Ease doctor visit stress for kids

For children older than toddlers, anticipation is sometimes the worst.

Most children experience some anxiety regarding doctors’ visits. For children older than toddlers, anticipation is sometimes the worst. However, Parents magazine reminds that once the ordeal is over, children move quickly onto the next thing.

A few of Parents’ recommended tips for minimizing stress include:
– Prepare. Read books about visiting a doctor. A few are “The Berenstain Bears Go to the Doctor,” “Say ‘Ahhh!‘: Dora Goes to the Doctor” and “What to Expect When You Go to the Doctor.” Role play with a toy doctor kit; “listen” to heartbeat and “take” blood pressure. Use a scale to show how weight is measured.
– Stay calm and relaxed. If a child sees a parent or guardian comfortably talking about the doctor visit, and at ease at the doctor’s office, he or she may feel more secure.
– Be straightforward. Avoid telling a child that a shot will not be painful, for example. Instead, assure a child that the experience and the pain will be over in no time.
– If possible, plan ahead to have shots given first. Some pediatricians’ offices will work with parents of anxious children and give shots at the beginning of the appointment.
– Redirect child’s attention with a favorite stuffed animal, toy or portable game.

Childsmindinstitute.org explained: “Most pediatricians’ offices provide toys, but if your child is anxious, don’t rely on an old copy of Highlights magazine to help him stay calm. Instead, allow him to choose a favorite game or book to bring along that will help keep his mind occupied during the wait.”

Dr. Mayrene Hernandez, UnitedHealthcare Florida’s chief medical officer, includes “Plan a rewarding experience” to the list of ways to lessen doctor visit strain.

“Incentivize your child with an ice cream cone or a trip to the park after the exam. Something positive to look forward to after the appointment may make them less anxious during the visit,” she said.