Many children will face anxiety-related not only to going to the doctor but specifically to get their vaccines. While your child is more likely to face anxiety about getting vaccines themselves, it’s also not uncommon for you, as a parent, to feel anxious about taking your child to the doctor as well.
How To Lower Your Child’s Anxiety About Having A Vaccine
That being said, there are steps that you can take to reduce your child’s and your anxiety relating to vaccinations. Here are some tips to try next time you’re planning to visit the doctor with your anxious child:
Reduce Your Anxieties
One of the first steps toward reducing your child’s anxieties is reducing your own. Whether you’re anxious over possible side effects, for example, if a flu shot hit nerve or caused fever, chills, or other serious possibilities, you’ll want to face those fears yourself if you want your child to stay healthy as well.
To conquer your anxieties, you’ll want to speak with your doctor about any concerns on your mind. Addressing the questions that are worrying you and getting answers directly from your doctor will ease your stress.
Do Your Research
Additionally, you can research on your own so that you’re prepared with all the facts before heading into the office. In doing this research, you’ll be sure to learn how vaccines have saved more babies and children than any other medical advances. You’ll also learn that keeping up to date with your child’s vaccine schedule isn’t only recommended but is, most importantly, necessary to their overall health.
Find Your Calm
Finally, since you’ll be in the office with your child when getting their vaccine, you’ll want to remain calm as they’ll sense it if you’re also nervous about the vaccination process.
Prepare Them For The Visit
Just as you want to educate yourself to reduce fears and anxieties, you’ll want to do the same for your children. Many age-appropriate books or TV shows can help you show your child exactly what they should expect from their experience.
Another way to prepare your child for their doctor’s visit would be to role-play what they can expect from their upcoming appointment. Sure, they can read books or watch shows that portray a doctor’s visit, but having a doctor’s kit in the house and letting your child play with it daily can normalize the objects they’ll encounter at the doctor’s office, making them less scared when the day finally comes.
Don’t Make Empty Promises.
While you may think that sheltering your child from the fact that they’ll need a vaccination at the doctor’s office will keep them calm, there’s more of a chance that this plan will backfire on you. Sure, this can keep them calm temporarily. However, once they get into the office and realize you weren’t telling the truth, there’ll be repercussions.
Not only will they not trust you in the future, but they’ll also panic more when they realize they do have a shot coming. Whereas if you’d tell them the truth from the start, they’d be able to prepare themselves.
During a doctor’s visit, there can be some leniency to screen time rules, snack restrictions, etc. It can be beneficial to let your child watch TV, listen to music, or even read a book during the visit as these can help them relax and become less anxious.
If distractions don’t seem strong enough of a solution, you can also try numbing the skin where the vaccine will be. Many doctors will do so with a popsicle that the child will be able to eat at the end of the appointment.
Instead of resorting to restraining your child during a vaccination, you should hug or hold them to alleviate their fears and reduce overall anxiety. There are specific comfort positions that can be used to make your child feel secure.
Offer A Food Reward
While ‘bribing’ should never be a constant technique, it can be beneficial for doctor-related anxieties. Promising to give your child their favorite ice cream or candy after their doctor’s visit can boost positive associations with the experiences at a doctor’s office.
Lower Your Child’s Anxiety About Having A Vaccine with these steps
While none of these solutions are going to provide results after one doctor’s visit, if you continue to practice these techniques each time you take your child to their pediatrician, slowly, they’ll become more comfortable, and their anxieties will ease over time.