The thought of taking your child to have a blood test can be scary for the child and can even cause anxiety for the parent. Here are some tips to help prepare you for your visit.
- What can parents do?
Empower yourself. When you are given your child’s requisition discuss the tests ordered with your child’s doctor. Enquire about the tests and if any special preparation is necessary. If your child sees that you are comfortable with the tests the doctor is ordering it will help them feel assured.
- You can prepare your child by letting your child know what to expect.
Usually, it is best to tell your child ahead of time that she is going to have blood work. For most children, it is a good idea to tell them a day or two before their appointment. Be honest with your child, using words she can understand. Explain the steps involved in the process and they will probably want to know if it will hurt. Let them know that some people feel that it hurts and others don’t find it painful. Reassure them that if they do feel a little pain that it will not last long and will be over in a few moments. Let your child know it’s okay not to like what is happening but it will be over shortly and it’s important that they remain still until it is over.
- Coping Skills.
Children take their cues from their caregiver and thus, it is important to help provide your child with effective coping strategies. Your reaction to a stressful situation can influence your child’s reaction. For example, if you show that you are worried about your child getting a needle; your child may become more worried. If you are relaxed about your child getting a needle; your child may feel more relaxed.
- Giving your child choices can be helpful.
Children feel better when they have some control. Let your child help plan the day and decide what toy they would like to take to the lab. You can ask if they want to play with a toy or hear their favourite story while blood is being taken or what special snack they want to have when the test is completed.
- Ideas for Aiding a Child during their test.
Depending on the child’s age, there are different ways to distract a child and take their mind off the procedure:
- Toddlers 12 months to 2 years
Use toys that move or make noise to distract your child during the procedure. For example a light up toy or magical sparkly wand to make the hurt disappear, blowing bubbles uses deep breathing which can help relieve stress and the child can predict where the bubble will land.
- Children 3 to 5 years old
Use play and imagination with this age group. The above listed ideas can be used, along with the child’s own favourite toy, books, music, electronics, counting during a difficult part or use a stress ball. If your child has a stress ball or soft object they can imagine transferring pain out of their body onto the ball.
- Children 6 to 12 years old
Depending on your child any of the above suggestions might work as well as pop up books, hide-inside book. Some older children can use their imaginations to distract them. Get your child to close their eyes and imagine a favourite place or activity. Tell them a story or joke to help distract them.
By following these tips, you can turn your child’s first blood test from an unpleasant and potentially traumatizing experience into one that’s comfortable for you and your child.