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On Call: Easier Doctor's Visits

Q. After a trip to the ER (for a pea up her nose), my 3-year-old has an intense fear of the doctor. How can I help her get through it?

I don't blame her. Emergency rooms are scary places, even for adults. When my son Zack was a toddler, he had a long, needle-filled visit to the ER and for a year freaked out anytime we walked into a doctor's office.

Since your daughter is a bit older, she'll be easier to reassure. The key is to prepare her in advance. Next time she's due for a doctor's visit, explain what will happen and that he's there to make her feel better. Snuggle with her and read a story about going to the doctor. There are lots of children's books  -- with familiar faces like the Berenstain Bears and Clifford the Big Red Dog  -- about just that. Role-playing can also help. Use a toy doctor's kit to show her how to give her dolls and stuffed animals an "exam." A social visit or two to the doctor, where she sits on the table but nothing scary happens, can be a good idea; talk to your doctor to see if that's possible.