Visiting the Doctor
Alfred CHAMBERS, Psychologist
Most children (and adults) are very adaptive and cooperative, and when it comes to new things like going to school, cleaning our room or going to the doctor we have no problem.
However, for some children a visit to the doctor or dentist for a check-up, vaccine or something more difficult can be very challenging and they may be uncooperative, resistant or very upset. Here are a few hints to keep in mind if your child (or you!) has some trouble:
- Read children’s story books to them about visiting the doctor – there are many great ones available, for example: Harry Goes to the Hospital, Lions Aren’t Scared of Shots, Elmo Visits the Doctor and Connie Visits the Dentist.
- Start talking about the appointment a few days in advance and explain why we all need to visit the doctor.
- Buy a doctor’s toy set and play with them for pretend exams, vaccines, dental checks etc. Let your child play doctor with their toy animals or dolls. Make it all fun!
- Don’t make the appointment when your child may be hungry or tired.
- Bring favorite toys, blankets and food items to the office.
- Make a careful choice of the best person to come in with your child. Sometimes children act out more with the people they are closest to – such as the mother or grandmother. Remember that you must limit the number of people that come into the treatment rooms.
- Express confidence and do not show your own nervousness. Make it “no big deal”.
- Explain clearly what you know will happen and do not lie. For example, change a comment for a vaccine visit from “it will not hurt” to “it will only hurt a little”. Praise doctors and nurse before visits and after – never blame the staff for your child’s discomfort – that will make them more scared.
- If you think your child will be very resistant you can come in for a rehearsal – just come in to play with some toys, or accompany another family member for their appointment, then leave.
And if you think your child will have trouble, you can call ahead to tell the nurses so we can prepare!
During the Visit
- Be patient. Work with the nurses and doctors – we have experience.
- Introduce your child to the environment and the people.
- Provide comfort and a positive attitude. Speak warmly and gently!
- Do not be angry or talk too loud during the visit as that will not help and will escalate the reaction. Limit the number of people with the child and only one family member should do the talking. Everyone else quietly smile and nod!
- Never tease or threaten or lie.
- Do not punish your child for anything – if you do they will never learn to cooperate and feel confident.
- Use praise and rewards throughout (this is not spoiling your child, it is reinforcing healthy behavior).
- Allow some choices – such as which arm to vaccinate, get on the scale alone or with help, which ear to check first etc. Make it interactive.
- In United Family Guangzhou Clinic, we never want to restrain a child and will only do that as last resort, so please follow the doctors and nurses directions.
Praise your child – no matter how it went – “I’m so proud, you’re so brave, good job, perfect!”
After, follow through with a reward – such as treat or activity and always talk positively about doctors, hospital, nurses etc. between visits. Make it a normal and good thing.
To make an appointment or for more information, please call our 24hr Service Center at 4008-919191.