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Needles are used during vaccinations, blood draws, or even IV placement. Children with diabetes, though, have pokes daily. These can include frequent insulin injections, finger sticks for blood sugar testing, and diabetes technology (insulin pump or continuous glucose monitor) site changes. Here are some helpful ideas to reduce your child’s pain and anxiety.
A child can sense your anxious feelings. Your calm voice, words, and presence can help your child feel less anxious and scared.
Changing your child’s focus from a painful event to something else can be very helpful. You could help them choose a special blanket or toy. You could read a fun book or play a game with your child.
Allow your child to be as involved in the process as they want to be. Some children find it less stressful if they can watch the poke and look away if and when they want to.
This is a device to help with the pain of a needle. Buzzy® bee combines vibration and cold to reduce pain during a poke. The device works best, for most people, when placed near the site of the poke, like the insulin injection or pump insertion site. Sometimes it will need to be placed at other sites, like the opposite arm or leg. Buzzy® bee is believed to work because the vibration and cold block the pain signal from going to the brain. If the child is afraid of bees, Buzzy® also comes in plain black or as a ladybug. More information and devices can be found at: www.buzzy4shots.com.
Tips for Children 4-6 Years Old
Talking about favorite places
Books to look at, such as I-Spy
Tips for Children 6-11 Years Old
Staring at something without blinking
Making your child laugh
Talking about favorite places or past event
Tips for Children 12 Years Old and Older
Talk to your child about things they enjoy
Ask if they have helpful ideas
Be with Your Child
Hold younger children and comfort them. Stress will increase the amount of pain felt during pokes. Children tend to feel less pain when a support person comforts them.
Be there to provide support and advice for older children who are learning to poke themselves. This can make it more positive and decrease pain and anxiety with pokes.
Here are some positions to try depending on the age of your child.
Chest-to-Chest Hugging Hold
Child can sit on lap, facing adult
Child can focus on something else
View is blocked by the hug, a book, toy, or cell phone
Sitting on Lap
Helpful with young school-age kids
Child sitting on adult’s lap
Child’s legs can be tucked between adult’s legs
Allows for hugging and hand holding
Child can watch what is going on or look at something else
Sitting or Standing by Support Person
Helpful with older school-age kids
Helpful with kids learning to poke themselves
Can sit in chair or right next to child
Can choose to watch or focus on something else
May use book, toy, or other device to block view
Choose Your Words Wisely
The words you use during a poke make an impact. Talk to your child about their behavior before, during, and after an injection or finger poke. Let them know when it is “all done” and praise them. Allow them to tell you how they feel. Do not say, “sorry this has happened,” criticize, or give complete control to the child, as these may add to your child’s stress.
Phrases to Avoid
“This feels like a bee sting.”
“Be a big boy/girl!”
“Don’t cry. You’re okay.”
Phrases That Might Help
“Tell me how it feels.”
“Other kids say it feels like…”
“When I count to three, blow the feeling away from your body.”
“That was hard. Great job keeping still.”
If you reduce the pain and fear of pokes it will help to keep your child in good control of their diabetes and to live a long and healthy life. As your child gets older, studies show that it can be helpful to let them practice pokes on an orange, sponge or soft doll. It helps to reduce their fear and reduce pain.
Create a Regular Poke Plan
Routine and predictability will help your child cope with pokes. Give options to your child to create this routine. For example:
Would you like to sit on the couch/chair?
Whose hand do you want to hold?
Do you want to watch the poke or play with something else?
Do you want to count before the poke or no counting?
Do you want to use Buzzy Bee?
Write down the plan to help stay consistent!