Conquer Your Child’s Fear of Shots
During the first few years of life, your child could receive more than 20 vaccinations. For kids who have a fear of shots, a routine doctor’s appointment may prompt extreme distress and anxiety. This condition is sometimes called trypanophobia, defined as a fear of sharp objects such as pins, needles or shots.
Parents can help alleviate their child’s fear by following a few simple tips before, during and after the shot. “Typically, a child will say the injection didn’t hurt as badly as they expected,” says Stanley Grogg, DO, an osteopathic pediatrician from Tulsa, Oklahoma. “The fear is often worse than the reality of the shot.”
Osteopathic physicians, or DOs, focus on preventive care, looking beyond symptoms to consider how environmental and lifestyle factors can impact a patient’s health.
8 Tips to Help Ease Your Child’s Fears
- Be honest. If you know your child will need to get a shot, let them know ahead of time, recommends Dr. Grogg. Children who know they are going to get a shot generally do much better than children who are not told in advance. To prevent weeks of obsessive worrying, it’s best to inform the child on the day of the appointment.
- Explain to your child that shots may hurt for a minute, but they can keep us from getting sick. Oftentimes, children assume that shots are harmful because they are painful.
- On the day of the appointment, bring a familiar object from home, such as a blanket or favorite stuffed animal, to help distract your child from the pain.
- Reading aloud, playing or watching television are great activities for the waiting room. Seconds before the injection, try to distract your child by whistling or counting aloud.
- If your child is an infant, hold them on your lap during the injection.
- Remain calm during the process. Children can detect fear and anxiety in others, particularly their parents.
- Just before the shot, apply an over-the-counter topical anesthetic, like LMZ 5% cream, to the skin. This will help lessen the pain by numbing the area.
- After the visit, ask your child whether the shot hurt as much as expected. If the answer is no, you can remind your child of this the next time a shot is needed.