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Kids, body autonomy and medical treatment


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#1 Lallalla

Posted 29 August 2019 - 08:46 AM

2 ladies at work were talking about a family who went to get their flu shot, 1 kid refused and is now really really sick with the flu.

It got me thinking, where do you draw the line? And at what age does what you say/do cease to count?

One of my kids has asthma and is very prone to pneumonia. It is written into her asthma action plan by her paediatric lung specialist that the whole family gets the flu shot. I can’t imagine giving into any of them on it.

That said, my oldest is 5. How do you get an unwilling teen to agree (I suspect the promise of lollipops and kinder surprises have less impact as they get older...)?

#2 Kallie88

Posted 29 August 2019 - 09:02 AM

I don't think there could be a specific answer. My kids are little too, so it is hard to imagine when they're older. But I guess you have to look at how informed they can really be given whatever age they are, and the effect on your whole family. In a way, until they're 18 it's your responsibility and could be argued your say, but I don't imagine forcing a 15yo would be particularly easy or pleasant.
I mean, some kids are needle phobic too, how do you balance the benefits of vaccination against the trauma of getting it done?
Sorry, i've probably asked more questions than given answers, I guess it will be specific to every family and their needs. I certainly hope it's as easy with my kids as it was with me (never had a problem with needles or really thought to fight against it)

#3 seayork2002

Posted 29 August 2019 - 09:50 AM

The doctor we took DS11 to for his flu shot said she would only do it if he agreed, it took to him running out, dad talking him around and me holding (he asked me to) to get it done so it was along saga but he agreed. then spending heaps on lego

Other than this we try and explain things before hand so he knows what to expect (he had an issue where the doctor had to see him naked so I explained his choice but the doctor could not help unless he did it)

So not sure what the future will bring but we try and explain beforehand so there is no shocks when he goes in.

#4 Ivy Ivy

Posted 29 August 2019 - 10:03 AM

My primary school aged children do not get to decide they are not having vaccinations.  They don't have the cognitive capacity to weigh risk v benefit, or the overall understanding of preventative medicine, that I do.  My brain trumps theirs.
They get the flu shot.
I bribe/reward with numerous toys so they feel something positive has happened and it wasn't all negative, but that's just a psychological sop I'm willing to do to give them an impression of some small sense of power.  Really, they have no power in the decision.
I give them Emla to numb the area an hour before for blood tests.

#5 Clementinerose

Posted 29 August 2019 - 10:40 AM

I don’t think they get a choice. My 16-baby were all done and the only person who had a choice was DH, who chose to get it done.
In the same way that my 16ds doesn’t get to choose whether or not he attends school, I believe that it is my role as their mother to make some decisions for them whilst they are still minors.
I will add all mine except Dd14 were willing and she stood to get it done as she understood what she was being protected from, and protecting others from

#6 Jenflea

Posted 29 August 2019 - 10:43 AM

Vaccinations are non negotiable in my house until DD is 18.

She's not needle phobic though and i explain why we do it and what happens.

She gets to choose her medical caregivers as much as possible(she expressed a preference for the female dentist over the male at the dentist she goes to, so I happily swapped to her) but ultimately I have ultimate decision as the parent.


She's 9.

#7 born.a.girl

Posted 29 August 2019 - 10:47 AM

It's an interesting question, and in times of increasing awareness about a child's right to decide what happens to their own body, the lines presumably sometimes get blurred.


Neighbours were a bit agog, when they took their 3yo to the RCH emergency department, because she wouldn't take the antibiotics liquid that she definitely needed.

I suspect the RCH were a bit frustrated that two educated people would come to them for an answer. They said 'if bribes don't work, you just hold her nose and pour it in, like this'. (It wasn't as blunt as that, they spoke to the child first, and told her it just had to go in, one way or the other.)

They thought it was seriously inappropriate to just 'act' like that. I'm not sure what they thought the emergency department could do.

Edited by born.a.girl, 29 August 2019 - 10:51 AM.


#8 Veritas Vinum Arte

Posted 29 August 2019 - 10:51 AM

We have done a fine line between not negotiables (vaccinations) and own choices.

So vaccinations are not negotiable. Flu shot is not not negotiable with extended family doing chemotherapy.

On the other hand my 13yo DID have the choice of whether he wanted to go on roaccutaine for acne as there is a very slight possibility of night blindness which would impact his chosen future career. So he had the time to read all the literature and decide if he wanted to take the tablets.

So really it depends on how/what the impact of doing/nit doing something is...., flu could kill grandparents so it is mandatory for flu shot, roaccutaine for acne is optional as it helps improve your skin but that is not required. Similarly if medications were for ADHD or epilepsy once again they would be mandatory not optional until 18.



#9 MrsLexiK

Posted 29 August 2019 - 10:55 AM

I can’t physically cant hold my children down by myself to get them to take medicine anymore as they are too tall and the younger one has super human strength it takes more then 2 of us.

I’m comfortable to have a nurse/dr just jab my child whilst we hold him place whilst he is screaming his head off. Many parents may not feel comfortable doing that. Like you OP one of ours has bad asthma and gets pneumonia a lot. Also we have had friends lose their child to the flu. So it’s non negotiable. Vaccines and medical stuff bad luck but it’s horrible to watch your child refuse and be screaming and being held down. And I can see why people who haven’t been touched by the death of flu in a child or experienced the harsh side effects in young kids would say “ok your choice” when a child is saying no.

#10 seayork2002

Posted 29 August 2019 - 10:55 AM

I don't remember what they are but I believe DS in Y7 next year has to have 2 immunisations?

and we mentioned another flu shot

He is still at the age where he basically does as he is told so we have mentioned 'we go to work, brush our teeth and get injections when we need to' or words to that effect

so at these stage he is aware he will have to have them so I am not sure he has really thought there is an option to say no yet (yes this may change!)

#11 PrincessPeach

Posted 29 August 2019 - 11:04 AM

View Postborn.a.girl, on 29 August 2019 - 10:47 AM, said:

It's an interesting question, and in times of increasing awareness about a child's right to decide what happens to their own body, the lines presumably sometimes get blurred.


Neighbours were a bit agog, when they took their 3yo to the RCH emergency department, because she wouldn't take the antibiotics liquid that she definitely needed.

I suspect the RCH were a bit frustrated that two educated people would come to them for an answer. They said 'if bribes don't work, you just hold her nose and pour it in, like this'. (It wasn't as blunt as that, they spoke to the child first, and told her it just had to go in, one way or the other.)

They thought it was seriously inappropriate to just 'act' like that. I'm not sure what they thought the emergency department could do.

Id hate to think how ill their child would be if it was something more serious. Ive had to hold my asthmatic 3 year old down more times than i care to count to administer medication.

#12 born.a.girl

Posted 29 August 2019 - 11:07 AM

View PostPrincessPeach, on 29 August 2019 - 11:04 AM, said:

Id hate to think how ill their child would be if it was something more serious. Ive had to hold my asthmatic 3 year old down more times than i care to count to administer medication.


Likewise, ours was asthmatic from 18 months. She kicked, screamed and struggled with the mask on.  When I asked the doctor if there were any tricks to getting kids to not resist, he said 'don't worry, the more she screams, the more goes in'.

Sometimes, needs must.

#13 purplekitty

Posted 29 August 2019 - 11:24 AM

Somethings are not negotiable.
Medication is one of those.

Having said that I don't know how you make a teenager.
I hope if you've been consistent about how and why through the younger years it wouldn't be a problem.

#14 mayahlb

Posted 29 August 2019 - 11:27 AM

View PostPrincessPeach, on 29 August 2019 - 11:04 AM, said:

Id hate to think how ill their child would be if it was something more serious. Ive had to hold my asthmatic 3 year old down more times than i care to count to administer medication.

Same here! I don't think that there idea of medication with a 3yr old like that is appropriate. Heck I've had to pin down a 9yr old, not that much smaller then me and force antibiotics down.

I think there is a line. And sometimes it hard to figure out. I also think a lot of it is about making sure children are educated about health and what we are asking them to do, in an age appropriate way. My oldest asked about flu vaccines after they talked about the pandemic in the early 1900s at school. We'd talked about flu shots before, so he was fine with getting one, even though he was afraid of the needle. We also work on how to talk to various dr's, and communicate effectively (work in progress, but at least our various Dr's follow a long with this). The again we see a pead every 6 months, so they are used to the concept, even if there are issues with antibiotics. (Next time we will be requesting tablets, not the hideous pink liquid version). It was at his request that the pead changed one of his meds, because he didn't like the short-acting tablets.

Honestly, as a parent, I think some things are my responsibility, vaccinations are frankly not negotiable. Other treatments, well it would depend and then we would let out children have a say, but often it is our lead as to what needs to be done. But at the same time, also teaching them they have a voice, and with appropriate health education can contribute to the conversation, including bringing up things that they are concerned about.

#15 Lunafreya

Posted 29 August 2019 - 11:31 AM

We had to hold my son down to take medication when he was very young and clear his nose. But also if possible tried to make it a positive thing, at least the benefits of it. And praise for taking it after. Now he takes it willingly but it was harder to get him to take ventolin when he temporarily had asthma.

#16 Bethlehem Babe

Posted 29 August 2019 - 11:40 AM

My 10 year old didn’t want his flu shot this year.
I had the nurse ask if we were still going ahead with it.

Absolutely. He’s 10. His classmates have had influenza. Damn right I’m pulling the mum card and dealing with the meltdown.

#17 Soontobegran

Posted 29 August 2019 - 11:42 AM

It would have been non negotiable here too. If they wanted to live in our home they would need to be vaccinated...just as it was non negotiable we have our pertussis vaccinations when we were having grand children. ( we would have anyway).

I admit to be totally immune to being concerned about the tantrums of a child. I happily restrain or do whatever is necessary.

Edited by Soontobegran, 29 August 2019 - 11:43 AM.


#18 PhillipaCrawford

Posted 29 August 2019 - 11:43 AM

I have no experience of those with needle phobia - I think that is very different.
But for everyone else IMO these are some tips that worked for us
- medicine from infancy is non negotiable. While children must be given the ability to make choices on body safety they are unable to do so when it come to their health. Adults are unable to do so, look at the antivaxers and those who chose natural therapy for cancer. Ultimately the child needs to learn that for a greater good this will happen. I feel if it is learnt at 2 or 3 it is less likely to be a problem at 10.
- while having the medicine maybe non negotiable children should be given information about it and some choice in how its done. Inform them they are going to the doctors or library for a shot, let them know they need to take their medicine in half an hour do they want a lolly or icecream after etc.
- role model it. If you talk fearfully of how you 'hate' needles, don't expect your child to remain calm.

#19 molinero

Posted 29 August 2019 - 11:52 AM

Age of consent to medical treatment varies between the states but a lot of jurisdictions set the age of consent to medical treatment at around 16, with leeway given to minors younger than that who are capable of making informed choices. So it becomes a bit of a grey area, with some important established precedents. E.g. the ability for 14 year old girls to request going on BCPs generally accepted by our family court and family courts in likeminded overseas countries.

#20 Crombek

Posted 29 August 2019 - 11:55 AM

I grew up incredibly needle phobic, and ds1 is also very phobic with ALL things medical. I really struggle with this. I would 100% have preferred to be delirious in hospital before they gave me a needle. I would risk death. It’s not a rational fear and it cannot be approached rationally.

I absolutely let him choose whether to take painkillers. He usually doesn’t. We used to try to force it down his throat but what do you do when they then vomit it all back up??? It honestly wasn’t worth the angst. With antibiotics we found we needed one in tablet form we could crush into orange juice and make sure he doesn’t see us do it, or he vomits it back up after an hour of cajoling, bribing, forcing etc.

Needles I really really struggle with. I can’t be the one taking ds1. It triggers his phobia, it triggers my phobia and we end up in a situation where he cannot sleep for days after, and he spends weeks tearfully begging us to never take him to the dr again.

He’s had all his needles to date except meningococcal b, and I have no idea how we are going to approach that one considering the mess that occurred last time.

#21 Moukmouk

Posted 29 August 2019 - 11:57 AM

The age of consent for medical procedures is 16. Between 14 and 16 is a bit of a grey area, but generally a 14 year old has the right to refuse treatment. There is the concept of “gillick competence”, which discusses the ability of the young person to give or refuse consent. Most health practitioners would be very reluctant to force someone from 14 (and realistically even from around 12) to have a procedure. Obviously depends on the circumstances.

#22 Prancer is coming

Posted 29 August 2019 - 12:26 PM

I think it is really hard.  I think they can show autonomy before 18, but not sure what that age is.

My DD hates needles now, and had to have a biopsy at 7 or 8.  She did not consent and the anaesthesiologist refused to just put a needle in her arm without consent and would not just jab her.  Instead she got tranquilisers until she was out of it enough not to fight the needle.  He did not want the needle to be a negative experience thst would then impact on other medical experiences.  We have also had similar issues in emergency, and no promise of treats or reasoning is really that helpful.  That was hard enough at age 7, so cannot imagine her at 17 if she was dead against something.

My now 7 year old hates me talking to other people about him.  Given I am in the process of getting him diagnosed with some issues, I talk to a lot of specialists about him.  Of course I am going to override what he wants as it is in his best interest.  But I am also very sympathetic to where he is at, as it is his information about him and he should get some say in what happens to it.

#23 annodam

Posted 29 August 2019 - 12:41 PM

With myself & DS10½ having Asthma, it has been too bad so sad for the rest.
DD now 18 has always had the Flu Vax no worries.
DH doesn't get vaccinated but I can't necessarily push a middle-aged man to get the Flu Vax if he refuses to do so.

My kids are not needle phobic, just as well though, DD needs monthly Alutek Injections for the next 3yrs so...

Sometimes things must be done, they can kick & scream until the cows come home, ain't nothing gonna change, especially when insert procedure/medicine/vaccination needs to be administered.

#24 Kafkaesque

Posted 29 August 2019 - 01:13 PM

All well and good to say it’s not negotiable but how do you force a tween/teen? I haven’t been able to physically restrain my kids since they were about 11.

#25 Feral-as-Meggs

Posted 29 August 2019 - 01:51 PM

View PostKafkaesque, on 29 August 2019 - 01:13 PM, said:

All well and good to say it’s not negotiable but how do you force a tween/teen? I haven’t been able to physically restrain my kids since they were about 11.

This is true.  The reality is that non-negotiable things have to be negotiated.  

DS (7) was in the GP’s office refusing his travel vaccines.  I took the line that “oh that’s sad darling, to miss out, I guess you will have to stay with nana and go to OOSH.  But you can’t go to the waterslide park and catch typhoid”.  

The nurse wanted to physically restrain him but the GP was quick on the uptake and started googling Waterbom and exclaiming over the slides.   Plus she gave him time to make up his mind without physically pressuring him.  














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