and they can trust you. You are their advocate and friend. Let your child know that you love them and that they don’t have to do anything they don’t want to do. If your child sees you as their advocate, they will be more likely to stay calm and experience less stress.
Reward Your Child’s Bravery
Plan a special event with your child on what you will do after the procedure, such as going out for ice cream or getting balloons from a party store to celebrate their bravery!
Your child’s health should always remain your priority, whether it is for an upcoming doctor visit or any other type of medical procedure. By approaching the situation in a calm way and preparing yourself and your children physically and mentally, you can ensure that the whole process is as stress-free and painless as possible.