With COVID-19 vaccinations now being made available to children as young as 5 in Manitoba, there’s a lot of talk about needles.

And while most parents see this vaccination as a long-awaited safeguard against a deadly illness… to the kids now preparing to receive it, it can sound scary.

Here are some quick DON’Ts and DOs to help make the experience as calm for your child as possible.

DON’T tell them it’s not a big deal. To them, it is. Instead, focus on all the good that will come from it: for example, we’ll be able to go out more, and see more people, safely.

DO praise them for their courage in making the “big kid” decision to come to the doctor and get a needle, just like Mom and Dad and (name the vaccinated adults your child loves and admires most).

DON’T build up the anxiety by talking about it frequently in the days beforehand. Mention it casually the way you would any other commitment or plan for any other day… but don’t focus on it. Conversely, don’t spring it on them without any prior mention; your child needs to know you are straight with them.

DO pick up a bottle of blowing bubbles! Allowing your child to blow bubbles in the car on the way to the clinic will help them breathe deeply, which can help chase away nervous feelings.

DON’T tell them it won’t hurt. If they think it does, you’ll have voluntarily given up some credibility you’ll need at some future difficult decision-time. Acknowledge that it may pinch for a second, but explain how much good will come from it.

DO distract them as the needle is administered. Sing a song together, or ask them to tell the doctor about something they enjoy talking about… allowing the doctor to administer the needle while the child’s attention is focused on something else.