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7 Un-Fun Health Milestones

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Having a Hospital Procedure

Maybe your child was born with a problem that now must be surgically corrected. Or perhaps he needs to stay overnight for tests. Or it could be that he got nabbed by appendicitis. Whatever the cause, he's in good company. More than 2 million kids under age 15 are admitted to hospitals annually.

The Ouch Factor Some procedures often done on check-in -- giving blood, inserting a catheter -- are inevitably painful. But being in a foreign place with bunches of strangers poking and prodding is often more upsetting.

On-the-Spot Soothers When a technician had to insert an IV into 2-year-old Jona Jaffe's hand, her mom, Jaelline, had her take a deep breath and blow a huge, fake bubble. As the technician proceeded, Jaelline told a story in great detail of them entering the bubble and flying over their favorite sites in Disneyland. Also effective: Try to give your child choices whenever possible, to make him feel more empowered. "You can't say, 'Do you want this shot?' But you can say, 'Left arm or right arm? Sitting on my lap or lying down?'" child life specialist Cetnarowski advises. Finally, if the experience will be particularly unpleasant, feel free to resort to bribery. New deluxe Play-Doh set, anyone?

Thinking Ahead Many hospitals hold kids' orientation programs and tours, which your child attends a few days to a few weeks beforehand to help him visualize what's coming. "If yours doesn't, ask if there's someone who can give you a private walk-through," Cetnarowski says. She also warns about using words that have a scary double meaning. For example, "If your child will get general anesthesia, never say he's being 'put to sleep,'" she says. "He knows you did that to your dog!"

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