I first caught sight of his cartoon images of children getting vaccinated. When I asked her how it felt to do that, she rolled her eyes and reminded me that it wasn’t real.
Next, I stared at her pictures of medical needles. She told that she didn’t like the pictures, but she could see them.
We continued this gradual approach until it had given “vaccines” to an orangutan (with toy needles also requiring parental supervision). What she was doing is exposure therapy, learning to tolerate her discomfort and slowly getting ready to receive her own vaccine.
timing is important
You may want to let your kids know when it’s time to book an appointment, but think carefully before writing this down on the family calendar. When is the best time to tell? “A good rule of thumb is one day for each year of life,” Foy and McLarney said via email. “For example, five days for a five-year-old.”
It’s also important to trust your gut and think of each baby as an individual. “If you know your child is holding onto the information, it’s better to wait until the close of the appointment so they don’t spend days filled with anxiety,” warn Foy and McLarney. On the other hand, if your child needs more time to process and work with it, go ahead and warn earlier.
use neutral language
It is important for adults to remain calm when presenting information, as children look to their parents to see how to respond. In addition, it also helps to use neutral language. Say “vaccine” instead of “shot” when talking about it, and use “pinch” or “pressure” to replace “poke.”
It is common for children to ask a lot of questions as they try to gather information and understand what is to come.
Ages 5 to 7:
- keep it simple. “Think about the people who would be in the room, the sounds they would hear, if there would be a smell or taste that would be out of the norm, and anything they could feel on their body,” Foy and McLarney said.
- Give a brief step-by-step description of what to expect.
- Trust the power of the game. Young children process their emotions through play, so before the kids leave, send some stuffed animals or dolls to the vet for their vaccinations!
- Check in with Sesame Street to learn about vaccines with Elmo and his father.
Ages 8 to 11:
- Children in this age group may have more detailed questions. Give honest answers and get additional information if you’re not sure how to answer.
- Empathize with them and listen to their concerns.
- Empower your older children to write down a list of questions to ask the nurse or doctor at the appointment to ease their concerns.
Build a Combat Kit
Advanced planning is a huge advantage when it comes to building combat kits. Foy and McLarney recommend thinking about what worked and what didn’t in the past and build from there. The coping kit should cover both your child’s age and needs, so you may need to consider a few options.
Ages 5 to 7:
- Keep your hands busy and their minds busy working through their anticipated anxiety. Foy and McLarney suggest, “They might want to play with a fidget spinner or pop it or they might want to hold their hand to squeeze something.”
- Foy and McLarney also suggest applying ice to the injection site before and after the shot.
- Consider adding competing sensory stimuli, like a vibrating sensation.
Ages 8 to 11:
- Ask your child to make a playlist to listen to during the visit.
- Bring a stress ball, slime, or thinking putty with you to work through the tension.
- Plan to watch an interesting video (dress it up so you don’t have to search!) or use a favorite app.
focus on breathing and mindfulness
Deep breathing is an effective tool at any age. “The best way that these techniques work is to practice them ahead of time so that you don’t try to learn in an increased state of anxiety or fear,” explained Foy and McLarney. “In the weeks leading up to the appointment, take the time before bed to do some deep breathing exercises or guided meditations to get your child used to the steps of the process.”
- Practice square breathing (counting in squares while tracing a square in the palm of your hand) as a family in the days before the appointment.
- Use mindfulness apps together.
- Use the rose/candle technique: Keeping your index finger up, take a deep breath in through your nose to smell the rose and exhale slowly through your mouth to blow out the candle.
plan for rest
Whatever the age of your child, bring comfort items to the appointment. A favorite stuffed animal, a comfy blanket to wrap up, or a well-loved book can all bring comfort during a stressful moment. Ask your child what item will help if they feel anxious during the appointment.
choose a reward
“For all kids (and adults!), it’s a good idea to plan after the appointment, so there’s something to look forward to,” Foy and McLarney said. Whether it’s an ice cream cone or a family movie day on the couch, planning your post-sabbatical appointment gives kids something positive to think about while on the go.
Above all, focus on the positive. This vaccine means a lot to a lot of kids, like play dates with friends and hugs from grandparents, so remember to talk about the exciting things that come after the vaccine takes effect.
Credit : rss.cnn.com