Please forgive me, but I need a moment of catharsis.


Attention, parents! It is hard enough examining your small children when they are afraid to come to the doctor's office. Many are at the developmental stage where they fear strangers, and no amount of cajoling will comfort them while I loom over them with a stethoscope and tongue depressor. Add into this mix the memory of vaccines, and lots of kids just don't like to be in my exam room. Dealing with screaming, terrified children is one of the things a pediatrician must accept with equanimity. (I must admit that I don't enjoy the kicking, but we all have bad days.)

However (*taking slow deep breaths*) nothing, but NOTHING frustrates and infuriates me more than when you play into this fear by telling your kids I will give them a shot if they misbehave. It undermines my attempts to gain trust, reinforces their terror, and instills the idea that shots are simply punitive and not to keep them healthy.

If you do this, I will cheerfully undermine your authority by directly, smilingly contradicting you. I will, in my most upbeat, Mr. Rogers-esque tones, remind them that shots are to keep them healthy, and that we only give them if children need them, not if they are "bad." And it serves you right if your children then question your honesty, because lying to them and making me your heavy is your own [incredibly profane participle] fault.


  1. You're kidding. You MUST be kidding. Please tell me you're kidding.

  2. At least, then, please tell me this is an extremely infrequent occurrence.

  3. Quite infrequent, but still recurrent.

  4. I was always terrified of shots as a child. I remember asking my childhood pediatrician, whom my parents described as having a lousy personality but medical competency, "No shots?" at a checkup and getting a rare chuckle from him.

    I cannot fathom the incredible stupidity of parents who would . . . unbelievable! Just another reason for my "straight people = great parents" sarcasm.


  5. I still can't believe people do this. And threaten kids with the creepy guy in the neighborhood they are already afraid of. Besides, who is so desperate to have their kids to be good at the doctor? Don't you behave the same way you always do? MPolite, no yelling inside, no grabbing things, no hitting or kicking? They're just people (rumor has it). Mine won't talk to the MD, but turns his back and says, loudly, "I don't know her. You talk to her." But threatening that someone *else* will hurt them is just terrifying.

    I do threaten Spouse with a prostate check if *he* doesn't behave, but...

  6. Mine starts announcing, "Done! Thank you! Done! Thank you!" as soon as the doctor walks in the room. Although my husband said yesterday he screamed hysterically during his flu vaccination. Mind you, this was the nasal mist, not the shot. Come to think of it, Dan, how do you do your job?