No one wants to be sick, and most people don't want to go to the doctor. Kids aren't as reasonable as adults, so they can be wary of what a doctor or nurses are going to do to them. It's no secret that doctors' offices are home to shots, vaccinations, and other unpleasant tests for children. They often associate the visits with pain and have anxiety about going. To help reduce the stress in your primary care office, consider one of these three suggestions.
Encourage Play in the Waiting Room
The first thing you can do to help children relax is to encourage them to play. While many kids may be sick coming into the office, others will be there for vaccinations or checkups, so they won't necessarily feel like sitting down and waiting. Encourage play by playing popular kids' movies on TVs in your lobby and waiting room and by having a box of easy-to-clean toys awaiting their arrival. Remember that, because germs travel easily from one sick child to another, anything you have for them to play with should be able to be bleached or wiped down at least once every few days. If you decide to have video games in the office, consider putting up a sanitation station where alcohol wipes are available; older kids can use these to wipe down the equipment or toys before they play.
Provide Distractions in the Treatment Room
Once a child heads back to the treatment room, he or she may be feeling stressed and anxious. This is the time when a distraction is most helpful. You could have a small monitor in the room playing a continuation of the same movie that was in the waiting room, or you could consider having a tablet in the room that has simple games for kids to play. Some offices like those of the Rural Health Services Consortium Inc. have had success by providing books to children; another option is an electronic reader because it can be sanitized between patients and has a number of free books available for download.
Give Rewards—No Matter How the Visit Went
Finally, you already know that the children are anxious and may not cooperate, but that isn't a true show of the child's personality. No matter how upset he or she gets from a shot or how much the child fights a vaccine, it's important to reinforce the idea that once the visit is over, there is something to look forward to. Consider having prepackaged toys, coloring books, or other gifts to give out after the visit. The child will start looking forward to coming into the office to get a new prize, and you may find a reduction in overall anxiety at your appointments.Share