Any good videos to prepare a three year old for getting shots?
May 25, 2015 1:45 PM   Subscribe

My daughter will be getting two jabs soon (second dose of MMR and 4-in-1 preschool booster). She has not needed a vaccination since since was too young to remember. Can anyone suggest any videos etc that would help her to be a little more prepared for it? I'm imagining something like an episode of a kids TV show about vaccinations but any other suggestions are welcome, e.g. books or iPad apps.
posted by tomcooke to Health & Fitness (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

There's an episode of the show Daniel Tiger called "Daniel Gets a Shot" that my kids found reassuring before their preschool vaccinations. It's available on YouTube. We did the "close your eyes and think of something happy" technique that Daniel uses and it helped a lot on shot day.
posted by katie at 1:55 PM on May 25, 2015 [8 favorites]

Best answer: How old is she now? If she doesn't remember the previous ones, in all honesty, I wouldn't "prepare" her for these. My kids have experienced way more distress from the anticipation of the shots than from the shots themselves -- by an order of magnitude.
posted by KathrynT at 1:55 PM on May 25, 2015 [34 favorites]

I agree with KathrynT. I actually remember getting a shot, maybe at age 3, and not being scared until my mother implied it was a big deal and shots are scary.
posted by kat518 at 1:58 PM on May 25, 2015

Right. I can't find the study now but I've read that it's much better to not mention it beforehand and be totally chill about when it does happen. That's what I've done with my kids and they aren't scared of shots at all.
posted by dawkins_7 at 2:28 PM on May 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

Seconding not mentioning it beforehand. The best way to get a shot is to be surprised by it. Even if she already knows it's coming, downplay it as much as possible. A good shot-giver will be good at distracting her so that it's over before she knows to be afraid of it. The suspense is going to be FAR WORSE than the reality.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:40 PM on May 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yet one more vote for not mentioning it ahead of time. And when you're at the appointment, treat it as very matter-of-fact, something that everyone does, and everyone survives.

Our kids take cues from us, for good and bad. Make yours good.
posted by Gathering Rosebuds at 3:24 PM on May 25, 2015

I think kids do really well with things if you prep them beforehand with role playing. An unexpected shot might not cause lasting psychological harm, but it's great to give your kid a chance at having a positive experience.

True story: a couple of months ago my 3 year old was into playing doctor and I was making up injuries to "fix." One of those was "laceration." We'd pretend she had a cut, needed it cleaned, a shot to take the pain away, and for it to be sewn shut. Get this, not a week later she fell and busted open her chin rather badly. While she was scared and in pain, when we said "you have a laceration, we have to go to the emergency room" she completely understood and handled it like a boss. It was awesome. She was awesome.

So play doctor and practice giving each other shots.
posted by stowaway at 3:59 PM on May 25, 2015 [5 favorites]

Big Bird has to get blood taken in the Sesame Street segment Big Bird Gets Sick (available on youtube)
posted by brujita at 4:34 PM on May 25, 2015

The Daniel Tiger episode is good, my kids really understood that one well, and remembered it.

I tell my older son a couple of days in advance because he does a lot better when he knows in advance and is prepared and can mentally practice and ask all his questions. We give each other pretend shots for a couple days, and I am honest with him that it hurts a little for a minute, but that it keeps you healthy, blah blah blah.

I tell my younger son NOTHING until the nurse comes in the room with the needles because given warning we would never get him in the car. Different kids, different prep strategies.

I usually get my flu shot with one of my preschool-aged kids with me (although I suppose this isn't the right timing for that!); nothing demystifies the process like seeing a parent get a shot. I'm a big wuss about it, too, so they see me scrunch my face all up and get scared and then that it's basically nothing at all and it's over in a second. And they think it's funny that they get to hold my hand to make me less scared. They both brag that they're "braver than mommy" about getting shots (an admittedly low bar to clear), so they try PRETTY HARD to sit still and not cry so they can keep bragging about it.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:05 PM on May 25, 2015 [3 favorites]

I don't have any suggestions for books or videos, but I wanted to argue against some of the blanket advice above not to give any warning. My suggestion about how to handle it differs depending on your own relationship with getting injections - are you ok with it, or is it a big source of stress for you?

At about this age, I got several shots, and I remember my mother having a serious conversation with me in preparation. Of course I don't remember the exact words, but I remember her telling me that getting injections wasn't that fun but we needed to do it anyway, because otherwise we might get really, really sick. The bit I remember was her telling me: it would hurt when the needle went in, and it would hurt a bit as the doctor injected the "medicine", but just when I thought I couldn't stand it, it would all be over. I think this was a really good way to handle things (particularly the "just when you think you can't stand it, it is all over") - and incidentally, the lecturer in one of my counselling classes raised how children are prepared for getting vaccinations as an example of fostering emotional self-regulation in children.*

But - this will only work if you yourself can be calm about the idea of getting a shot. Plenty of adults are full of fear at this prospect, and if your daughter can sense your fear it will freak her right out ("This is scary to the person I rely on to protect me from scary things? OMG.") In that case it might work better not to tell her in advance. Or perhaps to let her know that plenty of people find it scary but do it anyway because it's so important. (On preview, it seems like this strategy works best for Eyebrows McGee).

*This worked really well in my case and I have really no fear about needles. This is a good thing because as a teenager I developed a pattern of migraines that mean I throw up repeatedly over a number of hours, and often this requires a shot to get it under control. On these occasions when I go to the doctor, they are always apologetic - "I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to give you a shot."...but I'm sitting there going "OMG why are you still talking, my arm is right here! INJECTION NOW!"
posted by Cheese Monster at 5:14 PM on May 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

What I do with my now 4 year old (who just got his MMR booster then 4 vials of blood drawn this week) is be very matter of fact about it. "Hey Buddy, we have to go to the Doc tomorrow and get a couple of needles. The needle will hurt a bit when they give it to you but then it will be over. It's not fun but an important part of being a Big Kid and it will help keep us and all our friends from getting very sick."

He doesn't like it but the speed of the whole thing really helps. Also I don't freak out about it.
posted by saradarlin at 5:33 PM on May 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

Elmo and the Surgeon General. The second video is the one where he actually gets the injection. I do wish they'd showed that it hurt at least a little bit.
posted by lakeroon at 7:31 PM on May 25, 2015

While I would suggest not making a big deal out of it (ie, don't "prepare" your child for a shot), one idea is that the original Cannonball Run has a really goofy cartoony character called Doctor Nikolas Van Helsing played by the late, great cuddly Jack Elam who wields a hypodermic needle. That might do the trick.
posted by Nevin at 7:57 PM on May 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

Mister Rogers goes to the doctor (and gets a shot, among other things). Scroll down to the episode called Brave and Strong.
posted by SisterHavana at 1:21 AM on May 26, 2015

Make the thing they remember what happened afterwards, go for ice creator whatever works best for your little one. Make it fun.
posted by blue_beetle at 4:37 AM on May 26, 2015

As a kid I always was told to look away when I got shots, and that it's no big deal and only will hurt a teensy bit. Consequently I was only normal queasy and under the general impression that the needle would go in about a tenth of an inch or so.
In fact, I had no clue how deep in the needle really went until I was around twelve, and watched my dad getting a flu injection. I had to lie down not to faint.

So, bottom line, for a three-year-old I would strongly suggest a less-is-more approach.
posted by Namlit at 6:59 AM on May 26, 2015

I can recommend the Berenstain Bears Go to the Doctor. Oddly enough, the lesson (a special medicine that helps you to NOT get sick) is applicable other unpleasant health activities like sealing cuts with liquid bandage.
A word of warning, though: the Bears fall into VERY traditional gender roles which are largely unpleasant. My partner and I work around that by not falling into those patterns, but YMMV.
posted by mfu at 10:17 AM on May 26, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks to all for so many great answers. We decided to go without telling in her advance, but with a little present hidden to give her just before the injection as a distraction and Hello Kitty plasters and some chocolate ready for afterwards and she was not upset by the experience at all. She is very proud of herself!
posted by tomcooke at 1:02 PM on May 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

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