Your Child's Medicine: Managing Pain

Woman holding boy on lap, reading to him.

Medicine is often used during and after surgery to help manage pain and keep your child comfortable. After surgery, other techniques can also help manage pain and discomfort. These techniques aren’t meant to replace pain medicine. But using them can help your child feel better. It’s even good to practice them before surgery, so your child is ready to use them when surgery is complete.

What are ways to manage your child’s pain in addition to medicine?

Try the following techniques with your child:

  • Relaxation can relieve anxiety, relax the body, and reduce muscle tension. Ways to help your child relax include:

    • Deep and steady breathing. Have your child inhale deeply and slowly for a few seconds, and then exhale for the same amount of time.

    • Listening to music. Play soothing music to help calm your child.

  • Distraction allows your child to refocus his or her attention on an enjoyable activity. Ways to distract your child include:

    • Blowing bubbles

    • Reading a book or listening to someone read

    • Telling a story or listening to a story

    • Playing video games

    • Watching TV shows and movies

  • Touch can be used to soothe or comfort your child. Be sure to avoid incision or surgical areas when using this technique. Examples of comforting touch include:

    • Stroking your child’s hair

    • Rocking your child back and forth or side to side

    • Gently rubbing your child’s back

    • Massaging muscle areas away from surgery areas

  • Visualization can help your child focus his or her thoughts and senses on the image of a positive place to take the mind off pain. This is done by simply closing the eyes and imagining how one might feel in that place. Have your child pick and describe a favorite place. Ask your child to talk about what they like about that place and how they felt while there.