2017-09-07 / Healthy Living

Preparing children for visits to the doctor

As a mother of two elementary school aged children involved in sports and other activities, trips to the doctor are a guarantee for our family. Each of my children reacts so differently when they hear the words “doctor’s appointment.” My daughter, who aspires to be a nurse, gets through a visit to the doctor’s office easily. She is completely fascinated by anything healthcare related and treats each visit as a learning experience. My son, on the other hand, becomes anxious and needs some extra reassurance and explanation. I have found that by preparing ahead of time and speaking with my children about what to expect, we are able to relieve fears so that they can have a positive healthcare experience.

In addition to the award-winning pediatric care at the Palm Beach Children’s Hospital, your family can also benefit from our dedicated team of Child Life Specialists. These highly trained professionals use various medical play tactics and kid-friendly language to help children of various age groups understand why they need medical treatment, while also guiding parents on how they can help their child feel more relaxed during a hospital stay. Below are some suggestions from our team that can come in handy for your child’s next medical appointment.

Helping children understand why they’re seeing a physician

Before leaving for the doctor’s office, explain the purpose of the visit to your son or daughter. Ask them about how they feel about going to the doctor and why they think they need an appointment with the doctor. If the upcoming appointment is for a regular health checkup, talk to your child about how the doctor will check their growth and examine them to assess if their body is healthy. Let them know that even most kids in good physical shape go to the doctor for these kinds of visits. It may help to use a doll or teddy bear to show how the nurse will measure their height, take blood pressure or look in their eyes and ears.

If you are taking your child to a specialist because of an illness or medical condition, explain in terms they can understand about what will take place during the office visit and exam. Be honest, but not alarmingly so, if there will be any procedure that might be uncomfortable. Children may be able to deal with discomfort more easily if they know ahead of time, and can trust you if you are honest with them.

If other relatives or friends have your child’s same condition, share that information with your child so that they understand that others have been through the same thing. Let your child know that the doctor is there to help make them feel better and fix any problems — not hurt them.

Because it is important for your child to trust their doctor, choose a pediatrician who understands their fears, relates well to them and communicates in a friendly manner. A good rapport can help minimize feelings of embarrassment when the doctor examines your child.

Helping parents understand what warrants medical attention

Not only is the Palm Beach Children’s Hospital at St. Mary’s Medical Center committed to healing children in our community, we’re also committed to educating parents on what resources are available when your child may need them most, and how to help identify a medical condition in time.

On Tuesday, Sept. 26, from noon to 1 p.m., Anne Fischer, MD, PhD, regional medical director for pediatric surgery, will present “Lumps, Bumps and When Your Child May Need Surgery: What Parents Need to Know” at the Mandel Public Library of West Palm Beach. Dr. Fischer will discuss signs and symptoms that parents should be aware of that may require medical attention. She also will discuss general guidelines on how to determine if the symptoms your child displays can result in a future surgical procedure. Light refreshments will be served.

Space is limited, so please save your seat by calling 888-412-8141. To learn more about the services offered at Palm Beach Children’s Hospital, visit www.PalmBeachChildrensHospital.com. ¦

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