Though it’s often said children are our future, it can be hard to incorporate them into contemporary life. For example, how do we include them in the more private aspects, such as doctors’ appointments or the OBGYN? Children are tiny humans, just like us, but they require almost constant stimulation to stay calm and quiet. Especially during a doctor’s appointment (one they aren’t old enough to understand, no less), it’s important to engage them. Keep your toddlers (and your privacy) safe with five helpful tips for taking your toddler to an OBGYN appointment.
Likely the most important rule of taking a child anywhere gains importance in such a serious appointment. Gynecologists can be our first point of contact for significant conditions, such as STI’s, infections, or even cancer. Therefore, it is crucial to be able to focus and listen during check-ups, which requires a distraction for your kids. Luckily, a solution is readily available and downloadable in the App Store. Try keeping a folder of kids’ games on your phone, such as Angry Birds, Cut the Rope or Candy Crush. These are easy-to-play games that can occupy your children for hours. 4 in 10 American children are under the age of 4 when they first begin to use smart devices. Thus, smartphone games are an easy fix with a device your child is already comfortable using.
Engaging your child with a digital game also keeps them from interrupting the doctor and asking too many questions. While it’s important to raise your child with an understanding of medicine, they can learn too much. You do not want them to start asking questions you aren’t in a position to answer yet. Entertaining your child with games can prevent an awkward onslaught of questions.
Turn Your Phone On Airplane Mode
Easily forgotten, but undeniably crucial, keeping your phone on airplane mode is incredibly important when allowing your child to play. Without airplane mode, your private appointment could be broadcast across Twitter, Facebook, and text messages. Airplane mode helps ensure your toddler cannot access the internet. No service means they cannot send accidental (or purposeful!) pictures of your gynecology appointment to your friends and family via text. Studies indicate children use smartphones for pictures more than any other activity. Therefore, airplane mode is key in making sure your child doesn’t share these before you can delete them.
In general terms, it can also help ensure your child does not see any content you don’t want them to see. Since social media requires internet access, airplane mode keeps them playing on only toddler-specific apps.
Make Sure Your Child is Secure
Like a supermarket or a parking lot, the doctor’s office is a dangerous place for your child to start exploring. Firstly, they could do hundreds of dollars’ worth of damage to expensive medical equipment. Moreover, your toddler could distract the doctor or see procedures they shouldn’t while you’re unable to explain it to them. They may be afraid of shots, but they won’t have any idea how to interpret the inner workings of gynecology. Neglecting to secure your child may leave them even more anxious around doctors than before. Considering over half of children 2-5 are already “needle-phobic” and nervous around doctors, unnecessary anxiety is undesirable.
Thus, it may be helpful to bring your toddler’s car seat in and keep it with you in the office. Alternatively, use a stroller with secure straps if you have one. Keeping your child safe and secure will help minimize distractions in the doctor’s office and the waiting room. It will also help minimize your anxiety from having a runaway toddler!
Position Your Child Away From the Action
Over half of parents note their child is afraid of going to the doctor on at least some visits. It’s important, then, to minimize fear and anxiety by not allowing your child to view your more invasive appointments. Luckily, if you’ve paid attention to tip number 3, it should be easy to prevent. Simply position your child, in their stroller, near your head when you first enter the office. Therefore, they’ll be secure in their seat when the gynecologist begins their check-up. You can also watch their activities on your phone (before the appointment gets too distracting.) Being close to them may also help calm your nerves– if you can see them, you know they’re safe. It also helps make you their point of contact for questions, rather than your doctor, for whom distraction can be dangerous.
Plan a Sweet Treat Afterward
One of the easiest ways to get your angel to behave throughout your check-up is to…well, bribe them. Think of a treat they don’t usually have– after all, a trip to the gynecologist isn’t an everyday trip. Promise them if they’re good, they’ll get candy, a trip to the park, or another activity fit to their interests. You should plan your appointment in the morning when toddlers are full, alert, and notoriously easier to handle. Then an after-doctor activity is an easy, short detour, allowing you to get on with the rest of your day. Importantly, a treat or activity bribe doubles for an incentive you can take away if they don’t behave.
Having an incentive is especially important when taking away the iPhone or iPad would likely do more harm than good. Extrinsic motivation (such as a reward for good behavior) can help children develop intrinsic (internal) motivation for good behavior. In short, if you promise them incentives now, it can help them learn how to behave calmly and rationally in future doctors’ appointments (maybe even another OBGYN!)
Having an extra motivator can help kids be more comfortable being quiet for so long in a new environment. It may also help to give them a lollipop after, just like a pediatrician’s office. Even small incentives like these can help your toddler stay calm.