Distract children during painful procedures

Distraction is an effective technique that can help children to cope with short, painful, or stressful procedures, notes Nancy Eckle, RN, MEN, CEN, a clinical nurse specialist at Children’s Hospital in Columbus, OH.

"In combination with preparation for the procedure and pain management, distraction can assist in decreasing the child’s anxiety, distress, and pain," she says. "The distraction techniques selected should be age and developmentally appropriate and encourage the parent’s participation."

Eckle offers the following suggestions for general distraction approaches during a medical procedure:

    playing soothing music or read/sing children’s stories/songs;
    playing a videotape for the child to watch;
    using soap bubbles, glitter wands, or puppets to engage the child’s attention;
    asking the parent to read or tell the child a story;
    asking the child to sing a song or count out loud.