Helping a Child Who’s Scared of the Doctor

Children need regular checkups to stay healthy, but many are frightened of the doctor’s office. This is natural – most kids associate doctor visits with shots and other scary procedures. If yours is afraid of going to the hospital, use these tips to help him or her feel confident.

Choose the Right Pediatrician

Just because a doctor is a pediatrician doesn’t mean he or she is good with kids. An expert pediatrician understands fears and will build rapport with young patients. Ask the doctor for a visit without an appointment so the healthcare professional and child can get to know each other. Find a doctor who talks kids through exams and is honest about what’s happening.

Stay Close

A child should never be alone in an exam room. If yours will be getting an injection or blood work, offer your lap or a hand to squeeze. Afterwards, give him or her hugs and kisses, and praise bravery. Reassure him or her it’s okay to cry.

Prepare First, Reward Later

Warn your kids of a checkup or sick visit in advance. Use child-friendly books, TV shows, or demonstrations (on dolls or stuffed animals) to get them used to the idea. Offer an incentive, such as a trip to the park after the visit.

If It’s a Phobia

Some fear goes beyond what’s typical. Your child may have a phobia of doctors, especially if his or her early life involved hospital visits, serious illnesses, or disabilities. If that’s the case, seek out a pediatric counselor.