Kids sure do hate getting shots! And for good reason too. They can be painful and traumatic, especially for very young children who have to receive so many injections in the first 4-5 years of their lives.
As parents, we feel the need to protect our children from anything painful both physically and mentally. We might even find ourselves telling lies or bribing our children, often with the best intentions of sparing them any kind of pain. While this might seem like a good idea in the moment, it can lead to bad long-term consequences.
The next time your child is scheduled for a shot, here are 6 things you can do as a parent to help them get through the experience.
Stay Calm – Children have a good read on our emotions and they pick up on our anxiety. If you find yourself feeling stressed or worried about the upcoming injection, find a moment to calm yourself down before you’re with your child. When they sense that you are calm, they calm down too.
Be Honest – It’s tempting to tell your child that a shot doesn’t really hurt when they ask. You might feel that this is sparing them anxiety. But you don’t want your child to learn that you’ve lied to them. They’ll lose trust in you, which can cause trouble down the road. Instead of saying that it won’t hurt, be honest and tell them yes it will hurt, but only for a moment.
Talk About It – You can help your child prepare for a shot by having a brief conversation with them about why the shot is necessary and it’s positive effects. Be careful not to share too much. Going into too much detail may cause more stress. Teach your children that shots are good for the body and help to fight off diseases.
Distract – If possible, help your child focus on something other than the shot. A favorite stuffed animal, soft blanket or a lollipop can serve as an excellent distraction as you wait for your turn to see the doctor. You might also try singing songs or telling funny stories. This can relieve tension and make the time go by faster.
Reward – Come up with a fun reward for your child that they get once the shot is over. It could be a treat or maybe a small inexpensive toy. You might offer a trip to a playground or going to the library to check out a book. When your child is able to focus on the reward, they are less likely to stress about the shot.
Be Supportive and Loving – There’s no getting around the shot, but you can be there as your child is going through it. Be sure to show them lots of love and support. Hold their hand, stroke their back…whatever it takes to let them know that you’re there for them. It can help to hold them close for several minutes after the shot to help them feel secure.
Watching a child go through the experience of getting shots can be as emotionally painful for parents as it is physically for kids. It’s one of those moments in life that can be tricky to handle correctly. Above all, trust your instincts.
Be sure to give AllKids Urgent Care a call or visit if your child needs a shot. We’ll handle the situation with care to ensure things go smoothly.