Those BIG tear-filled eyes looking up at you, asking “shot?”. Every mom out there hates seeing their child in pain. We know it’s for their benefit; however, you try to explain that to a toddler! There can be a lot of anxiety over going to the doctor for a child, in fear they may need a shot. And the minute you tell them “no, not this time”; The doctor will order a blood draw, making you the liar!
I have never been a fan of needles. In fact, when I was still a teenager, extra nurses had to come in and help hold me down for my vaccines. In college, I overcame the fear when I started to donate plasma to help pay for books. When I became pregnant with our first, blood draws became a regular part of my Monday morning routine. Some people stopped to pick up coffee on their way to work, I stopped by the clinic lab for my Monday morning blood draw.
In my experiences, and with my daughter, shots are no big deal. However, we have learned a few things along the way to make the experience better for everyone involved!
#1- It’s All About the Toes
It may sound totally silly but… it TOTALLY works! Right before the needle poke, wiggle your toes and you won’t feel the needle as much! You are so focused on wiggling your toes you can barely feel the poke. This works great with the toddler!! We wiggle our toes in the make-believe water or wiggle our painted toes “helping them dry faster”. She is more focused on her toes then the pain from the poke. I have also brought bubbles to blow with them or anything to distract them from the prick. This works too.
#2- Let the Nurses Do Their Job
In their first year, your little ones will get shots at almost every doctor’s appointment! It’s hard to watch them scream in pain, and they don’t understand why it’s happening. Now, at this age they won’t remember the shot at their next appointment. Let the nurses be the bad guy, have them hold your sweet baby for those shots and you can be the great hero when you scoop them up after!
#3- Reward It
I always have their favorite item ready when the shots are over! When they are younger it’s a bottle, when they are older it’s a treat they normally only get when grandma is around, (bring on the sugar!!). Offer them that coveted item, they will be more focused on that and the tears will dry up real fast. We offer BIG praise after the fact! Right there in the doctor office, on the way home “I can’t wait to tell daddy what a good job you did”, later that day “let’s call grandma and tell her how brave you were!!”. Give them that positive reinforcement on how great they did, even if things went horrifically wrong.
Let them know that it might happen and if it does, it will be ok! Don’t catch them off guard, talk about it A LOT beforehand. Even if you are going in for just an ear ache, prepare them that it might happen. Like I said, it could! (it has to me multiple times!) Talk it up like it’s a good thing, they will take your lead on it. Pretend to do it at home, walk them through what will happen and what to expect. Kids just want to be prepared, they are scared of the unknown, help them.
#5- Lead by Example
As a stay at home mom, I take my kids everywhere. When I had to go to the OB/GYN when I was pregnant with my son, my daughter came with every time. Again, it was a lot of blood draws, and I did not shy her away from it. She saw me get my blood drawn. I showed her the needle, and I did my best to normalize it for her. After that, she did not think it was a big deal. She just wanted to be like mommy.
A trip to the doctor’s office with kids is never going to be relaxing or drama free. Most trips I leave with sweat dripping down my back from wrestling the two kids in a small hot room for almost an hour. However, you can calm the nerves of the shot anxiety with these simple tips!