Posted on: 2 May 2018Share
Children receive their first vaccines as infants, so they don't remember the experience. However, preschoolers do have the ability to comprehend getting a needle, and many can be afraid. Parents can do a lot to help their kids feel more comfortable and confident about getting booster immunizations. Here are some things you can do with your child to help them get ready.
1. Watch shows or read books about getting vaccines.
Children learn from relatable role models. if they can see other characters or other children having similar experiences and dealing them in a positive way, it can help their confidence in their own ability to overcome their fears. There are many shows that depict characters going to the doctor and getting a shot. For example, Daniel Tiger has an episode where he has a check up and booster shot, and he is nervous about it. His mother helps him to feel brave about it.
2. Explain what you can.
Part of the reason why going to the doctor and getting vaccines can be hard for children is that they are unable to fully understand the importance. Parents should not avoid telling kids what vaccines are for. Instead, do what you can to explain what immunizations are. Children may not fully grasp the reality if serious illness like polio or measles, but you can still explain and answer questions.
For example, you might tell your child that a vaccine contains a special medicine that teaches your body how to fight off germs. Your body gets practice fighting the disease so that when you could get sick, you don't. Explain that getting a shot is different than getting sick, and that if you did get sick from one of the illness that vaccines fight, you would need to be in the hospital, which can be much harder than going to the doctor.
3. Practice visualizing.
Children can practice visualizing as a healthy way to deal with fear. For example, if you teach your child to close their eyes and think of a friend or a fun place to play, it helps to distract from the fear and pain of the needle. You can do some "pretend" vaccines at home to teach this useful skill.
4. Be honest.
Finally, it's important to be honest with your child. Needles do hurt. They don't hurt a lot, but they do cause some pain. You don't have to focus on the pain, but don't appease fears by saying it won't hurt or that it won't be scary. Instead, affirm your child's bravery. Say, "Yes, it will hurt for a little while, but I know you can do it!"