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Helping you and your child with doing a coronavirus test

What is the test?

It is really important that if your children show symptoms of coronavirus or are requested to have a test that you make sure it is done correctly.

This is to help stop the spread of the virus and keep you safe.

The symptoms of coronavirus are a high temperature, a cough that lasts more than an hour or a loss of taste and smell. 

If your child show’s symptoms you will need to arrange a test to be delivered to you or for you to visit a test centre please make sure you book an appointment before arriving by either:

The coronavirus test involves taking a swab from the nose and back of the throat and you may need to carry out the test at home, in a mobile testing site in your car or in a health care setting and this guidance should help.

Preparing yourself and your child for doing the test

Make sure you or a family member read the instructions carefully before starting.

Staying calm, reassuring, and positive yourself about the testing process is important.

Be honest with them, you may want to tell them:

  • it may feel scratchy and uncomfortable but it won’t take long.
  • it is to check if they have the virus - make sure they get the right care and make sure the virus doesn’t get passed around.
  • you will need to take a wipe of their throat and up their nose with a big cotton bud to see if there are virus germs there.
  • it is very quick. First they will open their mouth wide – say ‘arhhh’ and you will wipe the swab at the back of the throat. It might make them cough. Then you will put the same swab just inside each nostril, this might tickle. Then it will be all done.

Supporting your child

  • Tell your child the swabbing will be quick and needs to be done. Let them choose a teddy to squeeze. If your child is young, the teddy could have a pretend swab first (don’t use the real swab!).
  • Help them slow down their breathing, count to ten, play some music they like or sing a song. Talk to them about a nice thing you will do together later.
  • Get them to concentrate on making the loudest ‘arhhhh’ noise possible. Show them how you can make this noise too as this may make them laugh and put them at ease.
  • If they are crying loudly you might decide you can quickly do the swabs so that it is done.
  • If they won’t open their mouth – come back to it a short while later. Do something relaxing together and then try again.
  • Comfort them with the kind and gentle way you talk and perhaps offer soothing touch like stroking their arm or giving them a hug.
  • Don’t get into a battle but keep reassuring, be confident and gently assertive that it needs to be done without being forceful as this could be frightening for them.

What else can I do?

Take your time and try not to let any anxiety you are feeling show. Even very young children are able to pick up on how we are feeling.

Breathe deeply and slowly.

Keep your voice calm and low.

If there is another grown up in your home get them to help – your child might want to sit on their lap or hold their hand. If there is no other adult remind yourself that you can do this.

The key is for a calm parent, calm child.