Whether you’re heading to the optician, doctor, or dentist, some kids hate attending these appointments. They may feel uncomfortable, confused, or scared, which makes them reluctant to go with you. And some children may even act out when you are in the waiting room. However, kids need to get comfortable attending these appointments, as it can affect their overall health later in life. So, how can parents ease their child’s fear of appointments?
If you have an anxious kiddo, here are a few tips.
1. Practice At Home
Often, kids hate going to appointments because they are scared of the unknown. If this is the case, practicing at home by covering what the appointment contains can help them feel more comfortable and familiar with the process.
You can do this through role play, which gives them the chance to be the doctor or dentist, giving them some control. If they have siblings, encouraging this type of play can have a multi-faceted benefit, as it ensures all of your kids know what to expect.
2. Bring Their Favorite Toy
Your child may also feel nervous because they are away from the things that make them feel safe. While you can’t transport their fort or special bedroom, you can take a blanket or their favorite toy. Of course, this depends on the child’s age, and you don’t necessarily want them to feel as if they can’t be brave without their special item. . . but, at least until they get comfortable in the new place, it helps!
3. Build Trust
If you want to lessen your child’s fear of appointments, remember that they’re more likely to feel comfortable if they see someone they know and trust. If you have recently joined a new practice, it will take some time to feel safe and familiar. One way to improve this is to meet with their physician beforehand.
You can also look for services that are designed for children. For example, the Cherry Creek Dentist offers children’s dentistry services that are customized for kids and focused on making them feel comfortable. You’ll also want to find a pediatrician (rather than a general practitioner) because this person is both qualified and trained to work with children.
4. Create A (Healthy) Rewards System
Although you don’t want to spoil your kids and reward them for something they’re going to have to learn to do for the rest of your life, it does help to start with an incentive. Small treats or gifts create a positive association with these appointments, which encourages them to attend without much fuss. You can find free or low-cost rewards for kids, or you can treat them to something that focuses more on quality time, like a special lunch after your appointment. However, don’t focus so much on the treat because, in the end, you’ll want your child to go regardless of what rewards he/she might get in return.
Easing Your Child’s Fear Of Appointments Takes Time
You will find that a lot of parenting involves easing your kids’ fears, and this is no different. While your child may still be apprehensive, proving to them that there is nothing to worry, and building that trust appointment after appointment, will (over time) make them feel less anxious. Just take it one step at a time!
Featured Image Credit: Tom Claes
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