Few things invoke fear in a preschooler like the anticipation of a visit to the doctor's office. The idea of the unknown is enough to cause a feeling of terror in any young child. But knowledge is power. With a few simple and enjoyable theme activities designed to teach children that doctors and nurses are there to keep them healthy and help them when they are sick, that anxiety will be greatly lessened. Your child might even look forward to that next checkup.
Let the Characters Explain
An ideal starting point is to read and discuss a picture book with your child. Well-written, relevant titles include, "The Berenstain Bears Go to the Doctor," by Stan and Jan Berenstain, "My Friend the Doctor," by Joanna Cole and "Doctor Maisy," by Lucy Cousins. All three books explore the kind and gentle nature of doctors and are written expressly to educate nervous preschoolers about what happens at a doctor visit. Follow up the story with a frank discussion about what doctors and nurses do to help their patients. Be sure to reference the characters in the stories you have read.
What's In the Bag?
Create a fun and easy-to-make doctor bag craft with your child. Fold a large sheet of black construction paper in half. With the fold facing downward, glue a red cross on the bag and attach handles made of construction paper scraps. Unfold to see the "inside" of the bag. Glue on various items you find in your medicine cabinet, such as cotton balls, cotton swabs, bandages and gauze pads. Explain the use of each item to your child, and let her try her own medical skills on you with some extra supplies.
My Healthy Body
Trace your child's outline on a large sheet of posterboard or paper. Allow him to color in his features and clothing. Working from his head all the way down to his toes, explain to your child what the doctor will do to be sure each body part is healthy. Draw arrows to each part and label with the instrument the doctor will use during the examination, and why. For example, an arrow drawn to his eyes might say, "The doctor will use a light to help check my vision."
One of the things your child might find most curious about the doctor is how he dresses. Explain why the doctor wears a lab coat or scrubs. Help your child to make a doctor headband she can wear herself. Cut a 2-inch-wide strip of construction paper, long enough to glue into a band that fits snugly across her forehead and around her head. Cut a circle from cardboard, about 3 inches in diameter. Help your child wrap the circle in a piece of aluminum foil, and attach to the band. She now has a headpiece just like her doctor.
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