Hospital visits can be a terrifying experience for children. While most of the hospitals in Dubai make a conscious effort to be friendly and non-threatening to children, it might still be scary experience. They might already think of hospitals as places of pain and suffering where they are poked and prodded and sometimes given injections.
Some children might be afraid of being separated from parents during the examination. For some, the efficient detached manner of the doctor might be interpreted as dislike or rejection. Some children may be worried that the examination or medical procedure might hurt or they might view it as a punishment.
If your child is a reluctant visitor to the hospital, here are some tips to make the visit less frightening for the child and less stressful for you:
1. Talk to your child in advance: Before going to the hospital or visiting a doctor, talk to your child about the visit and explain the purpose in an age appropriate manner. For a toddler or younger child, keep the explanation very simple. For older children, you can explain the illness and how the doctor is going to help him or her. You can also talk to them about what to expect during the medical examination.
2. Do not arrive early: Try to book an appointment in advance so that you and your child do not have to wait too long as this only increases anxiety in a worried child. While some amount of waiting is inevitable in hospitals, you can use this time to tell the child what to expect in the doctor’s room and the process of medical examination.
3. Make it a family affair: Having the family go together to the hospital makes it less stressful for the child and the parents. It becomes like a family outing and having more hands to help distract the child makes it less stressful for the parents as well.
4. Take a toy or a book: Some amount of waiting is inevitable in hospitals.In the waiting room of a pediatric doctor, there will always be other children who are in distress due to illness or crying after injections etc. This increases anxiety or fear in children who are waiting to see the doctor. During this time it is important that the parents keep the child preoccupied and comfortable.This is when a toy or a book will help. Private hospitals in Dubai provide the waiting areas for children with toys or TV as a form of distraction.
5. Keep water and some snacks with you: If you expect the waiting period to be long, if you don’t have a prior appointment for instance, you need to make sure that your child doesn’t get cranky due to hunger or thirst. Getting cranky would only increase the fear associated with the hospitals.
6. Choose a doctor who engages well with children: Children always respond to people who appear sincere and loving towards them. Having a doctor who understands kids' needs and fears and who communicates easily with them in a friendly manner, without talking down to them will help them to open up about their illness or any discomfort that they might be feeling. In the course of a physical exam, the doctor inspects, taps, and probes various parts of the body — procedures that may be embarrassing (or even physically uncomfortable) for kids. A good relationship between doctor and patient can minimize these feelings.If your child's doctor seems critical, uncommunicative, disinterested, or unsympathetic, do not be afraid to change doctors. Ask for recommendations from other parents in your area or from other doctors whose opinions you trust.
7. Treat the doctor, nurses and other staff as friends: When the parents treat the staff in a friendly manner, the children feel more relaxed around them. Having the same doctor and hospital for repeated visits, reinforces the comfort levels.
8. Keep calm and carry on: Children take behavioural cues from their parents. This is especially true for babies, toddlers and younger children. So, it is important that the parents remain calm and do not appear tensed or worried. An older child with a worried parent might also think that his or her illness is worse than what the parent is telling them.
Hospital visits are inevitable part of growing up. It is normal for children to have some amount of fear or anxiety about a visit to a hospital. However it is our responsibility as parents to make it as relaxing as possible. After all, having a healthy happy child is a source of joy to everyone.