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Your tips for facing blood tests

Written by CLDF on 26/01/2018 12:39

Being affected by childhood liver disease, having bloods taken is key for many children. However, that doesn't make it any easier to face the thought of a blood test, so our community have shared their top tips.

Don't forget that everyone is different and what works for one person or child may not work for another.

Distraction

Many of you said that distracting your child through the blood taking process was key to helping them. Having the TV on in the background or their favourite song playing can keep their attention, or play therapists can help with distraction techniques.

Having a session with a play therapist outside of the blood tests can also help with the language that doctors and nurses use, keeping them clued up on what's going on.

Practising at home could also help - put a play kit together and let them practice the usual steps on teddy bears or parents, pretending to wipe down the area and bandage up.

Cream/cold spray

A dividing issue was numbing cream and cold spray, with some of you saying it worked whilst others preferring to go without. It’s worth experimenting to see if it works for you or your child. For some it lessens the pain, whilst others felt little difference or felt it made the experience worse.

Treats

Children react well to praise, so telling them how well they're doing sitting still can have a good reaction. Many parents found that certificates of bravery and small presents to say well done can make the process less daunting next time around, as they have something to look forward to after the tests.

Control

Encourage children to take control, to dictate what they want and what they won't accept. Giving them the opportunity to say which toy to take with them, which arm will be used, whether they want numbing cream and - importantly - if they want to stop can put the process into their hands.

Don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Hospitals may have a play therapist who can join you in the room, or a child psychologist they can see for a few visits.

Honesty

Try not to hide the fact that they are going for a blood test that day, so that it's not a nasty surprise when they get there! Children also pick up on lies, so telling them it won't hurt will soon be overturned when the needle goes in. Instead, you could tell them they will feel a sharp scratch but it won't hurt for long, and if they stay still it will be over quickly.

Explaining what will happen takes much of the fear away, which is where practising at home can again be helpful so they know all the steps.

Once again, we’d like to state that everyone is different and what works for someone might not work for another. Figuring out what works for your child can lead to that one good experience, which can pave the way for more. If you have any more tips for dealing with a fear of needles and would like to share them with us, please email families@childliverdisease.org and help other young people and families affected by childhood liver disease.