This is a Facebook post I wrote a couple of days ago, after helping my son deal with his anxiety attack over an immunization shot. I was asked to post it elsewhere by someone for whom FB is a no-go zone, so here it is!
Anxiety is a thing that runs in my family. I’ve written about it before, about how it affects me and my kid and what strategies we use when dealing with it. One of those strategies is talking about anxiety, when he’s dealing with it, when I am, when anyone we know is, because the past couple of decades have taught me that many people I know are struggling with this. And knowing you don’t have to hide it always helps.
Today, my kid needed to get an immunization shot we’d postponed when he’d panicked at the doctor’s office during his spring checkup. He was supposed to get two shots then, but was so overwhelmed with anxiety that we decided to do just one that day. He panicked, shouting no and trying to get away from the nurse, which was a way bigger reaction than he’d ever had before. Our nurse, Nikki, was awesome and swift and by the time she was done, my son was in tears but saying, “That’s it? It’s over?”
Because our pediatrician’s office is awesome, they worked with us to get Nikki on the job again today. My kid and I focused on deep, slow breathing and some outdoor exercise in the parking lot beforehand. I reminded him of how his Tia Kelly had desensitized herself to shots by deciding to give blood regularly until the needles didn’t bother her, which meant his feelings about needles could change too. We remembered how *not* a big deal the shot in the spring turned out to be. When the time came, he tried reading the Kindle instead of watching the shot. (That is my own personal strategy, because I too do not like needles at all.)
There was some shaking and some rapid breathing, a last minute burst of anxiety that Nikki blew right past in her split-second shot delivery. But overall, my son talked himself through it (partly by giving me a thirty minute lecture on the armor and battle strategies of the various Roman empires on the car ride up) and is one step further down the path of figuring out how to manage this thing that makes his life harder but can be dealt with. We talked about adrenaline on the car ride home, what it does and why and what the aftereffects are. Also, why a snack and a nap are a great way to handle those effects, which is why he’s wrapped up in a penguin blanket right now.
Talk to your kids about the stuff that’s hard, man. It helps.