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Comforting Your Child During Medical Procedures

Emergency rooms can be scary places for children. In addition, some diagnostic procedures, tests, and forms of treatment may be painful. Examples of possibly painful tests and treatments are blood drawing, spinal taps, suturing, needle placement for intravenous fluids, and shots of medications.

The pain your child experiences will be sharpened by anxiety. Younger children may also be fearful of separation from their parents. At these times your child needs you to be with him. If necessary, tell the health care provider that you wish to be with your child to help him deal with his fear and pain.

Your role is to comfort your child and to help him be less anxious. The following actions should help:

  • Try to remain calm -- anxiety is contagious.
  • Sit near your child's head, so he can see your face.
  • Hold your child's hand or provide other physical contact.
  • Talk with your child about something distracting, such as a favorite place or activity.
  • Tell your child it's OK to cry. Allow your child to express his feelings.
  • Praise him for being cooperative or brave. In addition, praise him when the procedure is over, so that he feels he's been successful.
  • Don't try to restrain your child for the procedure. That's not the parent's job. You can remind him that his job is to hold still, but someone on the staff may need to help him.
Written by B.D. Schmitt, M.D., author of "Your Child's Health," Bantam Books.
Published by McKesson Provider Technologies.
Last modified: 2002-03-06
Last reviewed: 2006-03-02
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright 2006 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All Rights Reserved.
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