Skip to main content
Michigan OPEN
Resources  |  Materials  |  Brochures

Pediatrics Non-Medication Pain Management

Distraction can help manage pain

Keep your child’s mind off of their pain. Try these techniques together!

  • Watch a favorite TV show
  • Create art – it can be a great outlet for expressing feelings
  • Offer special foods and treats
  • Pay a game, listen to music, or read a book
  • Provide physical comfort such as hugs and gentle massage (as allowed by their care team)

 Mindful breathing can help manage pain

  • Aim to practice deep breathing two times a day in 10-minute sessions.
    • It may be helpful to you and your child to do this exercise together.
  • Breathe in through your nose for five seconds — counting in your head “1, 2, 3, 4, 5.”
    • As your child breathes in, remind them to focus on the areas of their body where they feel pain or discomfort
  • Breathe out through your mouth for another five seconds — “1, 2, 3, 4, 5.”
    • Tell them to imagine the pain leaving their body each time they breathe out.

Positive daily reflection can help manage pain and anxiety.

Think with your child about the people, things, or events that have made them happy. Pick one of these and spend a moment savoring it together. What made it so special to them?

Record the moment! Do this for as many pleasant memories as you can. It can be fun to write them on paper and collect them in a container.

Continue storing these special moments until you have a collection to reflect on!

Reflect on the positive memories:

When your child is feeling pain, or in need of joy, choose a memory to read together. Go back to that moment in time together and think about why it was important.

Use the memory collection to prepare for surgery by calmly reflecting on favorite happy experiences.


Additional Resources:  Use these strategies at the same time as medications recommended by your child’s doctor to manage pain. They can also be applied to life experiences beyond the hospital setting and surgery. Click here for more information.

Cite this work:
OPEN: Opioid Prescribing Engagement Network (2022). Pediatrics Non-Medication Pain Management [English]. Retrieved from


Pediatrics: Non-Medication Pain Management