When your child has to undergo a painful procedure, such as a dressing change, you can help them to prepare by giving them an explanation that they can understand. Therefore, it’s important that you also receive an explanation that you understand about what the procedure involves and why it’s being done.
You should tell your child what will happen, where, when, and why, using simple and accurate information. If you can, also tell them who will do it and whether you will be with them during the procedure. Try to explain what they will feel, hear, and smell in a way that they can understand. Young children might find it helpful if you show them using a doll, whilst older children and teenagers might prefer to see a diagram. The burns team will also explain the procedure to your child.
You can help them to ask questions and express their feelings if they need help doing this. It’s okay for your child to show that they are scared. Remember that you know your child best. Some children like to know everything, exactly what will happen, far in advance of the procedure. Others want much less information and cope better when they find out closer to the time. Older children and teenagers can be asked how much they want to know. If your child is younger, you will be able to gauge this yourself.
It is important to be honest with your child about pain, and talk about strategies that they can use to cope. If they are told a painful procedure will not hurt, they will be upset when it does and this is likely to increase their anxiety. It may even lead to them refusing procedures later.
To help comfort your child, bring their favourite toy, teddy, blanket, dummy, book, game, tablet…, this will help them to relax.