At some point, most children will develop a healthy fear of going to the doctor. A pretend doctor’s visit a day or two before the actual visit is an excellent way to alleviate some of these fears. Role-playing the entire visit using a play medical kit and taking turns as the doctor and patient is an excellent method to introduce your child to the upcoming visit. Pretend to take weight and height measurements, look in the ears and throat, listen to the heart with a toy stethoscope, and practice taking deep breaths for the lung exam.
When you get to the vaccines, give a light pinch for each of the vaccines. Take a moment to tell your child that the doctor will examine their private parts. Then, as a part of their job, they’ll need to examine the whole body. Tell them that “no one can see their private area unless you and your child say it is alright.” If your child exhibits heightened fear around any part of the exam, do not dwell on it and move on to the next section of the visit.
It is also helpful to read books about going to the doctor. These books allow kids to learn about the doctor’s visit without the anxiety of focusing on their trip to the doctor. There are many excellent books, but we suggest you select books with your child’s favorite character.
It can also be very helpful to bring a stuffed toy to the visit. For example, your pediatrician may perform the exam on their toy first or use the toy as their “medical assistant.” This technique usually puts younger kids at ease.
Finally, have a simple treat to look forward to at the end of the doctor’s visit. Remember, do not use the treat as a threat if your child becomes anxious during the visit. Let your child know that you are proud that they did a great job during the visit. Also, ask your child if they have any questions about the visit afterward.
See you soon and good luck.