Many kids develop a fear of doctors. According to some recent research studies, of the 726 parents surveyed, 50% said their children disliked going to the doctor. Crying, anxiety, racing heart, and sweaty palms – if you are still reading this article, I am sure your kid has expressed some of these emotions.
Let’s be honest, few of us (by that, I mean grownups) look forward to doctor checkups. When seeing the kids who are sick and hear them crying at the doctor’s, your kid may get nervous, too.
Now, there are many ways to help your kid relax. For example, many parents use bribing. “If you keep calm at the doctor’s, I will buy you the toy we saw yesterday.” Sounds familiar?
However, bribing kids is never a good solution in the long-run. It does not help your kid overcome the fear of pediatricians.
Mindfulness exercises can be far more effective.
What is mindfulness, and how can it help your kid calm fears?
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a form of meditation that helps a kid be intensely aware of their feelings at the moment and understand the connection between their mind and body.
By practicing mindfulness, your kid will stay calm and focused no matter what is going on around them. Most importantly, they will learn to control their emotions and be less reactive to fears and other negative emotions.
Practicing mindfulness includes various exercises, including breathing methods and guided imagery.
Studies show that mindfulness can minimize stress and anxiety, as well as increase attention. Next time your kid starts panicking in the waiting room, here are a few proven mindfulness exercises to try out.
Pediatric offices are usually colorful and packed with toys, while kids doctors are kind and patient. Still, doctor appointments are stressful for most kids.
Mindful breathing exercises reduce frustration and anxiety in such situations.
One such exercise is bumblebee breathing. A kid should sit comfortably with their legs crossed and breathe in through their nose. Ask them to count up to four. As they breathe out, they should make a bee buzzing sound. While the exercise is fun and simple, it also has a calming effect.
Mindful Coloring Exercises
Creative activities, such as mindful coloring, have proven to minimize anxiety and stress levels. Your kid focuses on coloring and forgets what is happening around them.
For kids afraid of doctor appointments, that is an extraordinary opportunity to focus on something more pleasant, creative, and positive. Let kids choose illustrations by themselves and focus on the coloring process without worrying whether they will stay in line.
Most importantly, coloring is a perfect option for waiting at the doctor’s because it does not require any physical activity or detailed instructions. It is not messy, either. Bring a coloring book and a pack of colored pencils.
You can use any coloring book your kids like. Let your kid pick them on their own. Apart from traditional cartoon coloring books, you can also choose mandalas that have become synonymous with stress reduction and better concentration.
The Coping Technique Using Five Senses
This mindfulness technique helps kids focus on their five senses so they can forget about the checkup. One of the most popular exercises is the 5-4-3-2-1 coping game.
First, a kid needs to name five things they see in the waiting room and describe them.
Second, ask them to touch four things (e.g. their hair, chair, toy, etc.) and tell you what they feel.
Third, they should close their eyes, tell you what sounds they hear, and describe them. That could be the sound of a clock, a phone ringing, a kid crying, the air conditioner.
Fourth, can they identify two different smells in the waiting room? That could be your perfume, air freshener, food. Ask them to describe the smell and tell you whether they like it or not.
Finally, a kid should find just one thing they can taste. For example, bring a few snacks in your bag. They should describe the taste of the food. If you do not have any food with you, you can always ask a kid to tell you what they wish they were eating at the moment.
Help your Kid Overcome the Fear of Doctors with Mindfulness
Simple mindfulness exercises can be practices anywhere, including a pediatric office. While there is a wide range of mindfulness tricks for kids, the ones mentioned above can serve as your solid starting point. They are simple, effective, and engaging.
A kid will focus on the exercise and stop worrying about the appointment. Unlike popular bribing strategies, mindfulness helps children reduce stress and help them reduce the fear of pediatricians.
Have you ever practices mindfulness with your kid? Please, share your experiences with us!