Child Psychologist Appointment
Dr. Elizabeth Schneider

Preparing Your Child for a Child Psychologist Appointment

Child Psychologist Appointment
Dr. Elizabeth Schneider

Preparing Your Child for a Child Psychologist Appointment

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Taking your child to see a child psychologist for an appointment can be a new and potentially overwhelming experience. This guide aims to provide you with some background information and helpful suggestions to prepare your child for various types of child psychologist appointments.  We discuss developmental evaluations, behavior consultations, psychoeducational evaluations, and therapy with the goal of helping you create a positive and supportive environment for your child before, during, and after their visit!

Generally speaking, child psychologist appointments aim to assess and support the development, behavior, and emotions of your child. Here are brief explanations of some of the different types of appointments you may encounter; note that this list is not exhaustive, but rather representative of some of the most common service types:


Developmental Evaluations

Child psychologists may perform developmental evaluations to understand your child’s growth and milestones.  These evaluations are typically conducted on children aged 5 and under. They may involve play-based assessments and observations to gather information about your child’s cognitive, social, and emotional development. The psychologist will interview the parent(s) or primary caregivers and may also obtain information from any childcare or other caregivers involved in the child’s life.


Behavior Consultations

Behavior consultations address specific behavioral concerns, such as chronic tantrums. The child psychologist works with you to identify the causes of challenging behaviors.  They provide recommendations for the next steps, which may or may not include behavioral therapy or “parent training,” as it is sometimes called.


Psychoeducational Evaluations

Psychoeducational evaluations assess your child’s learning abilities and educational needs. These evaluations can identify any learning disabilities, developmental delays, or giftedness.  These assessments help guide educational planning and support. These types of evaluations are typically conducted for children over 5 years of age.



Therapy sessions provide a safe and supportive space for your child to explore and express their emotions, thoughts, and concerns. The psychologist will use evidence-based techniques to help your child develop coping skills, improve communication, and enhance their overall well-being. For very young children or children with certain difficulties, the psychologist may work directly with the parents to achieve treatment goals.


Suggestions for Preparing Your Child

To help your child feel more comfortable and prepared for their psychologist appointment, consider the following suggestions:

Frame the Appointment

Explain to your child positively and age-appropriately that they will visit a special type of kid doctor who can help them grow, learn, or solve problems. Make sure to explain that this type of doctor does not administer any pokes but shows interest in learning more about them and their unique abilities.

Set the Expectations

Explain what your child can expect during the appointment. Use child-friendly language to describe the activities involved (see below).

  • For Developmental or Psychoeducational Evaluations: Emphasize that during the appointment, they may be doing many different things together, like doing puzzles, looking at pictures, or answering questions.
  • For Consults or Therapy: Emphasize that the psychologist is interested in talking to you and getting to know them. They may ask about family life, including whether they have a pet, what interests them, what they like to do for fun, and their feelings.

When you schedule your child’s appointment, ask about how long it will take. Providing this information to your child in developmentally appropriate ways (i.e., it’s about as long as it takes to eat lunch or as long as 2 Daniel Tiger shows) can be helpful.

Address Questions and Concerns

Encourage your child to ask questions and express any concerns they may have. Provide honest and simple answers, reassuring them that the psychologist is there to help and support them.

Bring Comfort Items

Bring along a favorite toy, blanket, or comfort item that can provide your child with a sense of security and familiarity during the appointment.  This may be acceptable depending on the type of appointment.  For testing appointments, this may be frowned upon, so check with your provider’s office first.

Restrooms and Breaks

Let your child know that they will be able to have breaks and use the restroom as needed.


Depending on the type and appointment length, bringing your child a snack and water may be advisable. Again, check with your provider’s office.

Be Supportive and Reassuring

Maintain a positive attitude and reassure your child. Let them know that it’s okay to feel a little nervous or unsure and that the psychologist is friendly and there to help them.

Don’t Make It Too Big a Deal

The suggestions above are important in being proactive and ensuring your child knows what to expect and feels supported.  However, make sure not to make the appointment too big a deal, either!


How Parents Can Prepare

When it comes to visiting a psychologist, parents often have some preparation to do themselves!


Your provider will likely want copies of any pertinent medical or psychological records and applicable reports from school (daycare, preschool, etc.) You may need to request these well in advance of the appointment if you do not already have existing copies. Sometimes you can sign a Release of Information form so that the provider’s office can directly obtain necessary records.


When visiting your provider, it can sometimes be easy to forget concerns or questions you may have at the moment. Take the time to write these down ahead of the appointment.


If you’re visiting a psychologist due to developmental, social-emotional, or behavioral concerns, bringing some data and observations with you can be quite helpful. For example, if you’re having challenges with tantrums, track the number, severity, and location of tantrums for a week or two prior to your visit. Make sure to not only take note of when and under what circumstances tantrums occur but also when they don’t occur.  The exceptions – as this can be equally as helpful!

The Day Before & the Day Of

Make sure your child gets a good night’s rest the night before your appointment. Additionally, ensure they have a nutritious breakfast (or meal/snack if the appointment is in the afternoon), particularly for evaluations. You may also wish to bring a packed lunch or snacks with you on the day of the evaluation, again depending on the length and time of day of your appointment. Also, provide yourself plenty of time to drive to, arrive, and register for your appointment so that you and your child are not feeling rushed.


Typically, providers ask that your child remains on the medication regimen prescribed; if you have any questions about this, check with your provider’s office before making any changes or skipping a dose.


Resources for Finding a Psychologist

  • Your insurance carrier: Check with your insurance carrier to locate an in-network provider.
  • Pediatrician: Your pediatrician may provide a direct referral to a particular provider or office. They may also recommend you to Early Childhood services within your state; this varies state-to-state.
  • APA Psychologist Locator:
  • Psychology Today:


Concluding Thoughts

Utilizing the above suggestions, and adapting them to your child’s individual needs, can go a long way in helping your child feel comfortable. Remember, every child is unique, and their reactions may vary. Trust in the psychologist’s expertise.  Remain open to the insights and recommendations they provide to support your child’s development and well-being.



The information provided above is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, medical, or psychological advice or consultation. Additionally, the above information is not comprehensive and is based on generalizations. It is important to note that individual providers may vary their services or service descriptions. Additionally, depending on a child’s case and circumstances, the information above may need to be tailored to best suit their needs.

The information offered above should not be construed as a substitute for medical or professional advice; always check with your provider. The information presented does not constitute a professional diagnosis or treatment recommendation. It is recommended to consult with a qualified clinical child psychologist or mental health professional for a comprehensive evaluation and personalized guidance. The worksheet does not guarantee availability or access to specific services or providers. Nor do we endorse any particular provider, office, or directory.

Local regulations, healthcare systems, and resources may influence the availability of services and specialists in your area. While efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy and relevance of the information, it is subject to change and may not be up-to-date. The use of this worksheet does not establish a client-provider relationship with any individual or organization mentioned. The creators and distributors of this worksheet assume no liability for any direct or indirect damages or consequences arising from the use or interpretation of the information provided.

About the Author

Dr. Schneider is a licensed psychologist specializing in clinical child and pediatric psychology. She is credentialed by the National Register of Health Service Psychologists, a member of the Society of Pediatric Psychology, the Society of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, and WELL for Digital Health. She has served children and families in hospitals, outpatient clinics, residential facilities, schools, and private practice. Dr. Schneider has worked in the private sector as well, focused on innovations in measurement-based care. She has numerous peer-reviewed publications and has been involved in NIH-funded studies aimed at improving health outcomes. She has a passion for applying her experience in psychology to better inform innovative initiatives to improve care and outcomes for children.

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