Needles and shots make a lot of people uncomfortable, particularly children. It's common for children to squirm at the sight of needles, but needle phobia can be particularly harmful if it continues into adolescence and adulthood -- especially for diabetics who need to have insulin administered regularly.
About 1.4 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes every year. Many are diagnosed well into adulthood, but children are affected as well. Children who are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes must learn how to handle insulin syringes in order to treat their condition, but if they have a needle phobia, this may be more difficult than expected.
Diabetic or not, all children need to have shots administered at the doctor and will continue getting shots into their adulthood. Here are some tips for overcoming fear of needles.
- Tell them that it's no big deal
Kids will get worked up over a shot if you get worked up yourself. If they know about getting a shot ahead of time, they might get worked up well in advance. While you should never lie to your child about needing a shot when they have a scheduled doctor appointment, you don't need to give them too many details either. The truth is that injections are necessary in a number of cases from insulin shots to immunizations and boosters. Make sure that they know that shots are helpful, not harmful. Only mention the pain if they ask about it. Many parents don't talk about pain at all.
- Expose them to syringes up close
In many cases needle panic can start just by the sight of a single use syringe. If you want to desensitize them, consider letting them hold one up close (with the needle removed, of course). Allow your child to role play with the insulin syringe and pretend to give you or a stuffed animal a shot. Be sure to have a positive reaction and show that you aren't afraid.
- Visit the doctor's office without an appointment
Exposing your child to the office environment may help curb their discomfort. Have someone in the office take them on a tour to see the needles, chair where the shot will be administered, or even have them talk to the doctor or nurse beforehand.
- Practice coping mechanisms
It's best to identify what is especially bothersome about diabetic syringes. Is it the fear of pain? The feat of fainting? Or does it simply induce anxiety? Try using some calming techniques like breathing exercises or meditation. In most cases overcoming the fear of insulin syringes is a mind over matter concept.
Applied tension techniques also work for some people receiving diabetic care. This is when one tenses up the muscles in the arms and legs for about 15 to 30 seconds. When released, many people feel a sense of confidence, as well as rise in blood pressure.
Using syringes for diabetes is necessary for proper care of diabetics of all ages. Overcoming the fear of insulin syringes is necessary in order to receive the proper treatment for the condition for the rest of their lives.