Does your child cry non-stop at the doctor’s office?

From Blog @RookieMoms
“My daughter is absolutely phobic of doctor’s offices and pretty much screams and cries the whole time we are there, even through procedures as painless as having her ears checked. You can imagine how I dread going to the doctor with her. I have taken her with her brother when she’s not being examined; I have taken her to just go to the office, look at the fish and leave; I have taken her with me to my own doctor, all in the name of reducing the terror associated with the office. No dice.

As a result, we are behind on immunizations, haven’t had her hearing tested, and the dentist has not actually gotten a look inside her mouth despite two visits. If I ask her to play doctor with me at home, no problem! She loves it. What is she going to be when she grows up? A tummy doctor, she’ll tell you. She’ll be the first medical practitioner who has never actually been examined. Guess we’ll never know if that pacifier screwed up your teeth, honey!”

Some pieces of wisdom get handed down through the ages because they’re just so darn true. Well, I’m waving a flag today to say there are exceptions to every rule. Some parenting tips I’ve heard over and over have not held up, in my individual experience. Excerpt From Whitney@Rookiemoms Blog ( Thankyou Heather and Whitney for letting me share the story:))
Facebook:  Twitter: @rookiemoms

Good Parents, Good Techniques — Improving Implementation
A Child Psychotherapist’s Take

Dear  Mom,
Of course your article is funny. We’ve all been there, and I understand that what you’re describing is just a snapshot of a moment in time. After reading your blog, I know you’re both great Moms. You may have already done all the things I suggest here. However the child psychotherapist in me can’t resist commenting, as your article provides a great teachable moment.

Just so your readers know, my child cried her way through every doctor’s appointment — and we went every 3 months for many years. It was a stressful, embarrassing nightmare. During each visit I kept reminding myself of all the things I learned in 15 years of child psychology practice, such as: it’s okay for kids to cry, many kids are scared at the doctor’s office, I am teaching her to be brave, and it will decrease in time.

The most important thing not mentioned in the “great advice” you’ve gotten (and you may have already done this!) is the need to address the feelings underneath the child’s behavior. Don’t be surprised if your child doesn’t yet have the language to articulate their emotional state. Many kids will say “I don’t know” if you ask them what they’re feeling. But with practice they’ll be able to name and express their feelings, and eventually the behavior will change.

In the beginning — which may mean years — it’s helpful to give kids choices of feelings they may be experiencing. For example, try saying, “I know this is scary. It’s okay to be scared. You’re brave to do this, and even if you cry, you’re still brave.”

And yes, continue to role-play doctor! It’s helping your child process their fears bit by bit. Even if you can’t see the results now, that doesn’t mean it’s not working. Most parents give up too soon, which is understandable. Many books forget to mention that it might take a year or more of role-playing doctor to calm a child’s fears. So start talking about the feelings, and continue to role-play, even if you can’t see the benefits now. Valuable progress is being made that will become clear in the long term.

I had my 9-year-old read your post and asked her if she remembered what we went through at the doctor’s office. She said, “Yes, I cried hysterically every time we went, I was so scared. But you kept saying ‘it’s okay to be scared.’ You held me and helped me while I cried. You didn’t make me feel bad or silly. That helped me learn to be brave, even though it took a long time.”

Her motto is, “I am now a brave kid even when I am scared.” My motto is, “Feel the fear and do it anyway.”

Living through the crying (i.e. feeling the fear) is hard, and the process might last a long time. As you know, each child’s timetable is different. In my case, I knew we’d reached a turning point the time she said, “Is that it? That didn’t hurt that much!” with tears running down her face. I told her yes, and that was it! After that, she still got nervous before each exam, but didn’t become hysterical anymore.

None of us learned to read overnight, and in the same way learning to manage and express feelings takes a lot of practice. The benefits last a lifetime, though. When you actively engage in sharpening your family’s Feeling Skills, you’re ensuring your child’s emotional future.

Other things I found helpful were, as you know, reading the Franklin book series, drawing pictures and telling stories about doctor’s visits, and saying, “I know this is hard, I know you’re scared, I will be there for you, we will be brave together.” (Meanwhile, she’s screaming bloody murder…)

Effective Distract-Ivities — Keeping Your Child Otherwise Occupied

After all of your hard work is done, and you’ve talked about feelings and role-played doctor until you need  a doctor yourself, you still have to live through the actual visits. I’m sure you’ve tried this, but come to the physician’s office armed with anything you can to keep your child busy. These are what I call “distract-ivities”:

#    Bring a smart phone with apps kids can play while being examined.
#    Bring along a favorite toy or stuffed animal.
# Play music at low volume in ear buds.
#    Make up a song about being brave, like “My doctor scares me, but I’ll scare him back, I’ll be brave sooner than you think, it’s okay to cry, etc.” (My song “Gotta Find Out” was written to help my kid and others work through difficult feelings.)
#    Associating a stressful, scary visit with a fun activity afterwards can work wonders in the long run. I don’t believe in bribes, but rewards are different. Let your child earn stickers or stars for bravery. Accumulating several stickers can earn play time alone with Mom. Stickers are incentives that that help kids internalize the behavior you are encouraging, and eventually they won’t need the rewards.

Summary of Effective Key Strategies

1.    What many books forget to tell you is that implementing new parenting techniques can take a long time to show results.
2.    Don’t over-emphasize fear or minimize it. Instead, use scary incidents as teachable moments and opportunities for growth. As a parent, tolerate the embarrassment of your child’s crying and pain, for the greater good of their health. If your pediatrician is not understanding, find a new one.
3.    Let your child know they can always come to you, share their fears, and receive encouragement. Demonstrate that you support them by listening to them.
4.    Teach Positive Self-Talk. For example have your child repeat after you, “I can do this. It’s scary, but I am okay. (This takes years, but I am still doing it with my child.)
5.    Provide hope to your child (and yourself) that there is an end in sight, and eventually they’ll be less scared.
6.    Teach your kids to work through fear, not run from it. If they learn this lesson with the doctor’s office, they can apply this lesson throughout their lives, just as we all do.
7.    When your child tell you they don’t like going to the doctor, say, “I know, it’s hard. I don’t like to go to the doctor either, but it’s important because we want to stay healthy.”
8.    Problem-solve together! Ask your child for suggestions about what would help them handle their fears. If they say, “Nothing, I just don’t want to go,” say, “I know it’s hard, so I don’t blame you, but we have to go to stay healthy. Let’s solve it together.” Then give choices, such as bringing their favorite toys.

The most important thing to remember is not to have the expectation that any one of these techniques will work right away. Years later, you’ll look back at your brave child and be happy that you suffered through the awful, noisy doctor’s visits. Ideally, your child will say, “I’m so lucky to have you for a Mom!” Music to our ears and hearts…
My 20 years of clinical expertise and working with kids have taught me that helping your child understand the feelings that are hiding underneath their behavior, talking openly about them will protect your child’s emotional future. Teaching what I call Feelings Skills i.e. Emotional Intelligence is essential but not easy, and the key to success is early intervention.

Easy Steps for Parents and Kids to Take
Take 5 minutes a day to establish a Daily Feelings Ritual with your kids. In order to help parents and kids practice this unfamiliar task, I have developed a series of books and songs. By reading “Listen To Me Please,” and “My Feelings Are Hungry,” singing the accompanying songs,  and using the Feeling Town Map at the back of “My Feelings Are Hungry,” each lesson becomes part of a family’s lifestyle. The result will be lots of fun, plus positive changes in behavior and attitude and improvement in emotional health.

By Ava Parnass – Ava Parnass, a.k.a. “The Kid Whisperer,” is an author, songwriter and child therapist  who specializes in marrying Entertainment, Emotional Intelligence i.e. Time-In not Time-Out for kids. Ms Parnass helps kids figure out how they feel through playing, talking, listening,reading, singing and dancing.  Her multi-media materials, books and songs encourage parents and  kids to read and sing along, in the process learning how awareness of  feelings “Emotional Intelligence” improves problems and behavioral issues. Website:  Blog:  Twitter: @ListenToMePleas 

If you are still having understandable trouble figuring out how to teach your child to express how they feel in a positive fashion Just Ask Ava : Upload a 2- 3 min Video of you interacting with your child/children. I have over 15 years of experience with young children. With my clinical expertise I can watch your video interaction and  save you time,money and a month of explaining .


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