I see this video doing the rounds on Facebook every few months and it concerns me when I see so many people delighting in the Doctor’s tactics.
There are a number of things wrong with this…
I know it’s a wonderful feeling to avoid tears. I know how hard it is to witness a child crying especially when you have caused the hurt. But it doesn’t make it OK to disrespect a child by throwing tissues in their face so that they will not cry. I would hope that anyone who feels this way is able to ask themselves, ‘Why am I so afraid of the tears that I will do anything to avoid it?’
Let’s talk about trust
I also see the issue of trust or the lack thereof it throughout the video. The child doesn’t know who to trust here. Should she trust the Doctor next time she goes for a check-up or even her parents?
Just because she didn’t continue to cry doesn’t mean she won’t remember the pain she felt that came out of nowhere. At her next visit, do you think she will willingly walk through the door and wait quietly in the waiting room when the memories of the last visit are brought to the surface?
Help them release the emotion
Tears are one way a person can release emotion. In this case, the child’s internal dialogue might be something like, ‘I’m scared that this is going to really hurt’ and then later, ‘Hey! That really hurt me and took me by surprise!’ What is wrong with that? All that would be required by the parent or healthcare provider is some reassurance.
We can provide much better support for the child if we accepted their feelings and taught them that it is ok to have emotion and it’s okay to not be okay sometimes. We’re also opening up the opportunity to support the child in finding ways of soothing themselves.
Wouldn’t the world be a much better place if we just taught our kids that emotions come and go and that it’s ok to get some help with these emotions (i.e. Mum and Dad)?
No lies. No promises that it won’t hurt because it will.
Crying is a child’s way of telling their caring adult that they are scared, hurting or upset. Often, they do not have the words to describe all the emotion they are feeling inside but they do know it’s big and it’s overwhelming at times. As adults, we too feel overwhelmed at times and this can also result in us shedding a tear or two. It is much easier to bear the burden when we have another sensitive person right by us telling us they understand.
We need to treat children as we would like to be treated… with respect!
When we see another adult crying, we don’t throw tissues in their face, click our hands and act all crazy just to make it stop! If we did this, the emotional adult would be highly offended and most likely feel a bit silly for being upset and stop. The emotion wouldn’t be gone, just buried away to sit like rocks in our stomach weighing us down.
Distraction shouldn’t be used to distract a child from their emotion.
In saying all of this, there are positive benefits to employing distraction therapy in healthcare. It shouldn’t be used, in my opinion, to distract a child from their emotion.
It is my dream to see children respected in all areas of their lives. In this case, some thought about the child’s feelings and the provision of a safe space to express those feelings would have been more respectful.