5 Teachable Toddler Moments at the Doctor’s Office

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5 Teachable Toddler Moments at the Doctor's Office - BorderAs my son nears his 18-month check-up, I am counting my lucky stars that he’s usually a breeze at the pediatrician’s office.

With the exception of when he’s had a bad ear infection, he’s always pleasant and cooperative while he’s being poked and prodded.

I imagine, though, that things might get a little more difficult as he gets older and more aware of what’s really going on.

Just like the grocery store has become a bit more of a challenge. And the bank. And the dry cleaners.

With that in mind, I’ve been thinking of ways to turn a standard doctor’s appointment into a learning experience for my toddler. Learning is everywhere, of course, and intentionally facilitating it can transform a ho-hum errand into a fun and productive experience for everyone.

Here’s what I’ve come up with so far.

5 Teachable Toddler Moments at the Doctor’s Office

1. Patience

If patience is a virtue, then I’m pretty tainted. Waiting is a guaranteed part of life—especially at the doctor’s office—and I want to teach my son to handle it better than I do.

Here’s the plan: My toddler is currently learning the difference between marching, jumping, and walking on tippy toes, so we’ll be practicing those during our downtime in the examination room. We’ll also probably run through all the animals on a farm and their corresponding sounds at least twice.

The point? The doctor’s office is a perfect place to show your toddler how playing games and being silly makes time go by faster.

2. Body Parts

Similarly, older infants and toddlers are at the perfect age for learning the various parts of the body.  A very appropriate exercise would be to name the different body parts the doctor will check, point to them, and then say what they do.

I’m sure my toddler will love this one, as we’ve just recently learned the word “booty.”

3. Fear

Toddlers are right at the age where they can begin associating the pediatrician’s office with the dreaded shots.

On the one hand, that means it’s quite likely you’ll have a kicking and screaming child to deal with. On the other hand, it also makes for a great opportunity to teach your toddler about fear.

The key, I think, is to encourage your little one to be brave while simultaneously letting him/her know that it’s ok to cry. Too often we go to one extreme or the other—fear is either overly dramatized or diminished. Instead, we should let our toddlers know it’s ok to feel scared but that they still must face the situation.

4. Healthy Living

I’m trying to make a point of explaining everything to my toddler, so that rules and obligations don’t seem quite so arbitrary. Like we don’t throw toys because they could hit someone or something. Or we don’t eat chocolate at 8am because we can’t miss out on all the healthy breakfast foods.

A trip to the doc is the perfect opportunity to talk about all aspects of healthy living—the importance of eating nutritious foods, getting physical activity, and going to the doctor for check-ups.

5. Doctor Songs and Rhymes

Like most toddlers, my little guy is obsessed with songs and rhymes. Bonus points if they have accompanying hand motions.

Here are a couple of relevant (and fun!) ones we’ll be doing in light of our trip to the pediatrician.

Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed

Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes

An Apple a Day

What do you think of these ideas? Any other thoughts on how to make a doctor’s visit a learning opportunity for a toddler?