Immunisations are a nerve-wracking experience for a parent.
Our little ones rarely know what is coming when they are babies, but we do. We are a bundle of nerves and anxious anticipation for them as they watch the nurse. Fast forward a few years and while the memories of their sad faces are still burned in our minds, they are now five and a bit savvier as the boosters come rolling around in junior infants. They may put up a bit of a fight if their fears take over.
Between four and five years old, they will be offered booster doses from an HSE doctor or nurse for some of the vaccines they received as part of the primary childhood immunisation schedule as a baby. These boosters protect against diseases including the 4 in 1 booster protecting against diphtheria, polio, tetanus and whooping cough (pertussis), and a second dose of MMR vaccine protecting against measles, mumps and rubella.
Many children of this age find boosters to be a pain-free experience, with a little anxiousness as to what to expect. But it can be a scary moment especially if the needle is caught sight of. Often, we build these experiences up in our minds but there are ways we can ease the nerves of our children before this round of vaccines.
How to calm your child's nerves before immunisation.
Preparation is key.
Surprising your child with an injection during the school day is never the best approach. Preparing them for what will happen takes away the worry of the unknown and gives them a head start before their name is called. They are unlikely to suffer any kind of long-term emotional effect from these injections once they are well prepared.
Talk to them.
Explain to your child in a calm and matter-of-fact way what will happen. Discuss with them the importance of immunisations and how they will keep them healthy. Get them involved by playing doctor and demonstrate on their favourite toy.
Answer their questions honestly. Reassure them that it may hurt a little and that it’s ok to cry.
It’s vital for us to stay calm and avoid showing our own worries or concerns. If we are upset, or anxious, our children will pick up on these feelings and naturally worry or fear the situation also. If you have a fear of needles, it’s important to avoid passing on this fear to your child.
Lots of praise and hugs.
Afterwards, you will find it hard not to give your child lots of praise for being so brave and strong. A reward never goes wrong in this kind of situation!