Much less routine testing is required for children than for adults, but there are times when children need medical tests and a helping hand through them. A caring adult can help the child cope with any physical pain or discomfort as well as any fear, anxiety, or emotional reactions that may occur as the sample is collected. Below are some general recommendations on helping children through these medical procedures as well as some specific tips on blood tests, urine and stool specimens, and throat culture sample collections.
This article is part of a collection of articles offering tips for taking medical tests. For more information that may be of value, see the articles on Coping with Test Pain, Discomfort, and Anxiety, Common Tests, Tips on Blood Testing, and Tips to Help the Elderly through Their Medical Tests.
Prepare the Child — Calmly explain how the sample will be collected and why, giving the child time to adjust to the idea before anyone touches his or her body.
Encourage Rehearsing — At home or in a setting comfortable for the child, suggest ways the child can rehearse. The child can practice some techniques at home or pretend with a doll or stuffed toy as the patient.
Help the Child put it in Perspective — Relate the part of the procedure the child may find overwhelming to something the child has mastered or is familiar with. For example, explain that this will be over as fast as you can climb the stairs at home or before you can sing a favourite nursery rhyme.
Plan a Reward — Telling the child you will have a treat of some kind afterward may be helpful.