Helping Children and their Families as they navigate the education and healthcare systems.
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Patty's Blog

What is Medical Play? And How does it Help Prepare Children for

Doctor's Visits?

Blog 6

Medical play is play with a medical theme. Play lets children express themselves in ways that s/he is comfortable. Playing and interacting with pretend medical toys and real medical equipment is a way for children to observe, ask questions and usually helps to decrease fears when a child goes to the doctor.

Children like to explore and learn through medical play. It is helpful to play with your child before s/he goes to the doctor or hospital. There are many way to help your child by using medical play.

Children should be able to control their play. Give children plenty of time to play. Being there while they are playing is a great support for your child..
Children can express fears about going to the doctor. Always be honest if your child asks a question such as is this going to hurt?
You can say for a few seconds but we have many ways to help you such as sitting on mommy’s lap, squeezing my hand, singing softly, gently stroking your child face or providing a distraction toy such as blowing bubbles, reading a pop-up book, and providing their favorite snack when they are finished.
It is a good idea to place some pretend medical toys, a stuffed toy that your child loves so your child can take care of her stuffed toy and she can play doctor and ask questions.
Some types of medical toys to put out are bandages, syringes, tongue depressor, thermometer, stethoscope, rubbing alcohol, reflex hammer, tape, otoscopes, Band-aids, and a blood pressure cuff.
Sometimes children like to dress up like a doctor (with gloves, a mask and surgical hat) some children would rather play with the items and take care of their stuffed toy or doll.
Have your child take care of a doll or stuffed toy's 'boo-boos' or check to see if her throat is red or shine a light in her ear. (use small flashlight)
Let your child know that crying is okay and helpful.

Once the fear of the unknown becomes more familiar to children they can work out their fears better.

Stay with your child – hold him or her (most tests can be done while a child is sitting on a parent's lap).

Medical play is a hands-on interactive play experience. It is important to do this before you go to the doctor or the hospital. I have helped nursery schools and kindergarten classes set up a medical play corner. When medical play becomes more familiar to children usually it will help decrease their fears when going to the doctor.

For more information read my new book 'Taking Your Child To The Doctor Or Hospital: Helping suggestions and practical tips to make your child's visit more comfortable."