Kids’ doctor visits can be fun, right up to the point where the nurse or doc pulls out a hypodermic needle. But if you have a phone or tablet handy, you can reduce the amount of pain your child feels by showing her a cartoon while she gets the shot.
Photo by US Government
In a study published in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology, some 4-to-6-year-old children watched their choice of Beauty and the Beast, Bambi, Barney, or Aladdin, while other children had their shot without cartoons. The kids who watched cartoons felt less pain than the others, as judged by the researchers asking them to “point to the face that shows how much the shot hurt”.
Those kids were also less likely to need to be held down, and their parents said they personally felt less distressed about the experience. So the cartoons helped all around. (Except for the nurses in the room, who didn’t feel much distress either way. Nurses are tough.)
One last tip to make sure you’re getting the most out of the cartoons: in the study, parents or nurses made sure to talk to the child to keep their attention on the video, saying things like “Which one is Aladdin?” or “Barney is so funny!”
Other studies have supported the idea that distraction really does reduce pain in children. It may not work for every kid, but it’s worth a try next time you’re at the doctor’s office.