Going to the doctor is an integral part of a child’s development. It allows doctors to keep tabs on the child’s growth and development, and it allows parents to discuss any concerns they may have regarding their little one. 

Unfortunately, many young children have a fear of the doctor. Usually associated with getting shots, this fear is hard for kids to overcome and even harder for parents to deal with. If going to the doctor causes anxiety in your child, you may want to keep reading to discover several ways to help alleviate this fear. 

  • Practice Ahead of Time

It’s often fear of the unknown that causes such anxiety. The more familiar your child is with the act of visiting the doctor, the less likely they will be to fight it. 

Start by talking about the visit and what your child can expect the doctor to do. Watch a video about visiting the doctor or use a pretend diagnostic set to show how the doctor will check the ears and listen to the heart. 

  • Don’t Create Fear

Many people like to joke about getting shots, but the reality is, most kids are afraid of them. There is an automatic negative connotation with needles, so avoid the temptation to make light of getting shots. 

Instead, help your child to understand how important shots are in keeping them healthy, and praise them for a job well done once the doctor visit is over. 

  • Avoid Making False Promises

You may be tempted to tell your child whatever it takes to keep them calm and cooperative before the visit, but avoid making false promises you know you can’t keep. For example, don’t promise there will be no shots when you know immunizations are due. 

By telling your child something that isn’t true, you risk breaking the trust they have in you, which can create even more difficulty and anxiety at the next doctor visit. On a grander scale, this parent-child trust is not something you want to jeopardize. 

  • Offer Distractions

While screen time should be limited during other times of the day, this doesn’t have to apply during a doctor’s visit. Letting your child watch their favorite show on your phone or listen to music during the visit may offer enough distraction to keep them calm and get the job done. 

Another helpful tactic is to have the child cough at the moment the shot is administered. This simple act helps distract from and diminish the pain. 

  • Offer Comfort

It’s much more effective for a parent to hug or hold a child rather than restrain them during a doctor’s visit. Restraining a child only adds to the anxiety and fear they may be feeling. 

Instead, hold your little one like you normally would at home, or hug them close to provide the comfort they need to feel calm and relaxed. Also, keep your own anxiety about needles or doctors in check as your child can pick up on it, and it will only add to their insecurities. 

  • Give a Treat

Regardless of what happens at the doctor’s office, be sure to give your child a small treat (an ice cream cone, toy, or fun outing) afterward to foster a positive association with visiting the doctor. 

Visiting the doctor is an important part of your child’s development. Many children have a fear of the doctor, but you can use the tips above to help your little one have a more positive experience at their next doctor’s visit. 

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