"Am I going to get poked by a needle?"
A Child Life specialist offers tips on keeping your child calm during shots and getting blood drawn
No child enjoys going to a doctor’s office and getting blood drawn, but at some point it’s going to happen. A Child Life specialist at Cook Children’s has written this blog on tips from her line of work that you can use to help your child the next time, he or she needs blood drawn at the pediatrician’s office or at the hospital.
Working in a blood disorder and cancer clinic, blood draws are a common occurrence. There are many ways to help a child cope with a blood draw that can make their experience less traumatic.
The first way is to prepare your child for the doctor’s visit. Studies show that children are less anxious for a doctor’s visit or medical procedure when they are informed beforehand. Honesty is the best policy when preparing a child for a blood draw, but it is important to use child friendly words.
Bringing a favorite toy or stuffed animal to the clinic can help. Familiar items help children feel safe and less anxious.
At the clinic it is important for you to stay cool, calm and collected. Children feed off of their parent’s emotions and an anxious parent could very easily make for an anxious child.
At Cook Children’s tips for preparation and comfort can be provided by the Child Life specialist on staff. Child Life specialists use their knowledge and background of child development to help practice successful distraction techniques and coping strategies. Comfort tips can be provided by the Child Life specialist to help with the blood draw such as comfort positioning, distraction and child friendly explanations.
Praise goes a long way. It is so important to support your child and provide encouragement during the blood draw and afterwards. Choose specific skills to praise such as, “You did a great job of holding still” or “You took good deep breaths.” Try to avoid any negative comments such as “Don’t cry” or “Be a good girl/boy” because it’s perfectly normal for a child to be nervous or anxious about a blood draw. Instead, validate your child’s feelings by saying, “That was hard, but you did a great job by holding your arm still.”
For more information on how you can help your child cope with blood draws, hospitals or clinic visits, you can read these resources:
About the author
Laura Sonefeld is a Child Life specialist at Cook Children's. Our Child Life staff members recognize that hospitalized children still need opportunities to just be kids. They help children and families cope with a hospital experience by providing emotional and developmental support, giving honest information geared to the child's level of understanding and providing fun activities. The Child Life team works with medical and support staff to create a warm, child-friendly environment.