How to Help Your Child Deal With Anxiety About Shots

Let’s be honest: nobody likes shots. Parents, kids, providers… vaccines and immunizations is nobody’s favorite part about being healthy. However, a standard immunization schedule can keep children and adults healthy and safe from numerous preventable diseases and illnesses, which is why we all go through the temporary pain.

Of course, that’s hard to understand if you’re two years old. It might even be hard to get through to your twelve-year-old! As a parent, you naturally want your child to not only be healthy, but feel safe and comfortable as they receive the health care they need.

The Nashville pediatricians at St. Thomas Medical Group work with parents and children of all ages to minimize anxiety and make visits as enjoyable as possible – yes, even those combo-shot days!

Below, you’ll find a few tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that may make your next visit with a children’s doctor in Nashville’s St. Thomas Medical Group just a little more pleasant!

Preparing for Your Visit

Here are a few things you can do in preparation for your appointment…

  • Read up on the vaccines your child will be receiving. Jot down any questions you have about the vaccines prior to your visit so you won’t forget.
  • Learn about the benefits of the vaccine(s). Sharing this information with older children may give them some strength and encouragement as they go into the appointment. A “why” can be motivating!
  • Be honest with your kids about what’s going to happen. Tell them in advance that they’ll be receiving shots. Also, don’t tell them, “It won’t hurt,” when you know it will. Instead, tell kids that the shot may sting, but not for long.

Helping Infants & Younger Children

  • Infants and younger children may be soothed through soft singing, cuddling, and comfort.
  • Hold your child firmly in your lap to help the process go as easily as possible.
  • Let your child know that everything is going to be okay. Be present and there for them throughout – and especially after – the process.
  • Infants may be soothed after the shot with breastfeeding, skin-to-skin contact or swaddling.

Older Children & Adolescents

  • For older children, you may wish to come up with a distraction. Telling or reading stories can also be helpful for redirecting focus and reducing anxiety during immunizations.
  • You can also encourage your child to take deep breaths to “blow out” the pain.
  • It’s important to always be supportive and to not criticize children for crying.

Know that fainting is not atypical among teenagers and preteens following a vaccination. Let your child have a 15 minutes or so to sit and rest after a shot. Mild reactions, such as pain, swelling, rash, or fever are also normal and will typically resolve rather quickly on their own. You may also notice that your child has a reduced appetite after receiving immunizations. This, too, is fairly common and should not be anything to worry about.

A cool wet cloth, sponge bath, plenty of liquids, and non-aspirin pain reliever (with doctor’s approval) can help reduce these mild side effects. Talk to your child’s pediatrician if you have any concerns.

For more information about vaccine schedules, view this resource from the CDC.

See a Pediatrician Near You at St. Thomas Medical Group

For more information or to schedule an appointment with a Nashville pediatrician at St. Thomas Medical Group, please call the Children’s and Adults Department at St. Thomas Medical Group at +1 (615) 301-7040.