Tips to Support a Child Receiving Stitches

The first set of stitches is in the books for my little guy, Blake.  After I tossed him in a pond our giant lab, Tank leaped right on top of him. His paw hit Blake’s face and punctured his lip. Both of my kids freaked out. I mean full on tears and a hard time breathing. Blake went limp like a ragdoll, puked before we got him in the car, and then fell asleep from exhaustion. He was at a level 10 for anxiety. We had a 2-hour drive to urgent care, so it gave us time to regroup and calm down.

Here is what we did to make the situation go from high anxiety with pain and trauma to a successful procedure.
  1. I stayed calm. I lowered my voice, made good eye contact, and reminded him that this was my job.
  2. I prepared him for what he would experience. I gave him lots of details and cleared up misconceptions.
    I talked about his job of keeping his body still and breathing. I explained that stitches are string bandaids and that the doctor will numb the area so that he wouldn’t feel it.
  3. I validated his emotions and provided reassurance. “You are so scared right now. I will be there to help you.”
  4. Advocacy. This was a big one for me. I advocated for topical numbing cream which the doctor was hesitant on but then agreed. I knew it would decrease the pain from the lidocaine injection.
  5. Comfort hold. There was a papoose board in the trauma room and B asked what it was. Every meme that The iPad Lady has posted went through my head. There was no way they were going to use that. He was able to lay directly on my chest in a position for comfort.
  6. Distraction. I held up my phone so B could watch a movie during the procedure.
  7. Choices. I gave him as many choices as I could.
  8.  ONE VOICE. When he was getting the stitches it was just the doctor and us, no other team members. Everyone was super calm, the doctor would talk to him about what he was doing before he did it.
  9.  Procedural Support. I named things that he was doing great on, slow deep breaths & keeping his body still.
  10.  Bravery Reward. Yes, he got ice cream and chose a small toy for being so brave.

Highlights: The doctor said,” Good idea Mom on the numbing cream.” ❤️

You can continue to help kids process their experiences and feel empowerment when you ask them to share their stories. It could be done through medical play, art, journaling, or verbaling telling you.

 

Related Articles:

Medical Play 

5 Tips to Help Your Child at The Doctor 

How to Pack an Emergency Go Bag

Helping kids get comfortable wearing a mask during COVID-19

Many communities are strongly recommending children and adults to wear masks while out in public. Here are some quick tips to help your kids cope with this new change.

  • Explain what COVID-19 is in simple language that they can understand.
  • Provide opportunities to play and get comfortable with the mask.
  • Give lots of choices.
    • Materials to use
    • Color and design options
    • Decorating
  • Validate their emotions and normalize them.
    • “It is frustrating that we have to wear masks.”
    • “I’m sad too that we have to do this.”

Here is a fun Mask Coloring Page that can also be used to help kids cope with this new experience. If your child has to go to the doctor, they will see medical providers wearing similar protective masks. This is an Activity Sheet that can prepare kids while providing opportunities to feel validated.

Animal coloring sheet created by Sarah Nunnally
Activity sheet created by Emma Fratangelo, MS, CCLS & Stephen Browne

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How to Help a Child Cope with Divorce

Guest Blogger, Brooke Chaplan

Divorce is a situation that occurs in many households, and if you and your spouse have decided to separate, you should know that you are not alone. Resources certainly exist to help you cope with this new experience, and some of those resources can also help your children. Here are just some of the ways you can help a child cope with his or her parents’ divorce.

Have a Plan

When you first tell your children about the divorce, you likely do not have a detailed plan for exactly how the situation is going to play out. Still though, you can have at least the start of a plan. For example, maybe you have already decided that the children will spend the school weeks with one parent and weekends with the other, or perhaps you can set a schedule for holidays due to religious beliefs that are different from your partner’s. Some of the concerns that arise with divorce have to do with the unknown, and offering children some stable answers can help.

Seek Professional Guidance

You might think that you and your spouse will work through all of the details independently and that you don’t need to seek professional help. However, since you are navigating a new situation, you likely do not realize all of the obstacles that could come in the way. Instead of trying to manage these challenges independently, work with a divorce attorney. This person can help you to make decisions that benefit both your family members and yourself. Without professional guidance, more stress can manifest for you, your partner and your children.

Maintain Routines

If you’ve ever been on a long vacation from work, you may have found that you were craving to get back into a routine at the end of that break. Children can thrive on routines as well. Too many big changes at once can cause additional irritation and stress for your kids. Work to keep them in their regular activities, to bring them to social events with their friends and to prepare meals on a schedule. As you do this, make sure that your children know that they can come to you with any questions they have. Let them take a break if they need to in order to cope, but have the routine in place for when they come back to it.

Do Something Special

In the midst of the divorce, new living arrangements and overall adjustments for everyone, planning any other sort of activity might seem ludicrous. However, think about several months from now when you will likely have at least found a new normal for yourself. Put a special date in the calendar that your kids can look forward to. Depending upon time, budgetary concerns and other factors, you can make this outing as large or as small as necessary and desired.

Children are certainly affected by divorce to varying degrees. Committing to and implementing some strategies can help to make the situation as positive as possible for your kids.

Author Bio

Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most of her time hiking, biking, and gardening. For more information, contact Brooke via Facebook at facebook.com/brooke.chaplan or Twitter @BrookeChaplan

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