Helping your child with pain

Here are some age-appropriate tips to help your child with pain while at a Norton Children’s Hospital or Norton Children’s Medical Center.

Infants (birth to 12 months)

  • You can ask to remain with your child during procedures.
  • Comfort your child using lullaby music and using soft touches.
  • Assume a natural swaddling position.
  • Request sucrose during painful procedures (under 6 months).
  • Turn down the lights and avoid loud noises.
  • Use comfort positioning when possible. This is a holding technique that provides comfort during procedures. Your child life therapist can help with comfort positioning tips.

Toddlers (1 to 3 years)

  • You can ask to remain with your child during procedures.
  • Familiarize your child with the hospital and procedures through simple medical play with a doll.
  • Keep favorite items such as a blanket, toy or stuffed animal close to your child.
  • Use age-appropriate items to distract your child.
  • Request a numbing agent for procedures involving needle sticks.
  • Request to use a treatment room for painful procedures.
  • Keep routines as normal and consistent as possible.
  • Use comfort positioning when possible. This is a holding technique that provides comfort during procedures. Your child life therapist can help with comfort positioning tips.

Preschool (3 to 6 years)

  • You can ask to remain with your child during procedures.
  • Familiarize your child with the hospital and procedures through simple medical play with a doll.
  • Encourage your child to handle medical supplies through play.
  • Give your child clear and direct explanations about procedures.
  • Reinforce that illness, tests and procedures are not your child’s fault.
  • Give your child a job to involve them in the care and treatment.
  • Use age-appropriate items to distract your child.
  • Request to use a treatment room for painful procedures.
  • Reward your child often for positive outcomes and cooperation.
  • Request a numbing agent for procedures involving needle sticks.
  • Use comfort positioning when possible. This is a holding technique that provides comfort during procedures. Your child life therapist can help with comfort positioning tips.

School-age (7 to 12 years)

  • You can ask to remain with your child during procedures.
  • Prepare your child by providing simple explanations through play.
  • Request a numbing agent for procedures involving injections.
  • Request to use a treatment room for painful procedures.
  • Use age-appropriate items to distract your child.
  • Encourage relaxation with quiet music, guided imagery or deep breathing.
  • Offer your child choices during painful procedures.
  • Coach your child through the procedure and remind them the pain will not last forever.
  • Reward your child often for positive outcomes and cooperation.

Teenagers (13 to 17 years)

  • Caregivers can request to remain with teens.
  • Prepare your teen by providing an explanation and encouraging questions.
  • Request a numbing agent for procedures involving needle sticks.
  • Encourage relaxation with quiet music, guided imagery, deep breathing or massage.
  • Involve your teen in all decisions related to care and procedures.
  • Encourage socialization with friends and family.
  • Coach your teen through the procedure and remind him or her the pain will not last forever.
  • Stress positive outcomes related to the painful experience.
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