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 

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The Hospital Bedtime Story: Spotlight and Giveaway

Guest Blogger, Jessica Ehret, Author of The Hospital Bedtime Story

Hospitalization is disruptive to a child’s normal routine. It means that they are either ill or injured, and are requiring the work of medical professionals to diagnose and treat them. For the child, this typically means pain, fear, regression, and separation, to name a few. As parents do their best to navigate the process, child life specialists step in to help mitigate the journey; it is through our skill set and resources that we are able to best provide these services.

Here is a new resource for child life specialists to do just that. The Hospital Bedtime Story is a children’s book that is sure to provide comfort and gentle explanations of the child’s newfound surroundings. Specifically dedicated to patients, families, pediatric health care workers, and child life specialists.

About the book

Riley has been hospitalized and is processing everything that’s going on in the new and unfamiliar environment. From the hospital room itself, to vitals, routine interruption, procedural fear, and bedtime- Riley provides insight from a child’s perspective. Riley’s age and gender are not identified so that more children can relate, or make their own inferences. Riley’s medical condition also remains unspecified in the book, due to the vast range of diagnoses and circumstances that warrant hospitalization.

Who is it intended for?

This book was created for children who are, who will be, or who have been hospitalized. This is also a resource for child life specialists to add to their toolkits. It’s recommended for ages 4-10.

The Hospital Bedtime Story is a great resource to be introduced at the time of hospitalization. Caregivers, nurses, or child life specialists can offer this book to children and families to provide gentle explanations, comfort, normalcy with a bedtime routine, and to encourage positive thinking.

What inspired you to write this book?

I wrote this book for 2 reasons; one is professional, and the other personal.

Professional- as a child life specialist, ‘I put myself in my patient’s shoes’ in order to empathize, and to best understand them. On several occasions, I left work for the evening and I continued to think about those families and what the rest of their evening might be like.

Personal- as a mom of two small children, upon getting home after work- it’s dinner, bath, and bedtime. Like ours, most families with young children have bedtime routines that consist of reading books before going to sleep.

So, through both avenues, I saw a need to help normalize this portion of hospitalization for children and families. Many of us go home for the day, while our patients and parents still have the entire night to face. This left me wondering, what more could I do at that point? How could I provide support without my presence, but still offer a resource that is intimate and helpful? Hence, a bedtime story about hospitalization.

Where to purchase?

The book is currently being sold on Barnes and Noble, Amazon in paperback and Kindle version.

We will be giving away a copy of The Hospital Bedtime Stroy to one lucky winner.

Choose one or more ways to enter:

  1. Sign up for email notifications at ChildLifeMommy.com and leave a comment below.
  2. Facebook: Follow Child Life Mommy and tag a friend.
  3. Instagram: Follow @ChildLifeMommy and tag two friends in the post.
  4. Twitter: Follow, Like, and RT the post to @ChildLifeMommy.

Good Luck, the winner will be chosen on 5/30/20.

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How to Help During a Hospitalization

Helping Children Cope with a Blood Test

Painful medical procedures are difficult to cope with. As a Certified Child Life Specialist, my role is to prepare children for new experiences while providing a coping plan. I had the opportunity to support my own son for a routine blood test this week. He was quite nervous when his pediatrician mentioned it and I could see his signs of distress. I decided to use some child life techniques to help educate and prepare him while providing validation, and a coping plan.

Read more