Nobody waits better than a 5-year-old. Nobody. (For those of us in the real world, these tips are real lifesavers.)
Doctor's office visits are inevitable ... especially for children. If you're like me, you've had hallmark-moment appointments where everything went well and ... uh... more apocalypse moments where you left a path of destruction.
I remember taking my boys (preschool and grade school at the time) to the eye doctor. We had three appointments that day, and our eye doctor was fantastic getting us all through the exams and procedures. We were nearing the end, and I could tell my preschooler just about had enough. The doctor and I were talking, and my son was quietly playing with the back of the chair. Wouldn't you know he unscrewed the knob holding the back of her chair in place—pieces went everywhere. The eye doctor, who had two boys who were older than mine, smiled sweetly, picked up the pieces, and excused our family. Such grace! After all of these years, she still loves checking in on the boys.
Some homework upfront can save a heap of headaches down the road. If it's your first time at the doctor's office, familiarize yourself with the location and offerings. Will you be able to take a child in a stroller? Especially now, check with your doctor's office in advance to be sure of their COVID-19 protocols. Before you leave the house, double-check that you have a bag for your kids, insurance cards, and any records you need for the appointment.
Know what to expect at the appointment and prepare your child. If it's an appointment requiring shots or a procedure, you may want to prepare your child ahead of time. Though some children will fret over the appointment and be fearful if given too much notice. Remain calm during the appointment and help your child respect the doctor. Be sure to encourage and comfort your child.
Kids love having something to do. While many doctor's offices have toys available, they might not be cleaned as regularly as you'd like, or they might temporarily be unavailable due to COVID-19. Just to be safe, grab a few small (and quiet) toys that your child hasn't played with in a while. Let older kids choose a few toys they'd like to bring. This little step helps to involve them in the process.
Involve Your Kids
Especially if your child is the patient, include them in the conversation. As appropriate, let your child answer questions first. You can help add details here and there for a more complete answer. Make sure they have a place to sit comfortably. If they're younger, your lap might be the most comfortable for them. As a patient, the big dentist chair can look a bit daunting. I told my boys we could pretend it was a rocket ship chair. Each time, they hopped right up into the chair.
Bring Water and Snacks
Even I act up when I'm thirsty and hungry. Be ready to meet your child's most basic needs especially if the appointment runs longer than you expected. While your child won't need a full snack bar, be sure to have a water bottle and small snack available for them. Depending on the type of appointment, check with the office staff to be sure it's okay for your child to eat or drink during the appointment.
Help Clean Up
We had offered to put my eye doctor's chair back together before we left. She was kind enough to take care of it. Though, take just a quick minute before you and your children leave any room in the doctor's office to straighten chairs and pick up pieces of trash or your own toys.
How was your last trip to the doctor's office with your child? Do you have a tip to add to our list or an apocalypse moment? Share in the comments.