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Well child checks are a routine part of a child’s life.  These visits are opportunities to follow their growth and development and to review accurate information regarding their overall health.  Topics such as nutrition, bedwetting, parenting, and, of course, vaccinations can all be reviewed at this time.  Here are some tips to prepare for these visits.

For your Child:

  • Let your child know beforehand that they will be visiting the doctor to make sure that their body is healthy. Casting the visit in a positive manner should alleviate any initial fear that something may be wrong.  Children who are more sensitive may agonize for days before the visit, so use your best judgment regarding how much time in advance to share the information with them.
  • Many children like to play out their visit beforehand Providing the children with a doctor kit may also help alleviate any fear of the upcoming visit and its consequences.
  • Arrive early so there is plenty of time to do the paper work. Allow your child to play in the waiting room.
  • If your child is anxious about vaccines (shots, immunizations) let him/her know that the doctor will help you decide what is best and that vaccines are there to help keep the body healthy.
  • There is no need to say that the shot won’t hurt. Of course it hurts, but certainly not as bad as the child’s imagination makes it out be.
  • Teach them the concept of “0 to 10”: “0” is no pain (the child is happy and content), while “10” is the worst pain.  Inform the child that a shot is about a “2”.  Most pre-school children can understand this concept.
  • Only you know your child best. If your child usually becomes overly anxious for days before an event, it may be best not to mention the vaccines until the time of the visit or allow the doctor to be the one to bring it up.  On the other hand, if your child does better with head up information, then let them know that there will possibly be shots.  The vaccines will be given quickly and then you can celebrate.

For You:

  • Bring your child’s immunization card to the visit.  Keeping track of vaccines and updating your immunization card is vital for the school entrance paperwork.
  • Your physician’s office will also need to know your insurance information and any recent updates in your child’s health history.
  • Don’t make promises for “no shots.”  If your child is particularly anxious about the possibility of a shot, speak to your physician.  There are numbing creams, sprays, breathing techniques and other approaches to managing their anxiety (tell a joke! talk about a funny memory!).
  • Avoid excessive reassurance, apologies or criticism if your child is distressed.  Typically, a sense of calm acceptance on the parent’s behalf goes a long way in providing them with comfort.
  • Plan time to celebrate in your own way with your child after the checkup.  Take advantage of the opportunity to spend time with your child one on one.

Dr. de Freitas is a pediatrician and founder of Carmel Valley Pediatrics in San Diego, CA.  She has an upcoming children’s picture book Jake’s Kindergarten Check-up.”  For more info visit: www.carmelvalleypediatrics.com

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