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Calming Young Children at Doctor's Office

By Jodie Lynn


My three-year-old daughter is horribly terrified of going to the doctor. She starts crying as soon as we start parking the car. What can I do to help her understand that her pediatrician is there to make her feel better?


If she only starts crying when you take her, maybe let another family member try their hand at it. When our three-year-old daughter started freaking out every time I had to take her to her pediatrician, he suggested that I allow my husband take a chance on doing it. At first, I thought this was a strange suggestion, but it worked. I'm not sure if she felt safer with him or exactly what her dad could provide her with that I was not able to, but she finally got over the fear of seeing the doctor in about six months. Now, it doesn't matter which one of us takes her. - Sam Washington in Fort Meyers, FL


Children will frequently connect a pediatrician with smells, sounds and feelings that they don't enjoy. For example, if you took your daughter to the doctor and she had to get a shot, blood work, throat swab, etc., this is most likely what she thinks is going to happen each time. There is also the fact that most of the time, there are other children in the waiting room who are just as frightened and may be crying as well. Thus the emotional stage is pretty much set for an unpleasant experience before you ever arrive. Perhaps try to take along some of her own favorite books and maybe a special toy or object of comfort that will hopefully take her mind off of the surroundings and/or her illness. If the office is extremely busy and has upset children in it, hold her if possible and walk around inside or outside. You may even want to take her back to the car for a little bit and listen to music. Many offices will now send a text to parents' cell phones when it is time to take their children to a room. If you can keep her occupied and away from other crying children, she may be less likely to become upset. If she does begin to cry once she is in the room, try to distract her with a story or song of your own. Prepare her for the visit with a story from your own childhood when you were afraid of something that turned out to be for the best. For now, try to be as calm and patient as possible and remember: she is only three. As she gets older and understands the purpose of the doctor and the concept that he or she will cause her to feel better, she will hopefully be less afraid each passing year.

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© Jodie Lynn
Jodie Lynn is an award-winning internationally syndicated family/health columnist and radio personality. Her syndicated column Parent to Parent has been successful for over 10 years and appears in newspapers, magazines, newsletters and throughout the Internet. She is a regular contributor to several sites including,,,,, and Lynn has written four books and contributed to three others, one of which was on Oprah and has appeared on NBC in a three month parenting segment. Her latest books are "Mom CEO (Chief Everything Officer) - Having, Doing and Surviving It All!" (June 2006) and "Syndication Secrets - What No One Will Tell You!" (March 2006).
Please visit for details on her new radio talk show, Inside Parenting Success.


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