Teaching coping mechanisms ahead of time helps your child feel "in charge." Be honest and calm when informing your child about allergy testing. Attempt a discussion a day or so prior to testing to answer any questions they may have. In a straight-forward, non-emotional manner, provide simple, accurate information. There may be some discomfort. Talk with your child about strategies to use for coping with the tests, and practice these tactics before the testing appointment.
Offer your child emotional support by being present during testing. Be sure any fear or anxiety you might have is not transmitted to your child. Encourage your child to do his or her best, saying, "Now is the time when you must lie still."
Learning relaxation methods can reduce anxiety and ease the process of allergy testing/injections. Some techniques include:
- Have the child tense and then relax muscles ("Make your arm tight and stiff; then let it hang loose like spaghetti")
- Practice slow breathing ("Take deep, slow breaths," or "Pretend to blow out birthday candles")
- Listen to music - bring favorite stories or an MP3 player. For an older child, listening to music through headphones can be relaxing
- Stroking your child's hair or patting during testing can be reassuring
- Praise your child for good behavior and attempts at coping strategies
Distraction can narrow attention and help your child focus on one thing. Possibilities include:
- Practice visualization and guided imagery to help your child imagine they are at their favorite place.
- Watching favorite video or television*
- Bringing a favorite stuffed animal
- Counting or reciting the alphabet
- Blowing a pinwheel (we stock these) or a party blower
- Looking at a pop-up or interesting picture book
- Saying, "You can say 'ouch' real loud and squeeze my hand tightly"
- Singing a favorite song or telling a favorite story
- Talking about pleasant past or future events.