You'd be hard-pressed to find a person who enjoys receiving an immunization. In the hierarchy of things people are uneasy about, medical shots seem to fall somewhere between porcupine-twill sweaters and all-you-can-eat seafood buffets.

While adults certainly have their problems with needles, try to remember what it's like for children. The fear might actually be the worst part, but there's also physical pain ” however mild it may be ” to deal with.

Parents can help their children through the situation with these simple tips:

  1. Put on a Happy Face Never underestimate the power of nonverbal cues. While telling kids that everything is okay doesn't necessarily convince them, an underlying demeanor of peace and even happiness sets a precedent of ease. Allow your kids to sit on your lap or hold their free hand to provide support and comfort.
  2. Insist on Good Technique Parents can and should ask plenty of questions about the immunization technique the doctor plans to use. For instance, the healthcare professional giving the shot can minimize the patient's pain by using a longer needle to keep the injection away from sensitive nerves, and also using a numbing anesthetic. And any good shot giver will be friendly, patient, and demonstrate the ability to reassure the child in terms they can relate to.
  3. Be Honest You may try to tell a little white lie to your child. “Oh it won't hurt at all. You won't even feel it.” This will only set the standard that your child cannot always believe what you tell them. Instead, try saying something like, “Your shot may hurt, but the pain will only last a little bit. It will be quick!” It's also important to prepare for your child to have a fever or soreness where the shot was administered. In this event, parents can allay the symptoms with non-aspirin pain reliever, plenty to drink or a wet washcloth over the sore area.
  4. Try Role-Playing You can make your child less apprehensive by enacting the scenario as it may happen. You can even make it fun”play doctor! Not only will this establish a positive sentiment toward the doctor, it will also teach kids what to expect. During role-play, you can teach children to focus elsewhere during the “poke” part. Research shows that breathing exercises and distractions ” led either by the child or a nurse ” can help reduce the pain and distress associated with immunizations.
  5. Be Prepared, but Don't Panic After receiving an immunization, has your child been crying for more than three hours without stopping? Is he or she pale or limp? Have you noticed uncommon body movements? If so, seek professional medical care. Remember, EIRMC is one of the best hospitals in Idaho for children and includes a fantastic pediatric intensive care unit (should the need arise, but we hope it doesn't!).

Immunizations can make children uneasy, but parents have some options for addressing their children's pain and discomfort. When it comes to porcupine-twill sweaters, well, the options are much more limited.

October 28, 2017
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