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A mother with her child at the doctor's office

Help your child overcome fear of the doctor

Navigating the doctor's office: Turning your child's fear into comfort

Going to the doctor can be scary for kids; it’s a place they may only visit once a year, or they remember being there when they were feeling sick or getting a vaccine. And most kids have a natural wariness of strangers and new places. Luckily, there are several things you can do to make the visit go smoothly and make it a positive experience. 

Understanding children’s emotional dynamics 

First, children really are in tune with their parents’ emotions. If you remain calm and at ease, they will tend to follow your lead — but it’s also important to validate their feelings as well. Saying something like “a lot of kids are nervous or afraid of going to the doctor” can acknowledge their perspective. Try to focus on the positives and explain the benefits of regular checkups for their health if your child is old enough to understand.  

Proactive preparation: Empowering through information 

It may also be helpful to tell them one or two days ahead of time that they have an upcoming appointment. This allows time for you to talk about what they can expect, how they are feeling, and provide reassurance. It may also be helpful to watch a video or read a book about going to the doctor, or offer rewards for good behavior at the visit, depending on the child’s age. 

Additional tips for a smooth visit 

Here are a few additional things to consider when preparing your child for their doctor’s visit:  

  • Be willing to advocate for their needs and feelings if they are unwilling or unable to speak for themselves. 
  • Avoid threats or bribes 
  • Be prepared with any questions or concerns you or they may have about their health. 
  • Bring along a favorite book, toy, or game can help with wait times and provide entertainment. 

Let’s make going to the doctor an enjoyable experience for our little ones so they continue to schedule regular checkups into adulthood. 

Need a doctor? 

If you or some in your family is in need of a primary care provider, TidalHealth has appointments available now

Profile picture for user Dr. Danielle Giddins
Giddins, MD
Contributing Author
& Article Expert
Danielle Giddins, MD has been a member of the TidalHealth family since 2008 and is board-certified by the American Board of Family Medicine. She received her medical degree from Jefferson Medical Coll...

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