The Cough Trick: A Simple Way To Take The Pain Away

From our “why didn’t WE think of that?” file, the February issue of the journal Pediatrics reports a simple technique to help minimize kids’ pain and discomfort when immunization time comes around.

Here’s how it works: ask your child to give a single practice cough (YOU know how to make this fun and funny). Then request the best cough they’ve ever given to coincide with the moment of the needle stick. They actually did a research study on this technique and found that it significantly reduced distress during the visit.

Eureka! Distraction and engagement … two of the best tools out there when it comes to managing uncomfortable stuff that kids have to endure.

We can think of lots more situations where this coughing thing can help. Let’s start with removing a band-aid … or anything that’s stuck.

Then there are those moments when you want to divert attention from the action at hand. Like when you’re hiding the Batman costume that your little guy has worn to preschool for 6 days in a row …


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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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