October 25, 2016

Mother of five shares her tips for helping kids understand the need for shots — and how to get past the fear.


Along with falling leaves comes the start of flu season.

School-aged children spend their days in classrooms 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 getting the flu can be a tough sell, and helping them overcome their anxiety about the needle can be a challenge.

How can you prepare your children for the flu shot?

Three tips for coping with shots

I have found that the following three tips work wonders to reduce fear when a flu shot is in the not-too-distant future:

1.  Deliver 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 in simple terms is surprisingly effective. Remind them of a time when they had illness that prevented them from doing something fun, and then say, “Wouldn’t you rather have a quick shot and a couple of seconds of pain so that doesn’t happen?” That’s 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 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, hold your child’s hand, look in her eyes, and tell her 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!

This post was written by Alli Worthington, an entrepreneur, humanitarian and lover of all things tech. Her favorite roles are at home, as wife and mom to five sons.


Read more: 5 ways to make painful medical procedures easy for children

What do you do to reduce fear of shots with your kids? Share your tips in the comments below.