Sharp needles? No, thank you.
Let’s face it — many adults tremble at the thought of getting a shot, so it’s no surprise that the majority of young kids are absolutely terrified of them. But since vaccines and medications in shot form play an important role in preventing disease and treating illnesses, it’s essential to find ways to comfort little ones when it’s time to face those needles.
Tips for Helping Kids Cope with Shots
For babies, shots can be a lot less dramatic. A few silly faces or singing their favorite song can be enough to distract them from the pinch. However, if your child is old enough to be aware of the situation, meltdowns can be incredibly common. Here are some tips for easing these fears and comforting children when it’s shot time.
Be honest with them.
It can be very tempting to hide the truth about an upcoming pinch. Battles typically begin the moment kids hear about the pending shot appointment. However, lying about it can do more harm than good. If you tell your child you’re going out for ice cream after daycare, but they suddenly end up in the doctor’s office, it can create mistrust and make them feel less secure.
Remain calm and confident.
Kids feed off of our emotions. If they sense that you’re nervous or anticipating chaos, they can quickly become more afraid. But if you remain cool, calm, and collected, you can give your child a small dose of confidence.
Practice a few days before the shot.
Many children benefit from practicing a few days before the actual shot, especially if they’re 4 years old or older. In this role-playing exercise, you can first try letting your child be the doctor giving you a shot (this is when you showcase your own bravery) and then switch to giving your child an opportunity to prepare for the big day.
Explain why they are getting a shot.
As children mature, they crave a deeper understanding of life. Explaining why they’re getting a shot can help them learn more about it. Clear and brief explanations can remove some of the fear of the unknown.
Distractions can be a blessing for young kids who are afraid of shots. A distraction can come in the form of a toy you brought from home, singing a song together, or telling a knock-knock joke while they wait for the pinch. You can also ask your child to describe something to you, such as their favorite meal or place, to help them focus on something else.
Bring a friend.
Having a friend or a sibling tag along to the appointment can also distract and offer a sense of security in an unfamiliar place. In addition, sometimes older kids are encouraged to put on a brave face when peers are around.
Leave the room if you need to.
If an epic meltdown occurs, none of the tricks are working, and the sight of your little one screaming in fear is upsetting to you —it’s perfectly okay to leave the room and allow the medical professionals to handle it. Pediatric doctors and nurses are trained to manage these situations, so don’t hesitate to give yourself a breather and step out of the room if you need to. It’ll be over before you know it!
Offer positive praise and small rewards.
Once the shot is over, bring on the positive praise! Tell them how proud you are of them and how brave they are. Small rewards, such as a sticker or a trip to the park, can also work wonders. Praise and rewards can help them associate the situation with fun and positivity instead of fear.
Your child may never, ever want to get a shot, but with a few tricks and lots of love, you can help them hate it a little less each time!