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Ask Margaret - My Child is Terrified of the Doctor's Office

by What Fresh Hell: Laughing in the Face of Motherhood
November 23rd 2020
This week our listener Raya asks, "How do I deal with a 4-year-old who is afraid to go to any doctor's office?" Doctors' offices are scary! There are shots, there's vulnerability, and there's an adult... More
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to ask Margaret from what fresh hell laughing in the face of motherhood. Answering your parenting dilemmas. One question at a time. This'll weeks. Question comes from Raya, who asks, How do I deal with a four year old that is afraid to go to any doctor's office. Oh, area I've been there. It's not easy. As a kid, I had extreme doctor phobia, and in August we would go away to my grandma's house for the summer's. And I remember in August I would start to worry about the back to school physical like I was almost obsessed with it. We had toe, don't get shots and give blood, and I would just start obsessing about it basically. And I was older than four. I was definitely like 89 10 when this was happening and my kids. Now, especially in the time of coronavirus, one of my kids had to go for a test early on when they were still doing what we call the brain scraper where, like they would put the Q tip up your nose and into your throat. Since then, they've kind of, I think, figured out that maybe they don't need to go quite that far

, and now it's like a Q tip in the nostril thing. But it became kind of an obsession of like what if I have to get another coronavirus test and this is a dilemma. I think in certain degrees this is not entirely fixable. And it's something that you just have to talk about with your kid. Ah, lot. I went to the what to expect dot com blawg, and they had some good tips, which I'm going to share with you as well. These helped me as well. I mean, the number one top of the triangle issue here is communication, not dismissing the concerns. As like don't be silly. You have to go to the doctor trying to dial in with your kid a little bit and trying to find some solutions that make this easier. But I want to be clear that I'm not trying to get to. Your kid will skip off to the doctor happily, because doctors are kind of scary. Sometimes it involves painful things, and kids are right to be afraid of the doctor. It's a person. They don't know that well. It's a very kind of vulnerable and intimate relationship with someone. They don't know that well, which is scary for kids. And then there's this shots and blood draw aspect, which could be really traumatic, and so

we start with understanding that and then we dial in on how we can help a little bit. One of the things that the what to expect block talks about which I like a lot is timing. So I have learned over the years with my kids not to spring any information. So if we have a doctor's appointment, we talk about it a month beforehand, a week beforehand, then the morning before school, because the last thing I ever want to do is say, we have to go to the doctor in five minutes because I know that's not going to go well. Another thing what to expect suggests is alerting the staff. And I think this could be a little, as Amy's grandma says, Tweet, tweet like you might feel a little bit like that Mom calling ahead and saying, You know, I've got a kid who's really, really anxious, but I think it helps to give the doctor's office heads up and say, Listen, we're coming in and we might need a little extra help with this one. I think the doctor's office generally will be especially a pediatrician. They're gonna be responsive to that. Watch making promises you can't keep so you don't want to tell your kid this is no big deal. It won't hurt. There's not gonna be any shots

. And then, you know, swoop incomes the doctor with a huge needle. So I think it's fair to talk to kids and say, Yes, this is scary. The shot it hurts. You know, I've had the conversation with my kids on a 1 to 10. It hurts like a six. It's a pretty big owie, but it's short, and how we're going to do it is you're going to bring your favorite stuffy with you. You hug it as tight as you can, and this shot will be over before you know it. So you have to offer them some sort of control, even though they don't have a ton in that situation, something that they can do to feel better. I'm not against a little bribery where you say, you know, after the doctor's office will go get ice cream. That's what we do our doctors offices near an ice cream shop, and that's the deal. You're going to get a little ice cream afterwards because it can be an unpleasant experience. Watch always, and you're probably not doing this, But I guess you know, I've been tempted. Sometimes when my kids air, you know, I think kind of lazing around or faking it a little bit. What do you want? To go to the doctor? You have to go to the doctor. If you're really sick, Watch

. Using the doctor is a threat. It's tempting to do sometimes. And it works against you in the long haul. Another thing with what to expect is finishing up with praise. And this is You did so well. You were so nervous about this and I was so impressed. You were such a big girl. And I know it was hard and there were a lot of tears, and it's okay to have tears because that was a scary, maybe painful experience and leaning into what a good job they did. And then you condone iol that back. I mean, you're in this for the long game. You have a four year old, you've got at least you know, 14 more years of yearly physicals at best. And so you wanna build on the positive experiences? I have my kids, I have three of them. So the siblings, sometimes I will enlist their help with this. Let's talk to older brother about how it was for him and if sometimes if he says to Sister, you know the shot really hurt. But by the time I was done with my ice cream, I wasn't even really thinking about anymore. That can help that, like, appear experience. A sibling experience is

maybe a little bit more meaningful than a parent who's saying it's all gonna be OK and the child doesn't trust that that much. So one other suggestion from what to expect, which I like books about going to the doctor. There's plenty of thumb toy doctor kits finding ways when you're not at the doctor to make the doctor seem a little bit more approachable and you know Oh, Teddy Bear has a sore arm. What do you think he needs? Oh, he needs a shot. Oh, how are we going to make him feel better and involving your kids in the world of the doctor? So it's not that scary feeling of Theodore ult air dragging me to this place where scary and painful things happen. I think that's really your best shot. You're going to make it better. You're not going to make it perfect, you know? I mean, do you still do you like going to the doctor? Do you like going to the dentist? I certainly don't. But you know, it's something that we have to do for our health. And so we just help bring our Children there by saying, We're with you. We have a plan. We've got

a great plan for ice cream afterwards. And within that, we're going to survive this experience, and we're going to look back and say, Remember what a great job you did last time we could do it again. Raya, I hope that helps. If you have a question for myself or Amy, you can submit them to questions that what fresh hell podcast dot com or, if you're not in our Facebook tribute definitely should be because people are always helping each other with their questions there. That's at facebook dot com forward slash what fresh hell cast, And you can join the group in community from there, and we look forward to talking to you next time. Thanks for listening

Ask Margaret - My Child is Terrified of the Doctor's Office
Ask Margaret - My Child is Terrified of the Doctor's Office
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