There's nothing my son hates more than getting a shot. Is there anything I can do to lessen his fear?
Yes, there is. If your son is a toddler or younger child, try taking his mind off the shots by bringing a favorite toy or book to the doctor's office. You might have him count, sing a song with you, or look away (maybe at a picture on the wall). You might even let him wear headphones and listen to his favorite song during the shot.
You can also try holding your son's hand or letting him sit in your lap while he gets a shot, but try not to look upset or concerned. Children can pick up on your anxiety, and it can make them anxious as well. Also, don't forget to praise your child afterward. A little positive reinforcement can make the next trip to the doctor easier.
When feasible, try to do something fun after the appointment. A trip to the park or playground can make the overall immunization experience less unpleasant.
If your son is a teenager, encourage him to bring something — a game, book, or music player — that will distract him while he waits. When it comes time for the shot, he can try taking deep breaths, focusing on something else in the room, relaxing his arm, or coughing as the needle is inserted. Research has shown that these techniques can help reduce anxiety and make the shot less painful.
Let the doctor or nurse know ahead of time if you or your son are nervous. Medical professionals routinely deal with people who are afraid of shots, and they may be able help your son — and you — relax.
Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: September 2012
|American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.|
|National Immunization Program This website has information about immunizations. Call: (800) 232-2522|
|Immunization Action Coalition This organization is a source of childhood, adolescent, and adult immunization information as well as hepatitis B educational materials.|
|CDC Immunization: Pre-teens and Adolescents CDC site provides materials in English and Spanish for parents, teens, pre-teens, and health care providers about vaccines and the diseases they prevent.|
|The History of Vaccines The History of Vaccines is an informational, educational website created by The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, the oldest professional society in the United States.|
|What's a Normal Reaction to a Shot? Find out what the experts have to say.|
|Preparing Your Child for Visits to the Doctor When kids anticipate "going to the doctor," many become worried and apprehensive about the visit. Here's how to help them.|
|Helping Kids Deal With Injections and Blood Tests Blood tests and insulin injections can be a challenge for kids with diabetes and their parents. Here are some strategies for coping with these necessary procedures.|
|Frequently Asked Questions About Immunizations Immunizations have protected millions of children from potentially deadly diseases. Learn about immunizations and find out exactly what they do - and what they don't.|
|Immunization Schedule Which vaccines does your child need to receive and when? Use this immunization schedule as a handy reference.|
|Why Do I Faint After Getting a Shot? Find out what the experts have to say.|
|5 Tips for Surviving Shots If you're afraid of shots, you're not alone. Next time your doc asks you to roll up your sleeve, try these tips.|
|A Kid's Guide to Shots If you're old enough to read this, you've probably had most of your shots. But even bigger kids may need a shot once in a while. Find out more about them in this article for kids.|
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