Let’s face it, medical tests can be scary for adults. So, imagine what it may be like for children. Think about what may be running through their little minds when they see a needle “coming for them”. So, what can you do to help a child or your child remain relatively calm during a blood draw? There are practical things that can be done to help alleviate anxiety. A helpful tool, for example, that Quest Diagnostics Laboratories provides their patients with is a Quest coloring book (found at Patient service centers). It can be used for a young child to visually see what may happen because it includes pictures of what to expect at the laboratory. But you can also draw your own pictures depicting what will take place. It will make it less scary for children because they will know what to anticipate.
Another useful tip is to explain what the test involves and who will be doing it. Prepare your child for the little needle prick or the ouch. Don’t lie to your child! Instead of promising it won’t hurt, say that it will be over quickly. When it is all over you should offer some kind of praise and comfort. You can even offer a reward like ice cream. Schedule the test at a time when your child is unlikely to be tired or hungry. For younger kids try not to set up an appointment during their usually nap time. Ask ahead of time whether the test involves a finger prick or a blood draw-and then convey that information with your child.Again, you can draw pictures to share this information.
Practice At Home Beforehand
Practice at home beforehand. Before a blood draw you could say, “Show me how you stay still.” During a blood draw, help get your child’s mind off the procedure by occupying him with a book or a favorite toy. Stay with your child during a blood draw if possible. Sometimes the parents are the ones that end up crying not the child. If you think you can’t stand to watch your child get a blood draw then leave the room. If you’re going to be sobbing it will only add to your child’s already high anxiety level. If they see you crying they might think they’re going to be executed. You can also call ahead and ask if there will be a phlebotomist available who is experienced with drawing children. Don’t assume, not all phlebotomists are experienced with children.
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