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Tricks to a Trauma-Free Doctor Visit

Prepping for Success

Play M.D.
A pretend medical kit is a toy-box must. Feeling the squeeze of a mini-blood-pressure cuff, say, can make the real thing not such a shock.

Read all about it
There's a wealth of picture books about what an exam is like. Some faves: My Friend the Doctor, by Joanna Cole; Doctor Maisy, by Lucy Cousins; and Tomie dePaola's The Barker Twins: Triple Checkup.

Don't make the doc a bad cop
"I can't tell you how often I hear 'You'd better be good or I'll tell the doctor' or 'I'll make the doctor give you a shot,'" says Adiaha Franklin, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and a mom of three. The goal is for your child to see the pediatrician as the caregiver she is, not as The Enemy.

Set up appointments for happy hours
Post-breakfast and post-nap are great for little ones; for older kids, getting to slip out of school early can be a treat.

Time the news right
Wait until the day of to mention an appointment so there's less time for anxiety to build; you can hold off on telling a toddler or preschooler until an hour or two beforehand.

Give the details simply
Explain exactly what the visit is for, even if it's a well-child checkup: "I tell my four-year-old that we sometimes go just to make sure everything is okay," says Stephanie Foster of Sunnyvale, CA. If you're ambitious, call ahead and ask for a rundown of what the checkup will cover.