Doctor reassures a child

Make checkups less scary for kids

Is your child scared of going to the doctor? For some children, checkups are an uncomfortable or even scary experience. Don’t worry. Pediatrician Megan Gruesser, MD shares how you can make your child’s next checkup more comfortable and maybe even more fun.

Talk about your child’s checkup

Be honest

Your child might be worried about shots hurting, or the uncomfortable feel of a blood pressure cuff. Be truthful. Let your child know these thing might feel a little strange, but it won’t take long and you will help them through it.

You can help set expectations about your doctor’s visit. Dr. Gruesser recommends “children’s books and TV shows…that discuss going to the doctor—why it’s important and what to expect.” Stories such as these can help prepare kids for their doctor’s visit.

Be positive

Dr. Gruesser suggests parents put a positive spin on the visit by saying things like, “I can’t wait to see how much you’ve grown!” or “What room do you think they’ll put us in?”

Be supportive

You might be the best remedy for your child’s anxiety. Sit them in your lap if the doctor allows it, and distract them with a sing-along. Let them know that you’ll be right by them for the whole visit.

Kids can feel confident at the doctor's office.

Just before your child’s checkup

Sitting in the waiting room before your child’s checkup begins might allow time for his or her anxiety to build. So, make sure you have a positive way to pass the time. “Parents can bring their child’s favorite stuffed animal or blanket to allow for some extra comfort from home during the visit,” says Dr. Gruesser.

Your child might have a many feelings at being in the doctor’s office. They may feel scared, anxious or upset. It’s okay for them to feel all of these emotions, and the more authentic they are about their feelings, the easier it will be for you to help address their concerns.

During your child’s checkup

Your pediatrician will talk to your child about what will go on during the checkup. He or she might use a doll or toy to demonstrate procedures. “I try to get the child involved with the exam,” says Dr. Gruesser, “like holding the stethoscope.”

Dr. Gruesser also alleviates fear by offering “words of encouragement and praise during the entire exam.” You and your doctor can give praise about how well your child is doing or how brave he or she is being.


Use these tips to make your next visit to the pediatrician less scary for your child. If you’d like to learn more, check out more posts about Children’s Health or search for the right pediatrician for your family.