Your 4 3/4-year-old: Prepping for shots

Your 4 3/4-year-old: Prepping for shots

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Your 4-year-old now

A common obsession of kids facing doctor visits is, "Am I going to get a shot?"

How can you help prepare your child? Kids who know ahead of time that they're getting a shot tend to do better than ones who get no warning. The trick is to not warn her so far in advance that she worries needlessly to the point of obsession.

Instead, on your way to the office, mention the possibility. (There's always a chance she might not receive one, say, if she has a fever or the practice has run out of inoculations; leave the final announcement to the doctor.)

Let your child know that shots protect her and keep her healthy. Don't lie if she asks whether it will hurt: "Yes, it will hurt. But it only for a second or two, and then it's all done."

Studies have shown that children do better when parents have a matter-of-fact approach – not too much sympathy, not too coldhearted. Shots are necessary. Let's just get it done and move on. Use your favorite distraction technique to keep your child's mind off what's going to happen (a beloved toy, a song, or bubbles).

Your life now

Sticking to a consistent and early bedtime is one of the best ways you can prepare your child for school – and benefit from a little downtime yourself.

Sometimes pre-kindergartners are allowed to stay up late so their working parents can enjoy more family time. But once kindergarten begins, your child will need to rise at a regular time having had a full 11 to 12 hours of sleep.

If she's accustomed to a later bedtime, start inching it up five minutes or so every five days over a period of weeks and wake her up that much earlier in the morning.

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