I think as a parent, seeing your child in fear or pain has to be among the absolutely worse feelings of all time. All you want to do it take away their fear or pain. I want to scoop them up and absorb their trauma into myself so they feel better. At the same time, my reasonable side knows that it’s a moment that will pass and we really can’t shelter them completely from these experiences.
This is especially true of vaccine shots. Every child is different. Some children do best if you let them know in the morning that they are going to the doctor. I’ve made this mistake with my oldest. He was so traumatized by his last round of vaccine shots but I didn’t realize how much so. After that visit to the doctor the mere mention of going the doctor can send him into a frenzy of tears and anxiety. So now I wait until we are on our way to the doctor before letting him know where we are headed. It minimizes the length of his anxiety and since he hasn’t had to get shots the last few times he’s been to the doctor, his fear seems to be lessening.
So today we had our 5 and 7 year checkups at which kid #2 needed his booster shots in preparation for Kindergarten. We went about our day as usual and I waited until we were headed to the doctor’s office to let the boys know we had checkups. I omitted any mention of the necessary shots. This time I was armed with a secret weapon a friend had given to me earlier in the day, thank you friend!
In my pocket, I had a whistle that looked like a pair of lips and made a loud humming sound like a kazoo. It was a perfect sound for inside a doctor’s office, not a high-pitched whistle. When it came time to give #2 the shots, I gave him the whistle, wrapped him snug in my arms. I told him, when the nurse was ready to give him a shot, to blow into the whistle as hard as possible. He did, she gave him the shot and there wasn’t a single tear! In fact he proclaimed, ” that didn’t hurt.” The distraction of blowing into the whistle and his joy in making a fun sound completely distracted him from the prick of the shot! Amazing! I really wish I had this for #1 when he had his shots. Maybe we would have less doctor anxiety. So I had to share this in hopes that it might work for you and your little one next time you’re heading in for shots. I think at the very least, it’s worth a try! Anything that could help our kids feel a little more confident in going to the doctor is worth a try!