5 Tips to Help Your Child at the Doctor

5 Tips To Help Your Child at the Doctor

Taking your child to the doctor can be incredibly overwhelming.  Children can often become frightened and anxious with what will occur. They may not fully understand what will happen and why. The unfamiliar environment, clinicians, or previous medical   experience may increase their fears and make it that much more difficult to cope.

As a parent of two little ones, I use my skills as a child life specialist to help prepare them for what they will experience. It helps calm their nerves and mine.

Here are five easy steps that you can follow to get through the doctor visit, feeling confident and comfortable.

1. Get the Facts

Call your pediatrician ahead of time to find out exactly what will occur at the appointment. Do they need a vaccination, blood test or urine sample? The more information you have, the better.

2. Be Honest and Validate

Children need to feel that they can trust you. They will look to you for the answers and support. Let them know that they have a doctor appointment coming up. Help them remember by bringing up the last time they were at the office. Was it a routine checkup? Sick visit? How will this appointment be similar or different?

If they ask if they will get a shot, be honest. You can tell them, “Yes, you will be getting a shot. I know that you don’t like them, but I will be there to help you get through it.” Remember to validate and normalize their feelings. They don’t want to hear, “It’s just a little pinch or big boys/girls don’t cry.” The reality is that it does hurt and adults don’t like them either. Be truthful and acknowledge their feelings.

3. Books and Medical Play

Reading a book about going to the doctor is a great start in preparing them. “It’s Time For Your Checkup: What to expect when going to a doctor visit” is a book that I published to help explain all the steps, including a blood test and vaccination. It is a social story and can be used for children at all developments.

After you have read a book, than let your child explore with medical play. Use a play doctor kit filled with pretend and real materials, such as bandages, syringes, gauze, tape and rubber bands. Have them choose their favorite doll or stuffed animal and explore with the doctor kit. Give them some time to play on their own. What role are they playing? How are they using the materials? Are they asking questions or quiet and focused?

After they have become comfortable with the doctor kit, than go through each step that they will experience at their checkup. Use simple language in explaining what will happen and why. Think about explaining the steps using their five senses. They will be able to have a better understanding and process what will happen.

4. Coping Strategies

While you are playing or talking about what will occur, offer them choices and coping strategies. Do they want to sit on your lap in a therapeutic position or sit by themselves? Do they want to watch or look away? Do they want to ask and answer questions or have you be their voice? The more choices they have, than the more control they will feel.

It can be difficult for kids to relax their body when they are very upset. Practice deep breathing, with bubble blowing or pretending to blow out birthday candles. This is a great technique to use when they are receiving a vaccination or blood test. Envisioning that they are some place else, listening to music, playing an I-Spy game, holding a comfort item or singing are also different ideas. What do they want to choose?

5. Packing a Coping Kit

They now know what to expect and have made choices in ways to help distract and cope with the procedures. Give them some time to pack their own coping kit. They can pack the bag with comfort items, toys, snacks and even their own character bandages. This is a great way to keep them entertained while waiting for the doctor and to decrease anxiety during the procedures.

Remember to validate their feelings, use supportive language and let them choose a bravery item or treat for getting through the exam.

It’s Time For Your Checkup: What to expect when going to a doctor visit is a listed resource on both the Association of Child Life Professionals and Autism Speaks. It is made available in paperback and digital format through Amazon. Get your copy today!

It's Time For Your Checkup

Related Articles:

7 Tips to Help Your Child at the Dentist

Therapeutic Position: Three Ways to Hold Your Child for a Shot or Blood Test

Medical Play

Giveaway: It’s Time For Your Checkup

Its Time For Your Checkup Givaway

In celebration of Child Life Mommy’s 3rd birthday, we will be giving away a copy of It’s Time For Your Checkup: What to Expect When Going to a Doctor Visit.

Choose one or more ways to enter:
1. Sign up for email notifications at ChildLifeMommy.com and leave a comment on this post.
2. Facebook: Follow Child Life Mommy, leave a comment and tag a friend on the post.
3. Twitter: Follow, Like and RT the post to @ChildLifeMommy
4. Instagram: Follow @ChildLifeMommy,Like and Tag a friend in the post.

Good Luck, winner will be chosen 1/29/16

Winner Time For Your Checkup


From Alum to Author; my journey as a child life specialist beyond the hospital walls

Child lIfe Mommy

The Child Life Program at Bank Street College of Education has transformed me from not just being a child life specialist, but by inspiring me to set forth and provide services to a much larger community. The wealth of knowledge, hands on experience and continuous support that I receive from my advisors has a lit a fire within myself.

When attending the graduate program, they saw the passion and eagerness I had for the profession. I immersed myself into the learning experience and applied what I was studying in class, to my fieldwork and home life. I let myself become vulnerable, critiqued and ask for help. The support and forward push helped me get through the emotional fatigue and balance of the workload. I became more mindful, reflective and changed the way I viewed obstacles. It was Bank Street that left a powerful imprint in my soul. I knew that whatever position I had in the community, it would come from a place of empathy, resourcefulness and compassion.  

In the past year, I have been able to co-teach a child life graduate course at Bank Street and scaffold students with the same nurturing support, that I once received. It was an amazing experience and I think I grew just as much as the students did.

I also started up my own blog called Child Life Mommy. It has been a way for me to globally connect with others in sharing information about working with children and families. So much of what I have learned from school and child life, I apply directly into raising my kids and my relationships with others. Some of the categories are about play, connecting emotionally, preparation for new experiences and creative expression.

The largest accomplishment this year has been publishing a children’s book entitled, “It’s Time For Your Checkup: What to expect when going to a doctor visit“. There is a large gap in service when it comes to preparing children for a routine wellness visit. Child life specialists may not be available or the medical team members don’t have the knowledge in effective ways to decrease anxiety and help children cope through procedures.

It's Time For Your Checkup

This book explains what will occur, using photographs and developmentally appropriate language. It provides strategies for empowerment and healthy ways to cope, by suggesting comfort holds, choice making, medical play, distraction techniques and supportive language. It encourages children and their caregivers to communicate to the medical team and advocate for ways that will help them get through the experience successfully.

The book is also a tool that can be used for children with special needs. It is a social story and explains the events that will occur using the five senses. It is listed on Autism Speaks resource library under, books for children and I hope to have it listed on more.

My goal for the book is for children to have access to it at home, school, libraries, medical settings and community programs. Currently the book is being sold in a paperback version on Amazon and Barnes and Noble online, as well as an electronic copy through Kindle

My journey on professional growth will continue this year with leading workshops, networking, volunteering and standing out as a proud member of the child life profession and Bank Street Alum.

To learn more, follow me at ChildLifeMommy.com

Click Here, to check out the book on Amazon