Each year, this phobia produces stress among those who fear needles. Also known as iatrophobia, fear of doctors or fear of visiting doctors, this problem has an extraordinary impact on patients.
Like all feelings of fear, this phobia is installed unconsciously, as a defense system. Although it manifests differently from case to case, the most known symptoms are the following:
- Quick breaths
- Irregular heart rhythm
When children realize they have to go to the doctor, they start to have emotions and they are afraid.
Regardless of the nature of the medical visit, they feel fear and most feel guilty.
Children react differently depending on age:
- newborns cry when they are stripped for consultation, so make sure the temperature in the doctor's office is adequate;
- children between 6 months and 2 years of age give signs of anxiety (ask your pediatrician to examine it while you hold it in your arms, take with you a crib or a toy that could relax it);
- In the case of older children (starting with the age of 7-8), at the earliest age of 5, there is the possibility that they may feel embarrassed when undressing, even if the doctor is of the same sex with the child.
It is important for parents to tell their children that the intimacy of their body matters, but that certain people (doctors, nurses, parents) have to examine all parts of the body sometimes.
However, he emphasizes that this is only valid for these people. You can use a doll or a teddy bear to show the child how the medical visit will take place:
- when the doctor looks into his mouth he will have to hold his tongue with a special tool only for a few seconds to see his neck;
- the doctor will look into his eyes and ears;
- will listen to his chest and back with a stethoscope;
- it will press lightly on the belly to see if everything is working well inside;
- will examine his knees and legs;
- will look in the "private area" to see if it is healthy.
By preparing the visit to the doctor you can help your child express his fear and overcome it. There are several reasons why children are scared to visit a doctor:
separation: children are afraid that their parents might leave them in the doctor's office during the check (in general, the fear of separation is common in children under 7 years, but can manifest between 12 and 13 years);
pain: children are afraid that a certain part of the medical visit may be painful (this idea is common between 6 and 12 years and is usually related to the fear of injection);
doctor: Unfortunately, the child may be afraid of the doctor's behavior (if the doctor has a detached attitude and is not affectionate, the child may interpret this as being a sign of rejection from the doctor); A doctor should be affectionate and patient with the child and in no case intimidating.
unknown: children are afraid, most of the time, that parents hide the seriousness of the situation and think that they need surgery or, worse, that they will die.
Methods of prevention and soothing
In addition, children often feel guilty and believe that their illness is a punishment for something they did or had to do but didn't do.
Some of them take this belief to the extreme by being convinced that the entire medical procedure is a punishment.
Parents can help children by teaching them how to express their feelings of fear, but they have to say this using words that the child can easily understand.
Nonverbal communication is also very important. Try to be as calm and relaxed as possible. Obviously, what you tell the child will have a huge impact on the vision of the doctor's visit.
Instead of telling the child "And we have to go to the doctor!", You could try "Today we go to the lady / doctor. I'm sure she'll give you something again."
If your medical visit is aimed at diagnosing a disease or treating it, explain that the doctor will help you get well.
If the child feels guilty for suffering from a certain disease, you must explain to him that it is not his fault and that he is lucky that he has a doctor so good that he will help him get well.
If you or someone in your family has suffered from the same disease, you can tell them why they would not feel guilty anymore.
There are certain conditions that are misunderstood by others and, consequently, embarrassing for the child, such as lice or watering during the day. In this case you have to tell her that many other children were in this situation.
Over time, the child begins to associate the doctor's visit with the pain he or she feels or medical procedures such as injections or blood tests.
Be honest with the child about the doctor's visit and explain what the control is, including how each step is performed.
You can calm him down by telling him that he can ask the doctor anything and remind him that even the healthiest children are in control.
When you notice that you are afraid, you can take it by the hand to give it the stability and confidence it needs.
The child feels much better if he / she is involved in the examination process. E.g:
collection of information for the doctor: if it is not an emergency, allow the child to contribute to the list of symptoms (all symptoms should be included, no matter how important they seem), it would be advisable to draw up a list of all the diseases of the child until then;
formulation of questions: you can ask him what he wants to ask the doctor.
To make sure everything is in order, choose a doctor who can easily relate to the children. A doctor who understands the needs of a child, who knows how to behave and be friendly and, most importantly, how to communicate can help you eliminate a child's fear of doctors.
A good child-doctor relationship can even minimize the pain that sometimes occurs during the visit. If you don't like the doctor you go to, don't be afraid to change it.
Finally, explain to the child that adults go to the doctor when they are feeling unwell and that the doctor's role is to solve their problems and help them stay healthy.
Tags Fear of children Fear of doctors Fear of doctor children