Help kids over­come a fear of nee­dles


Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - YOU AT YOUR BEST -

Im­mu­niza­tions are an in­te­gral part of a healthy life­style. Physi­cians and var­i­ous health or­ga­ni­za­tions ad­vise that chil­dren and adults ad­here to a speci c sched­ule of vac­ci­na­tions that can help them de­velop an­ti­bod­ies to fend off a va­ri­ety of ill­nesses. Un­for­tu­nately for kids who fear nee­dles, most im­mu­niza­tions are ad­min­is­tered in­tra­venously.

Chil­dren fear­ful of nee­dles are typ­i­cally hes­i­tant, if not petri ed, to re­ceive their im­mu­niza­tions. How­ever, fail­ure to re­ceive rec­om­mended vac­ci­na­tions in­creases a child’s sus­cep­ti­bil­ity to var­i­ous dis­eases, and kids who do not re­ceive their im­mu­niza­tions may be run­ning afoul of the law. The Amer­i­can Academy of Pe­di­atrics’ im­mu­niza­tion sched­ule calls for chil­dren to get the bulk of their vac­cines be­fore age two. How­ever, ad­di­tional vac­cines must be ad­min­is­tered later in life. And while many chil­dren out­grow their fear of nee­dles as they ap­proach ado­les­cence, some may still re­sist. To make the im­mu­niza­tion process less painful for chil­dren, par­ents can take cer­tain steps.

Put on a smile

Chil­dren take their cues from their par­ents. If you show nerves or let on that you are ner­vous about the im­mu­niza­tion shots, your son or daugh­ter may take note of your ap­pre­hen­sion and be­come even more scared of nee­dles than he or she al­ready is. Make light of what is go­ing to hap­pen if the child un­der­stands what the visit is all about. Down­play any dis­com­fort and re­sist the urge to say “don’t worry.” It may ac­tu­ally give the child the im­pres­sion there is some­thing to worry about.

Be open and hon­est

Older chil­dren may ap­pre­ci­ate hear­ing the truth in­stead of be­ing told a tall tale about the im­mu­niza­tion process. Ex­plain that the nee­dle will only brie y pen­e­trate the skin, mean­ing the pro­ce­dure will be done very quickly.

Don’t make shots a form of pun­ish­ment

The threat “be­have or the doc­tor will give you a shot,” is not help­ful at all. It will only com­pound fears of shots and paint the pic­ture that they are a pun­ish­ment rather than a ne­ces­sity.

Lis­ten to con­cerns

et your child speak to you about why he or she is ner­vous about re­ceiv­ing a shot. Of­fer your sup­port in a warm, mat­ter-of-fact way.

Of­fer a dis­trac­tion

et the child hold a video game or in­cen­tivize the process by promis­ing a sweet or fa­vorite treat, which can take your child’s fo­cus off of the shot be­ing ad­min­is­tered. Par­ents can em­ploy var­i­ous strate­gies to calm kids’ fears about re­ceiv­ing im­mu­niza­tion shots.

Hold your child

Kids may nd that sit­ting on a par­ent’s lap as­suages their fears. For older chil­dren who can’t t on your lap, let them hug you or hold your hand for com­fort.

Use a top­i­cal anes­thetic

Ask the doc­tor or nurse if there is a numb­ing swab or spray that can be used to take the bite out of the nee­dle.

Lead by ex­am­ple

Take your child with you when you re­ceive vac­ci­na­tions, so that he or she can wit­ness that the process is both quick and pain­less. Im­mu­niza­tion shots are sel­dom fun for chil­dren or adults, but there are strate­gies to make the en­tire process less painful.

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