Blog:  My Parent Journey

Patients Please: How I Make Medical Visits Less Painful for My Kids

My Parent Journey blog post by Lyn Pollard
Sep 16, 2014

Close up of a doctor examining a smiling child

Early on, parents might not have any idea what that “something else” is. But by the time you actually bring up the topic, you’re already a few steps down the path to helping your child. You’ve come prepared to ask questions and take notes. And hopefully, you’ll leave with strategies to help you get closer to understanding your child’s needs.

Beyond this first vital step in working with your pediatrician, there are many ways parents can help kids with learning and attention issues feel more comfortable at the doctor’s office. Here are some things I do:

  • Make waiting as painless as possible by surprising your child with a new game or book when you arrive.
  • Briefly share information about your child’s needs and anxieties ahead of time with the nurse or receptionist. A quick word or reminder in the hallway before your child’s checkup can make all the difference.
  • When necessary, ask to discuss your child in a separate room without your child there. I used to feel bad about asking for this. It meant someone else had to entertain my children for a few minutes while I spoke with the doctor. But I got over it once I realized how much better it worked in terms of getting all the details from my child’s doctor. Another option is to ask for a separate visit with the doctor later, without your children in tow.
  • Figure out ahead of time what you’ll do if your child overreacts or gets anxious.
  • Don’t be embarrassed to ask the nurse for something your child needs, even if it seems inconvenient or unreasonable. If your child needs it, it’s not unreasonable.

I’ve also done some things to make trips to the dentist easier. For instance, I once noticed that dental assistants were scolding my son about his less-than-fabulous dental hygiene. I gently pulled them aside and explained that due to problems with his grasp (and despite several years of occupational therapy), he struggled to brush at the expected level for a child of his age. After this, the dental assistants focused more on the basics of brushing.

Our orthodontist’s office presented another sticky situation. It has an open layout. That means everyone could observe my son’s fearful (and sometimes very loud) reactions. It wasn’t ideal for anyone. I had to step in and explain that my son is especially sensitive in his mouth and that he can’t always control his reactions to pain or discomfort. So could we please have him set up in a private room?

Once the staff understood the need for a special setup, they worked with me. From then on my son’s visits went much more smoothly.

Most medical professionals will go out of their way to help you and your child feel as comfortable as possible. My rule of thumb: Stay positive. Ask politely but persistently. And if the answer is “no,” ask if there’s an alternative.

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About the Blogger

Portrait of Lyn Pollard

Lyn Pollard is a writer and mom to two kids who learn differently.

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