By Professor Frank Oberklaid and Dr Leah Kaminsky, excerpt from 'Your Child's Health'
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Most children will need to see a doctor some time in their lives. Here are some ideas that might make taking your child to the doctor a little easier.

Why children are afraid of going to the doctor

Many children are afraid of going to the doctor. They might be afraid that:

  • the examination or procedure will be painful
  • they will have an injection (or ‘needle’)
  • they will be separated from their parents.

Or they might not like the doctor’s style or the way the doctor speaks or relates to them.

Some parents think that telling a child in advance will make them anxious, and so tell them only at the last minute. Others believe that it is best to tell a child in advance so they can then talk about the upcoming visit and help the child with any anxieties the child might have.

Taking children to the doctor: tips

Do what you think is best for your child. Generally it is important to be honest with your child. The trust between a young child and parents is paramount, and any breach of that trust can be devastating.

Let your child know what is going to happen. For example, ‘We are going to the doctor because you have had a cough and sore throat. The doctor will look into your mouth and ears and listen to your chest, and maybe will suggest some things we can do to make you better.’

At the doctor’s office involve your child in what’s happening. Older children can discuss and write down in advance any questions they want to ask the doctor.

The most important thing is the relationship that your child develops with the doctor, so it’s worth choosing a doctor carefully. A doctor who is warm and friendly and takes the time to talk to and play with your child will make all the difference.