My toddler is so afraid of his pediatrician, he bursts into tears just at the sight of the clinic itself. My husband and I literally have to drag him inside.
First of all, you can’t blame your toddler for feeling some fear. He probably remembers all the times he was prodded, poked, and—worst of all—pricked when he went to see the “lady dressed in white”, and is afraid of going through the same things over again.
Here are some ways to ease his anxieties:
Be sympathetic. Dumping him on the examination bed will only leave him more alone and frightened. Instead, carry him or have him sit on your lap while he is being examined, and bring along a favorite toy for added comfort.
Explain what is going on. Don’t scold him when he cries; instead, gently tell him that the more he squirms and howls, the longer the examination will take.
Get him familiarized with the set-up. Buy toy doctor’s kit for your toddler and play doctor, examining him, his friends, and even his favorite action figure. Show him photos or tell stories that deal with visits to the doctor. The most important message to impart is that doctors are nice and friendly people, and that the clinic is a safe place.
Don’t lie. Don’t tell him a shot won’t hurt when you know very well that it will. Instead, assure him that it will be over in a second and that it is done to make him a healthier boy.
Don’t turn the doctor into a punishment. Threats like “Sige ka, if you don’t drink your medicine, you’ll have to go see doktora” will only reinforce the idea that a visit to the doctor is an unpleasant experience.
Plan a treat after each visit. A trip to his favorite restaurant or a serving of his favorite dessert will give him something to look forward to as he sits through his ordeal. Reward him no matter how his behavior at the clinic was.
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Photography by David Hanson Ong
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