August 17, 2017

Summer is filled with fun and frolicking but every now and then someone gets hurt. How we respond to emergencies will help set the tone for how our child will react.

Tips to cope with an emergency room (or scary doctor) visit

  • Choose your words carefully.  Keep your language simple and reassuring.

  • If you don’t know the answer to a question it is better to say that you don’t know than to mislead your child. She trusts you to tell the truth.

  • Try not to convey your own anxiety and worries to your child (or in front of your child). She will look to you to see how she should respond. The more confident you are that everything will be ok, the more confident she will be (if you can, share a similar experience you had at the doctor and how you felt and coped).

  • Allow and encourage your child to express her fears.  Give your child permission to be afraid and let her know that it is OK to cry.

  • Listen and respond to your child’s questions. Tune in to your child’s expressions, body language and feelings as well.  Most likely, she will be scared and confused.

  • Use distraction techniques to take your child’s mind off any pain or anxiety. Bring a portable video player, books, music, etc….Sing songs, use humor!

  • As much as you can, ask the doctor/nurses what will happen and explain it in simple terms to your child (honestly, sensitively and calmly). Children feel more secure when they can predict what will happen next. Talk to your child about the equipment, what parts of their body it will touch, what it will sound like and how it will feel. Don’t forget to also tell her what will happen when it is all over.

  • Don’t tell your child a procedure won’t hurt, if you know it will.  Be realistic.  Explain that the hurt will only be for a moment.  Let her know what they will be doing and why (in brief and concrete terms).

  • Allow your child to feel more in control of what’s going on by asking the medical staff questions.

  • Remain with your child (if you are allowed), but only if you can stay calm during any procedures.

  • Be prepared to help your child cope with the experience even after it’s over. Once you’re home, spend some time with your child reassuring her, talking about what happened and answering any questions that she might still have. Your child’s memory for medical experiences plays an important role in her response to future medical events.

Find more information from HealthyChildren.org on 10 Things For Parents to Know Before Heading to the ER