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My Child Is Afraid of the Doctor: What Can I Do?

Going to the doctor can be an anxiety-producing event regardless of your age, but children can be especially fearful. Remarkably, one in three Americans completely avoid going to their doctor even when they know they need medical care. While not going to the doctor is an option that adults can exercise, it’s not a practical or responsible one when it comes to children.

So is there a way to address your child’s fear and make them more comfortable when they visit their doctor? Absolutely, says our own board-certified pediatric specialist Leila M. Sabet, MD, MPH, IBCLC, FAAP, here at Generations Family Practice in Cary, North Carolina. In this blog, Dr. Sabet shares her insights on strategies to soothe your child’s mood and make them less fearful of going to the doctor’s office.

Show them how it’s done

As is the case with many parental teaching moments, it all begins with the parents and guardians. Essentially, set a good example/ Consider bringing your child to your next physical or well visit to show them what the experience is like and that they don’t need to be afraid. Smile when you speak to your doctor and demonstrate a positive attitude. Children pick up on verbal and nonverbal cues, so be upbeat and positive.

Set the stage with age-appropriate cartoons, books, or videos

In the time leading up to your child’s appointment, provide some fun and entertaining sneak peeks into the whole doctor’s office experience including getting immunizations.

Use tactics that your child enjoys doing like coloring books, cartoons, books, and videos. You’ll be surprised by the wealth of material on this subject. Knowing what to expect will minimize the fear factor, and it gives you a perfect opportunity to talk about it without sounding preachy. 

Take away the formality, and add a dash of fun

If you make a doctor’s appointment closer to play and less formal, your child will look at the experience differently. Allow your child to take their favorite doll, toy, or stuffed animal with them to the appointment for their own checkup. And don’t forget to put an exclamation point on the experience by rewarding good behavior with a special activity or small toy. We all like to be rewarded for a job well done, and your child will too.

The pediatric care difference

Keep in mind that when you take your child to a pediatric specialist, you won’t be the only one allaying your child’s fear. Pediatric specialists are laser focused and specially trained on all aspects of working with children, including how to communicate and build a rapport. 

You may be more familiar with family doctors than with pediatric care specialists, but there is a distinct difference between the two medical doctors. Both family doctors and pediatricians are primary care doctors that perform preventive or wellness care and sick care services.

Educationally, both types of doctors complete undergraduate studies and medical school and do a residency. But that’s where the similarity ends.

The important difference between a family doctor and a pediatric specialist is that the pediatric care specialist is completely dialed into infants to adolescents 24/7/365, and it starts with their residency training.

While a family doctor resident rotates through varied clinical settings to gain experience in subject fields like internal medicine, gynecology, geriatrics, and pediatrics, the pediatric specialist resident’s rotations are all concentrated on children’s medicine to experience well-child visits as well as acute and chronic pediatrics care. 

Here at Generations Family Practice, our pediatric specialists and team of caring providers have extensive experience caring for kids and are committed to providing superior preventive medicine, including immunizations, evaluations, and well-child and sick visits for children of all ages.

To learn more about pediatrics care at Generations Family Practice in Cary, North Carolina, contact us to schedule a visit. Call or book an appointment online today.

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