|Helping my daughter
through an obstacle
In early spring, my daughter Ari and I were having a blast at the playground. Until she hit an obstacle: a bridge she was scared to walk across. Even though I offered to hold her hand and walk with her, she refused to walk on it. So I did what any parent would: I picked her up, held her tight, and crossed the bridge with her in my arms.
Last week we faced another hurdle: this time, it was equally daunting for both of us: my daughter had to see a pediatrician for an upper respiratory infection.
Like most young children, Ari is afraid of doctors.
Like most people who have faced a serious illness, I am afraid to see doctors. Even pediatricians examining my child for a typical illness.
To make matters worse, Ari’s doctor is in the children’s wing of the hospital where I received all my breast cancer treatments and surgeries and where I still see my doctors. Each time I bring her there, I have flashbacks.
My job that day, however, was not to focus on my inner demons but to help make my daughter’s experience with doctors a positive one. On the drive there, I calmly explained to her that we were going to see the doctor, who was going to make her all better. I told her that the doctor was really nice and really cared about her. Ari whimpered and said she didn’t want to go, but I calmly persuaded her that everything would be alright.
Before the doctor entered the exam room, I coached Ari through the examination process, telling her what to expect. I told her that the doctor would check her nose, eyes, throat and ears and touch her. Ari was scared of the cushioned examination table, but I told her that this is where she would have to sit and that the table actually looked like a bed and wasn’t so scary. I reassured her there was nothing to be frightened of.
And in reassuring her, for that day at least, I reassured myself that doctors weren’t so scary. In nurturing her own needs for security, I found myself nurturing the frightened child within me. I had convinced her and me that this was a routine exam and the doctor is not frightening at all.
And the exam went wonderfully! Two doctors attended to her and for the first time, my daughter did not cry or complain during a physical examination. In fact, she smiled and laughed with the doctors. They were smitten with her, hung around, and lavished her with stickers and TLC. Ari was having a great time, and, ironically, so was I.
After the appointment, I told Ari how proud I was of her, and she said, “I want to see the doctors again!” While I would never venture to go that far, I was happy that my daughter’s experience with doctors was a positive one.
And by coaching my child through what can be a very scary experience, I coached my inner child to feel more secure and, for now, to be less fearful of doctors.