Today my little peanut, Blake had his wellness checkup. He had just gone with me to his big brother’s appointment two weeks earlier and ran to the exit door yelling “Go!” when they called us to the exam room. Ha, this smart 21 month old knew what the doctor was all about, boo boos. Well that is what he and most kids focus on.
I decided that the best way to get him ready for it was to play doctor in the morning. I didn’t involve myself, I just let him explore, manipulate and play the way he chose.
I packed up his coping kit and filled it with Sesame Street bandages, squishy ball, stickers and his beloved Elmo doll.
I told him that we would be going to the doctor after dropping his brother off at school and he responded with, “No!” Oh geez, even the child life specialist mommy gets it from her kids.
When we arrived we were asked to go right into the exam room. He didn’t get a chance to play in the waiting room to warm up a bit, so he wasn’t very happy, protesting, “No, mama go!”
I kept my cool and distracted him with the animal decals on the wall. He calmed a bit but didn’t want to leave my lap to get measured on the table or to be weighed. Pretty typical for this age. So, I grabbed Elmo and had him get weighed on the scale.
He thought that was pretty funny and went from being upset to giggling. He got through the rest of his measurements and then we waited for doctor.
We played a game of I-Spy in the room, pointing out the different animals and making their sounds. He even climbed off my lap to point out a few decals on the legs of the exam table. I sang some songs incorporating Elmo and he even joined in.
I knew that he would be getting a vaccination, so I pulled out the Sesame Street Band-Aids and he began to put them all over Elmo and his own tummy.
I love the way that our pediatrician starts off the exam. She sits down with me and says, “So tell me everything. How’s it going?” I am given the chance to talk about new milestones, his picky eating stage and his obsession with his milk cup. It also gives Blake some time to warm up and sense that she is a trusted person from observing my interaction with her. He even slipped off my lap and showed her his Elmo and band aids.
When it was time for his exam he began to get a little anxious again. The doctor would check Elmo first with her medical tools and then Blake, all the while he is sitting comfortably on my lap.
During his vaccination, I had him face me in a therapeutic position and had Elmo snuggled close to him. He got an Oscar The Grouch band aid and had a few tears, saying, “boo. boo.” He bounced back within a few seconds looking at a sticker that she handed him.
On the drive home he kept saying, “shot, shot, shot.” He would point to his arm and whimper. I validated his feelings and told him that it was all over and he was so brave.
He played doctor when we got home and this is what he focused on.
Play it out little man, just play it out.
He will probably continue to process what he experienced today and into the next few days. Letting him have opportunities with medical play, syringe play and reading “It’s Time For Your Checkup” (which he is in, haha) will help him feel mastery and control.