Thursday, April 7, 2011

Doctor's Office Tranquility...?

Elli recently had her three year check-up.  For some, doctor's visits are a semi-traumatic annual experience, but we're fortunate. Other than the occasional shot reluctance, our kids are pretty laid back.  There are a lot of little things that we do that make it relatively easy:

  1. Find a great pediatrician that meets your family's needs.  Get recommendations from friends or parents at your local playgroup.  Go and meet your pedi. with your child.  How do they interact?  Does your child like her/him?
  2. We focus on our need to be healthy throughout the year.  A doctor's visit is just part of that process.
  3. Model good doctor's visits.  The kids have each gone to the doctor's with Mama at various times and seen Mama remain calm, even while getting a shot.
  4. Play doctor at home.  I found a doctor's kit at a thrift store for $2. Let the kids be the doctor and you the patient.  Switch roles.  If fears come out, talk about them.  
  5. We talk about the visit beforehand, sharing expectations of the visit. This is a great time to sense any anxiety and talk about it.  
  6. When they ask if they're going to have a shot before the visit, I answer honestly.  We talk about how it might feel like a pinch for a minute or two, but will help them stay healthy throughout the year.
  7. Feed the child!  We all get cranky when we're hungry.  If my child is comfortable then we have fewer meltdowns (works for grocery shopping too).
  8. Keep a list of questions with your child's shot record and bring them both with you! 
  9. Let your child answer as many of the doctor's questions as possible.  This one is often tough for me, but I'm realizing that this empowers them, giving them a chance to take charge of their medical experience, something that will serve them well.
  10. We go prepared for fun!  The doctor's office is a mini-field trip.  It's their chance to explore a new profession. Our pediatrician is great!  She lets the kids check out her equipment and ask questions.
  11. Finally, I often have something hiding in my bag of tricks.  For Elli's visit I had our bag of animals (this bag often goes into restaurants for the pre-meal wait) and a box of crayons.  If your doctor's office is like most, it probably comes fully equipped with a perfect piece of drawing paper already laid out on the examination table.  Why not put it to good use while you wait?!  When our pediatrician came in Elli was laying quite comfortable on her tummy drawing on the examination table paper ready to tell the doctor about her artwork which lead effortlessly into the day's questions and exam!  For one of Nate's visits I had a new matchbox car that he could play with while we waited. If bringing both children I have something for both but something specifically to keep the non-doctor's-visit child engaged throughout the visit.  

I'd love to hear your ideas for an anxiety reduced/free doctor's visit!

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