The mention of shots is enough to send your child into a state of fear and panic, leaving you at a loss as to how to convince them that great health is on the other side of that needle. And now that we’ve added another immunization to the list with COVID-19 vaccines, the challenge becomes greater still.
Here at Laurel Pediatric & Teen Medical Center, our team of compassionate healthcare professionals understands the anxiety that can come with vaccinations and other procedures that require needles. At the same time, we appreciate the great health benefits that come with these necessary treatments.
To help ease your child’s anxiety before your next visit with us, we’ve pulled together a few tips that will serve you well.
The first point we’d like to underscore is that your child’s anxiety is well-warranted. Let’s face it, having a sharp object break your skin isn’t the most pleasant experience.
Instead of trying to sweep this reality under the carpet, it’s best to address it head on and say, “Yes, I know that it hurts, but it’s only a hurt that lasts for a few seconds, and you’re brave!”
By acknowledging their fear, your child will feel heard and understood, and that’s terribly important. They will also understand that you understand and that you’ll do all that you can to help them through the experience.
It pains you to see your child panicked or frightened, and you feel awful about “forcing” them into this situation. We recommend that you resist the urge to apologize as that implies that something is wrong. Taking care of your child’s health is one thing for which you needn’t apologize.
The vaccinations we provide are potentially life-saving. As adults, we understand this concept, but it's a tricky one to convey to a child. That said, you should do your best to be honest and let them know that the immunizations will prevent them from getting sick, which would feel worse than the shot itself. Not to mention, the shots will also help protect their friends from getting sick.
You can also try bringing your child to one of your own vaccinations so that you can set an example (as long as you’re comfortable with needles!),
How we word vaccinations, drawing blood, or any other treatment that involves needles, is important with children. Words like “shot” and “jab” aren’t necessarily the best terms as there's implied violence behind them. Instead, use words like, “poke,” “pinch,” or, “pressure.”
Once you’re here, we can make your child more comfortable in many ways. We can apply a topical anesthetic or a vibration device that distracts and interferes with pain signaling.
You can also hold your child or use your phone to play a video or music. Every child is different in terms of what comforts or distracts them most, but this link may help you come up with a good game plan for your next visit.
By planning in advance, you and your child can get through your next visit more easily, and you’ll be happily eating ice cream afterward with smiles on your faces.
If you have more questions about how to ease your child’s anxiety when it comes to needles, please don’t hesitate to contact us at our office in Bel Air, Maryland.