Just like adults, many youngsters respond with fear to the prospect of visiting a physician. A child may have experienced a painful medical procedure in the past, such as the administration of an injected vaccine. Many children also associate past traumas with the medical profession after making an unexpected trip to the emergency room following a painful accident. However, parents and health care providers can work together to help assist children in overcoming these types of fears.
Signs of Fear
Older children may express their fear about visiting a physician’s office verbally in protests or complaints when informed that they have a medical appointment. However, it is also possible the young person will indicate this emotion in a different form, such as nonverbally. The child may appear agitated, cry or have a temper tantrum, for instance. In some extreme cases, youngsters may wet the bed at night after being informed of a pending appointment. They may even seek to evade the visit; for instance, by finding excuses not to be present at the designated time that a visit has been scheduled due to a pressing school engagement or other social obligation.
You will sometimes notice fear in very young children when they visit a physician’s office because the youngster will cry or misbehave. Young children may not express fear until the time they enter the building. They may cry, tantrum, cling to a parent, or become silent and unresponsive. Never punish children for expressing fear.
Work with Your Pediatrician
The first step in assisting your child in dealing with fear about visiting the doctor’s office involves consulting with your pediatrician in private about this issue. Many physicians and nurses expect some children to react occasionally in fear, because not all medical procedures are pleasant.
These professionals appreciate being informed in advance if you know that one of your children has expressed fear or dread about an upcoming medical appointment. They will work with you to help the child overcome irrational responses and to make the visit as pleasant as possible for the young person; in fact, sharing this information with a qualified medical provider is the most important step you can take to assist your child in overcoming fear.
Follow Your Doctor’s Recommendations
Your pediatrician and office nurses will be able to assist you in calming an upset child who has arrived for a medical appointment. Allow the nursing staff and the doctor to interact with the youngster in a friendly manner in the office in order to help resolve fears. Follow the pediatrician’s advice to you in responding to this issue. The sensitivity of the medical profession to the issue of child fear has increased in recent years.
Today children who must remain in a hospital setting overnight, or for extended stays usually find the medical staff very responsive to the issue of fear. Today, many hospitals will permit parents and other family members to remain for extended periods of time with their child.