How can I help my child have a better experience with vaccination? Many kids have anxiety about getting shots. There is a lot of things that parents can do and there are things that we can do to make that a better experience. The things that we wanna do are to minimize pain with vaccine in the office. Here are some ways we can do that.
For young infants, one of the most effective things you can do is to nurse your infant while they’re getting their shots. This may sound strange but if you are comfortable with it my staff is well trained and equipped to do it at the same time. Many small infants won’t even cry at all if they get their vaccines while they’re nursing. So that’d be my first recommendation. The second thing I would recommend would be to use proper holding technique. In the past, you know, we’ve sometimes really stressed holding kids down tightly. That’s actually been shown to increase anxiety over time. So now we’re trying to use different holding techniques whenever possible that will allow the child to feel less constrained. Another thing we’re looking to do is implementing more distracters. You know, many people bring their own to the office as far as a phone or tablet to show a favorite video or a song while the child gets vaccines. that can often distract them from the process. Other things that can work are sometimes bubbles or other things to look at while they’re getting their vaccines. Another option is numbing medicine. The application of a lidocaine-containing cream for at least an hour before getting vaccines can provide some local relief at the area of the shot and make it less painful. You can buy this over the counter and apply it yourself or we also have some available in the office as well.
That’s the stuff we can do in the office to help with your shots. The things that parents can do are also important. One is to prepare your child. I don’t recommend keeping shots a secret. If you know there’s gonna be vaccines talk about it ahead of time. Don’t spring a surprise on your child. I don’t think that’s something any kid wants to hear at the last minute. And don’t use shots as a threat. Sometimes I hear parents say, I think they’re joking, but they say things like, “If you’re not good I’m gonna tell the doctor to give you shots.” Again that sends the wrong message. The shots are…they’re there to help the child, they’re there to prevent illness. When used even jokingly as a threat it does increase anxiety, increase the child’s perception of the vaccination as a truly negative experience. Another thing that parents can do to help with their child is to portray a positive attitude themselves. Children definitely look to their parents for their emotional cues as to how they should feel in a certain situation. So certainly even, you know, if we have anxiety about these, setting a positive message, being calm around your child even if you don’t feel so calm on the inside can often go a long ways to making your child more confident with the experience.