Coping Techniques

Any situation outside a child’s comfort zone could be stressful and frightening especially in a health care setting. Providing patients and families with different strategies for coping will provide a sense of control and better overall hospital experience.

Strategies

  • Honesty, state exactly how something may feel without minimizing it
  • Inform hospital staff of important facts about your child
  • Remain positive and supportive to your child
  • Provide your full attention and offer praise before, during and after a procedure
  • Utilize your own positioning so that your child can see and touch you at all times
  • Prepare yourself for upcoming procedure for your own knowledge

Techniques

*Distraction*

Distraction allows for your child to refocus on something other than the upcoming procedure. Items that could provide distraction are bubbles, view master, sound book, magic wand, squeeze ball or a search/find book (I Spy). Make sure you participate and guide your child in each activity and allow for them to guide you once they are able and willing. Choose an item that you know your child will remain interested.

* Imagery *

Imagery allows for your child to utilize their mind and “escape” away from the situation. Imagery will require past experiences you and your child have had such as a vacation or a favorite show, a game that you have participated in at home such at a tea party, action hero’s, etc. Items that could provide distraction are photographs, music, storybooks or a comfort item. When using imagery ask questions and follow your child’s lead and allow for them to make choices or completely take over.

*Breathing*

Deep breathing allows for relaxation by slowing breathing as well as lessening anxiety. Items that will assist with breathing techniques are bubbles, pinwheels, party blowers and pretend birthday candles. When using these items show your child with your own breathing how to do it until they take the initiative alone. Turn breathing into a game of counting or watching your chest rise and fall and the feeling that goes along with it.

*Touch/Physical Presence*

Touch provides a sense of security and comfort in a situation that is very unfamiliar to a child. Encourage your child to choose a favorite stuffed animal, blanket or comfort item to take along. A caregiver’s physical presence is very important. During a procedure or medical situation hold your child or sit close to them and reassure them that you are not going anywhere. Try to remain calm and continue explaining the situation. Tell them how much you love them and this will help them focus on you instead of the situation.

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