Rossendale Free Press
Just the jab
KAITE WRIGHT finds out the best way parents can support a child who is getting the Covid vaccine
COVID vaccinations are now available in the UK for 12 to 15-yearolds.
There are 80,000 children already scheduled for their jabs and letters were sent out to 2.5 million homes last week encouraging parents to sign their kids up through the national booking service.
But what if your child is reluctant to get their jab – either because of a fear of needles or concerns around the vaccine itself?
We asked experts for their advice on how to tackle the issue in a supportive way.
Listen without judgement
With so much misinformation spread online, your child may be nervous about getting the vaccine due to unfounded claims they’ve read on social media or heard from friends.
“You can’t turn around and say, ‘You’re an idiot for believing that’ or anything negative, because that brings out indignation and anger,” says Karl Rollison, Harley Street therapist and author of The Needle Phobia Handbook.
“You’ve got to listen to their concerns – they have got to feel like they’re being taken seriously.” Instead of dismissing what they say, talk about the benefits of getting vaccinated and offer to go online and research the facts together.
Karl adds: “Then you can explore it together in a really calm, logical, methodical manner.”
Watch your language
How you talk about the jab can have a big impact on your child’s expectations, warns Sophie Fletcher, a leading UK hypnotherapist and author of Mindful Mamma.
“When people have injections [parents] will say things like, ‘You might feel just a little bit of pain,’ but all that child will [likely] hear is ‘pain’, then they start to match up with other moments of pain they may have had. It can blow it out of proportion.”
You may think you’re helping by ‘preparing’ the child, but it could be more beneficial to encourage curiosity, Sophie says: “Say, ‘Look what’s going on, they’re doing this
amazing thing’. Use really positive language and avoid that ‘expectation’ language.”
Use positive imagery
On the day of the jab, another way to use positivity is by asking kids to visualise a brave character.
“Get them to imagine their favourite superhero or a character in a film they admire, and [get them to think about] what would that character do in this situation?” Sophie says. “That’s a really simple technique.”
“Distraction works very effectively whatever age you are,” says Sophie.
“You can get them to focus on a picture or something on the wall, depending on their age.
“Get them to focus on something that isn’t the jab while they’re having it.”
Consider a reward
Our experts are divided when it comes to whether or not you should reward a child with a treat after they’ve had the vaccine.
“You generally reward children when something’s been difficult or challenging,” says Sophie, who isn’t in favour. “So by rewarding them, you’re fulfilling that too.”
Karl, on the other hand, says: “Everyone needs positive reinforcement. Everyone wants to know they’ve done something good.
“This is quite a major thing – of course you can give them a reward afterwards.”