This post was written in collaboration with Tyto Care, however, all opinions are my own.
Let’s face it, the majority of the time that we take our children to the doctor’s office, it isn’t because everything is roses and we are just stopping in for a casual playdate. Aside from well-child visits, it’s usually because we are headed there to evaluate a bump, bruise, rash, cut, scrape, cough, ache, pain, the list goes on. There are so many unknowns for us as parents as new things arise with our kids, but it’s important for us to remember that most of these things are unknowns for our kids too. And not only that, but when you couple it with heading into a situation where they aren’t sure exactly what to expect, it can be a bit anxiety inducing for many children.
That said, while we can’t avoid all the germs and tumbles of childhood, we can do our best to prepare our children so that they feel safe and comfortable under a clinician’s care when these things do arise. The following are a list of strategies, everything from reading books and pretend play to performing in-home exams with your kids using a device called TytoHome, that I hope will serve to give you some ideas as to how to assist your child in preparing for a positive experience with a provider.
Read books about it. Previewing new and/or potentially anxiety inducing experiences with a book can often help ease children’s minds and build a narrative for them of what they may expect in any given situation. You can find books for just about any circumstance too from just your basic doctor visit to colds to broken bones to surgery and beyond. I would recommend even bringing the book with you and pointing out the different aspects of the visit with the doctor in the book as a reminder as you go about the appointment.
Watch a show. Similar to reading a book, watching a tv show can be another way to assist kids in mentally preparing for a visit with the doctor. Seeing their favorite characters, like Daniel Tiger, etc. sharing a similar experience with a positive outcome can help ease their minds, as well as act as an anchor for you to remind them of as you prepare for the appointment.
Show them photos of who they can expect to see. If you know in advance who you will be seeing for your visit, sharing a photo with your child of the provider ahead of time can help ease a little bit of the “unknown”. Most of our providers are familiar faces for Asher now, but I printed out photos of his pediatrician, dentist, chiropractor, etc. in the past to show him in preparation for each appointment as well as a reference point for talking about how each of them supports him in staying healthy in their own unique way.
Talk about why they need to see the doctor, and answer any questions they may have. Having a conversation with kids in advance about “why” they are going to see the doctor can help them prepare for what’s in store. After providing an explanation, I encourage you to open up the discussion for any wonderings they may have as well, by simply asking, “Do you have any questions about your visit with the doctor today?” Whatever it is they throw out there, do your best to answer as honestly as possible so that they know they can look to you to prepare them for similar situations in the future.
Model for them. More often than not when I have an appointment, Asher comes with me . While honestly, for us, it’s more often out of necessity than me trying to be a “model”, the latter comes as an added perk. When we model pleasant, positive experiences with our care providers, just like anything else, our little ones see this. So while it may not always be convenient to have them at your side as you are getting examined yourself, there are some potential benefits to it.
Play pretend. Bust out the bandaids, cotton balls and gloves and let your child play “doctor” on you or their favorite doll or stuffed pal. Create an imaginary stethoscope with an old headband and some ribbon or give them some of their old recycled vitamin bottles to use to support their patients’ needs. Get as creative with it as you’d like – the idea is to simply to tie “fun” and “doctor” together.
Visit a clinician in the comfort of your home. Yes, believe it or not, this is a thing! We recently got our hands on TytoHome, a handheld exam kit and app that let’s you perform guided medical exams with a clinician, anytime, anywhere. With this device, you can receive a diagnosis and potential treatment plan all from the comfort of you home. It’s like bringing the pretend play to life!
Using the TytoApp and TytoHome device, a clinician will guide you through a live, face-to-face telehealth exam providing you with instruction on how to use the provided tools to do everything from listening to your child’s heart and lungs, to examining their throat and tonsils, to checking the insides of their ears and beyond, helping them to determine what it is your little one may be battling and to navigate a course of action, if necessary.
Not only does having a device like this make “visiting” a clinician feel like “no big deal”, but it also helps eliminate some of those additional physical stressors of getting in the car and driving when your child already isn’t feeling well, finding yourself in an office with several other little ones sharing all of their germs, etc. as well.
Encourage them to explore their bodies. I am firm believer in the idea of listening to one’s body. And the best way to be able to do that is to seek to get to know your body, how it operates, what it feels like when it feels good, what things normally look like etc. I think it is important to encourage our little ones to do the same. Talk with them about the purpose of different parts of their body, how they function and even what it may sound, look or feel like if something is off. The better understanding they have developed, the more readily they are going to be able to assist you and their doctor in pinpointing what may be amiss should an issue arise. In turn, the more prepared they will feel armed with their own wisdom heading into their appointment.
Do you have any additional strategies that have worked with your little ones in preparing them for a positive experience at the doctor? If it is something they have a hard time with, is there an idea above that you think you could give a whirl?
Interested in learning more about TytoHome and the convenience and peace-of-mind it can offer your family? It is now available for purchase online at BestBuy.com and in select stores in the Minneapolis/St. Paul region. Note: In the Minneapolis/St. Paul region Sanford Health is the medical provider. The clinicians you see via Sanford Health are certified, experienced in treating urgent care conditions, and are specifically trained in performing visits online.
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