Tips for a Better Check Up

Check upOver the years I have learned that there are certain things I can do as a parent to make the kids’ annual check ups a better experience.

When they were very little (under 2):

  • Schedule the check up when your child is most likely to be happy and alert.
  • Administer infant Tylenol or Motrin prior to your child receiving any vaccinations. (Just double check with your doctor and make sure they are okay with it. Mine always was.)
  • Bring along a favorite blankie or lovey for comfort.
  • Bring a few small toys that your child hasn’t played with in a while too. The doctor’s office may have toys and books in the room, but chances are they aren’t cleaned after every patient and are a major carrier of germs.

Ages 3-6

  • Most of the tips for the younger set still hold true.
  • Explain to your child what is going to happen ahead of time.  Be truthful and use the correct names for everything.
  • Practice the examination on a baby doll or stuffed animal ahead of time. Then bring that same “patient” along for the check up too.
  • Keep things positive. Avoid saying things like “those mean nurses are done hurting you now.” Empathize with your child and explain that a shot may hurt now but it is protection for the future.

Ages 7 and up

  • Teach your child to use their own voice. By 7 your child is used to interacting with grown-ups at school and in the community. Your child needs to develop their own rapport with the doctors and nurses.
  • Continue to be an advocate for your child. Fill in the gaps in the conversation and ask the questions they may not feel comfortable with.
  • Again, be truthful about the exam and procedures your child will get ahead of time. Use correct terms and answer any questions they may have.
  • As your child gets older, he or she may not want you in the room for the exam. Respect your child’s privacy, but use good judgment.

I’d love to get more input. Do you have any tips for making check ups or doctor’s visits in general, easier for your kids? Leave a comment and let us know.

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2 comments found

  1. These are good tips – we still struggle with the ‘teach your child to use their own voice’ one, even though my older two are now 10 and 11. They still go all shy and quiet. My youngest (8) is much braver about speaking up …

    It is a good idea to ask the child in advance what questions they might have, and whether they feel they can ask them – it is too late once you’ve left the consulting room.

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