It’s often made worse by parents who aren’t sure how to explain what’s going to happen to their child or don’t know how to calm them before, during and after the shot.
Catherine Coakley and Angie Long, Child Life Specialists in the Via Christi ChildLife Center, often help hospitalized pediatric patients cope with discomfort through play, preparation, education, and self-expression activities.
They offer the following tips for parents on how to prepare a child for a vaccine shot:
- Be honest. There are ways to explain what the child will experience without frightening them.
- Explain the need for the shot: “This will help keep you healthy.”
- Give the child options to involve them in the process. Let the child pick which arm or leg in which the shot will be given.
- Compare the procedure with something they know. For example: “It will feel like a little pinch, squeezing or poking.”
- Give them permission to cry. Making the child hold in their emotions can often make things worse.
- For infants or toddlers, try using comfort holds during the shot. Hold the child on your lap or hug them during the shot. You might also try using the “Five S’s” to keep your infant calm during shots.