With back-to-school supplies already hitting the stores, it’s an unfortunate reminder summer break is almost over. An important part of getting your kids ready to hit the books again is making sure they are mentally and physically healthy for the school year ahead.

While some children may not enjoy going to the doctor, it is a requirement to attend school. While SIU Medicine recommends an annual visit to your health care provider, Illinois school physicals are required for entry into preschool, kindergarten, 6th, and 9th grade.

Whether your child is nervous about going to the doctor, it is best to prepare:

Explain what a check-up and/or school physical is to your child

Share with your child that a check-up or physical exam is a doctor’s appointment kids of all ages, and even babies, and adults have so the doctor can make sure you are healthy.

Let your child know all the other kids they go to school with will be going for a check-up as well. This will help them understand that they aren’t going to the doctor because they are sick, but rather to ensure they are healthy and ready to start the school year with their classmates. 

Tell your child what is going to happen during the physical

Walk your child through the entire appointment process. Tell them that you will walk into the doctor’s office and check in with the front desk. Then, you will sit and wait your turn, and perhaps mom or dad will fill out some paperwork. Once your name is called, you will go back to the exam room with your mom or dad. This is where your doctor will talk to you.

Explain to them that the doctor will ask questions about your medical history, which mom or dad will help you answer, and that the doctor will check your ears, nose, throat, heart, lungs, and abdomen. The doctor will test your strength, balance, and flexibility. They will also discuss safety and injury prevention with you.

Let them know that sometimes there are also follow up appointment for continued care, if necessary. These appointments are so that the doctor can further check that they are healthy. 

Encourage your child to ask you questions

Use this experience as an opportunity to talk with your child about taking care of their body so they stay healthy and strong. Ask them if they have any questions and if you don’t know the answer, take this time to learn together.

If your child is nervous, ask them what their worries are and make a plan

Some children are scared of the doctor’s office. If this is the case with your child, ask them what specifically makes them nervous about going to the doctor. By understanding what they are scared of, you can help comfort them during those moments or try to avoid these instances from occurring.

If they do not want to be alone, assure them that you will sit next to them during the entire appointment. If they are afraid of shots, come up with a plan to distract them by singing or talking about something else during the shot. 

Taking time before your child’s appointment to prepare them for their physical will make your child mentally prepared and confident about going to the doctor. And who know - maybe they’ll even be excited!

Learn more about the importance of school physicals here, or call SIU Medicine to schedule your child’s school physical now at 217.545.8000.

Topics: Primary Care, Annual Exam, Family Doctor, Check-Ups, Back-to-School Physicals, Preventive Care, Preventive Medicine, Sports Physical