6 little things that will make trips to the doctor/dentist less scary for your kiddo

We all know how daunting trips to the doctor or dentist can be for adults - never mind kids! It's important to give them a good intro to these visits to make it easier in the future, and to allow them to develop a positive attitude towards these places and people that keep us healthy and safe!

To help you out with this we have come up with five little ways you can make trips to the doctors or dentists that bit easier:

1. Play doctor or dentist before the trip

This can be fun for both parent and child. If you have a cute little doctor's set, go for it. If not you can use spoons and objects from around the house to show them the kind of things they can expect - listening for their heartbeat, looking inside their mouth or taking their temperature. Let them be the doctor or dentist and make sure they hear you praise the work of these professionals - you never know, you may have a budding medic on your hands!

2. Let them know that their feelings are valid

There is nothing more discouraging than when someone brushes off your feelings of fear or nervousness. Let them know you understand where they are coming from, but that there is nothing to worry about. Don't laugh or compare their fearful reaction to that of siblings or cousins. Let them know you care.

3. Help them to articulate the problem

Making a list of things to ask the doctor or dentist is a good way of making them feel in control and safe. You could also use a pain scale of 1 to 10 to allow them to explain how their feeling clearly. Let them ask the doc or dentist any questions themselves and let them write down or help you write any instructions the medic gives them. They will see the trip as a way for them to be in control of their body and health.

4. Lolly pops

This one is great for when they are booked in for a vaccine - not so great for after a dental checkup! If they are about to go through an invasive checkup or an injection, have the lolly or treat of their choice on standby. This is great for the really little ones, as they may even look forward to trips to the docs after finding out that treats will be provided!

5. Stay cool

Ty not to show any stress you might feel yourself about the check-up or procedure. Many parents would rather experience a hundred root-canals, rather than watch their little ones get a vaccine. This is normal but allowing your child to see your panic will only make them panic more. Don't apologise to them or make them feel like the experience is not normal. Let them know that EVERYONE must visit the doctor or dentist and maybe even give them a personal anecdote. 

6. Go on and on about how good they were

Praise them for a bit after the visit. Recount tales of remarkable bravery to their granny and siblings. By the end, you may have a kid who actually gets a kick out of trips to the doctors or dentists- A win for all mums and dads!

With her daughter Evie as her muse, Anna writes about mumhood and all its intersections from mental health to movies, social issues to pop culture. Anna lives in Dublin with her daughter, partner, three younger sisters and parents. She is a dreadful cook, a fair guitar player and thinks caffeine should be given as a yearly vaccine to parents - courtesy of the HSE.

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