It’s almost time to go back to school, which might mean a visit to the doctor is in your child’s future.

A check-up is usually nothing to sweat, but if your child is due for a vaccination before heading off to school, it can be stressful for both parents and kids. However, keeping up with vaccinations is vital to ensuring the health of the public and your child.

“Getting a shot isn’t fun for children and can be stressful for parents,” said Geisinger pediatrician Kathleen Noss, D.O. “Kids don’t understand that getting vaccinated can keep them from getting very sick.”

When a parent reacts negatively toward a situation by showing signs of stress, the child will react similarly. And the increased stress level can actually make the pain of a shot feel worse.

To make the process of getting a shot a little bit easier on your child, there are a few steps you can take before and during your doctor visit.

“Don’t sugarcoat what’s about to happen,” said Dr. Noss. “Be honest and tell them that it might hurt a little bit, but that you’ll be right there with them.”

Timing can impact how anxious your child gets, too.

“Telling your little one he’s is getting a shot too far in advance gives them more time to worry about it,” said Dr. Noss. Instead, explain to them shortly before heading to the doctor’s office what will happen. Then, focus on what’s happening after the doctor visit.

Shortly before your child’s doctor appointment, you can apply a topical skin-numbing product to help dull the pain of the shot.

When you arrive at the doctor’s office, try to avoid showing signs of stress or tension. When you tense up, your child will sense it and do the same. Remain calm and smile.

Right before it’s time to get the shot, distracting your child can help refocus them on something else besides the jab of a needle.

“Letting your small child play with a toy, comfort a doll or stuffed animal or singing a song during the shot can draw attention away from the event,” said Dr. Noss. “Watching videos or looking at photos on a smartphone can also provide a great distraction.”

To help, some doctors will also give the shot without warning to reduce any last-minute anxiety.

After the shot is over, offer your child praise or a small reward for their good behavior. You might deserve a reward, too!

“There’s nothing wrong with having a treat occasionally, especially after the pain of a vaccination,” said Dr. Noss.