As parents and healthcare professionals, we want to do everything we can to protect the children we love and make sure they have the best possible chance to thrive in life. That includes preparing them for medical experiences, which can be difficult and sometimes scary. Here are some things to consider as you prepare your child for their next healthcare experience.
1. Talk to the child about what to expect.
If the child is old enough to understand, it can be helpful to explain what will happen during their healthcare experience. This can help reduce any anxiety they may be feeling. Be sure to give them age-appropriate information and answer any questions they have.
2. Help them understand why they need the procedure.
For some children, understanding why they need a certain medical procedure or test can help ease their anxiety. If a child is old enough, you can explain what the purpose of the procedure is and how it will help them.
3. Make sure they know they can trust their healthcare providers.
It’s important for the child to know that they can trust their healthcare providers. Parents can help build this trust by ensuring that you only take them to doctors and other providers that they trust themselves. You can also let them know that the provider will do everything they can to make sure they’re comfortable and safe.
4. Prepare them for any discomfort they may experience.
Some healthcare experiences can be uncomfortable, such as getting a shot or having blood drawn. If the child is old enough, you can explain that they may feel a little sting or pinch, but it will only last for a moment. Let them know that the healthcare provider will do everything they can to make them as comfortable as possible.
5. Help them cope with any fears or anxiety they may have.
If the child is feeling anxious about their upcoming healthcare experience, there are several things you can do to help them cope. You can provide reassurance and support, help them talk through their fears, and teach them relaxation techniques.
Preparing the child for a healthcare experience doesn’t have to be difficult. By talking to them about what to expect and helping them understand why they need the procedure, you can ease their anxiety and help them feel more prepared.
So now that we’ve covered how to prepare the child, let’s discuss things to consider before you start the conversations.
One of the first things to consider is the child’s previous experiences with healthcare. If they have had positive experiences in the past, they will likely approach their upcoming experience with less anxiety. If they have had negative experiences, such as a traumatic injury or surgery, you will need to be especially careful in how you prepare them so that they don’t become overly anxious.
Another thing to consider is the child’s general temperament. If they are generally an anxious or fearful child, they may need more preparation for their medical experience than a child who is more calm and collected. Parents know their child best, so use your judgement to decide how much preparation they need.
Finally, it’s important to take a child’s personal preferences into account. Some children do not like surprises, so telling them about their upcoming medical experience well in advance may be the best course of action. Other children may feel better if they know what to expect and can see pictures or videos of the procedure ahead of time. Parents know their child best, so use your judgment to decide what will work best for them.
The bottom line:
Preparing a child for a healthcare experience can be difficult, but it is important to do what you can to ensure that they have a positive experience. Consider the child’s previous experiences, their general temperament, and their personal preferences when deciding how much preparation they need. With a little bit of planning, you can help the child approach their upcoming healthcare experience with confidence.