By Dr. Jace Buzek, DC, CCSP, CACCP
Many parents understand that pediatric chiropractic care promotes overall child wellness and provides a number of benefits for supporting optimal results related to a child’s development and overall health. However, it is not uncommon that we hear of parents stopping themselves from scheduling an appointment due to apprehension related to how their children will handle their first chiropractic adjustment. So how can we make our visits more pleasant? Below are some thoughts that might be helpful in preparing your child for his or her first chiropractic visit.
Taking your child to the office ahead of time is a great idea, especially if he/she can meet the doctor who will be working with them. Letting the doctor know that you are bringing your child will allow he/she to be a little bit prepared too. It is all about "pairing yourself with reinforcement." You bring your child to the office, the doctor gives them a little treat, and they get to leave with a happy experience (making them more likely and willing to come back in the future). If you cannot bring your child ahead of time, allowing them to look through the website would be another great idea. Becoming familiar with pictures and faces will make them feel more relaxed when they recognize what and who they see.
While at home, practicing for an adjustment is a great idea. I recently had a patient who practiced laying facedown on the couch with her two year old, letting him know that he was safe. She also performed light massage on his neck and back while laying facedown. This made for a pleasant and excited little boy for his first visit. While doing these exercises, it is also a great idea to familiarize children with the term chiropractor and adjustment so that they understand where you are going when coming to our office. Let your child know that they might hear some “popcorn” (sounds of adjustment) when the doctor adjusts them, and that it is perfectly normal and expected.
Also, parents have to be really aware of the power of ignoring problem behaviors and reinforcing the behaviors we want to see. In other words, we want to focus on everything our kids are doing right in the office. Start as soon as you get into the office with the positivity and make comments like, “This is going to be so fun!” and “I can’t wait until you get to lay on the doctor’s table and show him/her everything we practiced!” Continue to build the child’s self-esteem and tell them that they CAN do it. Once you’re in the actual office, keep the praise going and say things like “You got on the table like such a big boy/girl” and continue talking positively so they know that you are there right beside them the entire time.
If you think your child might need a bit more of an explanation of what is going to happen, let the doctor know. He/she can let them know the process and what to expect. By knowing what the doctor’s routine will be while the visit is moving forward, it will help a child feel secure because they will know what to expect.
Lastly, using a “first-then” approach can help too. First, we’re going to see the chiropractor, and then we can go out to lunch at your favorite place (or do something else that you child enjoys). However, because my wife, who is a behavior analyst and works with children, would be upset if I didn’t mention it, never make a deal with your child that might not be followed through. If you promise a lunch after the visit if they follow all the rules during the visit, then be sure it happens. Also, if you promise them something if they follow the rules and they don’t follow them, it is not a good idea to still provide their reward (we wouldn’t want to end up reinforcing any behaviors that may have occurred in the office during their first visit).
Washington Park Chiropractic is the only practice in Denver, Colorado specializing in Sports Chiropractic, Prenatal Chiropractic and Pediatric Chiropractic. Our Wash Park Doctors are expert certified and trained in Sports, Pediatrics and Prenatal Care including massage, acupuncture, Webster Technique, Graston Technique, Laser, K-Laser, Kinesiology Tape, RockTape and Normatec