Our family recently traveled and we had decided to get some vaccinations for our 3 ½ year-old daughter. We needed three shots over three visits.
My daughter had never had shots before, but the first time went beautifully, probably because she had no preconception about what to expect. The second time she was terrified. She screamed and cried the whole time and we had to hold her down while she got the injection.
Moving On: A Plan to Play
I had a month to prepare her, and us, for the next visit. I got some listening time to cry about my own pain around having to subject her to a scary experience. I thought about how play could help to relieve her fear around the shots and so I gave her the opportunity to inject me in play using chop-sticks.
I playfully complained about it hurting, but she didn’t like the game. Then a friend suggested that maybe she didn’t want to hurt me, even in play and so I tried responding in a new way, saying, “Oh, that didn’t hurt so bad,” when she gave me the shot, but she wasn’t very interested in continuing this play.
The ‘Magic' Injection
Finally, a Hand in Hand Instructor advised me to take the game further. Now when we played, an injection could make me do anything! I could laugh, do somersaults, turn cartwheels. She laughed a lot at this, and this time, she went for it, injecting me over and over.
Then she wanted to show her Papa what happened when she gave injections and again lots of laughter followed as I somersaulted across the room.
Our third visit to the clinic was just like the first time: My daughter easily cooperated and even showed curiosity about what the doctors were doing. She watched as the injection was administered, and then informed us that it only hurt “a little tiny bit, like a star,” and she showed us the size of the speck with her fingers.
Phew. What a turnaround, and a great testament to the power of Playlistening to overcome and heal fear.
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