Vaccines & SoothingJune 23, 2021
Vaccine administration can be stressful for both caregivers and children. However, it can provide great opportunities to model different soothing strategies and discuss secure attachment. Keep reading for tips on what you can model and discuss with families to get through vaccines:
1) Labeling emotions – Acknowledge a child’s feelings and that vaccines hurt. Let the caregiver know that it can be helpful to say, “I know this hurts. I’m right here, and these shots will make you stronger and healthier.”
2) Sensitive responses – You can remind caregivers that their voice and touch can help their child handle everyday challenges, like pain. Let parents know that providing comfort during stressful situations enhances a secure attachment and can also help a child self-regulate. You can say, “try having your child sit on your lap and wrap your arms around them like a big hug.”
3) Visualization techniques – For three to five-year-olds, visualization can be an effective technique to get through painful situations. You can model for parents how this strategy promotes self-regulation and problem solving skills in their child. Try saying something like, “While I give you a vaccine, I have a job for you. I want you think about your favorite weather. What does it feel like? What does it look like? Do you see the sun? Do you feel the wind? Do you hear the rain? Can you taste the snowflakes?”
4) Pretend play – Modeling how children can pretend to be their favorite character during a painful procedure can help with self-regulation and perspective taking. You can ask a child if they know any superheroes. Then, ask them to imagine that they are that superhero and show you how they would act if they got a flu shot. You can say that even superheroes need to stay safe, and they can do that by staying still.