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Tips for making child's doctor visit easier

Published On: Aug 31 2012 12:37:18 PM CDT
Updated On: Aug 21 2013 09:52:53 AM CDT
Pediatrician

By Laurie Johansen, Contributing writer

Taking a child to the doctor can be a frightening experience for everyone involved. It doesn't matter what age the child is, a visit to the doctors can be a very traumatic event. You can make visits to the doctor easier for you and your child by following a few simple suggestions.

Prior to the doctor's visit, be honest with your child about the reason for the visit. If the visit to the doctor is for immunizations, tell your child exactly what to expect. Immunizations require shots and sometimes multiple shots. Tell your child that it will hurt a little but only for a brief moment. Tell your child why it's necessary for them to get immunizations.

If the visit to the doctor is for an illness, again, tell the child what might happen during the appointment. However, reassure your child that you will be with them throughout the entire appointment. The worst thing a parent can do is not prepare the child for the doctor's visit in advance. Tell your child that the doctor will use special tools to look in the ears, the nose and in the mouth. Make sure you also explain the use of a stethoscope. Don't forget to tell your child about the blood pressure cuff. The cuff is tight and can hurt as it tightens around your child's arm. Explain to your child that the tightness is only temporary and the cuff will release its grip as soon as it gets a proper reading. Having your child watch the numbers on the blood pressure machine can keep their mind off the procedure.

If your child is afraid of shots you can ask the doctor to provide a prescription for EMLA cream prior to the appointment. EMLA cream is a topical anesthetic that numbs the skin, thus decreasing the pain. To use EMLA cream, just rub the cream in the area where the shot will be administered. Your child will not feel any pain. The EMLA cream is also good for IVs and lab draws.

Sometimes it is necessary for your child to undergo specialized tests such as ultrasounds, CT scans, X-rays, or other medical tests. Explaining to your child why the specialized test is needed will prepare your child for what might otherwise be scary. You don't have to be exact in your explanation but let them know these tests are needed to get more answers.

Today's pediatric doctors, whether he or she is a specialist in a certain pediatric area or regular pediatric doctor, are very aware of the fear surrounding doctor's visits. Many doctors today no longer wear the white lab coats because of the fear that the lab coats create. If your doctor still dresses like a doctor, you might suggest prior to the visit that the doctor remove his or her lab coat. Explaining to your doctor the fears your child has will make the doctor more comfortable in treating your child, and in turn, create a much more likable relationship between doctor and child.

The most important thing to remember is that your child will show fear and frustration, if you show fear and frustration. Putting yourself in your child's shoes will help you better understand their feelings. Acknowledging your child's feelings is an important part of successful parenting. Telling your child it's okay to be scared and mad is acceptable, that you are scare and mad, too. However, make sure you tell them that together you both will get through the doctors visit.