How to Make Shots for Preteens Hurt Less

Even your older preteen can dread shots just as much as a toddler or preschooler. No matter how old your child gets, shots still hurt. If your preteen has an upcoming appointment to receive immunizations or another type of shot, you can help ease his fears as well as lessen the pain associated with the needle prick. All it takes is a bit of preparation, a few distraction techniques and something for your child to look forward to when it's over.

Prepare your child. Talk to your child about why she needs to get a shot such as for an immunization or to prevent the flu 23. When she understands the necessity of the shot, she's more likely to accept it, which can calm and reassure her so she doesn't feel as much pain. Answer any questions your child has and don't be tempted to lie that it won't hurt at all. You know that the shot will hurt, and lying can lead your preteen to lose trust in you.

Distract your child in the doctor's office. Bring a book to read to your preteen or encourage him to bring a book he really enjoys. A music system such as an iPod with headphones is another way to distract your child while he's getting a shot. Funny photographs might also help your child focus on something enjoyable rather than the discomfort associated with getting a shot. Teach your child to blow out puffs of air as though he was blowing bubbles, which can reduce pain, as well, according to a 1994 article published in the journal "Pediatrics." You should remain distracted, too. According to a 2007 article also published in "Pediatrics," parents with a calm demeanor in the doctor's office are more likely to ease their child's fears of getting a shot.

Ask about numbing cream or other pain reducing tools. Many pediatricians keep topical anesthetics such as lidocaine on hand and others have pain-reducing sprays that serve the same purpose. If your preteen is particularly nervous about pain, one of these options might help lessen her anxiety as well as reduce her pain.

Give your preteen something to be excited about after the shot is over. Perhaps you could take him out for ice cream or another treat. You might go see a movie or rent one and watch it at home. If your child has something to look forward to, he's more likely to approach the shot with less trepidation and that can translate to less pain overall.