Preparing Your Child

As a critical member of your child's health care team, your support is essential to assisting your child through their doctor's visit.

To ease your child's anxiety or fears related to their visit, follow our tips below:  

  • Be Honest and Sensitive
    Explain to your child why they need to see the doctor and what they can expect to feel, see and hear. Be honest with your child about what may hurt and what will not hurt. Try to avoid creating undue concern for your child.  

  • Encourage Curiosity and Exploration
    Becoming familiar with the health care facility and understanding the equipment that will be used during treatment or diagnosis is very important to a child. Help your child learn about the purpose of the examination and the medical equipment that they will come in contact with.  

  • Reassure your Child
    Make sure your child knows that the hospital, doctor's office or clinic is not a punishment and it is not necessarily a place where children will experience pain.  

  • Use Simple Language
    When describing a medical procedure try to use words that do not have double meanings or are threatening.   

  • Listen to Your Child's Concerns
    Let your child know that it is OK to ask questions, cry and talk about feelings.  

  • Help Your Child Manage Pain
    Many coping strategies can be used to help reduce anxiety and perceptions of pain and discomfort for your child. Distract your child with books, songs, blowing bubbles, video games or music to divert their attention from anxiety and pain.  

  • Comfort Your Child
    Touching is an important part of healing. If medical needs prevent you from holding or rocking your child, you may still stroke your child or hold their hand.  

  • When Appropriate, Encourage Play
    Children learn about their world and how to cope by playing. Play gives children control and a way to work out and understand their feelings. Playing with puppets, painting pictures and telling stories – before and after the visit – are some meaningful ways to teach your child about their health care needs and experiences.  

Abridged version.
© 2010 StayWell Custom Communications. Used under license.  

NEXT: The Day of the Appointment