Kids are scared of x-ray rooms, plain and simple. Typically, children get around any environment that even subtly looks like a hospital and start getting feelings of anxiety. Some kids will think their x-ray experience is pretty darn cool as it’s not every day that you get to see inside your own body. However, even the bravest children enter their imaging exam with some level of fear and anxiety.
Here are some great tactics that are geared towards putting them in the driver seat and not only educating them that x-rays don’t hurt. They also help children to understand that the worst of what to expect (you have to hold still when they tell you) and build their comfort level as an x-ray expert.
PRACTICE BEING A PATIENT.
The more your child understands what to expect, the better they will be at helping. Practice having them hold their breath when asked, play freeze dance to get them used to hold still on command, and practice building trust by touching their arms or legs to position them for a pretend x-ray using pillows to prop them up.
ROLE PLAY WITH A FAVORITE BARBIE OR STUFFED ANIMAL.
By far one of the simplest things you can do with your child is to get on the floor and play with them. Take a favorite buddy, some doll furniture, a kid’s size cup and set up a pretend room. Typically x-rays are done in three ways- standing up against a backboard (chest), sitting in a chair at the end of the table (extremities), and lying down on a table (everything else). Find some small images of x-rays, print and then cut them out. Have your child tell you which body part is going to be x-rayed and then set the stage, placing the x-ray image under the body part. Your child can use the cup to shoot pretend x-rays (be sure to make the bzzzz sound) at the buddy producing the x-ray.
HAVE FUN WITH LIFE-LIKE X-RAYS.
If the above sounds like way too much effort, there are some really fun life-like x-rays sold at toy stores. One packet makes an entire body! Teaching your child simple anatomy while also producing a life-size skeleton is a super fun way to get your kiddos to realize the benefit of being able to see inside their bodies. Better yet, kids love to be in charge. Have them bring their own x-ray camera to show the technologist.
BOOKS ARE GREAT TOOLS TO CONNECT YOUR CHILD TO THE EXPERIENCE.
A favorite in our house for many years, Jessica’s X-Ray, teaches children about the entire x-ray experience from beginning to end using real x-rays. Approachable and easily explained. Any book that can bring your child’s understanding of x-ray into a positive light will be hugely helpful. Curious George Goes to the Hospital also shows a fairly realistic x-ray scene within the story.
RADCADEMY AND OTHER APPS HELP EXPLORE THE WORLD OF RADIOLOGY.
Apps are by far one of the easiest, most interactive ways to ease fears. The American society in charge of x-ray technologists (ASRT) has created an easily guided, comprehensive tour of medical imaging aimed at educating children. Other favorites for your tablet devices include Pepi Doctor, Toca Doctor, and Doctor Panda.
Bringing a lovey or buddy to the exam and allowing your child to guide the experience by asking questions or seeing the images of their x-ray works wonders. Bring along paper and coloring materials and have them draw or write their fears and worries while waiting for the exam. I guarantee your x-ray tech will give you extra special treatment if you show up to your exam with a sweet child’s drawing in hand.