Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Kid's Doctor Visits - Reduce the Tears!

Taking a child to the doctor can be very stressful for the child and the parent or grandparent, especially if an injection is scheduled for that day. I hope our experiences makes your child's next doctor visit more calm and less anxious!

When I was asked to take grandson Alex for his annual checkup appointment at the pediatrician, I asked his Mom how he usually does at the doctor. I was told that he always screams and cries when he first sits on the examination table, even before the doctor enters the room, and he has to be "held down" for the exam, etc. This was not good news, so we definitely needed a plan. 

Here's how our conversation went the evening before Alex's doctor appointment:

Mamaw (that's me!): Alex, I'm taking you to Daycare tomorrow.

Alex: How come?

Mamaw: Because you have a doctor appointment.

Alex: (excitably) I like going to the doctor! You just have to open your mouth and they put stuff on your teeth. And you get to play with toys.

Mamaw: Sorry, Alex, but we're not going to the dentist. You are going to Dr. _____ for a check-up.

Alex: I don't want to go to that doctor! I always cry!

Mamaw: You won't cry this time! You're a big boy now! Remember, you are 4!

Alex: Will I get a shot? I always cry with shots!

(Yes, I had been warned about this from his parents and siblings.)

Mamaw: Alex, you won't cry this time, because you have special Mario powers!
(Alex loves to play Mario games, so I knew this would get his attention. I told him we would take Mario and Luigi, and he would not cry.)

We got out his Mario backpack. We practiced holding his plush Mario and Luigi, saying "Super Mario Power", and I kept emphasizing that he would not cry with his special Mario Power. We filled the backpack with his Mario and Luigi before going to bed.

The next morning, when Alex was ready to go in his red sweatshirt (Red always gives you more courage, of course!), we picked up his Mario backpack and were ready to go with...
Super Mario Power!!

At the doctor's office, Alex was great! He climbed on the scale, got measured, blood pressure, etc., smiling all the time.

In the Exam Room, he seemed a little fearful, so I didn't make him sit on the examination table while we waited for the doctor. Instead I told him to practice his Super Mario Moves, and he really enjoyed that!

Super Mario Power on the move!

Next, he opened his Mario Backpack and took out Mario and Luigi.

He giggled as he placed Mario on the examination table and pretended Mario was getting a checkup. He learned there was a pullout step on the table, and he climbed on the table himself, laughing all the time! This was definitely progress!

He even pretended that I was Princess Peach. I had to stand in the corner, and he rescued me from the evil King Bowser!

When his doctor came in the room, Alex was very relaxed. He introduced her to Mario and Luigi and told her about his Mario games and toys. There was no problem with the exam.

Last was the dreaded injection. Alex was holding Mario, and I stood beside of him while holding his arm and saying, "Super Mario Power"! There was one "Oowww", and it was over! "Alex, it's over!" I said. "You didn't cry!" Alex sat up with a surprised look on his face. "But I did one Ow," he said. "That's okay! You didn't cry!" I said as I hugged him. The crowning glory was the band-aidAlex was smiling again! Whew!! I breathed a great sigh of relief! 

Alex was very talkative with the office staff as we checked out, and he loved choosing stickers. He seemed to be walking a little taller than when we arrived. He was so proud of himself because he didn't cry!

When I dropped Alex off at daycare, I told his teacher that he had just had a shot and did not cry. She was really impressed! Alex told the kids he had a band-aid, and of course they wanted to see it!

That evening, Alex and I proudly told about his doctor visit. The whole family was greatly surprised to hear that his visit was tear-free! 

I hope this experience inspires you to be more positively prepared for your child's next doctor appointment. Here's some more of my tips:

  • Never threaten or scare a child about going to the doctor. When parents are trying to get a child to take medicine, wear a jacket, etc., I have often heard them say, "If you don't do this, you will have to go to the doctor and get a shot!" This makes me cringe, and it really scares the child for future doctor visits!
  • Take any toy that would help your child feel relaxed. 
  • Try a magic wand to make the pain go away, etc.
  • Practice at home with a doll or stuffed animals with your child being the doctor or nurse.
  • Make a "doctor's kit" out of a shoe box or small container. Include band-aids and toy stethoscope, craft sticks, stickers, etc.

Super Mario Power saved the day!!!

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