Let's talk about shots. Let me guess, your child doesn't like them. Right? I mean, if we're being honest….do any of us? Shots are a part of regular medical care, and something that I think most parents struggle with. Do we warn our kids? Try to distract them? Basically pray for them to be over quickly? I'm putting on my behavior support hat, and sharing what helped US navigate Lydia's very normal, and very real childhood fear of shots.
This year, Lydia is turning seven. She is up to date on her vaccinations, but based on doctor recommendation, we did want her to get a flu shot. And, she was……terrified. Now that we're on the other side of it, I wanted to share what we did to prepare her and what we did differently this year as a reaction to…..the state of the world.
Childhood Fear of Shots: How to Make It Easier With Heal
After years of shots being a HUGE ordeal……we finally found a system that worked. Does Lydia still have a fear of shots? Yes, but it was MUCH easier to navigate this time and she even mentioned after our appointment that it was….”no big deal”.
Appointment at Home with Heal: This year, we decided to do Lydia's annual wellness check and her flu shot at home. The truth is, a doctor's office can be stressful right now. Since she's ALREADY nervous about shots, we thought the option of doing this year's in a more familiar environment would help. We booked her appointment with Heal, a web and app based telehealth and house call service with licensed doctors and nurses. This was our first time using a service like this, and it was WAY easier than I anticipated. We booked an appointment online, and the doctor and nurse arrived with all equipment and pandemic protocol precautions were followed (they even were able to do a hearing and visual test). This was covered by our insurance, we could see the out of pocket cost before we booked….so no surprises! We added in Lydia's flu shot to the appointment. And I love that the doctor took his time, even let her choose where she sat for the shot (for the record, she chose the couch and asked if she could watch TV while he did the deed). After the appointment, I was invited to review my Heal experience, a Clinical Care Plan from the doctor, and a summary of the appointment. I love how quick and easy this was! I love that this really minimized stress for Lydia, and that we were able to have a pediatrician see her in her own home environment. I also think this would be great if she was sick and we didn't want to take her into a doctor's office!
Preparation In Advance: I am NOT team ‘pretend shots aren't coming’, I make sure to tell Lydia she is getting a shot ahead of time. I think in the long run, that creates more fear and anxiety. Lydia DID know that she would be getting a shot, and the Heal doctor even told her WHEN in the appointment it was. No surprises. I think it helps to build trust, and children need to know that no one is trying to “trick them” with something scary.
Observation If Possible: Lydia did come with ME to get my flu shot a month ago. She watched, and saw that it wasn't “that bad”. If it is possible for your child to observe an adult getting a shot, it can help them to realize it's quick.
The Purpose: Our kids are smarter than we think. Tell them WHY they are getting a shot. What is the medical function? This is important, so that they understand that the short term uncomfortability is for a long term health benefit.
Counting Down: One thing that we focused on, was that the shot would be over in under 30 seconds. You can easily count to 30 with your child, or show them a timer on your phone. Children don't have the best sense of time normally, and this can help them to know in the moment that this will be over quickly (think of how we look at the timer a million times when running on the treadmill).
Who Gives the Shot: Yes, with things like a flu shot you can go to a clinic or local pharmacy. This may be fine for adults, but for children who exhibit a fear of shots? Environment and bedside manner are important especially since we don't want to create long term fears or traumas. It's important to navigate shots with a licensed doctor (preferably a pediatrician for young kids). Bonus? With Heal you can request the same doctor again, so that your child will be comfortable and familiar with them. A Heal doctor can even be your primary care physician. It WILL HELP.
Do you have a child who exhibits a fear of shots? What has been helpful?
Please note: This is a paid advertisement and/or testimonial. However, nothing in this post should be taken as a recommendation of/or referral to Heal Doctors. This is not a recommendation for medical services or treatment and is not a substitute for consultation with your medical provider. Please consult your medical provider for any healthcare related needs.