Does Your Child Dread Going To The Doctor To Receive Vaccines? Here Are 3 Tips You Can Use To Reduce Your Child's Anxiety
While child immunization is vitally important to protect your child against serious and potentially fatal diseases, practically no child enjoys receiving them. Many children dread going to the doctor's office to receive vaccinations and develop a fear of receiving shots. Thankfully, there are a few ways that you can help your child cope with the regular doctor's visits for child immunization. Read on to discover three tips to reduce your child's anxiety about receiving vaccinations.
1. Be Careful When You're Telling Your Child the Purpose Behind Child Immunization
Children are much smarter than most people give them credit for. Explaining the purpose of vaccines to your child is a great idea, but you need to be careful about the language that you use. Describing child immunizations as "medicine" may technically be true, but most children associate taking medicine with being sick. Children will wonder why they're getting medicine when they're not ill. Likewise, saying that child immunizations prevent sickness is also true. However, your child will question their effectiveness the next time he or she comes down with a cold! Either approach can lead to your child having anxiety about vaccination because he or she won't be able to understand the purpose behind it.
The best way to describe child immunizations is to tell your child that they will stop him or her from getting certain, serious diseases. If your child knows a friend or family member who has a chronic illness, use them as an example of how their sickness differs from a cold or a sore throat. This helps explain why diseases differ from each other, and then remind your child that vaccination only stops you from getting certain ones.
2. Be Honest About Vaccination Pain
It's not advisable to tell your child that vaccines don't hurt. While child immunizations are not particularly painful, they do cause noticeable discomfort for children. You can work this into a role-playing scenario where your child pretends to give you a shot in the arm. Pretend that it hurts, but also that the pain quickly subsides until you can no longer feel it. This helps your child understand that the pain from getting a shot does exist, but the pain is only temporary.
3. Start Vaccinations Early in Your Child's Life
Starting your child's immunizations as early as possible is the best way to reduce anxiety. Children have difficulty remembering when they're very young – they may not even remember the majority of their vaccines. Parents run in to trouble when they rush through the whole vaccination schedule shortly before school begins in order to meet school immunization requirements – children who are preschool age are much likelier to remember their doctor's visits and dread going back for repeat vaccinations. The worst possible outcome is that your child ends up developing a permanent fear of needles. When you start as early as your doctor allows, you'll minimize the number of times your child remembers receiving shots.
Finally, the provider of your child's vaccinations makes a big difference as well. There are numerous providers who perform vaccinations on children, such as pediatric clinics, public health centers and even some schools. If you feel that your current provider is contributing to your child's anxiety about receiving vaccinations, you may want to consider switching to a different provider. Some child immunization providers do a better job keeping children calm while receiving a shot than others.