Fear of the doctor is incredibly common among children, and for good reason! Many kids have amazing memories, and by the time they’re able to visit the doctor for regular check-ups they may already have negative associations from going as an infant. For some children anxiety about visiting the doctor can stem from fear of the unknown, or from the thought of being in an uncomfortable environment. For others, that fear may be rooted in the belief that the trip will result in pain, or that simply going to the doctor means they must be sick.
Regardless of the reasons behind it, the reality is that this fear of the doctor can make trips to any medical office a source of anxiety for children and for their parents, who must navigate the difficult waters of doing what’s best for their child’s physical health while trying to limit their emotional distress. Whether your child simply needs a yearly physical, requires a sick visit for an ear infection, has to undergo allergy testing, or suffers from an injury that requires immediate attention, the entire process goes much more smoothly when you find healthy ways to eliminate that fear of the doctor and make visiting your healthcare provider a positive experience for your child.
How to Make Visiting the Doctor Less Anxiety-Inducing
Here at Optimum Direct Care, we understand that doctor visits make some kids incredibly anxious, and as a family-focused practice we do everything we can to create a calm, relaxing environment – one in which patients of all ages feel comfortable, welcomed, and safe. With that being said, there’s only so much that we (as the “scary healthcare providers”) can do to put your child’s mind at ease.
If you have a child who struggles with fear of the doctor, here are some things you can do as a parent to help put that anxiety to rest and make visiting the doctor a positive experience for everyone involved!
Tip #1: Make Office Visits Fun
Every child is different, and as a parent you know best what calms, motivates, or provides positive affirmation for your child! Try to take that knowledge and use it to come up with a system that makes visiting the doctor more enjoyable, whether that means working quality time (i.e. a mother/daughter trip to get ice cream) or some other form of reward into the experience, or simply taking small steps to make the whole process more fun – such as listening to your child’s favorite music in the car on they way to the doctor’s office or playing in the park afterwards.
These things may seem trivial, but over time they can help change your child’s perception of what it’s like visiting the doctor into something less negative and more exciting!
Tip #2: Bring Your Child To Other Appointments
Normalizing medical appointments is such an important part of minimizing your child’s fear of the doctor, and the best way to do that is to bring them to your own appointments! It can be far less intimidating for a child to think about going to the doctor when they’re used to seeing a parent or sibling visit their physician without a hitch, so if you want to slowly work up to doctor office visits being less stressful for your kids, take them with you and explain to them how you are feeling and why check-ups (of any kind) are so important. Lead by example and the rest will follow!
Tip #3: Play “Pretend” Doctor Visit At Home
Some younger children are afraid of the uncertainty or newness that the doctor’s office stands for. For these kids, a test run at home with pretend doctor tools can go a long way towards helping them feel safe and “prepared” for what’s to come! You can explain what the different tools do and talk about how they help your child’s doctor check how healthy and strong they are.
Tip #4: Let Your Child Bring A Stuffy
We don’t charge extra for stuffy check-ups! Sometimes kids will feel more comfortable just holding a stuffed animal while they are at the office. Other kids may want the doctor to prove that the tools are safe by using them on the stuffed animal first. Whatever your child needs to feel comfortable is fine with us; after all, we’re creating a lifelong understanding of the importance of regular doctor visits, and that starts by ensuring that each of your child’s visits are positive from start to finish.
Tip #5: Find A Family Practice With A Physician Your Child Loves
While most pediatricians probably have your child’s best interest at heart, there are always differences between physicians. Some doctors may have personalities that just “click” better with your child’s, or be better suited to caring for the needs of your entire family! Here at Optimum Direct Care, Dr. Muzzi has been specializing in family medicine for a long time and has a soft spot for pediatric patients. She’s truly a physician that the entire family can connect with and feel comfortable around, and has a knack for working with children.
You can see that love for children in the design of our office and in our gentle, patient-centered approach to care! Our waiting area has a section where kids can sit, play with toys, and even create artwork, something that helps take their mind off the “scariness” of the visit and establishes a sense of normalcy and – dare we say it – even fun! All of the families that visit us have a blast, and we think you will, too.
Family Physician In Orlando
Are you looking for a family physician right here in Orlando? Dr. Muzzi is a board-certified family practice physician and specializes in caring for patients of all ages, so she’s well equipped to handle the ever-changing needs of your entire family! Contact our office to schedule an appointment for your child today.