Maybe the first question I hear from any child who understands they are at my office for a well-check is, “Will I get a shot?” It is likely the most dreaded procedure we do in our office, with throat swabs a close second!
Parents dread bringing their children in because they know it will be a fight. No one (well, almost no one) likes shots, and children are often very vocal to their parents and our nursing staff about not getting them. But we know they are important tools to help keep our children from getting sick. So how do we minimize the pain and stress of these injections?
Here are some tips that might make the experience just a little less frightening:
1. Most parents elect to tell their children beforehand that they might be getting an injection. You know your child’s temperament best and can decide if this will create calmness or panic in your child. Many children would prefer to be prepared rather than have a nasty surprise at the end of their well-visit. Decide before the visit how you wish to notify your child of this possibility.
2. Use words like “poke” or “pinch” rather than “shot” or “stab”. Words really matter to children who will definitely react more negatively to the word “shot” than they will to the word “poke”.
3. Talk about a reward they will get when they finish their injections and their visit. It might be a trip to the park or something else they really like or want to do. Focus their attention on this while the injection is being given which might decrease their perception of pain.
4. Practice slow deep focused breathing with your child before the visit. Tell your child to count to 3 or 4 while breathing in, and then the same while breathing out. Focus on where the air enters the nostrils and goes out, trying to tune out all other distractions. As a child improves with this meditation, it can take their attention away from the injection procedure.
5. Vibration and colds help numb the pain of an injection as well. We have a little “Buzzy” we use with cold to numb the injection site, or we have the child hold the Buzzy while the injection is being given, which often distracts them from the pain. We also have a cold spray which helps numb the pain of an injection as well. Ask your child’s care provider how they might be able to help control the pain of the injection.
6. Make sure kids know you are aware of their anxiety and respect it, but don’t apologize. There is nothing to apologize for when you are taking the health of your child seriously.
7. Depending on the provider’s office policy, some children can be held while they are getting their injections. This may be more comfortable for them.
Shots aren’t fun, but with a little preparation and practice, and with communication with your child’s care provider about what they can offer as pain control, injections could be just a little less painful and stressful for your child.
To learn more about Delta Health Pediatrics, visit deltahealthco.org or call 970.546.4000.