Make Vaccines Fun, Not Scary: 5 Ways to Ease Children’s Vaccine Fears

As a parent, you’re doing your job and making sure your kid gets the Center for Disease Control’s full recommended vaccination schedule on time. The problem? Even though immunizations save lives, shots can be scary! By following these five steps, you can make sure your child’s vaccination experience is as smooth as possible.


1. Use Kid-Friendly Materials

There are a ton of resource that explain immunizations in ways kids will understand. We love this animated video that explains how vaccinations work. For younger kids, Every Child By Two has coloring book on its website. These materials will help kids understand why the shots are important, while connecting vaccines with fun activities and colorful characters.

2. Don’t Give Too Much Away

It might seem smart to warn kids that they have a shot coming up, but that will just stress them out more. If they know they have a doctors appointment, but don’t ask about shots, there’s no need for you to bring it up. If they ask, be honest, but vague: if you don’t know, say you don’t know. If the answer is yes, go on to step three.

3. Be Honest

Hopefully, your kids didn’t find out about the shot until the appointment. Either way, it’s important to tell them the truth about the doses. Tell them the shot will hurt, but just for a little bit, and that it’s to protect them. Remind them of the videos and coloring books. Tell them this is happening because you love them, not as a punishment. The shots they’ll get will help make them strong against diseases — like a super power! 

4. Distract Them

While the shot is being administered, give your kids something else to focus on. Hold their hand, or give them a new toy to play with. For older kids, you can tell them to imagine something fun (like a birthday party or playing a favorite game). If possible, play their favorite cartoon (on a TV, phone, or tablet) while the shot is being administered.

5. Play It Cool

It’s important to remember that, no matter what, your child might be scared of the shots — it’s only natural. We know it can be hard to see your child cry, but it’s your job to say calm as you getting emotional will only escalate the situation. After you’ve prepared the child and distracted them, it’s time to let the medical staff do their jobs. Be ready with a smiling face when it’s done, and know that you’re doing what’s best for your child.

6. Stick to the Schedule
As parents, it’s tempting to space out your children’s shots—after all, telling kids they have to receive four shots in one appointment sounds awfully intimidating. But it’s essential that you stick to the CDC schedule: It’s designed to offer your children the most protection possible. Plus, research shows that children experience the same amount of stress regardless of how many shots they’re receiving. In other words, one shot is every bit as scary as four; you might as well take the safest and most effective route.

Do you have any tips or tricks you use to help make getting shots easier for your child? Let us know in the comments!

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