Growth hormone injections can be scary and painful for kids, especially at first. After undergoing training with your doctor, you’ll likely be giving your child injections of recombinant growth hormone (r-hGH) for many years. Once you are both used to the process, it will likely become routine.

Here are some tips to make it easier on yourself and your child.

Stay calm

Your attitude and emotions can help your child stay calm and unafraid. Your kid takes cues from you, so you’ll have to get past your own nervousness and remain confident and calm.

If you’re a little shaky and on edge, your child will be too. And if your child is nervous, they may tense up. Tense muscles make the nerves in the injection area more sensitive.

Before bringing the injection over to your child, take a few deep breaths and try to keep a positive demeanor.

Find a distraction

There are endless ways to distract your young child. A study published in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology, for example, found that children in a doctor’s office were less stressed when nurses turned on cartoons during vaccines.

Cartoons or TV shows are just one way to create a diversion. Here are a few others:

  • Play a game on a computer or tablet.
  • Blow bubbles.
  • Count to 10.
  • Sing a song.
  • Hug a stuffed animal.
  • Listen to music on headphones.
  • Blow a whistle or party blower.

Get a “comfort” toy or stuffed animal

A stuffed toy can bring your child comfort during the injections. You and your child can go to the store and pick out a comfort toy, like a furry stuffed animal, that they can hold close every night while they receive their treatment.

Make a sticker calendar

Children love stickers and often view them as a reward. Creating a calendar can help you keep track of your child’s injections and make sure you don’t miss a day. Stickers also happen to be a great way to mark a calendar.

Your child can add a sticker of their choice to the calendar after every injection to mark their achievement. This may give them the positive reinforcement they need to adhere to their treatment schedule. Each month, you can buy a new set of cool stickers for your kid to choose from. This method will likely work best for a younger child who has some interest in cooperating and earning rewards.

Count it out

Counting can help your child focus their thoughts on something other than the injection. Tell your child to start counting as soon as they feel the injection and to keep going until the pain or irritation subsides. It will probably be all over before they get to 10.

Do it while your child sleeps

Many parents wouldn’t even think of trying to give their kid a shot while they sleep. But with the newer needle-free devices, it’s entirely possible to get the injection over with without waking them up.

In addition, since natural growth hormone is normally released during sleep in children, the treatment will likely be more effective at night.

Try a needle-free device

With a needle-free device, the growth hormone is pushed through the skin using high pressure instead of using a needle.

Research shows that the majority of children who use a needle-free device don’t experience any pain at all. If you want to try a needle-free device, talk to your child’s pediatrician or endocrinologist.

Let your child take control

If your child is age 10 or older, you might want to consider giving them control over the injection process.

They may even prefer to do it themselves. Make sure you supervise them to ensure that they’re getting the correct dose daily.

The bottom line

Receiving growth hormone treatments doesn’t have to be the worst part of the day. You may need to get creative in order to keep your child calm during the injections, but over time the injections will become natural, just like brushing your teeth or washing your hands.

Serious side effects of GHD injections are rare, so there’s little to worry about. Remind your child that the injections will help them grow big and strong.

If your child does seem particularly agitated after having their GHD injections or there is noticeable swelling, numbness, or joint and muscle pain after the injection, talk to your doctor. Your doctor may need to adjust the amount of growth hormone your child is receiving.