Is your child afraid of needles? How to silence them before their Covid shooting

Yes, you should tell your child early on that he or she is getting a gun, experts say. Here are some ways to make self-expression as smooth as possible.


With children ages 5 to 11 finally qualifying for the Covid-19 vaccine, many parents eagerly awaiting the opportunity to inject their children finally have a chance at the end.

But children may not be as excited about being shot as their parents were.

Fear of needles, or trypanophobia, is common in children - most do, with one statistical analysis found.

If the phobia is so severe that going to the doctor is traumatic, parents may consider treating their children. But in many cases, they can take steps to make even the most needing child feel more comfortable. Here's what psychologists and pediatricians recommend:

Step 1: Prepare your child.

Before taking your child for a Covid vaccine, gently let them know they will be shot, said Mary Alvord, a psychiatrist who specializes in anxiety and self-control for children and teens.

While this may seem like it will raise more concerns, it ultimately helps build trust, he said.

"You have to say, 'We will be brave and we will get used to dealing with your fears,'" Alvord said. “Say,‘ You will meet someone who is very kind. I know it's going to be hard. I am near or near you, and we will practice your breathing together, or I will tell you strange things. '”

Reading children's books about going to the doctor in the early days can help familiarize young people with what they will face. So did seeing them play a doctor, Alvord said. Children can use pens like syringes to give their dolls and stuffed animals pretend to be vaccinated.

Many children fear that the shooting will hurt them, and parents should not tell themselves that they will not, Alvord advises, because if a gun happens, children will wonder why their parents lied to them.

"It must be said to the children that no one likes to be shot."

"It must be said that no one likes to be shot," he said. “There are a few side effects, but there are many benefits.”

In extreme cases, parents may want to consider exposure to the elements before visiting their child's doctor. Treatment is usually short-lived and involves a gradual exposure to trigger factors that cause fear in the child, such as the smell of alcohol used before the injection, while working to reduce the child's anxiety at every step.

Step 2: Plan with your pediatrician.

If parents are concerned that their child may be shocked by the pain, they may consult their pediatrician in advance to inquire about numbing creams, which will soothe the needle sensation in their skin, but should be applied about half an hour earlier. , says Dr. David Becker, pediatrician, psychologist and professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco.

Becker recommended that families evaluate the injecting game program available through the Meg Foundation, a non-profit organization that gives children the power to protect and reduce pain. The printable form gives children options such as where they want the parent to stay while they receive their shot.

"Most importantly, children should not be detained in any medical procedure without their consent."

"The most important thing is that children should not be detained in any medical procedure against their will," said Becker, on the board of the Meg Foundation, explaining that forcing children to be vaccinated could harm them and make them fearful. for future physician consultation. They can be held in the arms of their parents, on their thighs, and sometimes a hug is enough to make them feel comfortable. ”

How parents and doctors talk about the upcoming shooting of a worried child is also important, he said.

"You can remove the word 'pain' or 'shot' to 'pierce' or 'bother,'" he said, such as: "I don't know if it will bother you if you get your vaccine or vaccine. Let's come up with a plan to make you feel in control."

Step 3: Relax and relax.

The minutes leading up to the injection as the doctor or nurse prepares the vaccine can be a major concern for children - or someone who is afraid of needles.

As a result, the muscles become stiff, which makes the gun extremely painful. So Alvord has parents who tell children to "keep the body relaxed."

This can be achieved by doing some relaxing exercises that focus on breathing - parents can use childcare apps - or parents can guide children to strengthen and relax one muscle group at a time, a process known as continuous muscle relaxation.

This is also the time when it's OK to take out a phone and insert a child's favorite video or audio book, Alvord said.

In addition to disturbing children, strengthen their courage in those last days, Alvord said.

"The message is, 'I know it's hard, but you'll be brave,'" he said.

Step 4: Enjoy. Or there were a few bumps.

The best time to get your baby vaccinated is when he or she is most excited - that is, when he or she is unlikely to be tired or hungry - and when you have time to do something fun, Alvord says. Get a lump of ice cream to shake their liver, he suggested. Celebration should occur even if the doctor’s appointment involves tears.

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Ice cream or a family trip to the zoo is what Shaun Harris, a father of two in Reedsburg, Wisconsin, plans to do after taking his seven-year-old son, Ginny, who likes to play with a needle, to get vaccinated . Ginny has always been fearful of being shot, even crying when she's not being shot: Seeing her 10-year-old brother, Teddy, get shot up, too.