When communicating with someone in pain, we want to provide a supportive partnership and messages that are simple, accurate, and focuses on coping. Children and youth require special considerations when it comes to communication during healthcare encounters.
Relationship and rapport: Children and youth are supported by voices they know, people they trust, and environments that feel safe.
Words and terminology: Medical jargon can be confusing. Use words that are simple and age appropriate.
Non-verbal cues: We communicate just as much verbally as we do non-verbally. Adults can provide emotional and physical comfort through tone of voice, body language, and facial expression.
One voice should be heard during the procedure
Need for parental involvement
Educate patient before the procedure about what is going to happen
Validate the child's feelings
Offer the most comfortable, non-threatening position
Individualize your game plan
Choose appropriate distraction to be used
Eliminate unnecessary staff not actively involved with the procedure
One Voice Website
The words we choose have a significant impact on the person in pain. Below are some examples that you can use to communicate with your child:
When your child is undergoing a procedure:
"Some kids say it feels like ______ (use soft language such as pressure, uncomfortable, pinch) I'm not sure what it will feel like for you, you can tell me what it felt like when we're done. If we use the strategies we talked about, it won't bother you so much."
Remind the child/youth what their job is and acknowledge successes
"You are doing such a great job keeping your arm still, let's keep taking those deep breaths."
Provide encouragement, validate feelings, and redirect to positive coping behaviours:
“I know you were feeling uncomfortable but you did a great job of staying focused on your game, taking deep breaths, and squeezing your stuffed animal."