Guest Post: 3 Things You Should Never Say to Your Child While At the Doctor

As promised, my friend Jordyn Redwood, ER nurse and writer extraordinaire is going to be posting common medical Q & A’s on my blog twice every month. I’m superexcited about this and think it will not only be a ton of fun but it will also be really informative. So, a huge thank you to Jordyn! And, if you want to know more about her, Jordyn is not only a novelist with a book coming out from Kregel in a few months, but she’s also a blogger who writes a superfun blog called “Redwood’s Medical Edge” where she discusses now novelists approach medical issues in their books. Check it out here.

Three Phrases Not To Say To Your Child

…while in the ER. That was supposed to be the whole title but I thought I’d run out of room. Dealing with children in the ER can be challenging. Unfortunately, parents can make it more challenging by some of the things they say.

Truth comes first. Even in pediatrics, we do not lie to children. If we don’t have the child’s trust, we’re not going to get very far. Parents can actually breech the trust we are trying to build with our patients by saying the following things.

You’re not going to get a shot. This is making a promise you may not be able to keep. Unless you know specifically what the proposed treatment plan is, I wouldn’t say anything about whether or not the child may get a stick. We may want to check a blood sugar, or some lab work for the presenting complaint. If you’ve told your child they aren’t getting a shot, and here we come with the needle, the person they’re likely going to mistrust first is me. It’s better to say, “I’m not sure, let’s talk to the doctor/nurse about it.”

This isn’t going to hurt. Unless you know for sure it’s not painful, don’t say it.

We’re very open with kids about what kind of pain they are going to experience                  and how long it should last for. Better to let the nurse describe to the child what the procedure is going to feel like. Experienced pediatric nurses are very good at this for every age group of children we deal with. Parents can be helpful by letting us in on terms you use at home or telling us ways you’ve used to aid your child in getting through something painful.

Oh, he’s not going to take that. This generally happens when we come into the room with an oral medication. First problem, you’ve set us up for failure. You’ve verbally given your child permission not to take it. Now, it’s probably going to definitely be a struggle. If you’re trying to let the nurse know that your child has difficulty taking oral meds—say, “We struggle with this at home.” The nurse can likely give you some pointers on getting the task done.

One tip always is to set the expectation of what you want your child to do. “Honey, will you take this for mommy?” Better is… “It’s time to take your medicine. Open your mouth for me.” See the difference?

What are your thoughts? Have you thought about the things you say to your child and how it can change the experience they have with their medical provider?


Jordyn Redwood has served the pediatric population and their families for many years. She has five years of experience in the pediatric ICU and ten years of pediatric ER nursing which is the area she currently works. Jordyn also teaches CPR and advanced resuscitation courses.

Jordyn is also a suspense author. Her novel, Proof, will be published by Kregel June 1, 2012. She also hosts a medical blog for authors which you can find at


Disclaimer: Remember, these posts are for education and discussion. If your child is sick and you think they require medical attention, take them to their pediatrician or local emergency department.


  1. Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is an extremely well written article. I’ll make sure to bookmark it and come back to read more of Guest Post: 3 Things You Should Never Say to Your Child While At the Doctor | Christian Mamas Guide . Thanks for the post. I will certainly comeback.

  2. I learned the lesson the hard way about the shots! I was taking my daughter to get her flu vaccine and I knew she was old enough to get the nasal mist and that they had it at the pediatricians office. I thought it was a safe promise to make to her that there would be no shots. Unfortunately, we found out that she wasn’t eligible for the mist because she had had a breathing treatment in the past couple of months. I felt horrible! Now I always say that I’m not sure even though it’s tempting to promise her that there wont be any shots.

    • Good plan, Alisa! Thanks for leaving a comment.

  3. Remember, if you as a parent get worked up, your child will too. If you stay calm (or at least appear calm on the outside) your child will be much more at ease.

    • Awesome point, Christy! Thanks for leaving a comment.

  4. This is great. When it’s time for immunizations, we talk about how it hurts for a short time but it keeps us healthy for a looooong time.

    Here’s something I struggle with: when the nurse(s) say how good my child’s being when really she’s just frozen with terror. That’s not being good!

    • Charise, that is a really great approach (small pain for long term health). I think as a pediatric nurse, we expect a range of emotions. It’s okay to be fearful, to cry. So even a child that’s fearful, but does hold still, is doing well. These are normal emotions. However, boundaries do need to be set. If you’ve said to your child… no kicking.. and all they did was kick… then (personally) I don’t believe in rewarding a behavior that you’ve set a limit against.

  5. Stumbled on your blog through AOL. You know I will be signing up to your rss feed.

  6. Thanks, Jordyn and Erin! I will certainly remember these because you’re right: kids do take cues from us as parents and what we say in determining how they’re going to act and react.

    Thanks again!

  7. Very well written article. It will be beneficial to everyone who usess it, including yours truly :). Keep up the good work – can’r wait to read more posts.