Make Doctor Visits Less Scary

It's normal for children to be petrified of visiting the doctor's clinic. But, as a parent, you can make a visit to the doctor less scary for them. Here's how!

By Rakhee Maloo  • 7 min read

Make Doctor Visits Less Scary

Tantrums, shrieks, tears, bribes and screams. Most parents are familiar with these emotional outbursts every time they decide to take their child to the doctor. Impromptu or scheduled, a visit to the doctor causes serious bouts of anxiety and fear, for the child as well as for the parent. No amount of prodding is likely to work. Having said that, there’s no escaping the visit to a paediatrician. After all, it is in the best interest of the child.

If you are a parent and going through a similar predicament, there are certain measures you can take to ensure that such visits are a pain-free experience for your little one and a stress-free one for you.

Choose the right doctor

Choosing a paediatrician is one of the most important decisions for a parent. To start with, schedule a meeting with prospective doctors to get to know them and their practice. Enquire a little and reach out to other parents for recommendations. The way a doctor deals with your queries and anxieties about your child’s well-being, speaks volumes about his overall approach. If he gets irritated at your queries or brushes them aside without much regard, he may not be the best fit for you and your child.

Be mindful of the clinic's set-up and the decor. A waiting area in a paediatric clinic should reflect a place that is welcoming for children. There are several aspects to consider here:

  • Are the colours on the wall bright and soothing?
  • Are there special arrangements for children?
  • What kind of toys are available in the waiting area?
  • How does the receptionist communicate with you? How does she interact with your child?

All of these factors can directly impact the mood of your child as you prepare to meet the doctor. If your child is excited about the surroundings, chances are he may pass off the ‘doctor test’ without any trouble at all.

Educate your child

The moment your child is five years or older, you should talk about the necessity for doctor appointments. Use the Internet to show him pictures of clinics and hospitals. You can also buy toys and games that involve instruments that a doctor uses, to help your child become familiar with them.

“For a child, there’s nothing like a 'good' experience while visiting a doctor, but at least a not-so-bad experience can prove handy for all future visits. A bad visit certainly impacts future visits,” says Dr Ashok, a leading paediatrician from Bengaluru.

Casual visits can help

It’s a good idea to get your child to meet her doctor, without a check-up in mind. Schedule an appointment and use that time for casual interactions between your child and the doctor. This way, the doctor won’t be a stranger the next time you take your child for a check-up. Don’t forget, doctors will have their own ideas to make such visits special for your child.

Communicate to build trust

Since you have already made that ‘friendly visit’, your child will be under the impression that the next visit’s just another friendly one where she would be given a free candy. But, this mindset changes the minute she sees the doctor with the syringe in his hand. This is why communication just before the visit to the clinic (while waiting in the hospital lounge) is very important. Your child looks at other children coming out of the doctor’s room in tears, and the very thought of an injection makes her restless. Your child is already sensing what’s coming her way. Take control of the situation and make the atmosphere more playful. Help your child voice out her fears and concerns. Let your child know why she is getting the vaccine shots, and how important these are for her good health.

Be realistic

Whatever steps you may take to alleviate the fears of your child, there is no guarantee that such steps will work.

“My son got rattled the first time we took him for a vaccination. He remembered it on the subsequent visits too. The moment we’d enter the clinic, he would burst into tears. We tried calming him down and preparing him for future visits. It didn’t work much. We stopped trying too hard and soon realised he has learnt to deal with the issue on his own. He’s not so scared these days. Maybe we are more scared than him,” says Murali, an IT professional from Chennai.

Children receive and perceive training and education in their own unique ways. Don’t expect a miracle. Be patient. With time, who knows, it just might get easier!

Rakhee Maloo is a freelance writer from Hyderabad.

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