Preparing your child for a COVID test

Have you taken a COVID-19 test yet? It’s not terrible, but it’s certainly unpleasant. Anxiety of a positive test result notwithstanding, it’s no fun to have to deal with an extra-long swab going all the way up to what is surely the edge of your brain for 30 seconds. But what do you do with little kids? 

We recently had to get our daughter tested for COVID. I had to tell myself that it would be far less intimidating than a typical trip to the pediatrician’s office. If you aren’t sure how to prepare your toddler for a COVID test, here are some things we did that made her experience more positive. 

If possible, take them with you to watch while you get yours done. Warning – it ain’t a massage chair. But it’s also really not terrible. Additionally, the COVID tests for children do not require nurses to go quite as far up the nasal passage for kids as they do for adults. 

Talk about it.

We started talking to our daughter about a day in advance that we were going to the doctor. “The doctor is going to poke your nose to make sure you aren’t sick. The doctor wants you to be healthy and so do we. The doctor will poke your nose. It will hurt a little bit, and you can cry if you want to. But you are also very brave! The doctor will poke your nose to make sure you are well.” Reinforce that it probably will hurt a little bit and that that’s okay! 

Watch a TV show about going to the doctor.

We watched a particular episode of Daniel Tiger going to the doctor and that opened up lots of conversation and preparedness for being brave at the doctor.

Demonstrate if possible.

When we arrived at the clinic for her test, I parked the car and came outside to the window. I talked nicely to her and gently held her head and touched her nose with my finger. Of course, I didn’t put anything in her nose, but you get the idea.

Expect tears (and bring a lollipop).

It’s scary for them and the nurse will likely ask you to hold your child’s head still while they do the procedure, but it is nothing if not fast. And then kiddo gets a lollipop and praise for how brave they were!

Talk about it afterward.

Let them tell any siblings or other parents about how brave they were at the doctor. My daughter cried but after the fact, she was telling my husband about how brave she was for days. 

Like the aftermath of any doctor visit where a procedure is done, give your child an extra dose of grace and celebration for the remainder of the day. It might be harder for you than it is for them! Hang in there mama – brave mamas make brave kids!

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