Fall is right around the corner, and along with it comes flu season.
Kids are back in school, closed up in rooms with other germy children…coughing on each other, sharing sticky pencils, not washing hands. Then they bring those germs home with them to share with the rest of the family.
What’s a parent to do to prevent kids from contact with the flu virus? Short of sending them off with face masks, electing to keep them locked away from the general public, or relying on sheer luck…there’s no way to guarantee the flu virus won’t be an unwelcome guest in your home.
You can, however, proactively protect your family against the effects of contracting the flu. How? The flu vaccination.
But convincing kids that getting a shot to prevent maybe getting the flu can be a tough sell, and helping them overcome their anxiety about the needle can be a challenge as well.
How to prepare your children for the flu shot?
I have found that the following three tips work wonders to reduce their fears when they learn that a flu shot is in their not-too-distant future:
1.) The plain truth that the momentary pain of the shot is far easier to take than dealing with several days of the flu…explaining this to the kids in simple terms is surprisingly effective. Reminding them of a time when they had an illness that prevented them from doing something fun, and then saying, “Wouldn’t you rather have a quick shot and a couple of seconds of pain so that doesn’t happen?” is usually a winning strategy.
2.) Have older children explain to younger ones that it’s really not so bad. Sometimes hearing it from another kid helps alleviate that anxiety; if you don’t have older kids, perhaps a babysitter or neighbor kid could “casually” broach the subject. That peer-to-peer support helps convince kids that it’s not as scary as it sounds.
3.) I learned this trick many years ago from a pediatrician, and it works like a charm. When it’s time for the shot to be administered, hold your child’s hand, look in their eyes, and tell them to say, “Ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch!” along with you until it’s over. Believe it or not, the distraction of this exercise, having something to do and say during the procedure, helps the moment pass far more easily. Often when it’s over, my kids actually laugh!
And then next time? They aren’t as afraid!
What do you do to reduce fear of shots with your kids?
Alli Worthington is an entreprenuer, humanitarian and lover of all things tech. Her favorite roles are at home, as wife and mom to five sons.