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Pediatrics: Non-Pharmacological Pain Management

Panel 1:

DISTRACTION can help manage pain.

Keep your child’s mind off of their pain by:

  • Watching a video or TV
  • Playing with a favorite toy or playing a game
  • Discussing topics not related to the hospital or their procedure such as school, their friends, or their favorite memories
  • Providing physical comfort such as gentle massage or holding your child (as allowed by their care team)


These tools can be used to manage pain both on their own and with medications. They can also be applied to life experiences beyond the hospital setting and surgery.

Panel 2:

DEEP 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 moth for another five seconds — “1, 2, 3, 4, 5.”
    • Tell them to imagine the pain leaving their body each time they breathe out.

Panel 3:

Positive daily REFLECTION can help manage pain and anxiety.

How to start:

  • Every evening, thank about the people, things, or events that made you happy that day or in the past. Pick one of these and spend a moment savoring it. What make it so special to you?
  • Record this moment by writing it down on a slip of paper, and folding it. Do this for as many pleasant memories as you can. Then place them in a container, like a box or jar.
  • Continue collecting and storing these special moments in the same way each evening for 30 days.


“Cash in” your memories:

  • When you are feeling pain, or you are in need of a little joy, choose 1-2 memories to read.
  • Bring yourself back to that moment in time. Think about why it was important to you.


You can also use Positive Daily Reflections to prepare for surgery. The night before your surgery, randomly pick 10 memories to read. After surgery, continue to “cash in” your memories.

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Pediatrics: Non-Pharmacological Pain Management