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I is common to fear healthcare appointments, especially for children. Whether they suffer a cold, a dog bite accident, or a rash, it’s impossible to avoid a healthcare appointment to manage and treat their issue. Maintaining your child’s wellness is as crucial as yours. So, it is important to help them get over their fear so that they are willing to seek help.
If your child has a fear of healthcare appointments, here are some ways to to help them.
Ensure that the medical practice knows about the fear
Letting your pediatricians, dentists, and doctors know about your child’s fear will ensure that they make the appointment as comfortable as possible. This is especially important if your child has neurological disorders that makes it harder to understand what is going on. Having a kid on the autism spectrum, I always try to notify the medical office ahead of time.
They will make sure that they are more patient then they already are (I’m pretty sure some are saints.) and give your child what they need in order to feel relaxed and comfortable. They might even give them a treat if they are good, which will encourage them to be on their best behaviour and be excited to come back.
Role-playing the experience with your child will help them get used to the experience especially if it is there first ever visit. This is a good time to explain what all the doctor or dentist will probably check and also a good time to explain what they shouldn’t do. It is also a good time to also reassure them that you will be in the exam room at all times with them. Do this before the appointment to help them feel relaxed and know what to expect.
A useful way to ease your child’s fear of healthcare appointments is by distracting them. You don’t want to distract them too much as they may feel overwhelmed when the appointment comes around. However, distracting them before the appointment (on the day) with their favorite things can help to calm their nerves and take their mind off of it.
Don’t make scary jokes
Although it is good to make your child laugh, it is not funny or useful to make scary jokes about the doctors. If you joke about needles or any other tools, they will likely become more scared and fearful of them. This can also make them fixate on that part of the appointment. You should emphasise that needles are not a punishment. Instead, speak about them as a beneficial tool, which will help them get better and be stronger.
Offer them a treat
When a child doesn’t want to do something, they can often be easily converted if you offer them a treat. When they know to expect a prize for attending the appointment and being good, they will likely be more excited and willing to do it. The treat might act as a distraction as it will give them something to work towards.
Lead by example
If your child is fearful of the doctors overall, then if allowed by your physician’s office you could take them with you to your appointments. Leading by example and showing that it isn’t something to be scared of will help them recognise that they shouldn’t be scared.
You could ask your doctor to be overly kind and friendly, which will make the experience even more comforting and relaxing. They will soon come around to the idea and feel comfortable with the appointments the more often they go.
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