Kids Health Info

Sedation for procedures 3: Helping your child

  • There are several ways you can help your child during sedation, and important things to watch for when taking them home afterwards. Care at home is covered in the fourth factsheet. 

    Helping your child before the procedure

    • Ask the doctor and nurse to explain the procedure to you and to your child. 
    • Do not try to hide the fact that there may be some pain.  Explain that 'there may be some hurt' or 'it may feel uncomfortable'.
    • Pain relief medicine may be given before, during and after the procedure.
    • Answer your child's questions if you can.  If you cannot, ask the nurse or doctor to answer your child’s questions.
    • Talk to your child about some ways they can cope (for example, ask them to imagine being in a nice or favourite place, get them to 'blow away the hurt'). 
    • Try not to be too upset or nervous yourself - your child will notice this.
    • What your child is told and when depends on how old they are.  Ask the nurse or doctor if you need advice on what to tell your child and when.

    Helping your child during the procedure

    • Having a parent present is usually helpful.  If you feel unable to stay, arrange for another adult your child knows to stay with them if possible. 
    • Giving your child some sense of control is helpful. For example, allow them to choose the music they want to listen to, which video to watch or if they want the oxygen probe on their toe or finger. 
    • It is not helpful to allow your child to decide the time when the procedure is going to happen.
    • Explanations should have happened before the procedure.  They are not usually helpful when it is happening. 
    • Remind your child to 'remember that nice place' or to 'blow away the hurt' as discussed earlier.  This sort of distraction is very helpful.
    • Don’t criticise, apologise to, or bargain with your child while the procedure is happening.

    Helping your child after the procedure

    • As your child wakes up after sedation, having someone they know well near them will be reassuring.  They may not remember where or why they are in hospital. 
    • Your child may need to be in a quiet room as they wake up.
    • When talking about the procedure, focus on the good things your child did, for example 'you did a great job of thinking of that nice place'.
    • Please read the final fact sheet - 'Care at home after sedation'.

    For more information

    Please read all factsheets in the series 'Sedation for procedures':







    This fact sheet produced by The Emergency Department in consultation with the Department of Anaesthesia and the Pain Management Nurses at the Royal Children's Hospital.  First upload: July 2005.

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This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. The authors of these consumer health information handouts have made a considerable effort to ensure the information is accurate, up to date and easy to understand. The Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success of any treatment regimen detailed in these handouts. Information contained in the handouts is updated regularly and therefore you should always check you are referring to the most recent version of the handout. The onus is on you, the user, to ensure that you have downloaded the most up-to-date version of a consumer health information handout.