November 22, 2022

How to Support Kids + Families in Urgent Care

As parents and professionals, we know that urgent care visits can be extremely stressful for kids and families – especially if they haven’t been to an urgent care before. With this new experience, some parents may feel nervous about the wait time, meeting new providers, and wondering if they will be taken seriously.    What […]

As parents and professionals, we know that urgent care visits can be extremely stressful for kids and families – especially if they haven’t been to an urgent care before. With this new experience, some parents may feel nervous about the wait time, meeting new providers, and wondering if they will be taken seriously. 


What makes a pediatric urgent care “pediatric?” Do the providers have any special training in peds? 

Pediatric urgent care only treats children patients from newborns up to 21 years old (East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, 2019). The providers that work in urgent pediatric care undergo specific training that can take up to one to three years in addition to their initial training (Healthy Children, 2020). During medical school, the providers will complete their clinical rotations in pediatrics. Then during residency, the providers will complete training in inpatient general pediatrics.   


Parents, keep these suggestions in mind as you bring your kids to urgent care. 

Try to  Calm Your Body and Mind. 


Easier said than done – we know! During times like this, it can be challenging to keep calm when your little one is not feeling good or highly nervous. Small children can feed off of your emotions and anxiety. Staying calm can help both you and your child. 


Keep Explanations Simple and Honest. 


It is normal for your child to be anxious and nervous when taking a visit to the doctor. Explaining to them what can be expected and things that they will see can help release stress that they might have. It also gives them the opportunity to ask any questions if they are old enough to communicate. You can also talk through what the doctors are going to be doing right before they do vitals or any other exams or test. . When explaining things to your child be sure to keep the information and sentences simple. 


Provide Validation and Comfort. 


You know your child the best and what can help them through this process. By telling the children it is “okay” to be nervous about new things and experiences provide validation and lets the child know that you are there for them. Let them know it is okay to ask as many questions as they need to.


Provide Simple Distraction


Making a trip to the urgent care can be an unexciting trip for the family to make. During these trips, you can play simple games such as “I Spy” with items that you see in the office and or waiting room. Simple games can help the child feel safe and comfortable in the environment (Sioux Falls Speciality Hospital, 2018). Here’s a link to an I-Spy Page.


Bring Comfort Items. 


Does your child have a favorite toy, blanket, and stuffie? These are comfort items that you can bring with you to help your child feel less stressed and anxious. 


Staff, here are some ways to collaborate with the families and kids you care for:

Build Rapport. 


This is a stressful time for the families and building rapport can help build relationships with the parents and children. Before meeting with the patient and parents, take the time to acquire information on the patient to better get to know the person before meeting them. 


Validate Emotions. 


Validating the child’s emotions when frightened can show them that you understand the feelings that they are going through. It can also help defuse potential meltdowns. 


Provide Age-appropriate Interventions. 


Providing intervention or distraction can help the child through this medical experience. Medical play can help the child become familiar with the medical equipment that they might see during their visit. Facilitating medical play before the doctor comes in can help minimize the stress that they are experiencing. This shows the child what to expect and allows them to ask any questions that they might have. Simply playing with a doctor’s stethoscope can make a huge difference. This is also a great time to get the parent involved and ask them to interact with you during the medical play.


Promote Opportunities and Comfort Positions. 


A benefit of comfort positions is to help the child feel safe and secure during medical procedures and doctor visits. This is a great way to encourage the parents to be involved with the child. The parent knows that child best and what the child may or may not like. While explaining the different types of comfort hold, ask the parents if they feel comfortable doing the hold or if would they like another member of the care team to do the comforting hold with the child. This gives the parents options on what they feel comfortable with and lets them know it is okay if they wish not to participate. Here’s a link for comfort positions.


Emphasize the Importance of Bringing Comfort Items. 


Encourage the child to bring a comfort item with them. This can help with their visit to have something that is theirs from home. It is an item that they know is safe and can keep them calm. 


The information that was provided can help alleviate some of the stress and emotions that everyone can be experiencing when making a visit to the urgent care. During this time of unfamiliarity and uncertainty, the simplicity and comfort that is provided to the child can make a difference in their experience. From a simple “I Spy” game to bringing a stuffed animal. 



East Tennessee Children’s Hospital. (2019, October 8). What is a pediatric urgent care?: Children’s Urgent Care FAQs. Children’s Hospital Urgent Care. Retrieved from 

Healthy Children. (2020, September 1). A Pediatrician’s Training. Retrieved from 

Sioux Falls Speciality Hospital . (2018, July 13). 6 Tips for Taking Young Children to Urgent Care. Retrieved from

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