“I don’t know you, so back off.”

There’s something special about working with pediatric patients. With adults, you can walk into a room and strike up a conversation, allowing you to develop trust and a relationship. But with kids, you have to gain the trust of Mom and Dad AND your young patient.

The baby who is feeling miserable and doesn’t understand why. The child who was poked once, twice, maybe even three times for an IV and blood draw. A teen who would rather be somewhere (anywhere!) else but here – thank you very much!

As adults, we are able to censor our responses to appropriate. The beauty of innocent children is that they don’t waste their time with being socially acceptable. Their honest responses can make providing care a bit more challenging, even when I am trying help. No, really, I am!

Some real-life examples:

“I don’t know you.”

This usually translates to, “I don’t trust you to come near me. Or my mom. Or my sister. Or my stuffed animal Rufus. Back off.”

“You look big and scary.”

This can mean, “If you step foot in my room I’m going to scream as loud as I can until you leave. Unless you brought me stickers, then you may have a chance.”

“I don’t want you to touch me.”

This is often followed by pulling a blanket overhead “so you can’t see me and then you won’t know I’m here. Oh, and by the way, I can leave this blanket over my head for a very.long.time.”

Long story short, nurses in the world of pediatrics, babies, kids, tween and teens work hard to gain trust. A seemingly simple task can take twice as long as usual, but the reward is that much greater. When I start out the day with a toddler who is terrified of me and doesn’t want me near them, and end the day coloring with that child, with a “Thank you for taking care of me,” it really doesn’t get much better than that.

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