How to make shots less scary for kids
Shots are scary. But the anticipation of shots makes it so much worse. Here are some smart ideas for making immunizations, flu shots, blood draws and other needle-involving procedures as innocuous as possible.
(I tried to come up with a pun using the word innoculate but it wasn't meant to be.)
Choose your terminology wisely
A nurse friend had this advice: she says most kids know the word "shot" as having to do with guns. Especially if you've warned them about guns a lot, this may seem very scary. She suggests referring to shots as "vaccinations" so no one worries about dying from the process.
She went on to suggest telling kids they are getting their hair "trimmed" not "cut." For kids, "cuts" are painful (and possibly bloody) so it makes sense to choose a different word.
I'd never thought of it that way before, but I'll give it a try.
Plan a distraction
To understand where this hack came from, you have to know that my wife and I got tired of our 3 year-old saying "Oh, man," "Oh my God," "Oh my gosh" and the like. So after some experimentation, she started saying "Oh pants!" It was so funny that we've let it stand, and now that's what she says as an exclamation.
About a month ago she was scheduled for a flu shot. Before the appointment, we talked with her about what to expect. First the doctor will weigh you, look inside your mouth, etc. When we said, "Then the doctor will ask you to look away and you'll feel a little sting..." she replied, "and then I'll say 'Oh pants!'" After the laughing died down we said that would be fine.
When the time came, she was working so hard to remember what she was going to say that she missed the shot entirely! And by the time the doctor put the band aid on her arm, she realized that her moment was over!
We've been talking about that with her since: about how she has to come up with something to say for when she gets her shot. Just this morning, hours before her next shot, she was sitting at the breakfast table, and said, "I'm going to say 'Oh pants!' this time when I get my shot. I can't wait to get a shot!"
I want to credit my brilliant (and beautiful) wife for recognizing this excellent distraction for the getting shots. I never thought I'd ever hear a child say "I can't wait to get a shot!"