Whether planned or unexpected, visiting a healthcare facility or private health clinic can be a difficult place to be for both children and parents or carers. Children often find places like this to be equal parts scary and a little dull. Help your little one enjoy some welcome distractions with these fun ideas for keeping kids entertained, occupied and most importantly calm. In this guide, we outline to you some of the best strategies for getting through the build-up and duration of a health care appointment when you’ve got a young companion by your side to keep busy.

Audio-visual games:

There are plenty of fun (and free) games to keep them occupied in the waiting room, for example, some of these timeless classics:

Play Simon Says

This timeless game is the perfect way to keep kids entertained (i.e. burn a little energy) and occupy their attention all at once!

Make up a story

Start telling a story and then pass it along to your child. Let them piggyback off of the start of your story and continue telling it with his/her own flair taking turns until it’s complete.

Have a Thumb War

A classic time waster strategy, link knuckles with your child and go to war to see which thumb is the strongest!

Be a bookworm

Listening to an audiobook is a great way to distract your child and transport them to the world they are reading about. If your child is too young to read independently, grab an audio version of their favourite book. Let them sit down and turn the pages while listening to a friendly voice read to them.

Reading to small children can be a joyous escape for both while you wait for an appointment. Fun stories or fairy tales are great ways to pass the time together while fostering your child’s love of reading. Older kids may welcome the opportunity to delve into a big book during their wait, or get stuck into a classic series like the Harry Potter novels.

Utilise technology

Waiting time is an opportune moment to loosen the rules around screen time. Keep them stimulated with an educational tablet video game or a program they like to watch. Allowing older kids to watch a TV show can put a positive spin on a health check-up, letting them escape into another world through headphones and their favourite characters. This is particularly useful if they are nervous or anxious as it serves as a good distraction.

In most cases, you’ll be expected to keep noise to a respectable minimum in waiting areas or patient rooms. With this in mind there is plenty you can do to quietly occupy your child.

If you cannot turn the volume down, you should consider buying children earphones which limit the volume.

This volume restriction is important to avoid noise-induced hearing loss. Toddlers may not be as receptive to headphones so you might consider fleece headband earphones.

Snacks are essential

If there is one surefire way to keep your kids happy and occupied, that is with snacks and a well-stocked lunchbox. If you know you are going to be waiting a while, take some sandwiches or a variety of healthy snacks such a crudites or a fruit salad. Probably best to steer clear of anything too high in sugar content as the last thing you want is them getting hyperactive. For sweet treats to keep them happy and for a healthier, lower-sugar alternative, why not pack some fruity flapjacks or granola bars for them to snack on.

Keeping stress to a minimum whether it’s a Hospital or a Private GP

Children are regularly admitted to the doctors, for reasons as varied as asthma, tooth decay, tonsillectomy or diabetes. For a great deal of us, a private clinic is a strange and unfamiliar environment and children will need plenty of reassurance about what is going to happen there. Keep in mind, it may be the first time for you and your child, but for the healthcare team it’s all in a day’s work.

If your child is feeling a little anxious about being at the doctors, whether that is just accompanying you or for themselves, there are a few things you can do to alleviate any stress your child may be feeling:

Communicate with them

You can prepare your child by talking to them about why they or you are at the clinic, tailoring your explanations to their age and level of understanding. It might also be possible to visit the ward beforehand and meet some of the staff there.

Use toys

If your child is particularly young and is receiving treatment, act out scenes with toys or teddies, such as having his blood pressure taken. Medical processes can seem much less frightening when your child has visualised what’s likely to happen.

Honesty is the best policy

If you don’t know exactly what is going to happen or whether something will hurt, then say so, and try to find out the answer from the staff. Always tell the truth – your child needs to be able to trust you.

Involve your child

Some children benefit from being involved in tasks such as packing their bag and choosing favourite toys or videos to take with them for the day. Encourage older children to ask questions themselves – making a list before you go in can really help to address any fears or worries.

Worrying is ok

Most importantly, let your child know that it’s alright to feel scared or apprehensive. With younger children especially, it’s best not to tell them too far in advance – they have little concept of time and it will just give them longer to worry about it all.

As a final consideration

There are other quick and easy things you can do to make the doctor’s office wait a little less daunting. Before you leave for your appointment, give the office a call to see if they are running on time for the day. If they’re significantly behind, especially at the end of the day, they’ll often tell you to come 15 minutes later than your scheduled time to avoid having to wait around.

Duality Heath – Offering a Range of Private Healthcare Services

Here at Duality Health, we understand how difficult it can be trying to make an appointment with a GP. Not to mention the fact that the NHS is under enormous strain, leaving people in need of medical care waiting for unacceptable periods of time, which can ultimately be even more challenging when you have children with you and have to organise your time around them as well as yourself.

In turn, this can ultimately lead people to reassess their options and consider the advantages of using a private medical centre instead. Duality Health is a Private GP service that aims to meet the needs of patients in Newry and Dungannon and the surrounding areas. We provide appointments in the evenings and weekends, allowing you to see a GP when you need to see one, not just when an appointment is available. It is our ethos that if you want private health care, you should be able to access it. If you think you or members of your family would benefit from our professional private healthcare service or you have any queries about what we offer, get in touch with our team here at Duality Health today.