The Stitch Fairy’s Coming!

No matter how hard you try to keep your child safe, chances are the time will come when stitches are needed.Pflaster / Plaster It’s a childhood right of passage. Whether he’s jumping on the couch (ouch!), falling off playground equipment, or tripping over the dog, an exposed body part is likely to come in contact with something sharp or solid. Often the ER staff can use bio-adhesive (super glue with a hefty price tag) to close the cut. But if not, after surviving the trauma of seeing all that blood, rushing to the ER, and sobbing through the shot of lidocaine and stitches, there’s the added insult of visiting the family doctor to have those stitches removed. Here’s a trick to turn that trip into an adventure.

Removing stitches doesn’t hurt, so if you can distract your little guy from the business at hand the battle is won. I take a large square of gauze (or tissue, or whatever) and ask the child to please hold it very carefully. As I snip and remove each stitch (accompanied by a silly patter of conversation) I place it gently and lovingly into the gauze as if it were valuable treasure. When I’m finished I explain that the stitch fairy is coming that night to collect the remains and leave a reward. Those stitches are extremely valuable in fairy land! If the child is very anxious and fearful, I sometimes explain all this before beginning, but usually the story works well as part of the distraction process. Just give your doctor the ‘heads up’ and you’re good to go.

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Ellen and Rachel are two old friends and “expert” mamas—one a pediatrician and one a family therapist—with fifty years of parenting experience between them.

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