Eight practical tips to help you prepare your older child for a vaccination.
When the time comes to book your baby in for their first vaccinations it can be a rather uncomfortable experience. Everyone reassures you that it’s worse for the parent than the baby but it is such an anxious affair.
I remember feeling so guilty in the waiting room as my baby happily smiled and giggled at me. They had no clue that they were about to be called in for an injection
in their little arm or leg. I reminded myself over and over again that this was a recommendation for my baby’s health and was, therefore, a loving thing to do. It helped a little.
When your baby or infant is very young there is probably no great benefit in telling them that they are about to have a vaccination
. There is very little chance that it will be a welcomed thing and it will most likely be met with resistance and upset. However, when your child reaches a certain age and requires a vaccination you may simply have to tell them in advance so that there is no shock factor.
By the age of three or four, our children are super aware of what is going on around them. Every child is different in personality but as their parent, you will know which approach works better for them.
In some cases, your child may require a vaccination while they are at school. The policy in each school differs but in many cases the child will receive the vaccination without you being present. In this scenario, it might be kinder to prepare your child for what is about to happen.
You may also find yourself having to take your older child to the GP for a vaccination. It could be for Chicken Pox or having the Meningitis B injection done privately for example. In this case, your child will have questions about where they are going and why so the same considerations apply. It is difficult to strike a balance between giving enough information without giving too much at the same time. You want them to be emotionally prepared but without any anxiety or worry regarding the event.
Here are some tips to help you prepare your older child for a vaccination
1. Ensuring that your child is wearing vaccination-friendly clothing is very important. Avoid tight-fitting clothing with lots of buttons or straps as it will only delay the process and possibly upset your child as a result.
2. Remember that your child will be very sensitive to your emotions so be cautious of the tone you use. Tell them about the vaccination close to the event but with an even calm tone of voice that does not suggest worry or fear as they will pick up on this.
3. Be prepared to answer questions. Tell them that the vaccine is to make sure that they stay healthy and that they will feel a quick poke. Avoid using the word pain.
4. If you are attending the appointment with your child suggest playing a “blowing game” while the doctor or nurse is administering the injection. A blowing motion (such as pretending to blow out a candle) forces the body to relax. It is also a quick distraction.
5. Say something positive after the experience. Rather than saying “I’m so sorry you had to experience that” say something upbeat to imply that you are really happy that they got the vaccine because it will keep them healthy. They will feel proud of themselves without it being a big ordeal and something they look back on as traumatic or that should have involved a lot of fear and anxiety.
6. Some parents find it helpful to apply a numbing cream to the area before the vaccination is administered.
7. A treat or reward afterward is completely at the discretion of the parent. Some parents feel less is more and treating it as a brave experience simply highlights it as a big deal. Others find it really effective and encouraging to give their child something to look forward to.
8. Do some research and keep an eye out for possible side-effects without highlighting that to your kid. You’ll know what is normal and what is not but it’s business as normal as far as they are concerned. You don’t want them to associate this experience with something negative.
Tracey is a happy mammy to four-year-old Billy. She is a breastfeeder, gentle parent and has recently lost five stone so healthy family eating is her passion! You can find her at www.loveofliving.ie.