What to Do If Your Child is Afraid to Go to the Doctor

Injuries can and will happen, especially if your child spends a lot of time in the playground or plays competitive sports. A routine visit already raises a lot of anxieties among children, but more so if the visit is due to an excruciating pain caused by an injury. Thoughts of needles, x-rays, and lab tests can terrorize even the bravest of preschoolers and toddlers. They may cry or throw tantrums, making the visit even more traumatic for them.

As a parent or guardian, here’s how you can turn a doctor’s visit into a more pleasurable experience for your child.

Do a role play.

Before going to a Los Angeles orthodontist or pediatrician, you can buy a toy doctor kit and do a pretend checkup role play so that your child will learn what a doctor’s role is, and know what to expect from a doctor’s visit.

Make physical contact.

The doctor’s clinic is a strange and unfamiliar environment to the child. Consider having him or her sit on your lap to provide comfort and reassurance.

Kids can also sense what their parents feel at the moment. If you feel at ease, your child will pick up on it and will feel a lot better about the visit.

Give something to look forward to.

You can promise to give a reward or an incentive, like a movie date or more playground time, after the visit. Don’t use the treat as a condition of good behavior at the doctor—this will only make the kid feel bad if he or she will not be able to control the anxiety.

Be honest.

If there is going to be blood work and the child is going to get a shot, don’t lie and say that it won’t hurt. Be honest and say matter-of-factly that it is going to hurt—but don’t dwell on it. If you act like it is no big deal, your child will act like that as well.

Provide positive feedback.

Positive verbal reinforcement can make a huge difference. Words such as “You were very brave” will give confidence to the child so that he or she will be less anxious on future clinic visits.

Don’t want your child to make a scene while in a doctor’s waiting room? Doing any of these things will prevent your child from dreading a visit to the doctor.