Strategies When Visiting the Doctor With Your Kids

Going to the doctor’s office can be an intimidating thing – especially when you have more than one child with you. Throw in the fact that you have scheduled back-to-back appointments to save on commute time and you’ve got yourself a big dilemma: Will my kids behave? Will they have meltdowns? These worries can be easily put to rest with some preplanning on mom’s and dad’s parts. Here is some good old fashioned advice from a mom who’s been there and done that.

  • Timing is everything. To increase your chances of avoiding a meltdown, it is important to schedule your appointment around your child’s nap time. The more rested your child can be going in to the doctor’s office, the better your chances will be that she will comply. Mondays are the busiest day at the pediatrician’s office, because parents have sick children from over the weekend that they are trying to get in as soon as possible. Avoid Mondays like the plague unless absolutely necessary.

  • Bring tons of snacks. When I say tons … I mean a plethora. This would be a great time to empty out cereal boxes and cupboards for any last minute items that you have been trying to get your kids to eat up. If that is all they are presented with, then that is what they will eat. However, it is also important to add some of their favorite snacks, too. Even a surprise snack that is special to them just for the doctor’s office will make them feel important. Don’t forget sippy cups!

  • Entertainment is key. When your kids are occupied, they don’t have time to fuss. Think iPad, iPhone, Game Boy, LeapPad, books and toys. If you have Netflix at home you can download the app for free on your iPad or smartphone and stock up on all of your children’s favorite movies. Just be sure to charge all of your electronics before heading out the door! If you prefer books, bring easy to carry, age-appropriate books that your kids look forward to reading. Kids love to pack their own backpacks with toys that they can play with while waiting for the doctor. I don’t know about you, but one of the worst things about going to the doctor’s office is having to wait in those small, confined rooms with the door closed. There is nothing more claustrophobic than being put in a 10×10 foot room with all of your kiddos and tons of ‘fun’ medical equipment that you must somehow keep your kids away from.

  • Speaking of medical equipment … there are a few things in the doctor’s office that can work to your advantage. If there is a sink in the room, wash your children’s hands. This is a great time to teach them the benefits of clean hands while buying time. If there are charts on the walls, read them aloud to your children and make a fun game out of finding “this” or finding “that” on the poster. Ask your pediatrician if your child can have a medicine syringe, latex glove, mask or Band-Aid. Teach them about what each item is and how to use them. Pretend to play “doctor” and even have your children bring their own doctor’s kit from home, so that they can add their new “tools” to their own doctor bag. Just watch the smiles take over your children’s faces with this one. What kid doesn’t love pulling out all of their new doctor tools?

  • If you are fortunate enough to have both parents attending the appointment, tag team it. Each of you can be responsible for one child or split the kids up evenly so that you are both staying in charge of the situation. If only one of the children has the appointment, have your spouse take the other kids to the park or, if it’s too cold outside, to an indoor play area at the mall.

  • Last but not least and most importantly, patience. Patience is key. Try not to leave home without it. Kids are kids and sometimes there is nothing we can do as parents to prevent a meltdown. Using the tips in this article can and will help, but it is important to remember that behavior starts with the parents and reflects on our children. If prayer is your thing, than say a prayer. If calling a friend in advance of your child’s doctor appointment helps you to get focused, than pick up the phone.

Now that you are well equipped to head to the pediatrician’s office, go ahead and schedule your children’s appointments. If all goes well and the children behave to your liking, surprise them by taking them out for a treat such as ice cream or a quick trip to the park. Outings like these can set the tone for how you would like future situations to go.

Good luck and go get ’em!