Helping parents help their kids – During a procedure

carousel_forpatients_childprepsurgeryMedical procedures can be stressful, not just for your child, but for you as well. How your child reacts will depend on a host of factors including their developmental level, level of anxiety, response to stress and past experiences.

It would be impossible to eliminate all of the stressful, painful or scary parts of a medical experience, but we can help you and your child cope in the best way possible. Child Life Specialist Lyssa Adams shares the following ideas for you to help your child during a medical procedure:

Prior to the procedure:

Being prepared for a procedure can help reduce fear for both parents and children.

  1. Stay Calm

    Your child will pick up on your facial expressions, your body language, your voice.

  2. Be Honest

    Don’t make promises you cannot keep.  Your child will feel deceived and trust will be lost.

  3. Explain the purpose

    Explain the purpose of the procedure to your child. If you’re struggling to find the words, contact our Child Life Specialists for support.

  4. Communicate

    Tell staff how to best help your child. What are your child’s interests? Their favorite songs? Do they have a favorite movies? Is there something that they have a strong dislike to, phobias etc.

How to help your child during the procedure:

  1. Keep in sight & close

    Position yourself so your child can see you and feel you. Do not be afraid to ask your nurse about possible positioning for your child’s comfort. Infants and toddlers can often be held and rocked, or if that isn’t possible provide a soothing touch. With preschoolers or young school age children, sitting on your lap maybe possible, if not holding hands  is great even for older kids (and adults). Teenagers might appreciate touch through massage.

  2. Your focus is your child

    Focus on your child, not the procedure. You’re the expert in the room when it comes to your child. Be part of your child’s healthcare team providing a focus on them.

  3. Encourage

    Talk to your child about their role in this and remind your child of his/her job. Whether it is being still or holding a band aid, encouraging your child to be an active part of their healthcare is an important life skill.

  4. Distract

    Talk, sing, play, read, blow bubbles…whatever works.

  5. Praise

    During procedure, and after, remark positively on how your child is doing. If they struggle with having the procedure find little things to praise them for, ex. “I like how you tell me how you were feeling. It’s important to let us know how you’re feeling.”

When possible we encourage parents to stay with their children during procedures. Talk to your child’s doctors and the child life specialists as to whether your presence will be help your child.

Child Life Specialists at Tucson Medical Center

Child Life Specialists at TMC for Children