4 tips to help kids overcome their fear of shots

Health
Child fearful of getting a shot.

It’s no wonder many young kids feel anxious about going to the doctor’s office. Most children will have around 20 vaccinations by the time they’re four years old.
While those shots are extremely important to a child’s health, they do pinch, says Dr. Heber Watson III with Tidelands Health Family Medicine at Holmestown Road in Myrtle Beach.
“Kids may not necessarily like ‘shot’ appointments, but staying on an immunization schedule can help keep office visits to a minimum and prevent a child from contracting serious illnesses throughout their life,” Dr. Watson says.
Here are some tips to help prepare your child for a shot:

Tell the truth

If your child asks if he or she will get a shot during an appointment, it’s best to be honest. This will give you the chance to discuss fears and explain why the shot is necessary before arriving at the doctor’s office.
“Being truthful can help your child prepare and be ready to face the injection when the time comes,” Dr. Watson says. “Setting the expectation can help kids better cope with the situation.”
It’s also important not to tell your child the shot won’t hurt. Explain that the injection will pinch or sting, but only for a few seconds.

Don't overshare

While it’s best to be honest, don’t reveal too many details about the appointment too far in advance. If you tell your child about a shot a week before the appointment, he or she could spend those seven days worrying and fretting. If you do chose to reveal an upcoming shot before heading to the doctor’s office, do so on the day of the appointment.

Remain calm

If you’re anxious, your child will pick up on it. Distract your child — and yourself — by reading books to your child or playing with toys.

Offer a reward

There’s a good reason many medical offices offer rewards like stickers or lollipops after an appointment. They work. If your child is still a upset a few minutes after receiving the shot, a small token can help restore normalcy.
“Treats from home or the promise of stopping off at the playground on the way home always helps, too,” Dr. Watson says.

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