Easing the stress and anxiety children experience prior to surgery or other medical procedures can prove quite challenging, even for the most trauma informed nurses and physicians. While tried and true methods of humor and soothing talk can help calm a child, most children still remain anxious and fearful. In an effort to find ways of further reducing children's stress, new research utilized strategies of  distraction, exposure therapy and coping techniques such as visual imagery to help children cope better during surgery or medical procedures. Distraction strategies, including using cartoons and video games, greatly reduced the levels of anxiety in children prior to surgery. Using exposure therapy, children are able to become familiar with the medical equipment and procedure which helps to lessen their stress. Other techniques such as deep breathing or providing children with a card to briefly pause a medical procedure showed promised as ways of decreasing fearfulness and anxiety.

When preparing a child for surgery or other procedure, what techniques do you use to help them remain calm?