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Hints and Tips for Parents and Carers
Use the book at home to talk about your experience. When your child is lifting the flaps and looking at the images talk about: who your Doctor is, what they look like, and if your child doesn’t have a blood test, chat about their procedure instead. Try to point out any similarities and differences of your child’s experience to that of Sandy’s.
At hospital - magic cream (the anaesthetic cream) takes the pain of any needles piercing the skin, but to keep the child’s mind distracted you might like to try: blowing bubbles (this also calming due to taking deep breaths to blow the bubbles) or a glove puppet / favourite toy to play ‘peep-oh´ and divert the child from looking at the needle. (NB Please check where you can use bubble mixture in your hospital, even if only in the car park it may help).
Children can also be frightened by the tourniquet elastic as much as the needle. We found that tightly holding a sweet, or bread stick, in a fist, with the promise of eating it after the procedure, helps ‘pump up the vein’ and makes it slightly quicker for the blood to be taken. NB Do not let the child eat anything before, lying down, or whilst distressed, due to the chocking hazard.
Afterwards, time for rewards! Your child might like a particular plaster or stickers. Be prepared with something you know they will like. The odd bit of bribery doesn’t do any harm. It is important for children to have a positive memory of their time at hospital, which may mean working with your play therapist to make something, or colour in and glitter, to give a more positive angle on the day for your child.
Collecting medicine from the pharmacy can extend your hospital visit, so remember to time your rewards (colouring-in, or producing a different toy) to extend into this part of the visit as well. Everyone will be keen to get home as quickly as possible and the wait for medicines, needs to be a positive end to the whole hospital visit.
Thinking about it is worse than the event –
For children who know what to expect at a blood test, it isn’t fear of the unknown that causes them their distress, but often the result of a bad experience. Good preparation and helping your child to relax can make all the difference.
Things to think about are:
When does you child need to be told he or she is going to go to hospital? A few days before? On the day?
Introduce a visit to hospital for their toys? What should teddy do to distract him from the situation?
Magic Cream – using a local anaesthetic cream on the day can really help, but can take nearly an hour to work. This can add to the anticipation and build up of fear of the event, but for others can be calming – which sort of child is yours?
Work on a relaxation technique – either breathing and blowing, or may-be a imaginary glove that takes away any pain and makes your arms floppy. Ask your nursery school / or class teacher to introduce a hospital theme to help talk more openly about hospitals and what happens there. There may be other children who visit hospital in the same class, you may be unaware of.
www.actionforsickchildren.org.uk produces some great leaflets for parents to help their child with pain and also needle phobias.