Be positive and relaxed yourself: Explain what you are doing and where you are going in an up-beat, positive way. Don’t make a ‘big deal’ about it.
Be prepared: Have on hand, a drink, snacks, a favourite toy, book or small game. Save the distraction cards or something similar for when you need them most.
Buzzy: Try out Buzzy with your child before you go for your appointment. Let your child try Buzzy on, feel the ice wings and turn on the button to start the vibration. Then put Buzzy away and say you will get him out again at your appointment.
Timing: Don’t get to your appointment too early or late. Get there just on time and check the nurse/doctor/specialist is running on time. If he is running late ask if you can go for a walk and come back. Trying to entertain your child in a small waiting room can be stressful for you both.
Honesty: If your child asks if the needle is going to hurt. Be honest, confident and say something like “ it will hurt, but it is very quick and I know you are brave and will get through it just fine”.
Distraction: The ‘art of distraction’ works wonderfully for many children. If you have a set of bee-strator (distraction cards) make sure you are sitting in a position where your child can see them and you can read the back to ask the questions. This position is likely to be sitting next to your child on the opposite side to the arm/leg where the nurse is inserting the needle. If you do not have distraction cards or they are too old for your younger child, try singing their favourite song together, play the hand/finger game, ‘this little piggy went to market’ or ‘round and round the garden’, blow bubbles, point at posters or objects on the walls or ceiling. For older children, bring a book and ask them to read to you, play ‘I-Spy’, bring a small hand-held video game, I-phone or I-pad.
Distract the senses: The brain can only process so much at one time. Buy some sugar-free gum and hand one at a time for your child to pop in their mouth. Give them a slug of a cold, sweet beverage. Taste and smell are great senses to distract attention from the pain.
“Today I took my son, Jack for his immunisations. I borrowed my friend’s Buzzy and he was excited about trying it out before we got there. The Nurse hadn’t seen one before but seemed willing to give it a try. Jack sat there with a smile on his face while the Buzzy vibrated, the Nurse poked the injection in and I distracted him by asking a few questions. When the Nurse said “all done”, Jack turned around to her with a big grin and said ‘thank you!’ The Nurse laughed and said no child had ever thanked her before for giving them an injection. Great product! I will be telling all my friends about Buzzy”. – Annie, Sydney
Children with Diabetes
Children with diabetes are the ones getting blood tests and insulin injections, but they can be a challenge for parents, too.
Your child’s diabetes health care team will help you both learn to manage the disease and minimize the pain and anxiety surrounding injections and blood tests. The team may also tell you about testing technologies and medications that offer the most convenience and least discomfort. Together, you and the diabetes health care team can find the most comfortable solutions available.
When kids are very young, blood tests and injections can be especially difficult. A parent needs to enforce diabetes management, which can include regular testing and giving injections to a child who cries, resists, and gets angry.
Learning how to manage diabetes is a process. Even if your child has been cooperating with blood tests and injections for a while, a new fear or emotional issue may crop up that could make test or shot time difficult.
To help manage feelings about diabetes, including anger, frustration, and fear about testing and injections, let your child know that it’s OK to be worried about or dislike the injection or test. Talk openly about these fears. Kids need to be able to express their frustration and know that it’s OK to be upset.
It can also help to describe the need for injections and blood testing in kid terms. For example, you might explain that the injections and blood tests help keep your child feeling good throughout the day — and that not getting the shots could mean having to stay home from school or miss fun activities because of diabetes problems.
Treating testing and injections in the same matter-of-fact way that you would treat any other part of the daily routine also might help. And many kids like to have a sense of ownership and control of diabetes. Instead of feeling like victims of the tests and injections, they’ll feel more in charge of their own health.
Young kids might select a needle, read the glucose meter test result aloud, choose the spot or finger for testing, or press the plunger on the syringe. Encourage your child to take more control gradually as age allows — eventually, kids are ready to handle testing and injections on their own (although parents should continue to supervise).
If your child argues or cries, you might be tempted to skip an injection or test just this once. But you shouldn’t negotiate blood tests or injections. They’re necessary and not optional. The first time you’re talked out of one, you’ll set a precedent your child will never forget.
Sometimes, you’ll need to just do the injection or test, even if your child is upset and uncooperative. Afterward, you might reward yourselves with something fun like playing a game or reading, and then talk to your child about why he or she was so upset.
If your child is especially fearful of injections and every test or injection is a battle, your doctor or a counselor or mental health professional can help you address this.
Getting both parents (or a parent and another caregiver) involved in the diabetes management process and in administering injections and blood tests ensures consistency in treatment and also provides support as you deal with struggles over injections and blood tests.
“Carlie is type 1 diabetic, she was diagnosed when she was 18 months old. She is currently having 5 injections per day. She is due to have the pump fitted shortly which will certainly be better for her but she will have to have the canula changed every 3 days so Buzzy will certainly help. She is so pleased with Buzzy she asked to give you a big thank you. Our daughter also asked us to thank you for making Carlie so happy. Please keep up the good work."