Preparing your child to visit the doctor

Visiting a doctor can be an intimidating experience, especially for children, who do not know what to expect. They may feel anxious, be fearful of what is wrong with themselves, and feel worried about the procedures they will undergo.

The best way to lessen this discomfort and fear, for both you and your child, is to educate yourselves on what will happen, allowing you to be ready for anything that comes your way.

If your child is just going for a routine check-up, find out which tests the doctor will perform. Explain to your child what the exam is for and what it will be like in simple terms, so they will know what is happening to them throughout the process. If your child needs further clarification, exhibit what they will be going through play-acting– for example, put them on a scale to weigh them, wrap a cloth around their arms to “take their blood pressure” and place a stick under their armpits to “measure their temperature”.

If your child needs to undergo treatment or surgery, learn why the procedure is necessary and how long the procedure will take. You should also take the time to learn the type of care your child will require during and after treatment.

Encourage your child to express his or her fears, and then address all their concerns. Most paediatric consultants will allow you to stay with your child throughout their visit, so stay close and reassure them when necessary.

Having the right doctor should also be important. Find a doctor who is communicative, sympathetic and knowledgeable, so that your child is comfortable with them throughout the session, and even looks forward to future visits.