A recent conversation with a family practioner, followed by our son’s 15 month well check had me thinking that maybe a short list of ideas would be useful for parents as they prepare their children for well check:
Infants & Toddlers
Write any questions down
Prior to the visit, write down any questions you have about your child’s physical or behavioral development prior. For many of us, those questions we were planning on asking seem to fly out the window when the doctor asks if you have any questions or concerns. Don’t forget that pediatricians are a wealth of information not only for the ‘medical’ concerns, but also if you need some help with a developmental issue, ex. toileting, sleep habits, or hitting.
Jot down any physical or behavioural developments that have happened since the last visit.
Is your baby sitting up now? Crawling? Eating solids? Making new sounds? New words? Stacking blocks? etc. When the physician asks, I seem never to remember the latest achievement my son accomplished although I thought it was brilliant at the time.
With older toddlers, playing doctor prior to the visit can be one way to reduce fear of the doctor’s office. There are lots of toy doctor’s kits on the market.
Be prepared to soothe
What methods do you use to soothe your child when they’re upset. Whether it is nursing, swaddling, pacifier, a favorite blankie, toy, or singing (out of key in my case) be prepared.
Be a model of calmness
Remember that your child picks up on your feelings, be calm. If you get nervous in anticipation perhaps check with your child’s pediatrician in advance what to expect at the well check.
Preschoolers and early elementary age children
Much of what applies to infant and toddlers applies to older children too. Here are some additional suggestions:
Talk to your child – Keep it honest, keep it simple, keep it calm
Like most of us, children don’t often like going into the unexpected. It makes us nervous. Dr. Coachman of Mesquite Pediatrics encourages parents to talk with their children about what to expect, including shots. “Be honest.” he urges. He suggests that our children are best prepared if they know in advance, same day for the preschoolers is enough. Explain in simple terms what the vaccines are for, to keep your child healthy. If your child asks if it will hurt, be truthful – ‘It might hurt or pinch for a minute, but it will be over quickly and vaccines protect you from getting illnesses that can make you feel really horrible.’
Talk to your child about what to expect, the purpose of the physical exam, listening to their heart and lungs, checking their eyes, and their ears. Playing with a doctor kit is a great way to do this. Let your child play at being the doctor too!