Summer Fun & Summer Accidents

Child Life Specialists’ Tips for Helping Your Child Through Stitches

By Colorful Hearts LLC May 30, 2024

With summer just around the corner, kids will be spending plenty of time playing outside. This season also brings a significant increase in children needing urgent care and emergency room visits for stitches. Colorful Hearts LLC, a team of child life specialists, is trained to support children in stressful situations, such as emergency department visits. Child Life Specialists use their expertise in child development to reduce the trauma associated with hospital visits. For many children, getting stitches—or "string band-aids," as we call them—can be their first experience in an emergency department. Here are some tips to help prepare both you and your child for the visit.

  1. Try to remain calm. Take a deep breath! Seeing your child hurt can be very frightening, but children often pick up on their parents' emotions. If they sense that you’re anxious about what is going to happen, they will likely become anxious too.
  2. Honesty. If your child is asking questions, answer them as honestly as possible. If they ask whether they will need stitches, it's okay to say, "I don't know the answer to that. We are going to see the doctor, and they will decide the best way to close your cut. We'll come up with a plan together to get through it, whatever it may be."
  3. Distract. If possible, plan to bring a couple activities for your child or their favorite comfort toy from home. This will help them feel more comfortable and can help provide distraction if there is a wait time. 
  4. Explain. If your child does need stitches, here is a quick way you can explain it to them: Stitches are also called string band-aids. Stitches are a special string that helps bring your cut together so that it can heal faster and help keep out infection. There are     special tools you will see that will help hold the string in place. You may also see tweezers and a tiny pair of scissors that are used to cut the string. The scissors only cut the string and they never cut you or touch your skin. The doctor is going to give you medicine to make the area around your cut sleepy, so that you don’t feel any “ouchies” or anything sharp when they put the string in. The doctor then ties the string together like a shoelace. You may still feel touching or a “tugging” feeling on your skin. That’s normal, but it should not feel sharp. If you feel something sharp you can tell us so that the doctor can give you more medicine. 
  5. Comfort. During the process, help your child stay as calm and relaxed as possible. This might involve holding their hands, playing a video on a phone or tablet, listening to music, or talking to them. Some children may want to know what is happening, and that's okay! Provide them with appropriate information about what you see to help reassure them and keep them calm. For example, you can say, "I see the doctor touching you with her hand now. Okay, it looks like one of the strings is in, and the doctor is tying it together."
  6. What to expect when you arrive at the hospital. During check-in at the emergency room, you can expect to provide some basic information about your child, such as their name, age, and medical history. The staff will likely ask about the nature of the injury and how it happened. You may need to fill out some forms and provide your insurance details. After check-in, there may be a short wait before a nurse or medical professional assesses your child’s condition. This initial evaluation helps determine the next steps in the treatment process. Keeping your child calm and distracted with a toy or activity can help make this waiting period easier.

Colorful Hearts LLC is here to support children and families during stressful encounters like emergency room visits. Our trained professionals use their expertise in child development to minimize trauma and provide comfort through tailored coping strategies. Whether it's a hospital visit or another challenging situation, we are committed to making these experiences as smooth and positive as possible for your child. For more information or to reach out to us, please contact us at or visit our website at Colorful Hearts LLC. We're here to help you and your child every step of the way!