At my son’s preschool they were having community week. This is basically when parents can come in and talk about their careers. I certainly jumped on this because I wanted to talk to his classmates about going to the doctor and coping strategies during a vaccination. I also really wanted to see how they kids interact with one another in a classroom setting while the parents are gone.
My doctor kit was packed with a teddy bear as my patient. I sat on the floor with the kids and explained that I was a child life specialist and help kids when they have to go to the doctor or have to stay in the hospital.
My four-year old sat right next to me and was so excited that he couldn’t contain himself. He was talking over me trying to tell all his friends what I do, what tools were in the kit, and of course the bubbles! I had to put on my mommy hat a few times to try to get his energetic little body to calm down and let his mommy finish what she was trying to say. This continued during the whole thing. I definitely took on the role of a child life mommy.
I was still able to engage the kids and talk about what each medical tool was used for. I played out the exam on the teddy bear and they seemed to enjoy my imagination.
The most important piece of information that I was trying to get across to the kids was their choices that they have during a vaccination. I explained that a shot is another name for a vaccination and its given to protect our bodies from bad germs. I normalized and validated their feelings by stating that babies, kids and grown ups get vaccinations, some people are nervous or scared and that it does feel like a little pinch or sting.
Some of the choices and coping strategies that I offered to them was a position for comfort. I held the bear and told them that they could sit by themselves or sit on their parent’s lap either facing their parent (chest to chest) or facing outward (back to chest).
The second choice that they have is to watch what the nurse or doctor was doing or to look away.
The third was to practice taking deep breaths to help relax their body. They had a choice to blow bubbles or to pretend to blow out birthday candles.
The fourth step was a choice of a character band-aid.
We then played out all the steps on the teddy bear and the kids got goody bags filled with character band aids and bubbles!
It was so much fun to teach the kids about a child life specialist and to discover that my kid is constantly talking and may be the class clown.