How do you know if they have a specific phobia or they just “do not like needles”? In the case of a specific phobia, the child may exhibit an extreme fear, may have panic attacks when they see or think about the shot, may throw tantrums to avoid the shot, and/or may tremble, sweat or feel dizzy in reaction to thinking about or seeing the shot.
What is the magic pill for helping children with this phobia? A magic pill would be nice, but specific phobias typically do not respond to medications. The most effective treatment for specific phobias is Exposure Therapy, which is a type of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. In Exposure Therapy, the child is gradually exposed to the thing they are afraid of over and over until the fear has decreased.
Can parents treat this on their own? Parents may be able to use several strategies for decreasing the phobia, but often times parents and children end up fighting, which can increase the association of negative feelings with the feared outcome (e.g. a shot). If your child is exhibiting the symptoms of “Shot” Phobia, consult a mental health professional trained in Exposure and Response Prevention, who can guide you and your child through the treatment.