Are you the parent of a young child? Is your child afraid of going to the doctor, causing you to dread having to update his or her vaccinations? Needles can be scary even for adults, so it's understandable that your child might object to them. However, you already know that getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent certain childhood diseases. To make the whole process easier on everyone involved, here are some tips to help make your child's next pediatrician visit less scary:
Role play: Many adults would probably be alarmed if someone snuck up on them and jabbed them with a needle. This is the same feeling that your child might get if you fail to tell him or her that they will be getting a shot from their pediatrician. Once your child is old enough to understand what will be happening, explain the process for at least a few days before his or her appointment. Take turns pretending who will be the "doctor" and who will be the "patient". If your child doesn't have a play doctor set, you can give each other pretend shots by gently poking with a ballpoint pen or a pencil that has never been sharpened. This will help your child to understand that shots might not be that scary after all.
Allow some choices: Even after multiple pretend pediatrician visits, your child might still have some reservations about getting a shot. Give him or her some choices to allow some feeling of control. For example, you might ask if your child wants to bring along a stuffed toy for comfort or would rather bring along something else. Once in the pediatrician's office, ask your child if he or she would rather have the shot on his or her right or left side. Having a little control will help alleviate some of the anger and frustration that your child might be feeling at being told that they have to get a shot.
Have rewards ready: Does your child have a favorite juice drink or candy that you rarely allow him or her to have? Have it on hand at the pediatrician's office to give to your child as soon as possible after he or she gets a shot. While some people might view this as bribing your child, adults get rewarded with paychecks for having to do unpleasant tasks at work. So why shouldn't your child be allowed a treat every now and then for having to do something that he or she finds unpleasant? Your pediatrician is likely to have some rewards available in the office that might also appeal to your child such as brightly colored Band-Aids or fun stickers.