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What Can I Do to Ease My Child's Fear of Shots?

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. You might have him count, sing a song with you, or look away (maybe at a picture on the wall). You might even let him wear headphones and listen to his favorite song during the shot.

You can also try holding your son's hand or letting him sit in your lap while he gets a shot, but try not to look upset or concerned. Kids can pick up on anxiety, and it can make them worry as well. Also, don't forget to praise your child afterward. A little positive reinforcement can make the next trip to the doctor easier.

If you can, do something fun after the appointment. 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 as the needle is inserted. Research has shown 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. Medical professionals routinely deal with people who are afraid of shots, and they may be able help your son — and you — relax.

Date reviewed: March 2018