My three-year-old son has a lot of anxiety around getting shots. He gets extremely agitated beforehand. We let him know him that he's going to get his shots a few days before the actual date in order to give him some time to express his feelings about it. We set a warm limit and we do Staylistening with him.
Even so, after my son gets a shot, he still has some feelings to shed. Once, after getting a vaccination, my son and I were doing some Special Time. He was playing with a shark. He placed the shark on top of a box. To “amp up” the excitement and engage in a little Play Listening, I pretended to be really afraid when I saw the shark. With a twinkle in my eye, so my son knew I was playing, I lifted my hands high in the air and said, “Ahhh!!!! Shark!”
My son responded enthusiastically and made his shark “swim” towards me and touch my neck. I made a dramatic attempt to get the shark off of me, but as hard as I tried, I just couldn’t seem to break free of the shark bite! My son laughed and laughed, so I knew I was onto something useful for him. I laid down on the ground, stuck out my tongue, and made convulsions with my body as I said, “Help meeeeeee!”After my son laughed a bit, he came over to me. He made a little sound as he touched me “Shwwaaa!!!” and he told me that it was healing energy. When I “came back to life”, my son was ready to play again.
He repeated this game several times with me that morning. After at least 8 more repeats, he made the shark attack my leg instead of my neck. He placed the shark in the same place where he had gotten his vaccination the day before. My hunch that he was working on healing the hurts from his vaccines was validated. It seemed pretty clear that he still had some feelings about being “the hurt one who didn’t have any power,” and he was making good use of our play time to heal those hurts, as I became the hurt one who didn’t have any power, and he become the powerful one who could control and heal the hurt.
Here, in our game, he had all of the power. He had the power to choose where the pain was placed, when it was applied, and he also had the power to heal the pain – to take the pain away. Special Time afforded me the opportunity to help him take his power back. Playlistening gave me the opportunity to help my son shed tension as he laughed his pain away.