How to Talk to Kids About Visiting the Doctor
JULY 8, 2019
For most children, experience with a doctor starts at day one. It’s probably a good thing babies can’t remember their birth. No baby, child, or adult would want to go back to the doctor if they associate the doctor or hospital with pain and discomfort. One bad experience can set a person against it forever. But going to the doctor is essential for a person’s health.
It’s important to help our children understand that doctor visits don’t need to be scary.
Talking about going to the doctor or dentist can help children understand why we go to the doctors and help them build a foundation of healthy habits for life. Many pediatricians, dentists and family practitioners say your preparation of your children going to the doctor or dentist should be brief, positive, honest, and calm.1 Dr. Katherine Grimm, from the Children’s Advocacy Center of Manhattan recommends being brief because the “more you discuss it, the bigger a deal it can become”.1
As parents, sometimes we don’t know what to expect, or what is expected of us, when we visit the office with our child. It is recommended that children should have 7 check-ups between years 1-4, and children 5 to 10 years old should have a check-up once a year.2 These check-ups, or well-child visits are different from visits for sickness or injury. These can be pleasant experiences for children and give them positive experiences to remember instead of just going to the doctor when they are sick or only to get shots.
Before your next visit, try writing any questions down you or your child may have for the doctor and take notes during the visit. You may feel silly at first, but you’ll remember more and you’ll make the most out of your visit.
For more information, check out this guide for parents. It has age categories and suggestions to help you make the most out of your child’s visit and also includes details of what to expect when visiting the doctor during the various stages of your child’s development.