Focus Pain Relief

Magic Tricks for Kids’ Needle Sticks- how you can relieve shot pain naturally
Download some Magic Tricks!

Pain Distraction (or focus distraction) gives alternative pain relief for needle procedure pain if your health care provider doesn’t provide numbing creams. It’s not really magic, but using these tricks can seem like it! Research has shown that when adults can pay attention to other things, pain hurts less. Breathing out (like Lamaze for labor) or focusing on a task (like coughing) makes pain more tolerable. Other studies prove that helping even very young children pay attention to something other than an immunization also makes needle pain less obnoxious.
Whether it’s a full-blown child needle phobia or just a mild fear of needles, helping kids cope with needle pain is important. Forcing needle phobic kids to have immunizations or other needle procedures without pain management will increase the chances of that child having a serious needle phobia and avoiding medical care as an adult.

Different activities may work better for different children and different ages. Here are a few pediatric pain management techniques that are proven effective. Some children prefer passive distraction (you show them things) while others do better participating actively. While pain distraction commonly uses props brought from home, we have given a few ideas that require no preparation. Children’s imaginations are so vivid, telling a story to go along with the activity will be even more effective.


  • Watching bubbles
  • Watching videos
  • Looking at a book
  • Watching Buzzy® as the vibrations make the figures wiggle


  • Saying made up bad words! Recent reports mentioned that swearing decreases pain. For a kid, allowing them to say “booger” or “poop” may have the same effect. The study found 4x better pain relief for non-swearers, so maybe if you make up some good swear words you can get additional humor pain relief added in. “Poobletoots!”, anyone? Aw, snapcoopies. Florp.
    Blowing bubbles
  • Blowing pinwheels or, better yet, a KAZOO! Make a task, like “blow 5 toots and you can keep this!
  • Finding small pictures in detailed pictures (as with “I Spy” or “Where’s Waldo”)
  • Wiggling Buzzy® back and forth up and down the arm, blocking the view of the shot
  • Spotting a detail on Bee-Stractors!

Flippits Distraction Cards!

  • Making the cover dance or fly during the needle stick

No Preparation

  • These natural, alternative pain relief methods can be done anywhere, anytime!
    Colored Cloud – Tell the child to take a big breath and hold it, then imagine a color. When the shot or IV stick is attempted, have them blow out the air and imagine it coming out as a color. They can even try sky writing or aiming breath puffs at imaginary targets!
  • Count something – dots on ceiling tiles, number of tiles, letters in a sign
  • Tell them a story, but have them provide details: color of castle, kind of pet, dessert on the King’s table!


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