Overcoming the Fear of Doctors in Children

September 9, 2019
Going to the doctor isn't always a pleasant experience for children. In fact, they often become upset and tense. Today we want to offer some advice for parents to handle the fear of doctors in children.

The fear of doctors in children is quite common. In general, they express their fear through nervousness and crying, which can sometimes be uncontrollable. This can make proper diagnosis difficult and alter the results of the doctor’s examination.

To help children overcome their fear of doctors, it’s important to be patient and normalize the situation according to child’s age.

Below, you’ll find 10 tips to help avoid and overcome the fear or doctors in children.

The fear of doctors in children

In general, going to the hospital or to the doctor’s office can be a threatening experience for little ones. This is often because they remember previous visits, which they associate with pain, vaccines, etc. Or they may simply be uncomfortable with strangers.

Children are aware that the doctors will examine them, and this may make them uncomfortable. All of these factors may make children fearful.

Overcoming the Fear of Doctors in Children

It’s important to point out that in some cases, a child’s fear of going to the doctor may actually lead him or her to experience high blood pressure.

In other words, children’s blood pressure increases notably when they visit the doctor. However, levels go back to normal once they leave the doctor’s office.

9 tips to calming the fear of doctors in children

If your child is afraid of going to the doctor, then easing that fear needs to start at home. Therefore, keep in mind the following recommendations:

Don’t trick your child

It’s best for children to know beforehand where they’re going so that the visit doesn’t take them by surprise. Otherwise, not only will they becomes upset, but they’ll also feel betrayed.

This can make them even more nervous and fearful. That being said, don’t let children know too much in advance either. One day’s notice is enough.

Respond to your child’s concerns

It’s common for children to ask a lot of questions, especially in the face of situations that make them uncomfortable. Answer their questions and do your best to answer in a respectful, simple, age-appropriate way.

Don’t tell your child that something won’t hurt if it actually will. Be honest, encouraging and comforting, and let him or her know if it will be over soon.

Never threaten your child

Many times, children are afraid of doctors because their parents have used threats in order to get their children to behaveFor example, some parents say things like, “Sit still or the doctor’s going to give you a shot.” This automatically conditions children to be fearful of doctors.

Focus on the positive

To reduce your child’s fear of doctors, you can explain that doctors are there to help and cure them. You can also encourage your child by creating positive expectations. For example, telling children that the doctor is going to look at their throat with a special flashlight. 

Also, if you call the doctor by his or her name, this can help create a more familiar and friendly environment for your little one.

Talk to your child lovingly

Once you’re in the doctor’s office, while the doctor is examining your children, talk to them lovingly. Touch them and distract them as much as possible. Without getting in the doctor’s way, take your children’s hand to offer more security and help them feel more calm.

Be a model of tranquility for your child

You’re the mirror through which your children see themselves. Therefore, if you yourself are nervous or impatient, your child will be the first to pick up on it. 

Avoid showing fear when taking your child to the doctor. If you’re afraid of needles, blood, or whatever they’re going to do to your child, ask someone to go with you.

Furthermore, your children will be more comfortable if you try to make the experience more fun. Allow them to take along their favorite toy.

Overcoming the Fear of Doctors in Children

Help children relate to medical personnel

If a nurse or doctor asks your child a question, encourage him or her to respond. This will help create a sense of trust.

Point out your child’s good behavior

Once the experience is over, praise children for their good behavior. That will encourage more of the same positive behavior during the next visit and help to reduce fear. However, if children cry or get upset, don’t scold them – simply let them get it out of their system.

Helping children get over their fear of doctors takes patience, as the process takes place little by little. For some children, overcoming their fears may take some time.