- Will it hurt?
This is a question that your child is sure to ask you. How to answer?
We hint at this, but emphasize early on that if the child knows what is going to happen, he will endure everything with more composure. It is therefore crucial to prepare both the child and the parent himself for this difficult visit. We remind you of the rules and suggest solutions.
Who is important here?
Drawing blood is one of the most difficult moments, and for both the child and the parent. The person drawing the blood also plays a big role, as it is necessary to trust him. But the most important thing is the child. Therefore, it is worth preparing them for this visit, so that the whole event does not grow to the level of trauma.
Where to start?
It's a good idea to start with a game. You can play with your child at the collection point, as a nurse and a little patient, with props and white clothes. The patient can be a favorite teddy bear or doll. You can also make a joint drawing or coloring book, draw a syringe, a chair, a little patient.
With slightly older children it is worth simply talking about the tests. It is necessary to tell the child what the examination is actually for, how it will be conducted and why they are so important.
Does it hurt to draw blood?
This question is bound to be asked. How to answer it? The truth. You can't lie to the child, drawing blood hurts a little, just like a light pinch, for example (it's worth referring to a situation the child is familiar with). It is important to tame the subject. Referring to a familiar reference point, tell that the test is short, taking as long as the walk from the kitchen to the child's room (for example). It's certainly wrong to say that there's nothing to be afraid of. It is better to say that many people are afraid, that we are too, and that it is normal and natural.
Drawing blood from a finger or a vein?
It is good to know whether the collection will be from the finger or from a vein. For various reasons, it may be necessary to draw from a vein, and this will be decided by the person collecting (the number of tests to be performed may be the reason for drawing blood from the child's vein). Therefore, it is better not to promise or assure the child that it will only be a drop of blood from the finger.
What else can be done before the test?
A good way to do this is to visit the intake point beforehand and show your child what the whole room and the intake chair look like. You should talk about the test, show all the steps one by one - from disinfecting the puncture site to applying the gauze after the test is completed. You can use websites with photos or even take a blood test, showing your child how to behave during the collection. A child absorbs most from observing us adults, especially parents.
It is advisable to dress the child in such a way that it is easy to undress. The less time it takes to prepare for the donation, the less stress the child (and parent) will experience. You should also make sure that the child drinks non-carbonated water half an hour before the blood draw. This will definitely ease the flow of blood, and will not affect the result of the test. And at the time of the actual draw, the most important thing is to cooperate with the person taking the blood.
How to behave at the collection point
The attitude of the parent is crucial. The child should see a confident, smiling and calm parent. This way he or she receives support and a sense of security. It's worth asking the intake person how you can help. She often suggests sitting the child on her lap and hugging him so that he feels safe. Of course, you should warn them beforehand that you will be hugging them during the examination, and the intake person will be holding their hand. This will reassure them and at the same time protect them from dangerous movements.
It is also a good idea to ask the child if he wants to look at the needle. Let it make the decision. If he doesn't want to look, the parent's role is to distract the child from the examination itself.
Tricks during the examination
You can breathe along with the child, counting to 3-4, for example. Try to direct his attention to various objects in the study by describing them and at the same time teaching the child what they are used for. Diverting the child's attention from the examination itself should be a natural conversation, a free change of the object of interest.
And once it's out for blood draws
First, it is essential to praise the child. Make him feel that he is brave and courageous. Do not necessarily reward the child in kind, so as not to teach him to force more and more valuable rewards. It is more valuable to give the feeling that the little hero has managed to overcome his own fear, which will undoubtedly strengthen his self-confidence.
Sylwia Krasowska, MA
Specialist in psychology