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Treat Kids' Fears Before Doctor Visit

March 23, 1994|ASSOCIATED PRESS

A visit to the doctor is often stressful for children and their parents--but it doesn't have to be. Careful preparation can ease a child's fears.

Children adjust better if they are familiar with what will happen. Parents can help by asking their children what they expect to happen at the doctor's office and correcting any misinformation or fantasies.

Fearful parents lead to fearful children. It is important to answer questions calmly and in simple language. Be truthful about the possibility of needing a shot or other possibly painful procedures. But stress that the discomfort will be over quickly and that you will stay with your child during that time.

Parents must also stress that medical attention is not a punishment. Threatening children with a visit to the doctor only increases their anxieties.

Playing out events a few days before may help take the mystery out of a doctor's visit. Use a toy doctor's kit to "examine" parents or dolls.

Teen-agers' concerns may be very different from those of younger children. Teen-agers generally do not fear doctors, but their changing bodies may make them uncomfortable about undressing in front of a doctor or nurse.

Discussing physical changes and sexuality before the appointment may make the visit more comfortable. It is also helpful to prepare a teen-ager for any unfamiliar procedures, such as a girl's first pelvic exam. Knowing what to expect can increase the feeling of being in control when a teen-ager is in the doctor's office.

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