Burns treatment can cause significant anxiety and pain, especially for children, with up to 70 per cent experiencing severe distress.
But a study from the University of Queensland has found parents can help their children deal with the distress through playful distraction.
The researchers say playful distraction works better than kisses, cuddles and telling kids to be brave.
Parents can divert attention away from the procedure by using distractions such as games, asking simple questions, using tablet devices, making jokes or using a favourite toy.
“Up to 70 per cent of children experience severe distress during a medical procedure, said PhD candidate Erin Brown.
“While it’s common for parents to reassure their child with comforting phrases such as ‘it’s okay, it’ll be over soon, be brave’, these words actually kept the child’s attention on the pain,” she said.
While distraction techniques may seem simple and obvious, Ms Brown said parents accompanying their children in hospital were often overwhelmed, especially if they had been involved in the accident that resulted in injury.
“Even though a hot beverage scald or a burn in the kitchen is common, parents still carry a lot of guilt around the injury,” she said.
“My research found when parents are feeling anxious or distressed about the accident itself that affects how they are able to help their child cope during procedures.”
She has identified simple tips to help parents support their child and manage their own stress, including using a noisy toy as a distraction, prepacking snacks to share during the procedure, and doing deep breathing exercises together to keep everyone calm.
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