Fear of needles can affect anyone, but when it affects a child with a chronic condition like muscular dystrophy (MD), it needs to be properly managed.
The child may be subjected to a series of injections during the course of the disease and needles may come into play during diagnosis, as well as during the treatment and monitoring of the condition. The same goes for children with Type 1 Diabetes.
The following tips may be useful for the parent of a child with MD or other chronic disease:
• Explain ahead of time that the shot will sting a little, but that it will help a lot more.
• Consider telling your child exactly what to expect and why he should, for example, keep his arm still. You can use a teddy or doll to mimic the experience at home before you visit the doctor.
• Reassure your child that you’ll remain with him while he gets his injection or his blood drawn. Hold his hand, give him a hug or let him sit on your lap while getting the shot (if possible).
• Let the nurse or doctor know ahead of time that the child is afraid of shots. Ask them to consider using a local anaesthetic.
• Take the child’s mind off the shot by bringing along a favourite toy or book.
• Encourage your little one to count, talk, sing a song with you, or distract him with a picture on the wall. He should know, however, that it’s okay to cry if he wants to.
• Let the child wear earphones and listen to his favourite song.
• Try not to look upset or concerned.
• Encourage your child to breathe deeply and relax.
• Encouraging the child to cough as the needle enters the skin may also help to reduce pain.
• Have something fun planned for after the appointment.