Tips on Preparing Your Child
It is important that your child feels comfortable and safe when visiting us. Below, we have provided some brief pointers to help you and your child feel safer prior to their visit. We have also provided specific tips for dealing with children from different age groups.
General strategies for preparing your child for their upcoming visit:
- Communicate openly with your child and be honest about their situation and the reasons for their visit.
- Younger children may benefit from learning through role-playing. Using one of their stuff animals to explain what is expected to happen will make the situation clearer to them and encourage them to ask questions.
- Do not pressure your child if they are initially hesitant about discussing their upcoming visit. Simply give them time and try again later.
- Reassure your child that having to go to the clinic does not mean that they have done something wrong.
- Encourage your child to bring a favorite toy or activity from home to their appointment. This will help them feel safer and more comfortable at their appointment.
Helping Children of Different Ages
Children will have different understandings of a situation based on their age and developmental level. Below are ideas and strategies for dealing with specific age groups prior to an appointment:
Infants and toddlers
Infants and toddlers will feel safer and more comfortable if familiar objects are close at hand. Bring along your child’s favorite toy, blanket, or other comfort item.
As children get older, you can provide more detail about going to the clinic and what will happen during their visit. It is important to let them express their feelings and attempt to answer any questions that they might have.
To encourage your child to talk, try saying, “You may be wondering what it’s going to be like at the clinic?” rather than, “How do you feel?”
Comfort your child that you will be at their side throughout their appointment.
You will find many of our suggestions for younger children will work with this age group as well. However, older children will understand more and ask more questions. It is important to emphasize that everything done by the doctor, nurse, and clinic staff is for the purpose of helping them feel better.
Your teenagers will have a better grasp of their illness or condition, but may be reluctant to ask questions about the things they don’t understand. Encourage your teen to talk to the doctor and the nurse about their condition.
Be sure to include your teens in discussions and decisions related to their care so that they will feel independent and included.
Teenagers value their privacy and this may be a concern to them in the lead-up to their visit. Reassure them that the staff will treat them with respect and dignity.
For older children, a familiar object, journal, CD, or IPod can help your teen feel safer and more relaxed at the clinic.