Q. My son is 10 and is terrified of shots and needles. When he knows he has an upcoming doctor's appointment, he starts to ask incessantly, "Will I have to get a shot, Mommy? What if they give me a shot?". He often gets hysterical just thinking about the possibility of a shot. I try to calm him down by telling him he's a big boy and that he can handle a shot, but it doesn't seem to help. The last time we went to the doctor, my son was so anxious, I had to pin him to my chest while the nurse administered the shot. He's getting too big and too strong for me and I hate to see him get so worked up. Help!
A. Shots can be a tough issue for some children. Try these strategies:
Have a talk. Along with your spouse, sit down with your son and develop a strategy for dealing with this problem. You and your spouse can share incidents from your own childhoods where you were afraid of something. Be sure to talk about how you overcame your fear as well. Help your son think of ways he can get over this fear. He can try some deep breathing to help him relax or practice saying, "I will not fear, for the Lord is with me," when he starts to feel anxious about a shot.
Talk with your son about other times you've seen him overcome his fear. Let him know you're confident he can overcome this one and that you are there to help him.
End your time in prayer. Encourage your child to ask God to help him let go of this fear.
Prepare for the next doctor visit. Whether your next trip to the doctor is for a routine physical or for an illness, call your doctor's office to ask if any shots, such as a flu, tetanus, or regular immunization, will be part of your visit. If there will be a shot, find out where they will give the shot (in the arm, the leg, etc.) and who will administer the shot. Since fears are often based on what we don't know about a situation, giving your son as much information as you can may help make the experience less frightening. Talk with your son about what will happen and how he can use his coping skills to handle his fears.1