A lot of children are afraid of their pre-kindergarten check-up because they’re sensitive that the shots are coming. Children are also more likely to be worried about that check-up if they’ve had other recent scary incidents or experiences with shots or stitches at the doctor’s office or emergency area. The doctors and nurses attempt to make kids more at ease by talking with them, doing the other parts of the exam first (e.g., height, weight, vision, physical exam), and sometimes joking or playing with them a little (e.g., when feeling the tummy, “Let’s see if I can guess what you had for breakfast!”). But your child trusts on you the most for assurance. Here are some instructions for helping your child feel more at ease with the pre-K check-up and shots:
Get ready in advance:
• About a week prior to the check-up, make clear to your son that the doctor or nurse will give him a full check-up for kindergarten—they will evaluate him on a scale, assess how tall he is, check his eyes and ears, put a stethoscope on his chest to listen to his heart and breathing, and feel his stomach, arms and legs—this is significant to make sure he’s growing well and is well-built and healthy. Also, coolly explain that he’ll get a couple of shots and that all kids have to get them to protect them from getting sick. Be honest that the shots will sting a little for a moment, but you’ll help him.
• Try to get a children’s book about going to the doctor. There are many available including Sesame Street and Berenstain Bears. Read the book together several times in the week before his check-up, and let him ask lots of questions.
• Consider getting a play doctor’s kit and let him rehearsal giving a pretend shot to you or a stuffed animal.
On the day of the appointment:
• Consider taking a pinwheel to the appointment. Blowing on a pinwheel helps distract children and relieve the pain.
• Ask him if he wants to take a favourite stuffed animal to the appointment.
• Be calm and friendly with the nurse and doctor. Consider telling your son about how nice the nurse and doctor are.
• When it’s time for the shots, allow your son to choose whether to sit in your lap or on the exam table, and which arm to get the shot in.
• Divert him during the shot by having him look away from the needle, blow, count or sing.
• Soothe him and praise him immediately afterwards. Let him know that now he’s a big boy and he’s ready for kindergarten.
• Consider giving him a little reward for cooperating.