The Covid-19 vaccine for children aged 5 to 11 will likely be licensed within days, which means parents who have been eagerly waiting for a chance to vaccinate their children will soon get the chance.
But these kids may not be as excited about shots as their parents.
Fear of needles, or trypanophobia, is common in children — the majority have it, one statistic analysis found.
If the phobia is so severe that going to the doctor is painful, then parents can consider treatment for their children. But in most cases, they can take measures on their own to make even the most stressed out child. Here’s what psychologists and pediatricians recommend:
Step 1: Prepare your child.
Before taking your child for the Covid vaccine, gently tell him or her that he will get an injection, said Mary Alford, a psychologist who specializes in Anxiety and self-regulation techniques For children and teens.
She said that while this may seem like it will produce more anxiety, it ultimately helps build confidence.
“You should say, ‘We will be brave and we will practice facing your fears,’” Alford said. “Say, ‘You will meet a very good person. I know it will be difficult. I am near you or next to you, and we will practice your breathing together, or I will tell you silly stories.’”
reading Children’s books About going to the doctor in the previous days can help familiarize the youngsters with what they are going to experience. So they could be made to play the Doctor, Alford said. Children can use it Syringe-like pens To give dolls and stuffed animals pretend immunization.
Alford advised that most children fear the shots will hurt, and parents should not tell them they won’t, because if that happens, children will wonder why their parents lie to them.
“Kids have to be told that no one likes getting shots.”
“Kids should be told that no one likes injections,” she said. “There’s a little bit of discomfort with that, but there are a lot of benefits.”
In extreme cases, parents may consider exposure therapy before visiting their child’s doctor. Treatment is usually short-term and involves gradual exposure to aspects of the shot that frighten the child, such as the smell of an alcohol swab used before the injection, while working to ease the child’s anxiety about each step.
Step 2: Plan with your pediatrician.
If parents are concerned that their child will panic when they are in pain, they can call their pediatrician ahead of time to inquire about numbing creams, which would weaken the sensation of the needle on their skin, but should be placed about half an hour before, she said. Dr. David Baker, a pediatrician, psychotherapist, and professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco.
Baker recommended families to check game plan For injections available through Meg Foundation, A non-profit organization that empowers children to prevent and reduce pain. The printable form provides children with options such as where they want a parent to sit while receiving the shot.
“The most important thing is that children should not be detained for any medical procedure against their will.”
“The most important thing is that children should not be detained for any medical procedure against their will,” said Becker, a member of the Meg Foundation’s board of directors, explaining that suspending children on vaccinations can traumatize them and make them fear future interactions with doctors. “They can be held in a parent’s arms, in their lap, and sometimes their cuddle is enough for them to feel comfortable.”
He said the way parents and practitioners report an impending shot of an anxious child is critical.
He said, “You can turn the word ‘pain’ or ‘shot’ into ‘poke’ or ‘cares’, as in: ‘I don’t know if it will bother you when you get your vaccine or immunization. Let’s make a plan so you can feel more in control.”
Step three: Relax and distract.
The minutes before the injection as the doctor or nurse prepares the vaccine may be the most worrying for youngsters — or anyone else who has a fear of needles.
As a result, the muscles tense, which makes the injection more painful. So Alford’s parents tell their children to “keep the body loose.”
This can be achieved by doing soothing exercises together that focus on breathing – parents can use children wakefulness apps Or, parents can instruct children to tighten and then relax the muscle groups one by one, a technique known as Progressive muscle relaxation.
It’s also a good time to take out the phone and put down a child’s favorite audio or video book, Alford said.
In addition to distracting the kids, Alford said, he bolstered their courage in those last moments.
“The message is,” she said, “I know it’s hard, but you’ll be brave.”
Step 4: Celebrate. Even if it’s a little bumpy.
Alford said the ideal time to take your child for a vaccination is when he’s at his peak optimism — when he’s not likely to feel tired or hungry — and when you have time afterward to do something fun. I suggested getting an ice cream cone to celebrate their bravery. Even if the doctor’s appointment included a few tears, it should be a celebration.
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Ice cream or a family trip to the zoo is what Sean Harris, a father of two in Rydesburg, Wisconsin, plans after he takes 7-year-old Jenny, who has a phobia of needles, for a vaccination. Jenny has always been terrified of shots, even crying when she’s not the one being injected: seeing her 10-year-old brother, Teddy, upsets her, too.
To prepare Jenny, Harris spoke with her about the importance of Covid vaccines: how getting a vaccine would not only keep her protected, but also keep others safe, and how it would hopefully enable the family to go on a trip to Disney World in the spring. Harris, a high school English writer and teacher, said Jenny vowed to “be a brave girl to stop the virus.”
“Maybe it won’t go well when it happens,” he said, “because she’ll still be scared.” “But she’ll know she’s doing the right thing, and it means a lot to her.”
Eventually, all kids who overcome their fear of needles to get Covid vaccines will gain skills that will help them besides just getting an injection at a doctor’s visit, Alford said.
“Being flexible doesn’t mean there’s no stress in your life,” she said. “It deals with all the challenges that come your way. If we can start with the small challenges, we will build on them.”