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It is common for children (and adults) to be uncomfortable getting a shot. If your child is nervous around needles, you aren’t alone. Data suggests most children are afraid of needles.
There are steps you can take to help your child cope with any nervousness they might feel before a needle stick. There are also things you can do to help them manage pain.
Don’t let your child be surprised by a needle stick. If you know your child will need a needle stick, talk to them about it before the appointment. Be sure to use age-appropriate timing and language.
If the test or vaccine wasn’t planned before the appointment, let your child know that, too.
Sometimes doctors will suggest tests while you’re in the office. If you start out being honest with your child, they’ll believe and trust you.
No one wants to have a shot or a blood test. But it’s something we do for our health. Be sure your child understands that they can’t say no to the appointment. But you can give them choices during the appointment.
If you’re worried about your child’s fear of needles, your care team can help you make a plan to help tests run more smoothly. Ask a member of your child’s care team about numbing cream, J-Tip, or other options that can lessen the pain from the needle stick. A child life specialist might recommend medical play to help your child get more comfortable with needles.
With the right plan, typical fear of needles can lessen over time. Your child may always be nervous or anxious about needle sticks, but their coping skills can improve over time.
If you and the care team work on a plan and try different methods, but your child’s fear doesn’t improve (or gets worse), then it might be time to talk about different support options for your child. Your child’s care team can make suggestions if that’s the case.
Reviewed: January 2022