Leveraging is a big part of my parenting technique. It’s kinda like bribery, except I like to think it’s more strategic and less desperate. Example: late last summer, at my 6 year old’s annual, the pediatrician let us know that the flu shot had come in early that year and we could just do it right then and there, at an otherwise shot-free visit.
“You can skip the shot, and we go home,” I told my kid. “Or, you can get the shot and I’ll buy you a milkshake after.” He thought hard, examined all angles. I could practically see his brain working through his skull.
“Can I get the milkshake but not get the shot?” Nice try. Watching him struggle with this tiny but huge conundrum was strangely enjoyable. Ultimately, he opted to not get the shot at the time. When he did get it a few weeks later and it was not a big deal, he proclaimed that he wished he’d just gotten the shot and the milkshake when he could have back in August. But now these days he tells his little brother that it’s good to get the flu shot, because you get ice cream later, which is a nice little dollop of propaganda on top of my leveraging. I’m kinda like an influencer, basically, only my audience is two people.
Anyway, flu shot season is coming up, and unless you’re one of the lucky ones whose kid gets the mist, you’re probably figuring out what mind games or trickery you can use to avoid feeling like an agent of torture. A childfree friend asked me once why my kids were afraid of shots. “Because they’re kids?” I said. She claimed she was never afraid of shots as a child. I love her but that’s bullshit.
Here are my friends’ recommendations for getting through shots with your freaked-out kid. Hopefully you’ll walk out saying, “That wasn’t so bad!” instead of feeling like you just lived through World War III.
"My kid is a huge shot-drama kid, so I let him pick out a snack at CVS before going into the Minute Clinic. He is totally focused on his snack and forgets to freak out."
"Mine freaked out BIG time last year and then skipped out afterwards saying 'It was no big deal.' So we made a video of him telling his future self that the shot was not bad."
"Visible bribery. I put a treat (marshmallows for my kid) in a baggie where he can see it by turning his head away from the needle. It works like a charm."
"My advice is to have your more dramatic child go last, and the more reasonable one go first, if they are in the same room."
"Depending on what kind of kid you have, it may help to have an in-depth conversation during a calm time about exactly what part of it they're afraid of. Is it the pain? Is it something else? It turned out my daughter was afraid of her allergy test because she thought they were going to make her throw up (that's what happens when she has walnuts). We never know what is exactly going on in their kid brains."
"We used a Buzzy recently on adult patient with severe needle phobia.” <—MD pal, referring to a drug-free pain blocker available for sale.
"My five year old had diarrhea for weeks after I thought it made sense to take her with me when I got my shot to see how easy it was. Top five worst ideas I’ve ever had. This year, we will be giving zero advance warning and heading to the walk-in clinic where there is ice cream next door (for me, obvs).”
"I just buy my kids off with a trip to Party City, which is right by our doctor and they can pick out whatever they want, cause everything is cheap. So far, no one has wanted a sexy costume or a smoke machine."
Thanks and welcome to our new subscribers! I hope you enjoyed this issue of Evil Witches, a newsletter for people who happen to be mothers. Please pass it along, if you know someone who'd like this sort of thing in their inbox a couple times a week. Feel free to let us know if you have any topics you’d like witchy input on. You can also follow us and talk to us on Twitter here or follow us on Instagram.
Here’s a bonus parenting tip: If you let your kids watch Youtube videos in the morning, it’s okay as long they’re science experiments (by which I mean people dropping Mentos in different brands of pop.)
One witchy thing
I couldn’t decide which smiling gif to use so let’s just use them all: