Building Trust with My Kids One Doctor Visit At A Time


building trust with kids

“Mom, you ROCK!”

Let’s be honest, we don’t hear those words often enough.  And, if you can get a stranger to say it to you-you know you’re on the right track.

This particular time, okay- it’s the only time, it was a nurse in the doctor’s office giving me the verbal high-five.  It caught me off-guard. In part, I think, because I was just doing something I always do.

The nurse had come in to swab my son’s throat for a culture.  Which, as anyone who has had it done knows, is pretty awful.  But as the nurse was prepping the swab, I took the opportunity to talk to my child.

“Son, this is going to suck.”  Yeah, I don’t beat around the bush. “But here’s the deal: if you can keep your mouth open and let him get it done in one swipe, you are done.  If you don’t, we have to keep going until they get a good sample.” I let that sink in for a minute. When I know he’s ready, that he understands what is at stake, I give the all-clear to the nurse to go ahead.

He did it in one try. He gagged and was pretty miserable, but he got the job done.  That’s when I got the verbal high-five from the nurse.

I didn’t realize I was a novelty. I’ve always given my kids what they needed to know. I tell them when it’s going to hurt,  I explain what things are and what they should expect.

By the time we are sitting in a pediatricians office, or God forbid an emergency room, we know what most procedures are and what to expect. Our kids don’t. And, the unknown can lead to fear, which can lead to the dark side.  Whoops, sorry, force of habit- I meant resistance.  They will resist and fight what they don’t know.  That makes it harder-frequently when we need their cooperation the most.

That day, when they decided they needed to do a culture to test for Strep, I knew immediately what was coming. My son had no idea.  I knew that he was going to gag and want to pull back (don’t we all???), and I also know that it’s worse when they have to go for a second swipe.  I’d much rather tell him up front that it’s going to be awful, but if he can deal with it on the first attempt then he’s done.

I tell my kids that shots hurt.  I also tell them to keep moving that arm, and that in a day it’ll be okay.  When my little one falls down, I let him know that I know it hurts.  But in a few minutes it won’t hurt, as bad, and in a little bit he won’t notice it at all.

When my daughter had a second degree burn on the palm of her hand, the doctor looked at me and told me that he was going to have to touch it to see how deep the burn went.  This was going to be bad.  I told her it was going to hurt very bad, but it had to be done in order to figure out how to help her.  I gave her a choice.  She could hold her hand out, or I could hold her hand open so he could do it.  I held out my hand, and she laid her hand on it and let the doctor do what he needed to. It stunned the people in the room.

But here’s the thing, every time I tell them what to expect- the real unvarnished truth, I am building trust. They know that I will not lie to them or deceive them.  If I tell them it’s going to be no big deal, they can relax and have faith in what I was telling them. When I tell them that its going to hurt, but not much or not for long- they know they can believe me.

I am building that trust.  I am earning it, one doctor visit at a time.

They don’t have to be scared.  They don’t have to stress, wondering what is about to happen.  Because I explain it.  I let them know what is coming, what to expect, what people are going to do to them, whether it’s going to hurt, how much it’s going to hurt, how long that hurt will last, when they have options about things, and that I will be there with them for it all.

Cuz that’s how this “Mom of the Year” rolls.  But that’s another story for another time.

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Once Upon A Time, in another life, Kristin graduated from the University of Michigan with a plan to teach high school math. But then, life happened when she wasn’t looking…. She married an Army guy and 23 years, 3 kids, a few dogs, 7 homes, and 2 continents later she’s now a single mom living here in Colorado Springs. Along the way she volunteered for the Army, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and several schools; managed volunteer organizations, coached judo, trained to be a whitewater rafting guide, biked down Pike’s Peak and even managed to teach some high schoolers a little math before forging new trails writing, teaching and financial planning. She never knows what’s coming around the bend, but she’s learned to handle whatever life (and the Army!), throws at her with a smile and a laugh. She’s pretty sure you can get through anything with those, even if you have to fake it occasionally!!


  1. I love this! Being honest, putting things in terms that they can understand and helping our kids to face fear and uncertainty………one more way to build a strong adult. 🙂

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