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Helpful tips for medical trips

Published on July 25, 2016

Helpful tips for medical trips

Stephanie McNaughton, Child Life Specialist
Brittany Spah, Child Life Specialist
CentraCare Health – St. Cloud Hospital

It’s common for children to worry about a visit to the doctor. Here are five ways that you can support your child before, during and after a medical appointment.

1. Prepare your child for what to expect before an appointment.

    • Use a toy doctor kit or things you have around the house. This helps a child get familiar with what happens at a visit.
    • Allow your child to role play being the doctor.
    • Read books about visiting the doctor.

2. Listen to your child’s fears or concerns.

    • A child may worry about a visit being painful. If your child asks about whether or not he/she will get a poke, be honest. If you aren’t sure of the answer, tell say the doctor will decide whether or not an injection or a blood draw is needed.
    • Give a simple explanations to your child for shots or blood draws. Use phrases like “medicine to help you stay healthy,” “checking a little bit of your blood to make sure it is healthy,” or “checking a little bit of your blood so we know how to help you feel better.”
    • Brainstorm with your child for ways to make the appointment a little easier. Offering choices helps the child feel in control. Examples of choices may include which ear is examined first or sitting on your lap during a poke.

Learn more about preparing your child for appointments at Healthyville

Brittany Spah and Stephanie McNaughton will be presenting at Healthyville at the Stearns History Museum on July 28th at 2 pm. Kids in attendance will have a chance for medical play.

Learn more about Healthyville

3. Provide comfort and respect feelings.

    • Avoid saying things like “Don’t cry,” “Be a big boy/girl,” or “The shot won’t hurt.”
    • Reassure your child that you’ll be right there.
    • Your child will sense how you are feeling. Staying calm helps your child stay calm.

4. Bring comfort and distraction items.

    • Blankets or pacifiers may help calm your child.
    • A favorite stuffed animal, doll or action figure can be examined first to help your child feel at ease.
    • Having activities to distract your child will lower the anxiety level while waiting or during procedures. You also can try playing a game of I Spy, singing songs or telling stories.

5. Have something fun to look forward to.

    • Give plenty of praise to your child or have a fun activity arranged for after the visit.
    • The positive encouragement should be given regardless of a child’s anxiety level during the appointment. If the child was unable to control his/her anxiety, missing out on a fun experience that was planned for after the appointment will make it even worse.
    • Celebrate after an appointment to help pave the way for future visits.

Health information accessed through is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. We strive to present reliable, up-to-date health information on our web site and “For the Health of It” blog. However, this information is not intended for the purpose of diagnosing or prescribing. Please contact your health care provider if you have any concerns or questions about specific content that may affect your health. Log in to MyChart to send a secure message to your provider.

About the Author

Stephanie McNaughton

Stephanie McNaughton
Child Life Specialist
CentraCare Health – St. Cloud Hospital

About the Author

Brittany Spah

Brittany Spah
Child Life Specialist
CentraCare Health – St. Cloud Hospital

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