Kids & Parenting

How to prepare your toddler for their pre-school boosters

Yesterday I took Little K for her Pre-school booster immunisations. I know many parents hate taking their little one’s for their jabs, and I can see why. It is horrible to see your kids in crying and screaming (and in little K’s case from her first set, vomiting all over you!), but without wanting to sound cruel, it actually doesn’t bother me.

Of course, no-one likes to see their child crying or hurting, but I also know that it is what is best for her in the long term, and actually the pain is only very minimal and short-lived. I am actually better at this than her dad. I think there is a bit more of a ‘my little princess is hurting’ feeling with him, where I’m just like ‘get on with it, she’ll be fine in a minute’!

Two years ago, she had an infected cyst behind her ear and we were in hospital for 5 days, and we had two options.1. We hold her very tight, while fully conscious, and they basically pop it and squeeze the infection out. Or 2. They put her to sleep and cut it open and drain it that way. Without hesitation, we chose option one. I just could not justify putting an 18-month-old through the confusion and draining of full anaesthesia. Even as an adult, I hate it. If I had to hold her while she screamed, so be it. And it wasn’t nice. Of course, it is hard hearing her scream, but it literally took 6 minutes (and a whole lot of pus!) and it was done. Yes, she cried and it hurt. But believe it or not, 10 minutes later, she was absolutely fine and now two years down the line she is none the wiser, and has not deep-rooted issues with hospitals, ears or pus!

I discussed with my husband, how we should prepare her for these next set of injections, as these are the first ones she has had since being old enough to really understand what is going on. A few days earlier I started broaching the subject, telling her that we were going to go to the doctors and then the day before I gave her some more details.

‘Mummy’s going to take you to the doctors tomorrow. They are going to give you an injection to make sure you don’t get poorly.’ I then pulled out her doctors set, and we played with the toy ‘needle’ for a few minutes, as I showed her that they will pull her sleeve up and mummy will give her a big cuddle while they put it into her arm. I also told her that it might hurt a little bit, but that it would all be ok, because mummy will stay with her and afterwards she can have a lollipop and a sticker (let’s not pretend parental bribery isn’t a thing!).

I think her dad would have been a little more subtle, and probably wouldn’t have mentioned the hurting bit, but I think that she should know so that it’s not a surprise when the time comes.

Her response?: ‘Ok.’  And she continued playing. Clearly not that bothered.

Yesterday morning, when she woke up, she asked if she could go to the doctors before nursery to have her ‘injunctions’, so clearly the hurting bit hadn’t put her off too much! She went off happily into nursery telling everyone mummy would be picking her up early to go to the doctors and it was as simple as that.

We got to the doctor surgery and she was good as gold, actually impatient to go in! The nurses were great, as they always are with the kids for these things. They kept her happy and asked her to give mummy a cuddle while they got it ready, I held her arm tight, and prepared for the tears… Nothing. My little smiley munchkin was grinning ear to ear, not bothered in the slightest. I couldn’t believe it! They turned her around to do the second arm, again had a big cuddle held her arm and… there it was! Screamed the house down! I held her tight, she got two big stickers from the nurse and we headed out, as she was still sobbing. I sat down with her and asked her if it was hurting.

Through her screams she said ‘No mummy, I don’t want to have a plaster on that arm!

By the time we reached the car she was absolutely fine. Her arms were a little sore and tender but after a dose of Calpol everything was back to normal.

I definitely think once children reach the age of understanding it is best to be open, honest and prepare them in advance. It can be very easy to worry at times, and to project our anxieties onto our children, when they have no concerns at all.  She had no worries about it, and I put that down to the fact that she knew exactly what to expect… Next time, I must remember to tell her about the plasters though!

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