(Toddler test or procedure preparation)
Preparing toddler for test/procedure; Test/procedure preparation - toddler
Helping your young child prepare for a medical test or procedure can reduce anxiety, increase cooperation, and help the
child develop coping skills.
Proper preparation for a test or procedure can minimize anxiety and help a child cope.
Before the test, know that your child probably will cry, and that preparation may not change the fact that your child
will feel some discomfort or pain. Try using play to demonstrate what will happen during the test. You may be able to uncover
your child's concerns. The most important way you can help your child is by preparing them and by providing support at the
time of the procedure.
Limit your explanations about the procedure to 5 or 10 minutes, because toddlers have a short attention span. Any preparation
should take place directly before the test or procedure.
Some general guidelines for preparing your child for a test or procedure include the following:
* Explain the procedure in language your child understands, using plain words, and avoiding abstract terminology.
* Make sure your child understands the exact body part involved and that the procedure will be limited to that area.
* To the best of your ability, describe how the test will feel.
* If the procedure affects part of the body that serves a noticeable function (such as speech, hearing, or urination),
explain what changes will occur afterwards.
* Give your child permission to yell, cry, or otherwise express any pain verbally.
* Allow your child to practice the positions or movements that will be required for the particular procedure, such
as the fetal position for a lumbar puncture.
* Stress the benefits of the procedure and talk about things that the child may find pleasurable after the test, such
as feeling better, or going home. You may want to take your child for ice cream or some other treat afterwards, but do not
make this conditional on "being good" for the test.
Play and third-person communication can be wonderful and revealing ways of demonstrating the procedure for your child
and identifying any anxiety. This technique should be tailored to your child. Most health care facilities that are oriented
toward children use similar techniques to prepare children for procedures.
Many young children have a favorite toy or object of importance which can be a tool for a type of interaction called third-party
communication. It may be less threatening for your child to express concerns through the object rather than directly. For
example, imagine a frightened 2-year-old girl -- about to have her blood drawn -- holding her well-loved doll. Such a child
might be able to understand if you discuss how the doll might "feel" during the test.
Toys or dolls might help you explain the procedure to your toddler. Children of this age are very concrete thinkers --
they take everything literally, without making deductions or generalizations. For younger children with limited vocabulary,
visual examples and experimentation may be helpful.
Once you are familiar with the procedure, briefly demonstrate on the toy what your child will experience. Show positions
the child will hold, bandages, stethoscopes, how incisions are made, how injections are given and IVs are inserted. After
your demonstration, allow your child to play with some of the noninvasive items. Watch your child for clues to concerns and
Regardless of the test performed, your child will probably cry. This is a normal response to a strange environment, unfamiliar
people and separation from you. Knowing this from the beginning may help relieve some of your anxiety about what to expect.
Your child may be restrained by hand or with physical devices. Young children lack the physical control, coordination,
and ability to follow commands that older children and adults usually possess. Most tests and procedures require limited or
no movement to ensure accuracy.