Tips from the Pros: Making Shots Easier
There are lots of ways to make your child’s vaccine experience more relaxing and enjoyable. Here are some tips for you to try:
- Schedule an appointment. Doing so helps the clinic space out patients and makes the whole experience faster, easier and more relaxed.
- Bring a favorite or even new toy, book, or other comfort item. This will help distract your child as they wait to be seen, while they are being vaccinated, and after.
- Stay positive and upbeat. Talk to your child about plans for the weekend or something else fun and exciting.
- Also, be honest with your child. If they ask, tell them that shots can pinch or sting, but not for long.
- Emphasize the benefits. Remind your child that shots help them stay healthy. In the case of the COVID vaccine, getting vaccinated will help them safely resume playdates and maybe, eventually, make it safe to remove masks at school.
- As the shot is being prepared, distract your child with a story or song or something interesting in the room. Talk about what you are going to do when the shot is over.
- Many school-aged children take shots as well as adults. If your child is upset, try a comforting hug restraint.
- Sit in a chair, and have your child stand between your legs.
- Give them a hug and squeeze their legs between your knees.
- Sing or speak in a soothing way.
- This position relieves your child’s stress and helps the nurse administering the shot.
- As the shot is being given, take a deep breath with your child and “blow out” the pain.
- After the shot, hug, cuddle, and praise your child. Offer comfort and reassurance, if they cry.
- Continue to praise them as they go to the monitoring area and wait to leave. Let them know that their arm may be sore tomorrow but that they did a really important and healthy thing for themselves, their family, and the community.
Meghan Gunn, MD, is a pediatrician at SVMC Pediatrics and the chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center in Bennington.