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Games and Activities to Help Your Child Cope with Doctors’ Visits
Facing the Scary Stuff: There are some aspects of visiting the doctor that are just plain scary. Of course, children cannot play with or touch needles, but they can play with tongue depressors, cotton balls, and Band-Aids. These real objects help diffuse the anxiety associated with them. You can incorporate them into your child’s doctor kit or include them with other art materials to make art collages with glue, glitter, paint, and tape on cardboard.
Playing Doctor to Address Fears: Playing out doctors’ visits or medical procedures at home helps your child understand what will happen and provides her with a sense of control. Playing doctor, rather than patient, puts your child in the driver’s seat and helps her feel more powerful. You can pretend to be scared and let your child reassure you that everything will be okay. You can also be an uncooperative patient, playfully refusing to take your medicine and then letting your child coerce you into opening your mouth.
Dolly’s Boo-Boos: Once your child is old enough to enjoy pretend play with his dolls, little people, and stuffed animals, get him a children’s doctor kit to help take away their boo-boos. Not only will playing with the kit help during the times he is ill, but it will also be a way to desensitize him to the scary aspects of going to the doctor.
Picture This: Drawing pictures about their experiences helps children cope with scary feelings. It is also helpful to let your child talk about her picture to further process her emotions.
My Trip to the Doctor: Reading books with your child creates closeness and offers a world of new information. Creating your own storybooks is a more personal way to describe events in her life. Take photographs of your child’s visit to the doctor or hospital, documenting every part of her experience. Paste or tape the photos onto heavy paper and write words underneath to describe each picture. For older children, take dictation and scribe their own words. Staple the pages together and create a real book written by you and your child.