At my Miami kids care pediatrics practice, I see a lot of young children who are afraid of doctors. Young children can develop a fear of doctors for a variety of reasons.
First, even though they’re visiting a friendly pediatric practice, your kids don’t see me and my team very often. We may seem like strangers to your children, and it’s very common for young kids to be afraid of strangers.
Second, many early childhood pediatric visits involve getting shots. Since a lot of kids are afraid of needles, they naturally develop a fear of doctors, too.
Finally, children often come to my pediatric practice when they’re feeling ill, perhaps from the flu or a painful childhood ear infection. Some children associate the unpleasant feeling they have when coming to kids care pediatrics in Miami for sick visits with doctors themselves, and thus are afraid of doctors.
No matter the reason for your child’s fear of the doctor, you can find relief with the following tips. And if you have an upcoming appointment at our pediatrics office and there’s something we can do to make your child’s visit more welcoming and comfortable, please call at (305) 614-3017 in advance to let us know.
Helping Your Children Overcome Their Fear of Doctors
If your child is afraid of doctor visits, my team and I suggest you implement the following 10 strategies to make him or her more comfortable at their next appointment:
- Accompany Your Child to the Appointment
We know it can be hard, especially when both parents work outside the home, to find time to attend your child’s doctor appointments. Sometimes, a nanny or a family member, like a grandparent, may have more flexibility in their schedules to take your child to appointments, especially last-minute sick visits.
However, it’s important to remember that as your child’s parent, he or she is most bonded to you. If your son or daughter is afraid of the doctor, make sure to attend all appointments with him or her so you can provide the comfort and reassurance that only you can.
- Practice Going to the Doctor at Home
Children love role-playing and playing make-believe. What better way to help your child overcome a fear of the doctor than by having a pretend doctor visit at home.
With a simple doctor’s kit playset, you and your child can practice for doctor’s appointments by playing doctor to each other, or to your child’s favorite stuffed animals. You can even pull your child’s favorite character Band-Aids to patch up owies on each other of stuffed animals. Doing so will help normalize the process of going to the doctor.
- Put a Positive Spin on Doctor Appointments
It’s common for young children to be afraid of the unknown. If kids don’t understand why it’s important to go to the doctor, they may be confused about why they’re going to the doctor’s office to begin with!
As far in advance as possible, start talking to your child about his or her upcoming doctor’s appointment, and the importance of it. If it’s a well-child visit, tell your child his or her pediatrician is going to make sure they’re growing healthy and strong. If it’s a sick visit, tell your child his or her pediatrician is going to look at his sore throat or ear infection, and most likely prescribe medicine to make it feel better.
When kids understand the why behind the what, they feel more empowered and less fearful.
- Strategically Schedule Doctor Appointments
Technically speaking, your child can go to their next well-visit on their birthday. But a doctor’s visit on the date of birth for a child afraid of the doctor is certain to spoil the celebration. It’s better to wait a week or two later so the two events don’t happen simultaneously.
Likewise, you should avoid making doctor’s appointments during times that will throw off your child’s routine. This includes not making doctor’s appointments during nap time, feeding time, or preschool hours.
- Stay Within Arm’s Reach During Appointments
If your child is fearful of the doctor, it’s best to remain as close to him or her as possible during appointments. I recommend you stay within arm’s reach of your child, especially young toddlers, so you can quickly embrace and comfort him or her in case he or she becomes upset.
- Use Your Child’s Favorite Soothing Techniques
Even children who usually love the doctor don’t like the doctor when it’s time to get a shot. To make immunizations as comfortable as possible you can try things like nursing infants, singing your child’s favorite song, or telling jokes to distract them from the needle.
- Bring Your Child’s Favorite Toy or Book
Sometimes a little comfort from home can help a child who’s afraid of doctors feel more comfortable during appointments. Bringing his or her favorite book, toy, or stuffed animal to play with inside the waiting room can help ease anxiety about the upcoming appointment.
- Provide an Incentive for Visiting the Doctor
Sometimes, you need to reward your child with a carrot. You may provide an incentive for your child by promising to add to his or her stick chart on the fridge at home, rewarding him or her with a trip to the park, or watching a special movie together after a trip to the doctor’s office.
- Stay Focused During Doctors Appointments
With everything going on in our adult lives, and our phones constantly buzzing, it’s hard to stay focused on the task at hand. Turn your cellphone off during your child’s appointment so you won’t be distracted by phone calls, emails, or text alerts that come through.
- Ask Your Child to Explain His or Her Concern
Ask your child why he or she is afraid of the doctor. His or her answer may surprise you. It could be something easy to fix such as your child feeling that the office is too cold, your child not liking what’s playing on the TV in the waiting room, or something else minor that has a simple remedy.
Visit My Kids Care Pediatrics Practice in Miami
I’ve been a pediatrician for more than 20 years, and during that time, I’ve learned how to gain the trust of even the most fearful children who’ve come into my practice. I work diligently with parents, caregivers, and my patients to provide a warm, inviting, and welcoming experience for you and your child whether you come to me for a well-check or a sick visit.
I know that some children have a natural fear of doctors, and I’ve collaborated with colleagues over my years of practice to find the best strategies for putting those anxieties at ease. By listening directly to your child when he or she speaks to me, answering all of his or her questions, and explaining what I’m going to do and what the medical equipment that I’m going to use does before I perform an exam, children are often put at ease.
I’d love to have the opportunity to care for your child’s medical needs. To make an appointment at my advanced pediatrics practice, call my office today at (305) 614-3017.