I Lie to My Kids About Getting Shots At the Pediatrician

Mom Moment 29

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?

Image via jaccodeboer/Flickr

kid health


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Histo... HistoryMamaX3

I always tell my kids. They don't like it... but they deal with it. We also talk about why they are getting them and how it can help them. Then, I promise a sucker when they are done. :-)

Sycodragon Nelson

I always tell my kids. Heck when my daughter who is 7 was going to get bloodwork done, she asked if it was going to hurt. I had to be honest  and tell her it was going to hurt a little. At least she was prepared and she handled it like a champ with only a tear.

lulou lulou

We also do the maybe.  Even when we get shots, or blood drawn, its a maybe that it hurts.  Some skilled nurses and techs are great at this.  One tip they told me is to make sure the alcohol dries, because the sting can actually come from that going in.

nonmember avatar Kristi

We usually don't discuss it. I tell them they have a checkup and that is that. Now,before I took my now 6 year old in for his kindergarten shots he knew full well the carnage that would ensue....thanks to his classmates warning him about the "kindergarten checkup" I did confirm the news when he asked and he was nervous but of course did fine.

Coles... Coles_mom

I don't tell them we aren't, but I also don't give a big speech that they are either. If they asked, I'd tell them the truth. I've only "lied" once and I was horrible and backfired. Truth is, I didn't lie on purpose...we've been the doctor a gazillion times between all three of my kids and anytime we've had an infection (ears or strep), they prescribe an antibiotic they take for 10 days. The last time my 7 year old had strep, he aske on the way to the doc if he had to get a shot and I said no. The doc said he was really sick and wanted to give him and antibiotic shot (I'd never even heard of it!)...so of course he screamed and cried and accused me of lying! I felt TERRIBlE!

Coles... Coles_mom

Good lord- excuse the typos...I just reread my post.

belon... belongs2Jesus

I only tell my boy if he ask. 

Shell Jones

Nope I won't lie to my children and never will... have enough people in this world that we can't trust and don't need my children thinking I lie to them about everything. I just say we have a doc appointment and that is that....if shots are going to happen so what no big deal mine will suck it up and deal with it end of story


chech... chechimansmama

I have a 4 yr old and we tell him. They always have to take his bp twice becahse he is so nervous when we get there and the nurse takes his vitals. He received 2 shots and had his blood drawn and didnt cry @ all. He was so proud of himself as was Ibecause the hubby ia usually there. And he workedd this last time. When he had his blood drawn the nurse made him grunt when sje stuck him with the needle and grunt again when she took it out. It was so painless he was already done when the hw asked thw nurse to let him know when she was done. Biggest thing NEVER LET THEM LOOK.

EmmaF... EmmaFromEire

Calm down shell jones, it's not a lie, more of an omission.

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