Does Your Child Hate Hospital Visits? Here’s How To Keep Them Calm

Children can have a lot of anxiety when facing the big bad world outside. After all, they’re only young, so not only is everything bigger than them, but they also have absolutely no experience and no idea what to expect! And that can make the world a very scary place to be, even if your child is usually outgoing and brave and wants to try lots of new things. 

And there’s no situation that causes anxiety like having to see the doctor, or any other healthcare provider. Hospitals and small scale surgeries can be some of the most fear inducing places on the planet, and kids are always going to need a guiding hand in dealing with their thoughts and feelings when stepping through the door for an appointment. 

But it’s not a lost cause – your child doesn’t have to hate the hospital forever! Sure, the hospital is never going to be a ‘nice’ place to visit, but addressing these anxiety corners is essential for helping your child grow up feeling secure in themselves, and in their place in the world. So with that in mind, here are some of the best ways to help your little one when you have to take them along for a checkup. 

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Stay Calm and Confident Yourself

Kids always pick up on the way we feel about things, and if you’re anxious or nervous yourself about taking your kid along to an appointment, it’s a good idea to try and calm down before you talk to your child about attending an appointment. If you tend to pace or chew on your lip, for example, try to cut back on these behaviors, so they don’t slip out when you’re trying to amp your little one up for a trip to the doctor or optician. 

At the same time, make sure you show your child how confident you feel about how things are going to go. Be sure to smile and seem laid back, so your child knows there’s nothing to fear. Go about your normal routine, don’t rush, and even have a sing-song in the car on the way there – all of these actions help to remove the idea that the day of an appointment is a ‘significant’ day, when it’s just a day like any other. 

Visit a Professional Who Knows How to Work with Kids

It’s always best to work with a healthcare professional who knows the kinds of fears kids have when coming to see a doctor or dentist. These are the people who will know how to put your child at ease, and explain everything they need to know in easy to understand terms, and that’s invaluable when your child has healthcare anxiety. 

Not only that, but these offices will also be stocked with toys and treats, such as a jar of lollipops, to give to kids who hate having to come along but sit through the appointment anyway. This will help your child to establish a bond of trust with this particular doctor or nurse, and it’s a good way to start showing your child that the hospital isn’t necessarily a scary place to be. It can’t be when there’s toys to play with and plenty of sweets to chow down on! 

Let Your Child Know What to Expect

As we mentioned above, kids have absolutely no idea what to expect when they go to see a healthcare professional, simply because they’re too young to have the experience of a couple decades or more of visiting the doctor’s office. They need things spelled out for them, in a clear and obvious way, that’ll help them to stay focused. The fear of the unknown is very common, and it’s the possibility of bad things happening that’s really putting your child on edge. 

So be sure to explain what’s going on to them yourself. Make sure they hear it from you, the most trusted person in their life, so they know that you’re here for them, to help keep them calm and safe. And when you’re proven right about what happens during an appointment, it’ll only help your child to trust you more in the future! 

Promise Something Nice Afterwards

Kids respond very well to being treated to something nice, and even when you’ve already let them play with the toybox in the doctor’s office, or they’ve been given a sticker and a candy for their good behavior, make sure there’s also something nice lined up to do afterwards. This helps to reinforce the idea that a healthcare visit isn’t a scary thing, and can lead to many good things in life, and it’ll certainly motivate your child to come along without putting up a protest. 

So take them out for food you don’t usually eat, like pizza or ice cream, or take them along to a playpark and let them go wild on the swings. As long as it’s fun, and you don’t usually get to do it, it’ll be a worthy treat that’ll help a healthcare appointment seem far less scary. 

Let Them Take a Soothing Toy Along 

Finally, if your child is young enough to still carry a teddy bear or a doll everywhere with them, let them take it along to see the doctor or the dentist with as well. This toy is clearly soothing to them, and will help them to sit still as tests are being done, at least. 

Not only that, but if they have a ‘comfort blanket’ with them, and aren’t forced to leave such an important item at home, they won’t be thrust into a scary situation with no way to ‘retreat’. As long as they can hug something they love really tight, or hide their face in it, it’ll be a great item for reducing anxiety levels both now and in the future. 

If your child hates hospital visits, there are many ways you can help them face up to their fears, especially with ideas like those above! 

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