Just Go Ahead And Tell Them {this is gonna hurt}

Of course, I hate to see my precious ones distressed, and I know that shots are not fun. I know this after years of dreading, fearing, and avoiding shots myself. Even into the first year or two as an adult married woman, I had to suppress a full-blown anxiety attack at the thought of getting a flu shot.

Yeah, I’m tough like that.

So today, Sissy had her eighteen-month check-up with our pediatrician. It’s no surprise to me that the doctor’s diagnosis was good: “She’s perfect. Another gifted child.”

Well, I know she’s not perfect, but she is a gift who was “gifted” to us, so I’ll take that. And, well, gush, I just love to hear nice things about this little girl I adore.

The check-up was going great…

But then “bad cop” came back in. Poor Nurse Katie; she really is one of the sweetest, kindest, friendliest nurses I’ve ever met, but the duty falls to her to administer inoculations. So after winning Sissy’s affections as usual during the weigh-in and measurements, her ratings quickly plummet when she returns at the end of the appointment to give shots.

But what do you say to your child in the moments leading up to a shot?

Do you tell your kids it won’t hurt? Or it’s just a little pinch? Or a little pin prick? Or they won’t even feel it?

Because it will. And it’s not. Not even close. And they will.

[And they’re going to find out you are a big fat liar in about five milliseconds.]

This morning, Nurse Katie commented on Sissy’s “quick recovery.” [That’s because she’s gifted.. haha]

No seriously, I actually believe that her fast recovery is because we tell our kids what’s going to happen. We tell them the truth. We don’t have a long discussion about it days before or anything, but when the moment arrives–and the bad cop is ready to administer the injections–I tell Sis that there is going to be a big owie (or two in this case), then we’ll be all done. Nurse Katie works fast, and it’s all over in a flash. I immediately cuddle Sissy, picking her up from my lap and holding her snugly. “All done,” I say; “All done.”

And she stops crying. Just like that.

You know why? Because she believes me.

Now, I am certainly no parenting expert. And I can only claim 8.5 years of applying this theory. But here’s my thought on what we actually do as parents when we “soften the blow” by trying to paint something unpleasant and potentially scary as no big deal: It ruptures trust, I think. And I’m big on trust. I’m not talking about telling my kids everything or answering every question, but I want them to know that they will get the truth from us. After all, we know that when the shots are done, the pain is done, but how can a young child process that? Your child might think, “Yeah right, you just told me THAT wouldn’t hurt, so what does ‘all done’ mean now??” Kids can be left with a sense of uneasiness, feeling in the dark about what’s to come next.

Seems to me that even as an adult, I can take the pain of most any situation; it’s the not-knowing that kills me.

So, what do you think, something to it?

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3 responses to “Just Go Ahead And Tell Them {this is gonna hurt}

  1. I agree completely! Honesty is absolutely the best policy. If you can’t trust your mom, who can you trust? With all five of my boys, if something was/is going to hurt I am right there cheering them on and ready to cuddle them when it’s over. For that reason they are less fearful and recover much more quickly, AND believe me if I tell them something isn’t going to hurt. Great post!

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