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How should I prepare my child for medical procedures?

Unless your child is very young, you’ll need to prepare him for whatever ongoing tests and medical procedures his condition requires. Kids need to know what to expect; worrying about unknowns can be worse than the real thing, so it’s usually much wiser to be forthcoming. Lies can scar for life. Horror author Stephen King has written about an episode that illustrates this. When he was a child, a doctor put an instrument in his ear and told him he wouldn’t feel any pain. Then the doctor lanced his infected eardrum to drain it, which ranks among the most painful procedures known to humankind. King never trusted doctors again, and I don’t blame him. It might be the scariest thing he’s ever written, and that’s saying something.

 If you’re not comfortable preparing your child for a procedure, or you’re simply not 100 percent clear yourself about the steps, there are a couple of things you can do. If you’re in a hospital that has any “child life specialists” on staff, ask for one. Part of their job is to explain procedures and help kids deal with the anxieties that come along with being ill. Otherwise, before the procedure starts, ask whatever medical staffers are involved (doctors, nurses, technicians) to help you explain to your child what will happen and why it’s necessary.

From The Smart Parent's Guide: Getting Your Kids Through Checkups, Illnesses, and Accidents by Jennifer Trachtenberg.

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The Smart Parent's Guide: Getting Your Kids Through Checkups, Illnesses, and Accidents

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The Smart Parent's Guide: Getting Your Kids Through Checkups, Illnesses, and Accidents

What to Do When You Don't Know What to Do! "Moms and dads need expert guidelines, especially when it comes to their kids' health. This book reveals the inside strategies I use myself-I'm a parent, too!-to avoid critical, common blunders where it matters most: in the ER, pediatrics ward, all-night pharmacy, exam room, or any other medical hot spot for kids. These tips could save your child's life one day. Even tomorrow." -Dr. Jen Making health care decisions for your child can be overwhelming in this age of instant information. It's easy to feel like you know next to nothing or way too much. Either way, you may resort to guessing instead of making smart choices. That's why the nation's leading health care oversight group, The Joint Commission, joined forces with Dr. Jennifer Trachtenberg on this book: to help you make the right decisions, whether you're dealing with a checkup or a full-blown crisis. The Smart Parent's Guide will give you the information you need to manage the pediatric health care system. Dr. Jen understands the questions parents face—as a mom, she's faced them herself. She walks you through everything: from how to choose the best ER for kids (not adults) to when to give a kid medicine (or not to) to how pediatricians care for their own children (prepare to be surprised). Her goal is your goal: to protect the health of your children. There simply is nothing more important.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.