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Pediatric Preparation for Medical Tests - Preparing Your Child for a Medical Test

Ages 6 to 12 years

Children ages 6 to 12 may be afraid of doctors. If your child is old enough to understand that he or she needs this test, explain what will happen during the visit. Always be honest with your child. If you want help, you could ask the doctor or nurse to explain what is going to happen.

  • School-age children are interested in how things work, so your child may have many questions about what the test shows and why it is needed.
  • Use positive words as much as possible. For example, say "The doctor needs to check you over in order to find out how to fix this and help you get well."
  • Younger children in this age group may also benefit from having a test explained right before it is done rather than days ahead of time, so they do not have time to worry or dream about the test.
  • Help your child talk about his or her fears through play. Younger children in this age group may like you to pretend to give a doll the same exam or test while they watch. Then let your child perform the test on the doll.
  • Children in this age group are very concerned about their bodies. Help your child express his or her concerns so he or she can feel part of the process. If there is a chance for your child to make a choice (even as simple as the color of gown to wear), allow it. Your child may be more cooperative if you let him or her make reasonable choices.
  • Bring your child's favorite book or toy to help distract your child during the test. See if your child might be able to watch a movie during the test.
  • Talk about the good things that will happen at the end of the test, like going home. Focus on how your child may feel afterward and how the test may help with a health condition.

Teens

Teens also may be afraid when they go to see a doctor. Explain what will happen during the visit and why. Be up-front and honest with your child. If you want help, you could ask the doctor or nurse to explain what is going to happen.

  • Allow your teen to ask questions. Also allow your teen to speak with the doctor without your being present if he or she wishes. Your child's doctor can give you and your teen guidelines on the confidentiality of the visit.
  • If there is a chance for your teen to make a choice, allow it. Teens need to have some control in their lives and may be more cooperative when they are allowed to make reasonable choices.
  • Encourage your teen to bring a book or game to help pass the time during the test. Ask if your teen might be able to watch a movie during the test.
  • Have your teen try to relax his or her mind and body before or during the test.
actionset.gif Stress Management: Relaxing Your Mind and Body

You may want to tell your child that even grown-ups feel anxious about exams and tests. This can help your child understand that it is normal to worry.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: July 08, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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