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10 Tips for Preparing Your Child for a Shot

March 11, 2012

Your child has a date with the family doctor, for a vaccination. Perhaps it’s time for flu shots. Even if you don’t have an appointment scheduled now, eventually she is going to have to face the needle; something neither of you is looking forward to. So what is the best way to prepare her for it? Here are 10 tips for preparing your child for a shot:

  1. Hypnosis – For truly phobic young patients, hypnosis has been a successful means of treatment. The children eventually overcome their fear of getting shots. Make sure you find a licensed provider and are aware that this therapy does not work for everyone.
  2. Distraction – Anticipation makes the experience far more ominous and scary than it would otherwise be. If you can preoccupy your child just prior to administering the shot, it will take the edge off.
  3. Lidocaine – When applied to the area where the shot will be given, this medication can dull the sensation and make the shot not hurt (as much). Some doctors also use cold spray to numb the area before giving an injection.
  4. Sing – A comforting, lilting familiar voice can work some serious magic on a child’s nerves. The sound of their mother’s voice literally has a soothing physiological effect on children, reducing the heart rate and lowering anxiety levels.
  5. Discuss, don’t dwell – Explain to your child what you will doing at the doctor’s office, including the shot. Focus more on the check-up and other factors, and maintain an upbeat tone. If you dread it, so will they.
  6. Surprise – Alternately, you can opt to avoid any discussion about the shot itself, to alleviate any anxiety if your child is prone to worrying. Tell them just before the shot happens so they have a little time to mentally prepare, however.
  7. Bring a Game – Provide some entertainment as a distraction and to keep your child in good spirits prior to the shot. The less they think about it, the less it will hurt.
  8. Bring Fun Bandages – Let him pick out some Scooby-Doo or Sponge Bob bandages and make preparation for the shot a fun experience.
  9. Read a book – Better yet, have your child read a book aloud, and get immersed in an enjoyable story. Like a game, this will help them keep their mind off the shot and lessen their anxiety.
  10. Educate – Tell your child about vaccines, illnesses, and why it’s important to have shots on occasion. The more they know about the importance, the more likely they are to stay strong and suffer without complaint when the time comes. After all, even a child knows it is better to hurt a little now than be sick for a long time later.

No matter what kind of child you have: a worrier, a crier, or a fearless wonder, there is a way to keep them calm and happy, even in this circumstance. Know what your child’s needs are and find ways to work with them to make the visit to the doctor a pleasant experience for all concerned.


5 Responses to 10 Tips for Preparing Your Child for a Shot

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Rachel B. says:

You know which shots were the worst? Newborn shots. There is just no way to adequately prepare them for it. Hearing my baby screaming absolutely broke my heart. Of course, he got over it quickly – it was me who was emotionally scarred!

Jenn N. says:

UGH YES! Newborn shots were horrible. But shots were just terrible for us all around. My husband has this big fear of needles and it seems that he passed that fear on to our kids because they become inconsolable when they know they’re about to get shots and during the shot process, no matter what we do.

lindsey m. says:

while the shots themselves are always an awful experience for us, we have found that letting our kids pick out fun bandaids does help them cheer up quickly after recieving them. nothing like a good ol’ mickey mouse sticker to make a bandaid more fun!

Jessica S. says:

Hypnosis seems a little extreme for little kids!! I can’t imagine doing that. Then again, whenever I think of hypnosis I think of people getting hypnotized for more than they bargained for – you know, barking when they hear a certain word, etc. Haha! Maybe I’ve watched too much TV…

Sami R. says:

LOL I think that about hypnosis too! We distract, distract, distract when it comes time for the LO’s to get their shots. And then we go for ice cream. I’m not above ice cream rewards for enduring shot sessions! ;-)