Tricks to get kids to cooperate with treatment

  1. What tricks do you use to get kids to cooperate with treatment? I'm not a nurse (yet) but I am a mom of five and I know how hard it is just to get my own kids to go along with it when they need to take medication, wound care and even everyday personal hygiene and grooming.
  2. Visit JeanettePNP profile page

    About JeanettePNP

    Joined: Feb '06; Posts: 1,947; Likes: 1,346
    Pediatric Nurse Practitioner; from US
    Specialty: 2 year(s) of experience in Pediatric pulmonology and allergy


  3. by   jen42
    Get the parents on your side, do it to the parent first if it'll help (this is easier with, say, listening to breath sounds than putting in stitches!) and the blood pressure cuff is always "the arm hug."
  4. by   mommy2boys
    I'm not a nurse yet, but when my son was in the hospital (for pneumonia) the nurse would have him "help" or let him be her nurse. He would listen to her "heart", check her mouth, take her temp. etc.

    HE was only 10 months old but he loved it and would be more willing to let her check him out. I think that kids love to help and know what this or that is for. When it came to his breathing treatments, he would "help" hold the nebulizer.

    The nurse said that little kids love to help her and are more willing to cooperate if they feel like they are helping.

  5. by   babynurselsa
    I always use distraction also, along with letting them assit whenever possible.
    I get a banter going with the child. Ask about their dog, siblings, school, favorite activities etc. Many times even with things like lab, IV, and sutures a little distraction can go a long way.
  6. by   PedsRNBSN
    ALWAYS let them help....or give them a "job". Sometimes (if I am starting a line or something else that hurts) I give them the "job" of holding their arm, hand etc still. I tell them they can't hurt me, but they can yell or whatever else. The majority of the time they will scream or wiggle their other arm but keep the arm I need PERFECTLY still. Also...bubbles work WONDERS (especially the edible kind)!! A lot of times if you "time" how fast they take their meds it works really well too. I just explain explain explain and get their help as best I can.
  7. by   TexasPediRN
    to the op: have you started your peds rotation yet or will you be starting it soon?

    heres my tips:

    make sure to get down to their level and to explain things in words they will understand.

    blood pressures are always hugging arms, or checking how big muscles are.

    iv's are silly straws that are giving their hand a drink
    (normally what i tell kids after tonsils out since they are too sore to drink po)

    always carry some special bandaids, its amazing how a bandaid of spiderman or pooh bear makes everything better.

    as another poster mentioned, its *great* to let kids help out. i usually would bring in an extra stethoscope when i worked hospital and let the kids listen to me while i listened to them. great distraction.

    just a few off the top of my head...

  8. by   mousesn
    A trick I like to use for listening to breath sounds is holding up a pen light (with stethoscope on back) and asking the child to blow out the light! It works like a charm!!
  9. by   JeanettePNP
    I actually was looking for ideas for my own kids! My 3yo is sick now and absolutely refusing to take tylenol. And the MD had such a hard time today getting him to open his mouth for a throat culture. He is just not cooperating at all. Sigh. The good news is it's viral so this will clear up on its own.
  10. by   TexasPediRN
    Quote from ChayaN
    I actually was looking for ideas for my own kids! My 3yo is sick now and absolutely refusing to take tylenol. And the MD had such a hard time today getting him to open his mouth for a throat culture. He is just not cooperating at all. Sigh. The good news is it's viral so this will clear up on its own.

    - get an oral syringe so he can squirt the medication in his mouth.

    -give him a ice pop before and after to numb his tongue, then give the med, and finish up with the rest of the ice pop.

    To open his mouth, play a game with him. Who can open the mouth the biggest? Who can keep their mouth open the longest? Who has the biggest tonsils- gotta say 'ahhhh' to see them!'
  11. by   JeanettePNP
    Thanks for the ideas, Meghan! I'll try them and let you know how it went.
  12. by   cherrymaryRN
    These are so great, thanks! It's an old thread, but any more tips and tricks for the little ones would be awesome - I'm a new grad with no kids of my own, so I'm learning...

    What about keeping the O2 sat monitor on? We have an old one in my urgent care clinic that takes a loooooong time to read, and it's always a race to see if we can distract the kid long enough before he/she starts to get really mad that there's a weird thing on their thumb/toe - and of course crying doesn't help the levels!

    Also, my dentist said that putting a tiny bit of salt on the tip of the tongue gets rid of the gag reflex temporarily. Has anybody ever heard of doing this for strep tests/throat cultures? (If no diet restrictions, obviously.) I also really like the "who can open their mouth the widest" thing, and of course explain explain explain if the kid's old enough... Any other tips to get kids on board with the swab?
  13. by   NewAggieGrad09
    Two words: STICKER CHARTS!! The peds hospital where I work has a child life division, and they are called in for all types of help. Sticker charts are big! They give the child a grid of about 12-16 blocks, and a list of procedures they must cooperate with and the amount of stickers they will get for their cooperation. For example, a lab draw may help them earn 3 stickers. Once the chart has been filled, us nurses call the child life specialists, and they bring a prize that the child can pick out (such as brand new doll or board game).

    I also love to reward smaller kids with coloring books, so I keep a stash of coloring books and crayons in my locker. :-)
  14. by   tewdles

    Don't ever ask permission to complete a procedure..."it's time to change your dressing, okay?".

    Study the growth and development of the age groups you deal with.

    I often engaged the kids in silly stuff while I was doing the serious stuff...I learned a bunch of silly kids songs and we often sang them during procedures.

    Give them permission to is okay to cry...just not okay to hit or bite.

    Use the family to help keep the child feeling safe and secure whenever possible.

    Try to remain as calm as possible, even when the child is ballistic...if you escalate the child WILL escalate more.

    Lots of folks have given you good suggestions...good luck!