|How to Help your Child with Medical Procedures
How to Help your Child with Medical Procedures
Hospitalization can be a very stressful time for your child and family. We’ve provided some suggestions that may help you and your child cope better during your stay.
While in the hospital your child may need to receive an IV or injection. Some children may have trouble holding still during these procedures. Below are some techniques that can be used by you or an aide to help your child hold still and at the same time feel comforted.
- Explain the procedure using language your child will understand.
- Explain what your child will see, hear and experience.
- Plan and practice which coping strategy or technique you will use.
- Give your child a favorite blanket or toy.
- Give choices to your child whenever possible (how they can sit or where the needle is inserted).
- Give your child a way to cope: “Squeeze my hand as tight as you want.”
- Never say it won’t hurt; prepare your child for what to expect: “It will feel like a pinch”.
- Be honest; say that it may take more than one try.
- Tell your child the reason for the procedure: “The medicine will help you feel better so you can go home soon.”
Positions of Comfort
- Sit your child on your lap facing you.
- Wrap your child’s legs around your waist.
- Give your child a big bear hug.
- Cover one of your child’s arms with your arm, leaving their other arm available for the procedure.
- Tip: Your child can choose to watch the procedure or can look away, focusing on a distraction such as a book, bubbles or breathing.
- Sit your child on your lap facing away from you.
- Give your child a big bear hug.
- Your child’s legs can comfortably lay on top of or between your legs.
- Tip: Very small infants should be swaddled with one arm out for the procedure.
Breathing and Blowing (all ages)
- Deep breathing helps a child relax and slow his/her breathing rate.
- Aides can use bubbles, pinwheels, whistles, etc.
- Tip: Practice before the procedure; engage the child by trying it yourself so they can copy you. Make it fun by varying big and small bubbles and counting them.
Distraction (all ages)
- Redirects child’s attention from procedure to something else.
- Aides can use singing, pop-up/sound books, noisemakers, MP3 player, iPad, bubbles, etc.
- Tip: Interact as much as possible to maintain the child’s interest.
Imagery Techniques (School Age/Adolescents)
- Help your child concentrate on something pleasant instead of the procedure.
- Aides can use imaginative storytelling to engage school-age children; use descriptive words and the senses; what do you see, hear, etc.?
- Tip: Tell the child that it’s just like daydreaming or watching a movie – only you determine the outcome!
- Tell your child how brave and strong they were and how well they did. Be specific: “You held your arm so still!”
- Let your Child Life Specialist know if your child had a difficult time.
- Ask your child if he/she does or does not want to know what will happen step-by-step.
- Never use a procedure (or needles) as a threat when your child is not behaving well.
- Listen to your child’s concerns and fears and correct any misunderstandings they may have.
- Crying and yelling helps many children cope with stress.
- If you have a hard time when your child is having a procedure, it’s ok to have someone else in the room.