We know it’s difficult seeing your child in pain, but you can reduce distress by becoming a distraction coach. As a distraction coach, you refocus your child’s attention away from the procedure and toward something fun — a toy, a book, a video game, or even a silly conversation. Try to be a distraction coach for your child.
- Make a plan to try distraction.
- Start distracting your child before the procedure begins.
- Focus your child’s attention on something other than the procedure.
Use clear and direct language with your child’s care team.
- Tell them, “I want to support my child during this procedure by trying to focus their attention on ____ (for example: these toys or books, this app).”
- Tell them you want to be close to your child during the procedure.
- Ask them to decrease stimulation (for example: lighting, noise, side conversations) during the procedure.
- Offer to hold your child in a comfort position, such as having your child sit on your lap facing outward or chest-to-chest.
Pick toys, books, apps, or conversation topics that will hold your child’s attention.
- Use your phone or another device to provide distraction with the recommended apps. Remember to load apps for distraction before the procedure.
If you don’t have a phone with you, ask a nurse if there are toys or books nearby that you could borrow.
Before the procedure, get your child involved in the distraction.
- Show your own interest in the distraction items.
If your child prefers to look away from the procedure, use something to block your child’s view of the procedure, such as a smartphone or book.
- Let your child take quick peeks if they want to know what is going on.
During the procedure, stay focused on your role as a distraction coach.
- Look at your child, not the procedure.
- Talk to your child about the items being used for distraction.
Try to keep your child’s attention. If you lose it, work to get it back.
- Give your child specific prompts, such as:
- “Can you find that object?”
- “Touch here and see what happens.”
- “Breathe in, blow out.”
Avoid saying things such as “It’s OK.”
- From your child’s point of view, being scared or hurt is not OK.
- Saying things like “It’s OK” can lead to more distress behaviors.
Avoid unclear standards for success (such as praising them for acting like a big girl or boy).
- “Great job trying to win that game with me!”
- “I like how you took deep breaths during the scary part.”