Every milestone, every birthday means its time for a pediatrician visit, and for the itty bitties…vaccinations. So for my sons two year old birthday, let’s chat about ways to help calm those little one for those pediatrician visits, and of course those shots. In the fashion of a typical nurse, let’s celebrate with some tips and tricks.
As a prior pediatric nurse for nearly ten years, I’ll share what I have learned.
#1 Stay calm. Your child will be much more at ease if your calm. DON’T make a big deal of the visit or the shots. Kiddos will mirror their parents, and they pick up on anxiety.
#2 Limit the use of triggering words like Medicine, shots, hurt, yucky…etc. With my patients and my son I usually use phrases like “take a drink of this”, “a little pressure”. I do not lie or or make things up. I try to keep explanations short and very simple. Too many details will get you into a battle, kids are very good at this. They know when they are being tricked.
#3 Utilize tools! My doctors office gives out new books prior to exams. Light up toys, and bubbles are excellent distractions during an exam or shots/pokes. Also you can invest in a “Buzzy” this is a little bee or lady bug shaped device that uses cold and vibration to ease the feeling of a poke. For those kiddos who have restrictions on devices the doctors office maybe a great time to pull them out. An iPad or tablet can be a very good distraction during shots or other unpleasant parts of exams. Of course these are to be used for the kiddos, not for the parents. Parents please refrain from using your devices while medical staff are working with your little one 😉.
#4 Move on quickly after an unpleasant portion of the doctors visit. I will acknowledge the little ones feelings, but will use distraction quickly after to help the child move on. After I give an unpleasant medicine, I will say “that has a funny after taste”or after a blood draw I would say “your so brave”, then I would move on and say “would you like to play with those bubbles” or “show me what game your playing”. Again, if too much time is spent focusing on the unpleasant portions of a visit, anxiety will build for future visits.
#5 Be an advocate for your child. You know best your child’s likes and dislikes. Offer to hold your child on your lap. Offer to help distract. Don’t be afraid to speak up. Even as a nurse I feel like one of those paranoid moms sometimes. Recently I asked my sons pediatrician to check a lump on his neck. I knew it was probably just a lymph node, but I’m not a physician. As a mom I can provide the pediatrician with the information she needs to know to determine if this lump is a lymph node. I know how big it is, how long it’s been there, if it comes and goes. I also know asking about a lump isn’t really being paranoid. Doctors and nurses rely on parents to bring fourth any concerns about their child whether physically or developmentally.
Hopefully these tips are helpful for you. I have linked some resources below. The next stop for me is a mother son date at the dentist. Now that’s a different topic, as it’s one of MY least favorite places to be. 😬