Six ways to help your child overcome a fear of shots
Getting a shot is no fun for anyone, but a fear of needles is especially common among children. The anticipation can cause anxiety and even a meltdown. Child life specialist Christy Fink said there are things parents can do to make the process easier, taking into account your child’s age, maturity and previous experiences with shots
Here are some tips:
- Stay calm. Children take their cues from parents and caregivers, so when parents remain calm children will often be more cooperative.
- Be truthful. Explain why the shot is important to kids who are old enough to hear the message that the shot will help everyone stay healthy and safe.
- Prepare. If your child remembers their last shot experience, it could be helpful to talk about it.
- Bring something to distract them. A comfort toy, music, book or tablet are good options.
- Plan to celebrate after. For some kids, a post-shot celebration for bravery can be an incentive. Offering to go out for ice cream afterward or shop for a small toy gives them something to look forward to.
- Let your provider know ahead of time that your child is afraid. They are experienced in making children comfortable and have distraction tools like games and picture books.
“Parents know their children best and should not be afraid to advocate for what works best for them,” said Fink. “We want to create a positive healthcare experience when giving vaccines so that children learn to trust their healthcare providers and have better outcomes for life.”
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