Once in the doctor's office, it can help if children believe they have some sense of control, Besser said. You can ask them where they want to sit or which arm they want to receive the shot. You can also let them know it's OK to yell or cry, but not to move.
Offer them a hand to squeeze
A helping hand can reassure children, "or sing a song with them," Besser said.
Stay in the room to comfort them
When he was training as a pediatrician, Besser said, many parents would leave the room because they didn't want to see their children in pain, or doctors wouldn't want to inflict pain in front of parents. But that just makes it scarier for children.
"That comfort, you being there, can really help," he said.
Instead, Besser said, "encourage them when they're staying still."
Say it won't hurt
"You'll lose their trust," Besser said.
Equate shots with punishment
"Every single time they go to the doctor, they'll be afraid," Besser said.
Parents play a big role in making the visit to the doctor as pleasant as possible.
CLICK HERE to find more information on meningitis at the National Meningitis Association.