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How to keep your child calm during a flu shot

Carmen Howard, LPN, of Cleveland Clinic Children’s, said it’s important that parents remain calm when their child gets a shot.
Carmen Howard, LPN, of Cleveland Clinic Children’s, said it’s important that parents remain calm when their child gets a shot. (Cleveland Clinic News Service)

Flu season is upon us, and doctors are reminding parents to get their kids vaccinated -- which isn’t always easy when you have a little one who’s scared of shots.

So how do you keep them calm?

“I like to administer vaccines in the comfort position, so if you’re giving a really big hug, most of the time they’ll see my reaction opposed to the parent’s reaction,” said Carmen Howard, LPN, of Cleveland Clinic Children’s.

Howard said it’s important that parents remain calm when their child gets a shot. Mom and dad should not show a look of worry -- or fear -- on their faces because a child could react negatively to that.

As for tips on keeping them distracted, you can let them play a game on your tablet or cellphone. Offering them a reward can help, too.

And if they do get upset during the shot -- that’s totally normal. You shouldn’t tell them not to cry.

“It’s OK to be scared,” Howard said. “So I just tell them, ‘It’s OK to cry.’ Parents will tell them, ‘Don’t cry. Be brave.’ Of course, be brave, but crying sometimes involves being brave.”

Another tip: Howard said it’s best not to wait until they’re walking into the doctor’s office to let your child know they’re getting a shot. It’s good to give them a little time to prepare.