There's nothing my son hates more than getting a shot. How can I ease his fear? – Laurie
If your son is a toddler or younger child, try taking his mind off the shots by
bringing a favorite toy or book to the doctor's office. As he gets the shot, you might
count to 10
sing a song with you
look away at a picture on the wall or out a window
wear headphones and listen to his favorite song
You also can hold your son's hand or let him sit in your lap while he gets a shot.
But try not to look upset or concerned. Kids look to their parents, especially in
a new or anxious situation. If you're calm and relaxed, your child is more likely
to be too.
You might have heard about a tool called Buzzy. This over-the-counter "personal
pain relief" device uses cold to help numb the area and vibrations to reduce sensation
while a shot is given. Many parents who have used it report good results and less
pain for their child.
Consider using a reward system to support brave behavior. Bring stickers or other
small prizes that you can give during the appointment and offer praise. You might
do something fun after the visit as a reward for success. A trip to the park or playground
can make the day's memories more pleasant.
If your son is a teen, encourage him to bring something — a game, book, or
music player — that will distract him while he waits. When it comes time for
the shot, he can take deep breaths, focus on something else in the room, relax his
arm, or cough. Research shows that these techniques can help reduce anxiety and make
the shot less painful.
Let the doctor or nurse know ahead of time if you or your son are nervous. They
often deal with people who are afraid of shots, and they can help your son relax.
Others can support your child too. Mental health professionals and child-life specialists
offer education, support, and tools to help kids face fears and feel more comfortable
getting their shots.