To many kids, going to the doctor can be scary, especially if they suffer from uncomfortable conditions such as hemorrhoids. The fear of the unknown as well as fears from previous doctor visits can contribute to stress and anxiety for children. To help allay these fears, communicating correctly with children will help you treat them efficiently and establish trust.
Get Down On Their Level
Sitting eye-to-eye with children when you speak with them will go a long way in helping you gain their trust and help them stay calm as you treat them. Towering over children can make anxieties worse and them less likely to cooperate. Getting down onto a child’s level while speaking to them will help them feel like you are treating them as an equal, which can make them feel confident and respected.
Use Simple Words & Explain What You’re Doing
The first rule to remember when speaking with children is that they understand a lot more than we would think. They also listen and learn best when you use simple concrete, age appropriate words and phrases to explain what you are doing and why. This will take a lot of the mystery out of the procedure. If necessary, use age appropriate visuals to help you explain.
Avoid using “baby” talk or a high-pitched voice when speaking to children—this can be embarrassing to older children and make them feel as if you don’t take them seriously.
Have Them Help
While children obviously won’t be helping you with the procedure, phrase instructions in a way that makes children feel like they have a part to play in their own care. For example, asking them to hold sealed pads until you need it and performing a task like laying down or turning their head.
When treating children, it is essential that you be realistic and not fib about what they will experience while being treated at your office. Instead of “This won’t hurt,” say “This may pinch a little.” In doing so, you are helping them prepare themselves and establishing trust by showing them that you won’t lie about what they will be experiencing. It will also help them feel less anxious when they come back to visit you in the future.
Remember To Praise
Praising children when it’s due will go a long way in helping them feel comfortable around you and less fearful of their visit and any procedures. Use phrases like “You did great!” and “Thank you for helping me. You’re a good helper!”
Enlist The Help Of Parents
Even after good visits in the past, children can and will break down. When that happens, stay calm and enlist the help of the child’s parents. This can help calm the child and distract them. If possible, allowing them to sit on their parent’s lap and having the parent explain what is happening will help them feel safe and reassured.