Back-to-school trips to the doctor: How to alleviate your child’s anxiety

Back To School

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – With students across the area heading back to school this week, that also means they will be heading back to the doctor.

For many young children, however, going to a doctor’s office for routine physicals or immunizations can make them anxious.

As a way to combat this anxiety, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends children and young adults receive care through a medical home setting. This refers to a place with established pediatric professionals who not only know your child’s medical history but know your child as well.

Dr. Linda Britton, the chief medical officer of UnitedHealthcare of Georgia, has some advice for how parents can alleviate their children’s anxiety before meeting with a physician:

  1. Prepare your child for what to expect. Talk about what may happen at their next check-up. But try to avoid making promises that may be broken during the visit, like whether they are getting a shot or not. You may consider reading books, watching shows or playing with a toy medical kit to help develop expectations about what happens at the doctor.    
  2. Ensure you’ll be together. Your child may be scared you’ll leave them alone with the doctor during an appointment. Explain that you’ll be there the whole visit.
  3. Plan a rewarding experience. Incentivize your child with an ice cream cone or a trip to the park after the exam. Something positive look forward to after the appointment may make them less anxious during the visit.
  4. Be calm. Your child may sense your energy. If you are anxious, that may be mirrored.
  5. Build patient-doctor trust. Try to see the same doctor so your child can get to know him or her over time. If kids are able to put a face to their doctor, it may make the experience less scary.

For more info on medical homes, visit the AAP website.

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