Some kids love going to the doctor — bursting through the doors to see their favorite pediatrician and nurse. But for others, it can be a bit more challenging. During the toddler years, kids can develop negative associations with going to the doctor, being afraid of the unknown, anxiety at the thought of receiving an exam — not to mention the prospect of getting a shot. But of course, children need to see their doctor for preventive services, checkups and occasionally serious medical issues.

So it’s of the utmost importance that we as parents make it as easy as possible for our kiddos to feel comfortable when going to the doctor. If you do have a terrified little tyke, take a look at our tips for how to help your child get over their fear of doctors.

Prepare Them Beforehand

When you know a doctor’s visit is coming up, try to casually bring up the doctor in a positive way. A great way to do this is by watching TV shows centered around smiling doctors, reading children’s books about sweet pediatricians, or even set up a mock doctor’s visit — using toys to simulate their checkup.

Speak Warmly to Everyone in the Office

When you do get to the pediatrician’s office, be sure to greet and grin at everyone inside. Talk to the receptionist and any medical staff you see walking around. If you present the doctor’s office as a happy place, chances are your child will pick up on your levity and positive attitude.

Distract, Distract, Distract!

Although many of us try to restrict screen time for our kids, the doctor’s office might be just the place to let them loose. Letting your kid watch their favorite shows or listen to their favorite songs is a great way to keep their minds occupied. If they prefer reading or coloring, bring a book and/or some art supplies to let them use their imaginations for creativity, rather than anxiety. 

Be Warm & Understanding

When it comes to your kid’s fear of doctors, try your best to be as empathetic as possible. If they begin crying or having a tantrum, this may not be the time to attempt alleviating all of their fears. When tempers are running high, sit close to them, listen to what they have to say, and tell them you understand why they are feeling that way. Give them space to express themselves, and they’ll be more likely to calm down. 

Give Them a Treat

One effective way to help kids get over their fear of going to the doctor is through a bit of well-meaning bribery. Offering them a bit of ice cream or a couple dips into the cookie jar can be a great way to associate some joy with their pediatric office visit. Once they make the connection between their doctor and something yummy in their tummy, they might even start looking forward to their next appointment. 

Find a Pediatrician They’ll Trust

Sometimes, the issue might not even lie with your children. A doctor’s bedside manner, especially when it comes to pediatrics, can be the difference between a smiling child and a screaming one. If you feel like your little one’s pediatrician might be lacking in the warm-and-fuzzy department, come on oChild afraid of doctorver to Coastal Kids Pediatrics. Our team of passionate and professional doctors, nurses and office staff are here to provide the highest quality care, delivered with a friendly smile and gentle touch. Call one of our 5 locations in the Orange County area to set up an appointment today.