3 Ways to Treat Your Child's Aches & Pain Without Medication

skinned kneeThere is nothing more heart-wrenching in the world than seeing your child in pain. As parents we want to do anything we can to stop the hurt and make them feel better, but we also don't always want to give them a pill to pop.

Dr. Stefan Friedrichsdorf is medical director of the Department of Pain Medicine, Palliative Care, and Integrative Medicine at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics in Minnesota, Minneapolis/St. Paul. He believes there are many boo boos -- big and small -- that don't require medication, and teaches such procedures in his practice. Here he offers three simple techniques for dealing with an assortment of aches, pains, and anxiety that all parents can use -- no medicine dropper required.


1. Throw Away the Ouchie

For the bumps, bruises, and scrapes that don’t require medical attention, but bring on the tears, Dr. Friedrichsdorf advises a technique he uses with his own kids in which they pretend to “throw away the ouchie.” Simply pretending to get rid of the pain can have tremendous psychological benefits and allow the child to believe he or she has some control over their body and pain.

2. Blow Bubbles

Having a child blow bubbles can be a wonderful way to get them to relax and have their attention be diverted away from the pain or procedure. When inserting an IV or removing stitches, the hospital will often use this technique. Parents can do the same for when the child is getting his flu shot, vaccines, removing splinters, or any small procedure that might cause pain.

3. Deep Breathing Exercise

Here's how to walk your child through breathing through the pain:

  • Imagine you have a balloon in your belly.
  • Let all your muscles be soft, loose, and comfortable.
  • Breathe in slowly through your nose.
  • Next, breathe out slowly through your mouth.
  • Breathe out twice as long as you breathed in, making it feel very slow and comfortable.
  • Experiment to see how long you can take to let the air out -- you can slow down the “out” breath by breathing out through a straw or also by making an “s” sound as you exhale.
  • Feel your belly get big like a balloon blowing up as you breathe in. If you like, you can place your hand on your favorite stuffed animal on your belly button and feel it move up and down with the in and out breaths.
  • As you slowly let the air out and your belly gets flat, imagine you are breathing out any uncomfortable feelings you want to let go of.
  • With practice you can slow down your breathing rate so you breathe in for about 2-3 seconds and breathe out for 4-6 seconds.

Do you use any non-medical techniques to treat your child's pain?

Image via jiparker/Flickr

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