By NYMetroParents Staff

Ask the Expert: How Do I Calm My Child Who is Afraid of the Doctor?

September 5, 2013   |  Health Advice & Tips  

Board-certified behavior analyst Jennifer Kourassanis-Velasquez shares expert tips to calm a child who is afraid of the doctor and prepare a scared child for a doctor's appointment.

sad boy getting a shot at the doctor's officeMy child is afraid of going to the doctor. How do I get him or her to calm down when they have appointments?

I find with most children, or anyone for that matter, fear is based on the unknown or just a bad experience. Try to prepare your child for a doctor’s appointment a few days in advance. Use social stories with pictures or words depending on your child’s cognitive level—there are several samples made available online or you can often find social stories at your local library. These stories explain the process of and reason for going to the doctor in the most simplistic form, while making the learning process fun. Also prepare your child with a “first and then” approach using a highly preferred activity or tangible item to motivate your child to endure the doctor’s appointment. For example, if your child loves the park, why not say “OK, first we will go to the doctor, then I will take you to the park.” Some children may be motivated by the promise of receiving their favorite treat, such as a lollipop, or maybe some extra time playing their favorite game. Use visuals when needed, and remember to make it fun!

Jennifer Kourassanis-Velasquez, M.A., B.C.B.A., is a board-certified behavior analyst. She is a behavior consultant for several Nassau County school districts and provides one-on-one in-home services and parent training. She co-founded Kids Learning Loft in Williston Park with Christine Saulnier-Cinotti, M.A.T.

Also see:

Should I Take My Child to Urgent Care or the ER?

A Parent's Guide to Raising Healthy Kids

 

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