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Three Tips To Keep Your Child Calm In ER

April 28, 2017 at midnight

Seeing your child in pain is one of the worst experiences as a parent. In 2012, 18% of children aged 0 - 17 visited the ER at least once in the United States, so there's a good chance you'll end up visiting the ER with your child.

The ER is a scary place for anyone, let alone children. In particular, they may be frightened by:

  • the fear of the unknown
  • new smells, sounds, sights
  • meeting people (doctors and nurses) for the first time
  • being hurt during treatment
  • being surrounded by sick/injured people

Each child is going to act differently when admitted to ER. These three tips will help keep your child as calm as possible:

1. As the parent, you need to be calm

Your child looks up to you, whether you realize it or not. You have a strong familial connection; they'll mimic your emotions under circumstances like these. You have every right to be scared, of course, but you can't let your child sense the fear. Take a few deep breaths every few minutes, especially when the doctors are attending to your child's condition or injury.

2. Talk with them

When your child goes to the ER, there are so many new things happening everything quickly becomes overwhelming. You are the one constant, your voice is reassuring. You need to be gentle, understanding and honest; if something is going to hurt, it's better to tell them. Your care, support, and empathy are what will carry them through. If they're about to be given an injection, say something like: "This will hurt a little bit like when you get bitten by a mosquito, but this time it won't be so itchy afterward."

3. Your presence matters

Your presence, in fact, is invaluable. Sure, there may be one hundred places you'd rather be or one hundred things you'd rather do than to sit in ER, but research has shown that a parent's presence under such trying circumstances reduces stress for both child and parent. Don't let them feel alone.

If you feel like you're going to pass out or be sick, let a nurse know rather than just walking out on your child. Regardless of the situation, you—or at least someone with whom your child interacts on a regular basis—should be present at all times.

Other Quick Tips:

  • Try and keep them entertained. When practical, bring some toys along.
  • Don't expect them to behave; they may not be able to control their emotions.
  • Have the doctor show your child the equipment he's going to use and perhaps explain what it is before using it.

There's no doubt that a visit to ER is sometimes as traumatic for a child as the reason for the visit. By being calm, engaging and supportive, you'll be doing great as a parent at a time when their being hurt probably hurts you just as much.


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