Needles can be scary – even for adults – so it isn’t surprising that trips to the doctor’s office and the vaccination process can be difficult and intimidating for children.
Dr. Mary Mason is the founder of Little Medical School, a very unique “school” where Dr. Mason and her team have created over 500 hours of innovating programming that teaches children what real professionals do in a safe and appropriate manner. Because the more information you provide to your child, the better you chances for having them overcome their fear of needles.
If your kids are already dreading their next check-up or upcoming COVID-19 vaccine appointment, try these tips, outlined by Dr. Mason, for preparing them to be the best patients in the office.
Empower your children with knowledge when they go to the doctor.
“Tell them what is going to happen… height, weight, questions from the nurse and doctor, exam, etc… Explain why and that your doctor does the same when you go.”
Don’t avoid the unpleasant parts of the doctor’s visit.
“With kids, be honest about immunizations. It is much better to prepare them to get their vaccines and why they are getting them, instead of not telling them needles are going to be involved.”
Role playing can be very helpful.
“Especially with younger kids, role play a nurse or doctor giving a shot to a stuffy animal – let they play the health care professional and even explain to the ‘patient’ why they are doing it. Have them bring the stuff animal with them to the appointment. That way you can practice on the stuff animal before they get their real shot.”
Have them dress the part.
“If they are nervous about the visit, have them wear a white coat or have them bring a stethoscope from the toy store or our website with them. We use real stethoscopes in our Little Medical School classes and often hear that kids love to take them to visits with them. That way they feel in control of the situation when they can have a discussion with the doctor or nurse about how they all have stethoscopes.”
Use a visit to the doctor as an everyday situation to teach about STEM careers.
“Instead of all the focus on the shots they are getting, point out all the people working in the doctor’s office and what their role is – nurses, receptionists, PA’s, etc.”
When a child’s fear of needles goes to the extreme so that he or she is missing vaccinations, a counselor or child psychologist can also help.