FRIDAY, Nov. 5, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Across the country, children ages 5 to 11 are lining up to get their first dose of Pfizer’s newly approved COVID-19 pediatric vaccine.

Most kids fear needles, but a few simple steps can help your young one get their COVID-19 shots with the fewest tears shed, experts say.

First, you need to get your own head together, said Dr. Vera Feuer, director of emergency psychiatry and behavioral health urgent care at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y.

“Before talking to your child about the vaccine, check your own temperature first,” Feuer said. “Make sure you are calm and present it in a matter-of-fact, confident manner, so your child can feel good and safe about getting the vaccine. Children pick up on their parents’ stress and anxiety, and it is very important to model good coping for them.”

Once you’ve got yourself in the right frame of mind, prepare your child for what they should expect at the doctor’s office, pharmacy or community clinic.

It’s better if you have this conversation a day or so before their appointment, and to be completely honest about the experience, said Dr. Catherine Pourdavoud, a pediatrician with the Calabasas Pediatrics Wellness Center in Calabasas, Calif.

“You want to build trust for future vaccines and doctor’s visits, too, so it’s best not to surprise your child on the day of the vaccine or tell them it won’t hurt,” Pourdavoud said.

Language matters

At the same time, there’s nothing wrong with couching your conversation in words that are less scary to kids, Pourdavoud added.

“Using words like ‘poke’ or ‘pinch’ instead of ‘shot’ or ‘needle’ can create a more positive experience for your child,” Pourdavoud said.

Be sure it’s a two-way conversation, Feuer added. Ask them about their fears and concerns related to getting a shot, and correct any misinformation they might have.

“With kids that are younger or particularly scared, practicing at home with a doll or reading books about it can also be helpful in alleviating fears,” Feuer said.

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