Children learn pretty quickly that when they are out in public, you are less likely to scold, or discipline them because of all the other people around. You may be more likely to “give in” at that moment just to stop the screaming. Sometimes kids may take advantage of this by saving their best tantrum for the grocery store line or the lobby of the doctor’s office. Preparing your kids for medical appointments ahead of time with frequent reminders of how and why they should act in certain situations can help reduce the glares from the receptionist… if only she knew!!
- Always tell your child your expectations for their behavior prior to going into the medical appointment. Use phrases such as, “You will hold mommy’s hand when we walk” or “You can play on the floor or sit with me”. You can then follow this up with, “What will you do when we get inside?” and “Why should we use our inside voice?”
- If the office does not have books or toys, bring some QUIET toys with you. Don’t bring toys with loud noises or lots of buttons. You could try books, crayons, or sticker books. If you have more than one child, you could always pack a small tote bag for each child.
- You could use this time as a treat for using the iPad or watching a video on your phone. Limiting screen time at other opportunities will keep this as a special time. Bring headphones to be courteous!
- If your child has a hard time sitting still and waiting, you could try marching, jumping, or “pushing” you into the office to give them some calming, heavy work before entering.
- Don’t schedule an appointment at a time when your child is usually napping or eating as this can lead to the rest of the day with cranky baby!
- As your child gets older and out of the toddler stage, he will start to understand the concept of a delayed response. If you do see some behaviors outside of those you told him you expected of him, you can say something like, “Oh, too bad you are choosing to run inside the building.” If you are consistent in following through with a consequence when you get home, your children will start to associate your tone of voice and comments with a delayed consequence. They will most likely start to think “Oh no, I hope she doesn’t take my new Lego set for the day. What if I don’t get any ice cream tonight? I better walk.” This can start to build a self-awareness of judgement and choice making while saving you from having to come up with a consequence right on the spot.
- After the appointment, praise them for all of the good things you saw them do!
By: Casey Waugh