Going to the doctor’s office can be intimidating – especially when you have more than one child with you. Throw in the fact that you have scheduled back-to-back appointments to save on commute time and you’ve got yourself a big dilemma: Will my kids behave? Will they have a meltdown?
These worries can be easily put to rest with some planning ahead by mom and dad.
Here is some good ‘ol fashion advice from a mom who’s been there and done that:
+ Timing is everything. To increase your chances of avoiding a meltdown, it is important to schedule your appointment around your child’s nap time. The more rested your child can be going in to the doctor’s office, the better your chances will be that she will comply. Avoid Mondays like the plague, unless absolutely necessary: they are the busiest day at the pediatrician’s
office because parents have sick children from over the weekend that they are trying to get in as soon as possible.
+ Bring tons of snacks. When I say tons…I mean a plethora. This would be a great time to empty out cereal boxes and cupboards for any last minute items that you have been trying to get your kids to eat up. If that is all they are presented with then that is what they will eat. However, it is also important to add some of their favorite snacks in there, too. Even a surprise snack that is special to them just for the doctor’s office will make them feel important. Don’t forget sippy cups!
+ Tag team it. If you are fortunate enough to have both parents attend the appointment, have each be responsible for one child or split the kids up evenly so that you are both staying in charge of the situation. If only one of the children has the appointment, have your spouse take the other kids to the park or to an indoor play area.
+ Entertain. When your kids are occupied, they don’t have time to fuss. There is nothing more claustrophobic than being put in a 10×10 foot room with all of your kiddos and tons of ‘fun’ medical equipment that you must somehow keep your kids away from. To avoid this, think fully charged electronics, like iPad, iPhone, Gameboy and LeapPad, or books and toys. If you have Netflix at home you can download the app for free on your iPad or smartphone and stock up on all of your children’s favorite movies. If you prefer books, bring easy to carry, age-appropriate books that your kids look forward to reading. Kids love to ‘pack’ their own backpack with toys that they can play with while waiting.
+ Patience is key. Try not to leave home without it. Kids are kids and sometimes, there is nothing we can do as parents to prevent a meltdown. Using the tips in this article can and will help but it is important to remember that behavior starts with the parents and reflects on our children. If prayer is your thing, then say a prayer. If calling a friend on the way to your child’s doctor appointment helps you to get focused, then pick up the phone.
Now that you are well equipped to head to the pediatrician’s office, go ahead and schedule your children’s appointments. If all goes well and the children behave, surprise them by taking them out for a treat such as ice cream or a quick trip to the park. Outings like these can set the tone for how you would like future situations to go.
Good luck and go get ‘em!
Meagan Ruffing is a parenting journalist, author, and speaker. She is always looking for new and creative ways to keep her kids occupied at the doctor’s office to prevent meltdowns. Sign up for her free monthly parenting newsletter at www.meaganruffing.com and like her on Facebook.