Having a hard time taking your kids to a hospital due to their fear of doctors? Or are you one of those parents who have to deal with their children’s emotional outbursts whenever there’s a doctor around? While your kids may have varying reasons behind their fear, this shouldn’t be ignored, especially when you can do something to help them process their fears.
What Is Iatrophobia And How Can It Affect Your Child?
Having seemingly irrational fears is a natural part of being a child. No matter how groundless some of these fears may be, there’s no denying that they can significantly affect your child’s behavior and way of thinking. There are many types of fears that your child may experience, including fear of thunders and lightning, fear of insects, and fear of the dark. In addition to these common fears, there’s also a prevailing condition among children that's associated with their fear of doctors.
Although younger people are more likely to suffer from this particular type of fear, this psychological condition can also be experienced by older individuals. This condition is commonly known as ‘iatrophobia’, or the uncanny fear of doctors. While the simple case of a child being afraid of doctors due to varying reasons can be considered normal, there are also instances when such fears go overboard. Iatrophobia’s symptoms can manifest in your child’s overt behavior, which may include the following:
- Muscular tension
- Dry mouth
- Talking incoherently
- Upset stomach
- Panic attacks
- Development of other similar illness-related phobias
- Reluctance to see a doctor
- Whitecoat hypertension
4 Helpful Ways To Help Your Kid Overcome Their Fear
While some types of phobias can be treated through a series of psychological medications, counseling, and therapy, this may not be the case with iatrophobia because of the nature of the condition. Initially, your child may show reluctance to seek medication, as well as avoid seeing mental health professionals and doctors due to their fear of them.
When such scenarios occur, you must provide support for your child and help them overcome their fears. You may also start by encouraging your child to socialize with other people to lessen their fear and control its symptoms. Furthermore, here are some of the coping strategies that are said to be beneficial in helping your child conquer their fear of doctors:
- Talk To Your Child
One of the most important things that you can do to assist your child with their condition is to talk to them. While their fear of doctors can hinder them from seeking professional help, you can take the initiative to ask them what they’re going through and how you can help them overcome their fears. It’s also important to know that you may have a hard time making them tell you about their condition. Thus, you must show them your sincerity and full commitment to helping them.
Asking your kid about what makes them afraid can significantly help them share their worries with you. If they’re finding it difficult to determine the reason behind their fears and their feelings of unease, you can tell them to walk through the processes slowly and make them take breaks whenever their fear resurfaces again.
When it comes to dealing with your child’s fears, always remember that your support and understanding can be a great help to help them overcome their fears and worries. Overt ime, they just might be able to fully understand the value of the people in pediatric scrubs in their lives.
- Understand Your Child’s Fear
Dealing with any type of phobia is never easy. Although there are various interventions and therapies that one can utilize to treat their condition, there’s no denying that it can disrupt one’s normal life. To effectively help your child deal with their fears, you must first know its symptoms and the effects it has on them. Apart from that, you should also acknowledge their fear of doctors. Let them know that while it’s a part of being a child and growing up, they can help themselves recover from it.
Invalidating your child’s fears and telling them that it’s all in their mind won’t make them feel better. So, as much as possible, try to refrain from such remarks. Instead, you can let them know that their fears are valid and can be cured.
Additionally, you must also consider a gentler approach when it comes to dealing with their fears as your reaction can also affect their way of handling them.
- Establish A Plan
After assessing your child’s condition and acknowledging its corresponding effects on them, the next step that you may take is to create a comprehensive action plan that focuses mainly on determining possible alternatives to treat their fears.
One of the primary things that you can do is to seek your child’s cooperation and work with them in setting logical goals for their recovery. Particularly, you can ask them about their stand on seeking professional help. You may also start a simple version of exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy by showing them pictures of doctors and seeing their initial reactions.
Through their reaction, you can gauge how severe their condition is. However, seeking professional help is still advised to achieve better and more favorable results.
- Motivate Your Child
Fear is something that can impede your child from functioning well. Aside from that, it can also affect their fight or flight instincts and can influence them to act irrationally and recklessly whenever they’re exposed to the object of their fears. In your child's case, they can act aggressively in front of doctors, which is why you’ll have to extend your patience and understanding to them.
How you react and how you deal with their sudden outbursts can significantly affect their condition. Hence, you must know the necessity of showing moderate and calm reactions when dealing with their fears and panic attacks. After all, overcoming fear isn’t easy. One of the best things you can do is to boost your child’s morale and encourage them.
Dealing with any type of irrational fear is a serious undertaking. It’s especially difficult for your child to experience an uncanny fear of doctors as this can impede them from obtaining medical care. To effectively help your child overcome this particular type of fear, some of the things you can do may include talking to them, understanding their fears, establishing a comprehensive plan, and motivating them.
Through these simple steps, there’s a higher possibility of recovery for your child.