13 Tips to Prevent Needlephobia

Immunizations and blood tests keep us healthy, but they’re not exactly fun. For one out of five people, grown-ups and kids alike, they’re linked to a genuine fear: “needlephobia.”

To help your child overcome any fear of needles — or better yet, prevent them from feeling afraid in the first place — try these preparation and calming techniques.

Before the appointmentChild creates coping bag during Needlephobia Open House at UTC Family Resource Center

  • Talk to your child about what to expect at their immunization or blood test. Explain that needles are necessary to keep them healthy, that it will hurt just a little, and that it will be over quickly.
  • Don’t promise that the shot or blood test won’t hurt at all, and don’t go overboard with reassurances, which can wind up signaling to your child that you’re worried. Be warm but matter-of-fact: Yes, it’ll pinch, but only for a moment.
  • If appropriate, give your child a greater sense of control by giving them choices: Do they want you in the room? Do they want more information?
  • Plan a reward to look forward to.
  • Your child will pick up on your anxiety, so if needles are one of your own fears, find someone else to take them into their appointment.
  • Let your Connecticut Children’s team know if your child is scared of needles. We’ll work with you to steady them, distract them and help them have a positive experience.

During the appointment

  • Bring a favorite stuffed animal or book as a soothing distraction.
  • Count, play a game or sing together.
  • Listen to music or watch an engaging video.
  • Practice deep breathing: Coach your child through taking three to five deep breaths, inhaling through the nose (“smell a flower”) and exhaling through the mouth (“blow a bubble”). Or have them blow bubbles or a pinwheel.
  • Have your child choose a favorite place or activity to imagine, and keep their thoughts focused on what they see, hear, smell and feel.
  • Encourage bravery! Celebrate your child’s efforts at coping.

After the appointment

  • Focus on everything that went well. Praise your child for good behavior, and for trying their best.

Even if your child develops needlephobia — uncontrollable crying, kicking, fighting and anxiety around needles — don’t worry. Every other month, our child life specialists host a Needlephobia Open House at Connecticut Children’s United Technologies Family Resource Center, where children can learn skills to overcome their fear.

Learn more about the UTC Family Resource Center >>

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