All specialty areas, including pediatric, can be challenging.
Lack of understanding of the situation and needed medical procedures can complicate the treatment process.
Children and sometimes families don’t understand the needed medical procedures and other steps for ensuring maximum care.
Pediatric patients have their own patterns of expressing anxiety.
Some children get angry, others are withdrawn and younger children can suppress emotions, etc.
Nurses must understand that children lack emotional maturity for coping with the situation and that they need help to adapt to the new healthcare setting.
Prepare the environment
Children cooperate and participate in activities when they feel safe.
Therefore, you should create a safe environment, by dimming the light and having only necessary staff in the room.
Also, having age-appropriate toys in the room is useful.
To establish a friendly relationship with a pediatric patient, you should start talking about their favorite cartoon, use toys, and introduce yourself slowly.
Medical staff should be open and honest with children about what is happening and what to expect.
However, nurses must use age-appropriate language to make sure children understand what is happening.
For example, a nurse can tell a child that blood pressure cuff is going to hug her arm, and knowing what to expect will reduce anxiety.
Also, children appreciate when being told the truth, especially about procedures.
For example, all children ask whether the shot is going to hurt.
A nurse should never lie and tell that it won’t hurt.
If the nurse lies and children feel the pain and injection pressure, the child will lose trust in the nurst and stop cooperating.
Everything a nurse performs later can cause more anxiety.
In any communication with children, nurses must use only nurse appropriate-language for describing medical procedures.
When a nurse tells that a child is going to feel a second-long pinch, children will be prepared and will start to trust the nurse.
To gain cooperation, a nurse can focus on providing choices for the pediatric patient.
Children fear what they don’t know, and they are very anxious.
For example, when a nurse gives instructions, for example, to hold out an arm for the blood pressure taking, a child might feel out of control and the anxiety can rise.
Providing even the smallest choice for the child will make him or her much more relaxed and ready to cooperate.
For example, a nurse can ask them to pick the hand for taking the blood pressure, to choose the color tape for IV start, or to choose which ear will be checked first.
If children have the ability to make choices, they can feel like they were in charge of their healthcare.
It can result in better cooperation and improvement of care and outcome.
Sometimes, even asking “May I a look at you bandage” can make a huge difference.
When caring for children, a nurse should try to avoid surprises.
A child can prepare for procedures when knowing what to expect.
For example, in the outpatient setting, a nurse can tell a child that the doctor is going to talk with parents, and then come back to the room to listen to the child’s breathing.
Approaching a child this way will reduce the fear of what is going to happen during the doctor’s visit.
Nurses who work with children in the inpatient setting can give a child a short overview of what is going to happen during the day.
For example, a nurse can inform the child what time the breakfast will be, when the time is for the X-ray and when the doctor will come to check on the child.
Setting expectations is very important for reducing anxiety and improving cooperation.
When things change, nurses should be diligent and careful with proper updates of the plan.
Asking the Child to Help
Asking the child to help, especially when it comes to smaller children, will help to keep the child’s attention during the procedure.
For example, a nurse can ask a child to hold bandage supplies during a dressing change, to apply the tape, to borrow the stethoscope to hear what the nurse hears, etc.
Creating a small task is quite significant for ensuring a child’s cooperation.
If a nurse tells that she has a “job” for the child, even it is just sitting still during a medical procedure, it can make a child feel important and in control.
Taking care of children can be very challenging, but it is very rewarding at the same time.
When children cooperate and don’t fear, the anxiety of both children and parents decreases.
Therefore, there are higher chances for positive outcomes.
Also, it helps to reduce the trauma response, which is common with hospitalized children.