Visiting the doctor is typically something that many children see as being scary. Often children associate the doctor with shots/needles, pain, and unpleasant experiences. While these fears and negative associations are perfectly normal, we want to help you teach your children that going to the doctor doesn’t actually have to be scary, it can even be a good thing! Check out these tips to help ease some of the fear your child might have when visiting the doctor.

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Prepare Your Child For Their Visit

If you have a little time before your visit to Advanced Urgent Care & Occupational Medicine, we recommend preparing your child. A great, fun way to do this is to “play doctor.” This includes putting bandages on stuffed animals, taking their temperature, and even pretending to give the stuffed animal a shot. Additionally, you can read children’s books that feature trips to the doctor, we recommend:

  • “Corduroy Goes to the Doctor” by Don Freeman
  • “Doctors and What They Do” by Liesbet Slegers
  • “Froggy Goes to the Doctor” by Jonathan London
  • “My Doctor’s Visit” by Cara and Jon Florance

These books will help familiarize your child with the equipment, processes, and procedures that might occur during their visit.

Don’t Make Promises

Be honest with your child if they ask if they are getting a shot. If you are 100 percent certain that no shots will be administered during the visit, you can reassure your child that they won’t have to deal with that. However, if you are unsure, tell them you do not know and say you can ask the doctor when you get there. Being honest will help maintain trust and your child won’t feel betrayed, panicked, or blindsided if their visit requires shots.

Validate Their Fears

If your child is scared or anxious, instead of telling them not to cry or that there’s nothing to worry about acknowledge how they are feeling and offer support. Use language that empathizes with your child and encourages them to face any fears they might have. You can say things like:

  • “The shot might hurt a little bit, but it is important to help keep you healthy. It will be over before you know it.”
  • “I was nervous for my visit to the doctor too, but I’m glad I went.”
  • “I know you’re scared, but I am here and we’ll get through this together.”

Don’t Create Fears

Some parents joke with their children about visits to the doctor. They do this by warning their children by saying things like, “if you aren’t good, then you’ll get a shot.” This can make visits to the doctor seem like punishment rather than a good, healthy, and necessary thing. Be cautious with your words and check yourself to make sure you are not inadvertently creating additional fear.

Manage Your Own Anxiety

If your child is sick or injured, we know it can be stressful and sometimes scary. It’s important during this time to manage your own anxiety as it can easily rub off on your children. If you have concerns that might scare your child, or that might be inappropriate to express in front of them, make sure you have a one-on-one discussion with the doctor. A great time to do this is while your child’s height, weight, and vitals are being measured.

Help the Doctor

Let the doctor know if there are any tricks that help calm your child. Additionally, asking the doctor to explain things step by step while using kid-friendly language might help your child be part of the conversation and help them feel more relaxed.

Bring a Toy or Stuffed Animal

Bringing your child’s favorite stuffed animal or toy with you to the urgent care is a great way to help manage their anxiety. It will be comforting for them to have something familiar with them and it can help lighten the mood. You can even ask that the doctor pretend to provide medical care to the stuffed animal beforehand to show your child exactly what they will experience to show them it doesn’t have to be scary.

Give Them Something to Look Forward to

Offering a trip to the ice cream shop or toy store after a visit to the doctor might help to boost positive associations with the experience.

Schedule an Urgent Care Visit or Walk-in Today!

Advanced Urgent Care & Occupational Medicine is a pediatric urgent care with locations along Colorado’s Denver metro area. Click here to learn more about or pediatric services and to schedule a visit today!