When was the last time you visited the doctor? A commonplace checkup might seem like a normal event for most people, but for some, it is the cause of major anxiety! Your kids might even show signs of fear around doctors, especially if they don’t know them very well. In fact, fear of doctors and medical facilities is so common that it has its own title: Iatrophobia. If your kids are nervous about seeing their doctors for check-ups or when they’re sick, it’s important to address their anxieties early on. If they grow up with a fear of medical professionals, it could affect their health later in life!
Aversion to Doctors Affects Our Health
There are many reasons that people may feel nervous about visiting the doctor. Regardless of the reasoning behind it, being hesitant to schedule regular checkups or be seen when you’re sick can lead to bigger harm as we age. In a study that researched people’s aversions to seeking medical help, it was discovered that even when people were experiencing symptoms of cancer, they waited on average a year or more before discussing them with their doctor. This delay in seeking medical attention for irregular symptoms drastically affected the treatments that they needed. Instead of catching it early on and only needing mild interventions, these patients had to undergo much more invasive procedures and medication. This just illustrates why it’s especially important that we as parents help our children feel like the doctor’s office is a safe and trustworthy space.
Check in on Check-up Anxieties
Before you go to the doctor for a scheduled visit, take the time to note how your child may be feeling. You know them best, so look for any behavior that may be unusual, such as your typically happy-go-lucky kid suddenly being quiet. Ask them aloud how they are feeling, as well, to reassure them that you care about them. You can ask them what they think of their doctor and the office, too. If they express something negative about the upcoming visit, reply with empathy and understanding that they may be feeling uncomfortable. And we know that the waiting room is boring! If you know your kid gets antsy or anxious waiting for their name to be called, bring their favorite quiet activity that they can focus on. Most of all, remain calm, yourself, in order to be a soothing presence for your kids.
Reward Your Kids for a Successful Visit
There’s a reason why pediatrician’s offices are always well-stocked with lollipops! It associates happy memories with otherwise boring or uncomfortable situations. You can do the same with small gestures. When you’re all done at the doctor’s office, do something special with your kid to reward them. You could visit a park for a quick daytime stroll or get a meal together. It doesn’t have to be a lollipop, but grabbing a sweet treat like an ice cream cone would be perfect, too!