Throat cultures can be intimidating to a child, but they do not need to be traumatic. The procedure causes only a moment of discomfort (a 'gagging' reflex) as the swab makes contact. Explaining the procedure to the child and giving the child some control and coping methods helps, both in getting through the moment and for the next time, too.
Throat cultures can be challenging; a child who is fearful and does not trust the nurse may refuse to open his or her mouth, which can raise the stress levels and anxiety of everyone in the room. The encounter may be more difficult if the child has had a bad experience previously, for example having a tongue depressor forced into the mouth. It may be harder for the child to trust the medical personnel after an incident in which he or she was forced.
To put the child at ease you can show the child a swab, give the child a swab to hold and touch, and explain that the swab, which will be put into the mouth to collect a sample from the throat, is just like a big cotton bud.
If you anticipate a difficult time, ask what steps can be taken to avoid a struggle and create a non-intimidating situation for the child.