Kids of any age (some adults, too) can be nervous or fearful about getting a vaccination. Usually, it is not the vaccine itself that stirs up these feelings and behaviors, but rather the idea of getting a shot with a needle.
Because vaccinations are so important for your child’s health and well-being, finding a way to get them through it is so important.
Below are a few tips and ideas for preparing your child and making vaccination day easier for everyone involved.
Before Getting a Vaccine
It is always a good idea to start preparing your child for a vaccine before you show up for their appointment. While some parents think that keeping it a surprise will make it easier to get the child to the doctor, this could lead to an intense spike in fearful behavior — and may potentially lead to issues concerning future visits to the pediatrician.
Talk to Your Child
Before the vaccination appointment, talk to your child about it. Be sure to use age-appropriate language so that they will understand.
- Let your child know that they will be getting a vaccine
- Explain what vaccines are in a simple, direct way making sure to discuss them in a positive light
- Choose one of the many children’s books available on the subject and read it together
- Role play getting a vaccination
Some parents have been known to explain vaccinations to young ones by stating they are putting soldiers, football players, or little magic fairies into the blood to help fight off infection and sickness.
You know your child best, parents. Communicate information about vaccines in a positive manner that will make a difference for your child.
Monitor Your Own Words, Actions, and Behavior
You want your child to be relaxed and comforted by vaccines — not scared of them. While you communicate a hopeful message, be sure you are keeping your words, actions, and behavior in check.
Don’t make it sound like you are worried about how the appointment will go when talking to a friend. Don’t act like you are afraid of the vaccine shot. Keep yourself calm.
Kids hear everything and they will feed off of your energy. If you act like vaccines are fantastic and no big deal at all, your kid is more likely to act the same way.
During the Vaccination Appointment
When the time arrives for the vaccination, continue to remain optimistic and calm. Here are a few ideas to make the appointment go as smoothly as possible.
Schedule the Vaccine with the Pediatrician
These days, depending on what type of vaccination it is, you can get them in a few different places. For instance, many pharmacies inside drug stores and grocery stores offer a long list of vaccines.
Try to schedule your child’s vaccination appointment with the pediatrician rather than outside options. This will allow them to have it in a place where that is both more familiar and private.
Bringing a few distractions can help when it comes time for the vaccine. This may mean bringing their favorite stuffed animal or blanket that will offer a sense of security or bringing a game, book, or even tablet as a distraction.
The more your child sits in the room with nothing to do, the more likely they are to get worked up thinking about the shot that is to come.
Teach Your Child Coping Skills
Teaching your child some basic coping skills can help them to get through the vaccination with ease.
- Show them how to take 3 to 5 slow, deep breaths
- Squeeze their hands or give them a squishy ball or toy to squeeze
- Play some calming music — or their favorite song
For the littlest ones, consider swaddling them or giving them something to suck on, such as a bottle or pacifier. Singing in a calm voice may also be helpful.
After the Vaccine
Once the vaccination appointment is over, be sure to commend your child for doing a good job. Remind them of the importance and value of immunizations — and that their body is now protected because they had the courage to go through with it.
Talk about their likes, dislikes, fears, and concerns. Address anything necessary so that the next time a vaccine appointment arises, the worry and anxiety will be a little less.
Advocare Haddon Pediatric Group is a highly experienced team of pediatricians serving patients from birth through college. They have been an established leader in pediatrics for decades in the Haddon Heights and Mullica Hill areas of New Jersey.