Overcome A Fear Of Needles
Children living in the United States will receive over 30 shots for vaccinations during the course of their lives. This number doesn’t include possible Novocain shots at your dentist’s office or other injections to draw blood for tests. Unfortunately, such practice doesn’t necessarily make perfect – nor does frequency imply your child’s fear of needles will improve. Estimates may vary, but studies have suggested that almost 63% of children express a fear of receiving shots (along with 24% of adults).
As a parent, there are steps you can take to help your child overcome a mild to moderate fear of needles as well as the anticipatory anxiety surrounding injection phobias.
Educate Your Child About Shots
The more you can do to educate your child about needles and shots, the better. A large part of a child’s fear regarding injections can be directly related to misconceptions. Education can help to correct these. Often children believe that needles are extremely large and the process of receiving a shot is especially long and painful. Both of these misconceptions can be minimized with the use of visual aids. YouTube is a great resource for videos that instruct and educate children about shots. Be sure to select an age appropriate video.
Another high impact method to make use of online videos is to demonstrate the bravery of other children receiving shots. Create a visual role model for your child by watching a video of a similar aged child showing brave behavior when receiving an injection. Remember to reinforce the idea that being brave doesn’t mean not being scared, but rather that brave children may be scared but will complete the task anyway. Allow you children to watch these videos as much or as little as they want. Often, seeing the action over and over will eventually allow your child to believe they too can
If you child knows what to expect before visiting the pediatrician’s office, there will be less surprise related fear and a lower level of distress.
Develop A “Brave Body”
Instill confidence in your child by having them develop and practice a “Brave Body” pose. Have them sit up straight with good posture, hold their head up high, and relax their arms and feet. Allow them to practice the pose while viewing the instructional videos. When the time comes for the actual shot, habit will take over and the entire process will go more smoothly.
Reinforce your child’s bravery by helping them develop an explicit coping plan for the shot. Several days before your appointment work with them to come up with a plan, or list of things they will do such as sitting up straight and holding their head high. Avoid focusing on things you child should not do – such as “don’t be scared” or “don’t cry”. This may only lead to additional thoughts that are counter productive.
Steps Your Child May Take
Collaborate with your child to develop a list of songs they associate as power songs (think of athletes warming up before a game). Allow your son or daughter to listen to their playlist on the ride to Quakerbridge Pediatrics and in our waiting room (bring headphones). The songs selected to make your child feel confident, inspired, and excited to the point where they can accomplish anything.
Help your child write their own personal mantra. This should be a message to him or herself that they can recite out loud while receiving their shot. This will take the focus off of the actual shot and allow your child to focus on something positive, often distracting him throughout the entire process.
Award A Reward
Offer your child a reward that will be provided immediately after he demonstrates specific behaviors. Create an official document or reward contract with your child that outlines their behaviors and incentives. Both parent and child should sign the written agreement.
For instance, if your child agrees to listen to their power playlist, exhibit a confident brave body pose, and repeat their mantra during the process then they will be reward with a special lunch after the appointment at their favorite restaurant. Remind them that even if they are scared or cry during the shot, that if they demonstrate brave behaviors they will still receive their reward.
We have the privilege of meeting and dealing with many children that must have shots in our Quakerbridge Pediatrics office. We have experience an array of different reactions and will always cooperate with your family to make any vaccines or injections as comfortable, quick, and painless as possible.