Fort Worth, Texas,
15:06 PM

Is your child afraid of shots?

The Doc Smitty on what you should and shouldn't say


The doctor’s office should not be a Haunted House.

The “evil nurse” lurks around the corner with their pointy needle, ready to stab anyone who comes across their path.

We might as well put on some eerie music and serve hot chocolate.

Is your child afraid of shots? Are you?

Here are some things that you should NOT say to your child about shots:

  1. “I promise you are not getting shots today.”
  2. “If you don’t behave, you are going to get a shot today!”
  3. “Shots don’t hurt.”

Why not? Recommendations change and sometimes we get our flu shots in early. Shots are live-saving, not punishment. Shots hurt, period. For some kids they seem to hurt worse than others, but pretending they feel great isn’t helpful.

Here are some easy ways you can help your child’s shot hurt less:

  1. Prepare them - If you know they are getting shots, please let them know ahead of time but you don’t have to give them all the details either. “It will hurt but only for a second” is usually enough. You don’t have to go on to say, “It’s a little needle and they only stick it in this far and push this hard, blah blah blah.”
  2. Distract them - You can talk to them, show them a movie, read a book; whatever takes their mind off of things.
  3. Relieve them - As soon as everything is over, hold them. For babies, nurse or feed them.
  4. Reward them - Stickers or stamps are my favorite rewards…why do kids love them so much?

About the author

Justin Smith, M.D., is a Cook Children's pediatrician in Lewisville View more from The Doc Smitty at his Facebook page. He attended University of Texas, Southwestern Medical School and did his pediatric training at Baylor College of Medicine. He joins Cook Children's after practicing in his hometown of Abilene for four years. He has a particular interest in development, behavior and care for children struggling with obesity. In his spare time, he enjoys playing with his 3 young children, exercising, reading and writing about parenting and pediatric health issues.

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