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How to Help Your Child Get Through the Pain

The following post is from Jennifer, a lifelong educator:

I was so sick last week that I thought I had pneumonia.  When an x-ray ruled it out, the doctor sent me to the lab for an influenza nasal swab.  Thinking the test would be a quick touch with a Q-tip, I dozed in the chair until my name was called.

The nurse gave me a heads-up as she verified my personal information.  “This test will make you cry, you know.”  What!?  I thought you were going to touch my nose with a Q-tip!

“Is it painful?”  I asked.

“Not really painful, just extremely irritating.  But it doesn’t last long,” she assured me.

A minute later, I understood her warning.  She opened a long, narrow tube and revealed a miniature toilet brush – at least, that’s what it reminded me of.

source: stevedepolo

As anxiety about the upcoming procedure began to rise, the nurse said, “You need to sit on your hands.”  I looked at her quizzically.  “It will keep you from grabbing my hands to pull the instrument out of your nose.”  Oh, joy.

I settled myself on my hands, tilted my head back and took a deep breath.  In a couple of seconds, I wasn’t officially crying, but tears were involuntarily flowing down my cheeks, just as the nurse had warned.  It was soon over and I heard myself breathe a sigh of relief.

As I left the office, I reflected on how well this particular nurse had prepared me for that short burst of hurt.  She did two specific things that helped me through the procedure:

She gave me some advance warning so that I could prepare myself.

Silly as it sounds, I found that I trusted her because she was willing to tell me I would cry.  Our kids are that way, too.  They don’t need all the details, but if it’s going to hurt, we are wise to give them a couple of minutes to get ready.

She gave me something specific to do during the process.

Sitting on my hands not only kept me from touching something I wasn’t supposed to, it gave me some measure of control during the hardest part.  I had to make myself stay on my hands which gave me something else to focus on.  Telling our kids to squeeze our hands, hold tight to a stress ball, or count to ten gives them something to do besides scream.

This nurse reminded me how we can help our kids get through a tough visit to the doctor’s.  And, yes, the test came back positive for influenza.  At least I didn’t go through that for nothing!

Have you had any emergency trips to the doctor lately?  How did you help your kids get through it?

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Jennifer is passionate about children and education. She homeschooled her two sons for five years, established and directed a Christian school in Maryland for 20 years, and currently teaches in a public school in a Chicago suburb. She loves investing in relationships and delights in every moment that she spends with her family.