Emotional fallouts at the doctor’s office. Every mom has dealt with them, and yet they never seem to get any easier. No mom wants to see her child afraid or uneasy. Even though we know it’s for their own good, we don’t like to think about our little ones feeling pain. It can be easy to allow their panic to turn into your panic, but as many of us know, this only leads to disaster. So, how do we guarantee a perfect doctor’s visit every single time? That answer is easy: we don’t. What we can do, though, is take steps to ensure a better appointment that won’t stress us moms out and leave us feeling hopeless at the end of it!
Everybody, Keep Calm!
The first part of the solution is completely in your hands, which, depending on whom you ask, is either a good thing or a bad thing! I pride myself on keeping it real with my readers, so I’ll shoot straight with this advice. Moms, we have to pull ourselves together and stay calm. We must. You are the first cue to your child’s reaction to everything else that happens in the world. They’re looking to you. They pick up on your energy. You have to decide what energy you’re going to give off. The doctor’s office isn’t a favorite place for many of us, but it’s necessary. Accept that sometimes our kids get shots, and those don’t feel great, but often the anticipation of the wailing and screaming is far more stressful than the actual practice. If you can make peace with that, you’ve succeeded in mastering the first step!
Talk That Talk
The next step has proven paramount in achieving a favorable outcome with my sons before, during and after doctor’s visits. If you have children old enough to understand what’s happening, perhaps your best weapon is a conversation. My experience has shown me that we sometimes underestimate our kids’ abilities to comprehend and process the emotions they’re feeling. They know when they’re sad or scared; if you give them a chance, they’ll usually open up to you about it. This provides you an opportunity to guide, educate and, most importantly, empathize.
It’s always been important to me to teach my children that hospitals and doctors’ offices were not a bad place. I recognize that they may need to go to these places throughout their lives for themselves or others. The last thing I want to do is instill fear. We talk about what happens during routine visits, and I will even use a favorite stuffed animal to demonstrate. Information is power, and that includes the instances when children are involved.
When they say to me, “I don’t want to get a shot” with that cute sheepish look on their faces, I reply that I understand, and I explain why shots are necessary. I make sure to do one very important thing: I do not lie to them. I don’t say that it won’t hurt or insist that they don’t cry. Instead, I very calmly and matter of factly say things like, “You will get a shot, and it might hurt for just a second. But guess what? It will be over just like *snap* that, and we’ll be on our way to go play.” It’s important that they see mom isn’t frightened and worried. I set the tone, so they will follow.
Seek Kid Professionals
Most of us can recall the days of being pregnant and eagerly and anxiously deciding on an OBGYN. He or she had to be just right, with the perfect personality, an adequate amount of experience, the whole nine. Select your pediatrician the same way you selected your OB. There are several extremely skilled pediatricians out there who aren’t the best at handling kids. Find one who is. Trust me on this one; the work to see them out will be worth the reduced tears later. Our pediatrician is able to do routine check-ups, vaccinations and everything in between without making the process feel like torture. There are times when I call to schedule an appointment and our regular doctor isn’t available. The receptionist usually asks if I’d like to see another doctor at the practice. I usually respond and tell her we’ll wait until our doctor is back. Advocate for your child. If you’ve built a comfort level and rapport with particular physicians, stick with them. Your aren’t being high maintenance or unreasonable; you’re looking out for your kid.
One last piece of advice that I expect to be somewhat controversial involves bribery: don’t do it. In my house, I don’t reward expected great behavior that isn’t negotiable. They go to the doctor when they aren’t well, and they don’t get a candy bar because they did. It’s what we do. This applies across the board for me. I’m not rewarding you for being nice to grandma. You will be nice because that’s what I expect. Now, if I’m asking you to wear this dressy jacket that’s a little itchy and scratchy, and you manage to wear it for a couple hours, I have no problem rewarding that. You have to decide where the doctor’s office falls on your list. Our pediatrician “rewards” my sons with cute stickers when they’ve completed the appointment. That suffices for me.
I understand the dread that comes with having to make that trip with your kids to the doctor’s office. It’s never fun. They’re either not feeling well, or they have to endure some not-so-fun stuff on a routine checkup. Our emotions can easily escalate so much that the nervous energy transfers over to the child. Make peace with this essential part of the journey, talk to your child about what they can expect, and trust your caregiver. Take a deep breath, mom. You’re doing a great job, and your kid will, too.