Whether your kids need to visit the doctor because they’re sick, or because it’s time for their regular checkup, getting them out of the house and into the office can be like pulling teeth. After all – doctor’s appointments are boring, the waits are long, the office smells funny, and more often than not there’s a syringe involved. Many kids have a fear of doctors that they express with tantrums, whining, and crankiness.
However unpleasant your kids may consider doctor appointments to be, they still need to go. Ranging from entertainment possibilities to switching health care providers, here are a few top tips for getting your kids to willingly set foot inside the doctor’s office.
Bring the Right Entertainment
Doctor’s offices may or may not have a collection of toys – and what they do have might not be age appropriate for your children. Bored kids pick fights, fuss, or get themselves into trouble, so be sure to bring along the right entertainment.
Consider designating a toy or game as a special one that you only take out when you bring it along with to a doctor’s appointment. The excitement over getting to play a beloved – and otherwise unavailable – game can keep your kids safely occupied for the time it takes you to get in for your appointment.
Choose the Right Provider
Is your doctor’s office notorious for long waits – both for scheduling an appointment and for getting in to see them at the appointed time? Both can be frustrating, whether you’re there for a checkup or an illness. Consider enrolling in a supplemental health care program. Separate from insurance-based providers, programs like MDVIP provide access to direct primary care doctors that carry a much lighter caseload.
When your doctor has fewer total patients, they have more time and energy to spend on the ones under their care. That makes it easier for you to get appointments, and reduces the amount of time you spend idle in the waiting room.
Many parents wind up taking their children to the ER when the child has a high fever but their regular doctor doesn’t have any openings. Doctors affiliated with supplemental health care programs are often more available – replacing stressful ER trips with more personalized primary care.
Make It Special
This one will depend on your kids, your work schedule, and your insurance, so it may not be workable for everyone. The idea is: make the visit to the doctor part of a “date” between you and your child. Instead of bringing all three kids at once to get their checkups – where they will inevitably get into fights and stress you and each other out – take them individually as part of your “together” time.
Drive through for milkshakes on the way to the appointment; pass time in the waiting room reading a book or playing a game together; and take the long way home so that you can sing along to a favorite CD.
When you have more than one kid, they don’t often get you all to themselves for one-on-one bonding. Providing them with this “together” time can make the doctor appointment part of the date less stressful for both of you – and create positive associations for future doctor visits.
Getting your kids to be comfortable attending doctor’s appointments is a tough battle. By distracting them with special games and toys, making the visit part of an otherwise fun-filled afternoon, and working with a heath provider whose appointments are always on time can go a long way towards making your kids more willing to visit the doctor.