It doesn’t matter how old you are: No one likes to get a shot. The thing is, medical injections like vaccines are meant to keep us healthy, so even though there might be a bit of pain involved, it’s all for the good of your health. As an adult, even though you might not like to get a shot, you can reason it through — and in the end, you’re still in control of your health and your medical treatment. But as a child, the thought of having an injection — no matter how good it might be for their health — can be a really scary experience. And since kids tend to need a lot of vaccines to help them avoid serious diseases and build immunity that lasts throughout adulthood, those fears can crop up on a fairly regular basis.
As a parent, you understand the vitally important role of childhood immunizations. But that doesn’t always make it any easier to deal with an anxious, frightened child. Fortunately, these nine tips can make the process simpler, less scary, and less worrisome — both for your child and for you.
If your child asks if they’ll be getting shots at their upcoming office visit, don’t deny it or give vague answers. Be honest and tell them why the shots are important for keeping them healthy now and throughout their adult years. Make sure they know that getting an injection isn’t a punishment, but rather a type of protection. And acknowledge that while the injection itself might pinch, the discomfort will last just a few seconds.
Keep information minimal
While it’s important to be honest, it’s also important to keep information basic and not to dwell on the topic of injections for a long time. The more details you provide, the more nervous your child can become. And if you can, don’t mention their visit too far in advance; otherwise, they may be anxious for days.
Use a numbing cream
If your child is extremely nervous about getting shots, ask the office ahead of time about topical numbing creams that can be applied to the skin about 20 minutes before the injection. While it won’t completely alleviate the discomfort, it can reduce it considerably.
Keep body language upbeat
Your child looks to you — literally — to gauge what’s going on. If they see you looking worried or concerned, they’ll tend to feel that way too. While waiting for the injection, keep a kind smile on your face, and hold your child’s hand if they want you to. Be confident and upbeat, and they’re more likely to follow suit.
Playing a simple game like I Spy, telling jokes, reciting rhymes, or even singing a song can help keep your child’s mind off the shot.
Know when to step back
If your child still has an emotional meltdown, it’s probably a good idea to step aside and let our team take over. You can still maintain eye contact to provide support for your child, but letting us take over the injection process means it’ll be as quick and painless as possible without any fuss.
Offer immediate relief
As soon as the vaccination is over, give your child a big smile and let them sit in your lap for a bit if they like. If they stand up too soon after being really stressed out, they might get dizzy or light-headed. Plus, they’ll appreciate the comfort you provide.
Ask about painkillers and ice
To reduce pain in the injection site, you can apply an ice pack, which will also help with any minor swelling. Apply the pack for 10 to 15 minutes, then remove it for 10 to 15 minutes and repeat as needed. Giving a child’s pain reliever can also help reduce discomfort and relieve any mild fever or headache your child might experience as their body’s immune system starts producing those important disease-fighting antibodies.
Plan a reward
Offering your child a small reward or treat, like an ice cream cone, fast-food meal, or a trip to the bowling alley or skating rink can put a positive spin on the whole process. Plus, it can help both of you relax and unwind together afterward.
Childhood vaccinations might be painful, but they can help your child avoid serious and life-threatening diseases during childhood and as adults. To find out what vaccines your child needs to stay healthy or to schedule an office visit at Walker Family Care, book an appointment online today.