Preparing children for laboratory tests can be a real challenge. A caring grownup can help the child cope with any physical pain or discomfort as well as any fear, anxiety, or emotional reactions that may occur as the sample is collected. Below are some general recommendations on helping children through these medical procedures as well as some specific tips on blood, urine and stool specimens, and throat culture sample collections.
Be aware of everything that may cause you anxiety or is not clear enough to you. If you are upset yourself, it is very likely that your child will be upset too.
SET REAL EXPECTATIONS
Tell the child that it will hurt a little bit, but it will be over very quickly and then the pain will go away. Before you enter the room, talk about who the child will see (some people in uniforms) and what they are going to do so the child has realistic expectations. It is okay to tell children that having blood drawn is difficult even for grownups, but avoid coaxing the child with statements such as “be good” that can make the child feel ashamed.
You can make a promise of some fun activities you can do after visiting the lab. Thus, the child will know what to expect, and the thought of the activity, reward or encouragement will make the child want to cooperate with the medical staff.
After taking a sample, feel free to praise the child for his behavior.
PLAN THE TIME OF VISIT
Schedule a visit when your child is not tired and hungry. If you need to do a fasting test, do it as the first thing in the day, and bring a snack that you will offer to your child after taking a sample.
TALK TO YOUR CHILD
Talk to your child before you come to the lab. Imagine a game in which you will compete who will endure sitting still for a long time. Teach your child to take a deep breath until you count to 3 and exhale. Breathing exercises will only help the child to have control over his body.
DISTRACT YOUR CHILD’S ATTENTION
During the blood draw, it is best that the child’s thoughts and eyes are not focused on the lancet or needle itself. Keep in mind an alternative focus, such as looking at an interesting book you brought or singing a favorite song. Take a toy from the area or offer to look at the cartoon.
For both adults and children, a diet 24 hours before a lab visit is essential. Most laboratory blood tests require preparation that involves taking a sample (on an empty stomach) in the morning, 12 hours after the last meal. This is necessary because the consumption of food in the period before taking blood leads to an increase in certain biochemical parameters.
One day before laboratory tests:
► You should consume clean and light food (best cooked, not fried);
► Food should not be overloaded with fats and sugars;
► The last meal should not be large and should be no later than 19:00;
Children are often very energetic and full of life, and some of them are involved in certain sports. However, it is recommended to avoid intense sports one day before the visit to the laboratory, as the activity may affect the results of individual enzymes.