I just read the most amazing article about an emergency room doctor who stitched up a gash in a little girl's forehead. The amazing part -- she wasn't even aware that he was stitching her forehead and left the hospital feeling like it had been a fun experience. Crazy, right? No, he did not hypnotize her. And the only chemical pain relief he used was Novocaine gel rubbed on her wound. Everything else was just skillful doctoring.
When Rachel Zimmerman took her daughter Julia to the ER, her daughter was treated by Dr. Baruch Krauss. Rachel was so impressed by Dr. Krauss' technique she had to share it: "When the Doctor Says This Won't Hurt a Bit -- And Incredibly, It's True." But I think there's a lot from Dr. Krauss' technique that parents can use when we're helping our kids deal with pain, too.
1. More information is NOT helpful. Adults feel comforted when we know what's going on. But for kids, knowing what's going to happen just makes them more nervous. They don't know how to process it. So don't bother them with those details.
2. Distraction. Instead, keep your child focused on an activity they enjoy. In the article, Dr. Krauss had the injured girl color in a coloring book while he stitches her up. He didn't talk to her about what he was doing. Instead, he talked to her about what she was coloring while he stitched her up. Your child is going to remember most what she was focused on most.
3. Keep calm and carry on. Parents and kids can transfer anxiety between each other. Kids are incredibly sensitive to their parents' stress. So don't freak out. If you are relaxed, your child will be more relaxed, too.
4. Build rapport. Of course, if you're treating your own child, you two already have a close relationship. But when your child is with a doctor, it helps if they get to know that doctor a little bit before they get started. Encourage a little friendly chit-chat, as much as the time and space allow, so your child feels like they can trust their doctor.
5. Desensitize. Dr. Krauss kept walking into the room, putting gel on the girl's forehead, leaving, coming back, more gel, and so on. That was to get the girl used to feeling him touch her forehead. She stopped paying attention to what he was doing.
How do you usually react when your kids injure themselves?
Image via Tup Wanders/Flickr