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preparing a child for a blood test

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

I'm looking for anyone who has experience with taking a preschool aged child for a blood test. Our kids need to have a lead test, just as precaution because we live in an old house. My son has never had a problem with shots until his last visit. Now that he is 4 and aware of what was going on, he said NO WAY. Of course since we delayed vaccines he still has several to get.


I am terrified of taking him for the blood test. I'm not worried about the pain. Life, and maintaining health, can be painful. I think it's a fine lesson to learn. But I am worried about his fear, and feeling betrayed by me if I have to help restrain him, or let someone else restrain him. Ugh, the thought makes my stomach turn.


I feel like I don't want to do it until I can convince him that if he can stay calm with my help, it won't be so bad. We skipped the flu shot because of his reaction. I wasn't terribly worried about it anyways and was fine with skipping it. But it did make me see that things have definitely changed in regards to needles.


Anyone stories of experience, good or bad, would be appreciated. Thanks

post #2 of 6

My kids have had to have a couple of blood tests each at that age.  There are reasons to do it, but it's never fun.  My daughter is four, and my son was four when he had his first blood test, and neither of them was happy with the situation.  But I wouldn't talk about it a lot in advance.  In some cases, working to convince a kid that he can stay calm is just a long and fancy way of freaking the kid out.


I prefer to plan to be the person restraining my child.  No one should be even trying to stick a needle in an unrestrained preschooler - they're just too wiggly.  Personally, I prefer going in with the expectation that I'm going to be the one holding my kid. 


"We're going for a blood test!  It's a really interesting thing, the doctors take a little bit of your blood, and then they can look at it in the lab to learn all kinds of useful stuff.  Science, it's the coolest.  But they have to stick a needle in your arm.  I'm gonna be with you the whole time, and I will help you, and this nice person here is going to tell us what to do to make it as quick and easy as possible.  Here's how we're gonna do it.  I'm gonna sit here in this chair, and you're gonna sit on my lap.  I'm gonna hold you tight, because we need to sit really still.  Then this person is going to put that big rubber band on your arm.  That's gonna help them find a vein.  And in your other hand, can you hold my phone?  I think I can find your favorite cat video on here."


In a perfect world, this line of conversation is totally distracting and the next thing that happens is Hey kiddo!  All done!  In reality, there's usually a lot more "Oh honey, I know.  I'm right here.  I'm gonna hold you and this will be over soon I promise." 


At the end, I always feel like I will do anything to make it up to my kids that they had to go through that, but by the time they've settled which stickers they want from the doctor, they seem like they're doing okay, so I try not to let them know that post-blood test is the moment to ask me for electronic toys.

post #3 of 6

My dd had more blood draws than average at that age.


The first thing I said is, "When they take your blood, they will use a needle, like a shot.  It will hurt a lot, but it needs to be done because...     After it is done, then it won't hurt, but getting the needle in hurts.  When I get a blood draw, I don't like to look at them stick the needle in, but you can decide what to do. You will need to keep your arm absolutely still. You can squeeze my hand hard if you want, or you can sit in my lap if you want and I can hold your arm still."


Then I tried to distract my child into naming every single child in her class in alphabetical order.


Another thought.  Isn't there a mild anesthetic that the pediatrician can give the child to take a half hour before a shot so that it doesn't hurt?  Maybe you should ask the doctor if such an option is possible for a blood draw.  But you need to ask well in advance, because the medication needs to have time to take effect.

Edited by emilysmama - 12/5/13 at 2:23pm
post #4 of 6
I try not to announce that things will hurt. If asked, I say that tje needle feels pinchy like a shot, but once it's in, it shouldn't hurt. I don't want the kids to go on pre-tensed about pain, because that makes it worse. Also, if a blood draw goes bad, the way you know is that it hurts like mad, so if it does that, I want the kids to complain. Not just to think that I told them it would hurt, so they should suck it up.
post #5 of 6



I do try to announce that things will hurt, because it will.  If I don't say anything unless asked, then I've always felt that my child will take is as lying by omission.  But I do think that the way you described it about the pinchy feeling going in, and then that it's supposed to not hurt once it's in is an excellent way to put it.  And now that I've read your post, I think you are right to say that if it does hurt, to say so because then the needle is not right.  So I think that in the future I will change my approach. I personally will still say outright that it will hurt, but I think your way of explaining it is much better.   


But you must find that it works better not to announce it up front, and I see what you mean about getting the child to over anticipate the pain, so I am glad that you find success with that way.

post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 

Thanks y'all. It's helpful to hear some different approaches. I would also hesitate to talk about it in advance, except that my boy seems to function better if he has been told about something ahead of time. If we make a change in the house without telling him first, he gets upset. This decision probably depends on the kid though.


I want to be a comfort, not a source of betrayal and fear. I guess it isn't going to be pretty regardless. Perhaps I'm more worried about myself. 


Perhaps I'll just let him suck on a tootsie pop. He might be more pliable if he is in a sugar trance. ;)


It's good to know that others have done it and it wasn't traumatic or scarring for anyone.

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