Tips to Help Your Child Through a Smooth Vaccination Process
Planning on doing a walk-in to get your child vaccinated soon? Here are some tips that could help to make the vaccination process smoother and ease the discomfort for your child.
1 Talk about It
The first thing to do is to find a time and space to sit with your child and talk about the vaccination. Help your child understand why they are going for the vaccination using positive, child-friendly terms.
You can start with something like, “The vaccine will help to make your body stronger so that you can fight the germs. It’s like a shield that will protect you.”
It is advisable not to spring the vaccination as a surprise on your child, as this may negatively affect their perception of vaccinations in future. Perhaps bring it up a week before to allow your child enough time to mentally prepare for the day.
As you talk with your child, ask how they feel about it. If your child says they feel afraid or nervous, be careful not to describe the vaccination as “no big deal” or “not scary at all”, but acknowledge their feelings and assure them that it is normal to feel that way.
Pro-Tip: Check in with your child if they have any questions to clear any anxieties they might have. Reassure your child that you will be right beside them throughout the vaccination, so that they know they won’t be alone and will be safe in your presence.
If your child needs further reassuring, you can also mention that plenty of other children have gotten their vaccines and are now stronger and helping to keep others around them safe too.
2 Roleplay It
Walk your child through the vaccination process so that they know what to expect, from entering the centre to the 30-minute observation period.
Tell them about the things they will see, hear and feel at the centre. It may be something like, “When we walk into the centre, a person at a booth will ask for your name. Then we’ll go to a little room where a doctor will ask to confirm your name again. Then the doctor will put a little bit of sanitiser on your arm with a cottonball before they use a little syringe with the vaccine inside. You will feel something like a little poke, and then the doctor will put a plaster on your arm. Then we’ll go to another room to wait for 30 minutes until someone calls your name and we can go.”
You can roleplay it so that your child gets a clearer picture. Play the role of the vaccination centre staff and doctor first, then swap with your child. Roleplaying as the doctor can help your child to feel more in control of the situation.
You can use an actual cottonball, a ballpoint pen and some washi tape to mimic the injection. Quite appropriately, the ballpoint will leave a visible little dot on your arm which you can cover with a bit of tape.
3 Plan Ahead
Ask your child if they’d like to bring along a comforting item. It could be a favourite stuffed toy or towel, a video to watch, a song to listen to or a book to read.
Other methods to comfort your child could be letting them squeeze your hand, taking ten deep breaths or counting slowly from one to ten.
If you can, try to schedule the vaccination so that there’s plenty of time to rest before and after. In other words, don’t make it a rushed event, as that could increase anxiety. You can also ask your child what they would like to do after the vaccination, like going for ice-cream, so that they will have something positive to look forward to keep them at ease.
4 Positive Role Model
Model calmness for your child. Children can sense when we are anxious and that can make them feel uneasy too, so take deep breaths if you have to and stay relaxed in front of your child.
Smile at your child and stay physically close to bring comfort.
Pro-tip: If you completely relax your arm by leaving it dangling straight down beside you, it can help to lessen the pain. You can also hold your child’s other hand and say, “Okay, breathe in” just as the needle goes in to distract your child from the pain.
5 Validate Emotions
If your child cries during the vaccination, comfort them by validating their emotions and giving them a big warm hug, “It’s okay, I’m right here for you.”
Right after the injection, remember to praise your child for staying still and doing deep breathing. You can let your child know that you’re proud of them for being so brave and that they are doing good by keeping themselves and those around them safe.
6 Prepare for Side Effects
Be honest with your child about the potential side effects after the vaccination. Let them know that they may feel tired for a while or have a fever and aches. Then ask how they would like to rest if that happens.
Your child may like to lie down and watch shows with you or you could read their favourite story to them. Have some cooling fever patches on hand or chicken soup ready to be made.
Being prepared for the discomfort can help to ease it. Most importantly, let your child know that you will be with them and you will go through it together.
Here’s a quick infographic guide you can share with fellow parents bringing their kids for their vaccination too (Click image to expand)
In keeping it real, we know that there will still be pain and discomfort during the vaccination process, but being there for our child can help make it that much easier to go through.
Let’s keep the vaccination experience as positive as possible for our children and above all, let it be an opportunity to strengthen the trust and parent-child bond in your relationship.
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