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Learning to Talk to the Doctor


When scheduling...
Stay with one doc. Kids feel more at ease with familiar faces, so if it's a multi-physician practice, request the same doctor each time.

Before you go...
Warm up. Use dolls, action figures, or other toys to act out a visit. Take turns switching roles so your child has a chance to be the doctor  -- and even you.

Get him involved. Jot down your questions in advance, and ask him to help. For kids too young to write, use drawings to begin a conversation about what hurts, says Washington, D.C., pediatrician Howard Bennett, M.D. Then bring his art to the appointment.

While you're there...
Button up. Even small children can relay their own symptoms better than you. So when the doctor asks him where it hurts, give him time to respond.

Use a surrogate. Substitute a teddy bear or a doll when you talk about his body. It'll take the attention off him until he's ready for it, and it'll make the experience more fun.