Whether it's time for a physical or getting rid of the "flu blues," trips to the doctor are a fact of life for young children. Babies might not mind the poking and probing from the doctor and may not even remember the sting from a needle from one visit to the next, but as kids get older, fears set in, and going to the doctor can become a confusing and often scary experience.
So how can you help your toddler build a positive relationship with her doctor? Start by preparing your little one before a checkup by reading books about going to the doctor or explaining what a doctor does and why it is important for her to be seen by one. With your doctor's permission, take your child to the office just to familiarize her with the building and play with the toys in the reception room. Let her meet the doctor as a friend without the stress of an examination. Role play with your child about a doctor's visit. Have fun and be positive as you pretend the following:
- Weigh her and measure her height.
- Use a mini-flashlight and tongue depressor to look at her throat and ears.
- Tap her kneecap to test her reflexes.
- Listen to her heart and lungs with a toy stethoscope.
- Thank your child for her cooperation.
Keep in mind that your feelings about your child's doctor are also part of the equation. One of the most important relationships you'll have as a parent is that between you and your child's doctor—and if you're comfortable with a physician, your child will pick up on that and feel more secure and less anxious about visiting the doctor. You may start your search from the beginning of your pregnancy, but at some point over the years new doctors may be needed because of moves or insurance changes. This search merits investigation, time, and thought. A recommendation from other parents and a local hospital referral service is a good way to begin.
Can You Fix My Boo-Boo? (for Babies and Toddlers)
For a toddler who thinks he is wounded, nothing soothes his feelings like a little TLC, words of reassurance, and a bandage. Today, these strips of relief come in neon colors and fashion prints. You can also decorate the plain ones with the help of a permanent marker—just draw a smiley face to turn your little one's frown upside down! While role-playing with your child, don't forget to place a bandage on his favorite teddy bear or toy to help cure the "boo-boo," too.