Cool is the rule

Advice on how to keep your child as comfortable as possible during a checkup:

• Arrive 15 minutes early, in case you have to fill out paperwork.

• Check on wait times when you arrive. Checking again after a little while is not discourteous. Doctors and dentists try to honor appointment times, but sometimes unanticipated health issues arise.

• Bring a book and a couple of small toys; and for a dental visit bring the child’s toothbrush, toothpaste and floss. It’s a great show-and-tell opportunity.

• If you have more than one or two concerns, come with a short list of questions and feel free to take notes.

• Key questions to ask include “Do you have any concerns with my child?” and “Is there anything I should be looking for at home?”

• For younger child visits, in particular, parents should view check-ups as a time to learn more about how to care for their child’s health. As children get older, they should see it as child-parent bonding time.

• Plan to offer a calming presence and be prepared to answer questions about your child – but let your child answer first if the doctor or dentist addresses him or her. It’s important doctor and young patient bond, too.

• Try to avoid fixing the uncomfortable parts of a visit and stay focused on what must be done. Show trust in a doctor or dentist and your child will, too.

• If the tears start flowing, be consoling and remind your child that everything will be OK.

• Consider offering your child something to look forward to at the end of the visit, maybe a trip to the park or other fun spot, maybe even some ice cream. “It’s up to the parents,” said pediatric dentist Meelin Dian Chin Kit-Wells, “but I wish there was more of, ‘We’ll get you a new book.’ ”

– Scott Scanlon