Tips to Help Kids Overcome Fear of Needle Shots

Tell the Truth

If a child asks whether they’re going to get shots, don’t brush them off or deny it. Make sure they know that the shot is something that protects them and explain that they’re not being punished. Also, don’t say the shot won’t hurt because kids will learn you are lying, and you can lose their trust. Instead, answer simply and honestly, saying, “Yes, it’ll hurt, but just for a few seconds.” When it’s over, make sure to show them a happy, smiling face to let them know they’re all done.

Help Distract from Pain

During the vaccination, help distract your child by squeezing his hand, making funny faces, telling a joke or story, playing I Spy, or simply singing his favorite song. You can also think of items to bring from home i.e. photos, blanket, stuffed animals, etc. to comfort your child in the office.

Don’t Make Promises

If you make and break that promises of “no shots”, trust is broken. Don’t joke about the doctor or nurse giving a shot as a punishment either. No single shot is ever given to make a child uncomfortable; don’t create that myth, as it sets your child up to believe that the doctor may harm them.

Don’t Get Emotional

It is best to remain extremely calm when telling your child it’s time to get a shot. Let your child know that children their age receive shots in order to be healthy. Maintaining a peaceful attitude encourages the child to remain still and calm during their visit. If your child panics or protests, remain calm and let them know that even though it might hurt, it will be over soon. A few don’ts to keep in mind during the visit would be: Don’t go into a long explanation; Don’t debate; Don’t bargain; Don’t yell; Don’t show too much emotion.

Prepare in Advance

Prepare your child in advance for the vaccines that they will be receiving, no matter how old they are. Be honest; show them that you care. If your child is old enough to understand, explain how the shots will help them avoid becoming sick. It is best to prepare your child for vaccines at home without giving too much time for them to think about it.

Consider a Reward

Sometimes even a small incentive (like a lollipop or a sticker) can help ease the pain. A special treat gives your child something to look forward to while also acknowledging his bravery and his boo-boo in a positive way. Or promise your child that after his vaccinations, you’ll do something special together, like going bowling or getting an ice cream cone.

Community Programs

Docs in the Park Reach out and Read Girls on the Run United Way of Frederick Maryland Interagency Early Childhood Committee Mental Health Association LiveWell Frederick Family Resource, Information & Education Network for Down Syndrome