How to Help Your Child Get Through the Pain

The following post is from Jennifer, a lifelong educator:

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source: stevedepolo

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.

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?

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.

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