Your 2-year-old now
A sparking imagination is one of the most delightful parts of a preschooler's personality — except when it takes the form of fears. Two-year-olds can develop all sorts of willies as they gain the ability to form mental images beyond what's in front of them. Couple this with some kids' dislike of strangers and an ability to remember past experiences (like the pain of a vaccination), and you often get a big fear of the doctor.
Some ways to deal:
- Bring along a special "doctor bag" packed with a toy stethoscope, thermometer, and so on, so your child can play doctor. Bring along a baby doll to be your child's "patient."
- Talk about what will happen: "First we'll walk to the big desk and say your name. Then we'll sit and read a book while we wait..."
- Hold your 2-year-old on your lap during the exam and shots, if possible.
- Don't lie. Never say, "The shot won't hurt a bit."
- Don't make promises that aren't true, such as, "You won't get a shot," if there's any chance your child may get one.
- Stay upbeat yourself. Two-year-olds are aces at reading facial cues and body language.
Your life now
If your 2-year-old seems to live to test your limits, well, that's her job. Exploring endlessly, and pushing the limits along the way, is how your child learns what's acceptable and what's not. Many parents are reluctant to say "no" to a preschooler for fear of squelching her spirit. But "no" is actually a necessary and important word. Your preschooler will never figure out what the rules are if you don't make plain what's okay and what's not. Keep in mind that preschoolers can't understand a long-winded explanation about why hoarding toys and slugging a playmate aren't good ideas. They need to quickly and clearly get the message that those behaviors are not okay. Try to keep your tone firm but warm and encouraging. Patience is your best friend!
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