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Tips to Help Children through Their Medical Tests

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Stool Sample

Most older children are "turned off" by the suggestion that they need to provide a stool sample for testing, even if they can do it in the privacy of their own bathroom. Fortunately, stool samples are not routinely required for children.

Except for infants, from whom a sample can be collected from a soiled diaper, the procedure is the same as for an adult. The child, however, will probably need an adult to set them at ease about how the sample will be collected and to transfer the sample into a suitable container for transport to the doctor's office or laboratory.

Here are some tips to make sample collection go smoothly.

Acknowledge Embarrassment — Acknowledge the child’s reluctance by saying something like "I know this may be embarrassing for you. It can be embarrassing for a grownup who has to do it, too, but we need this because..." A statement such as this gives the child permission to express his or her feelings and become more comfortable in accepting the help required in this situation.

Simplify — Loosely fitting a sheet of plastic wrap over the toilet bowl but under the toilet seat allows the child to proceed fairly normally with a bowel movement. The child can call an adult to remove the plastic and specimen before placing urine or toilet paper in the toilet bowl. A bedpan placed under the toilet seat can work the same way. A younger child can simply use a potty seat with its own collection container. In most cases, you do not need to be concerned about whether or not the sample has been contaminated by urine.

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