How to Reduce Your Child’s Anxiety About Going to the Doctor

mother and daughter at the doctors clinic
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“Enthusiastic” is not really a term that you’d often use to describe your feelings toward a doctor’s appointment. Plenty of us only go when it’s warranted or when we have no choice in the matter, and even more of us don’t go at all. As adults, there’s a definite lack of enthusiasm for doctor visits, so how do you think children would take these?

A child’s anxiety about doctor visits is a common occurrence. Doctors see this all the time, from pediatric clinics in Salem all the way to vaccination centers in Oregon. You can’t exactly blame the children for this feeling. They haven’t experienced a lot of things about the world and they’re a little too young to understand the necessities of a doctor’s visit.

However, they aren’t too young to understand why they should be going to the doctors in the first place. While still lacking the mental fortitude and complex thought processes that adults possess, it can be easier than you think to explain why that clinic appointment isn’t something your kid should freak out about.

Be clear about the purpose of the visit

If there’s one thing that’s working against your child here, it’s their imagination. Children can often be sent into a spiral of anxiety imagining things about the visit that aren’t true. This is expected, as it is an environment unknown to them unless your child is already comfortable with strangers.

Assuring them that the visit is meant to make them well, not to make them sick, is a good way to ease their fears about their purpose of the visit. It’s important to keep their mental state calm through the entire ordeal, as this makes them easier to work with.

State that everyone does it

Another thing that can freak out your child is the fear that they need to go to the doctor because something is wrong with them; therefore, seeing it as punishment. Since they often associate the feeling of unpleasantness with avoidance mechanisms, they’re less likely to see the doctor’s visit as something beneficial if they think they’re going there because of something they did.

Talking about your own experiences with going to the doctor can go a long way. Children are more likely to be receptive to doctor’s visits if they can frame it through the experiences of someone they can trust.

Never leave their side

mother with her baby having a checkupUncertainty is the root of any child’s anxiety, and going to the doctor opens a floodgate of those triggers for the child. It’s crucial for them to have something familiar and close to their usual environment that they can rely on to center themselves. This gives them reassurance that nothing bad will happen to them since you’re there. Otherwise, the disassociation will be too much for them to deal with.

Overall, your active involvement in the doctor’s visit can often spell the difference between a smooth or a rough one for your child. Making sure you take the time and the patience to explain why is it necessary—and more importantly, why is it good for them—is key to minimizing their anxiety. If you do this correctly, you can help them with this visit and allow them to better cope with succeeding ones.

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