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I Lie to My Kids About Getting Shots At the Pediatrician

Posted by on Jun. 15, 2013 at 7:25 AM
  • 4 Replies

I Lie to My Kids About Getting Shots At the Pediatrician

by Linda Sharps

A recent post over at the CafeMom forums asked, "Do you forewarn your children when they are getting a shot?" The overwhelming response was yes, most parents do tell their kids ahead of time if a pediatrician visit is going to involve a needle. Reasons vary from wanting to prepare the child to not wanting to be dishonest, and I'm more than a little hesitant to confess this but here goes: I have totally lied to my kids about shots.

I know, I know. It's deceiving and awful and I'm eroding their trust and … I know, okay? But let me try and explain.

Here's the thing: I never completely lied in the sense that I promised that they wouldn't get a shot. If I knew they were due for a vaccination or flu shot whatever, what I said is that we're going in for a checkup to make sure they're healthy and that they stay healthy. When the question was inevitably asked if the visit would include a shot, I would say that I wasn't sure.

The reason I did this is because the alternative was so, so, so, so much worse. My oldest son has had a lot of trouble dealing with the anxiety of anticipation, and while he's much better than he used to be (oh my god, the balloon phobia he had as a toddler. Because they can pop, you see, and no one knows when that might happen), knowing that a shot is in his near future takes the freakout that would normally happen as soon as the needle makes an appearance and stretches it into a much longer affair. The entire drive to the doctor's office, the waiting room, etc. The last time I tried to prepare him for a shot -- by describing how fast it would be over, how important the medicine was, how I'd be right there and we'd get Happy Meals afterwards -- he was so worked up by the time the actual shot came it was … well, it was bad. I can only imagine that his high levels of distress made the actual pain of the shot hurt more, because he'd built it up so much in his head.

His hysteria would get his brother wailing, and the whole thing would just spin out of control. So I started lying about it, because in my mind, a last-minute meltdown was much preferable to an hours-long horror movie.

I haven't had to confront this specific issue in a while: last fall they got the mist instead of shots for their flu vaccinations, so we managed to avoid the needle phobia dilemma altogether. Maybe next time I'll be up front about it, now that my son's older. But maybe not. Because even though it's not a truthful approach, I feel like saving a kid a lengthy panic attack isn't such a bad thing.

How do you deal with kids and shots?

Do you tell them it's coming ahead of time?

by on Jun. 15, 2013 at 7:25 AM
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by on Jun. 15, 2013 at 7:28 AM
Hey, if you've got a kid with severe phobias like that, there's no fault in keeping it from them like that. Obviously the kid still gets the shots, and everyone goes home happy.
For me personally, I would like my kids to be informed. No one likes surprises, when the surprise is going to be painful. Then it feels like a set up. But I plan to be casual about it, so my kids can pick up on that. I'm afraid of needles, so I like to be well informed. I also have to watch them go in.
I can't fault someone for choosing not to tell beforehand because of the reason listed in the op.
by Doriane on Jun. 15, 2013 at 12:24 PM
I just don't mention the shots to my kids. My son is going to have his 4 year old shots in November and he hasn't had them for a while. I'm sure its not going to go well. I'm going to bring a lollipop or something to distract him afterwards.My dd has all her shots and won't need more till 12 I think.
by on Jun. 15, 2013 at 2:32 PM

My kids always ask if they are going to get a shot.  They always ask.  If they are, I will let them know ahead of time so they don't feel like I'm springing a nasty surprise on them.

by on Jun. 15, 2013 at 8:18 PM

No i dont lie about it. If i did that, and then the nurse comes in with the needle, it will be 1million times worse than if i prepare her for it. 

but my daughter is autistic, and its different for her. surprises dont go over well. good or bad. we had a surprise party for her one year because she wanted to have one, little did we know that she would panic, and be miserable for the rest of the day. 

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