COVID-19 Tests for Kids

Preparing Your Child for a COVID-19 Test

By now, children are quite familiar with the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, and the importance of social distancing, hand washing, and wearing a mask. They’ve probably become more accustomed to new routines and seeing others in masks as well.

While you’ve done everything by the book, what happens when your child starts showing signs of the virus and needs a COVID-19 test? Do they know what to expect? Are they scared?

Childhood anxieties and fears are a normal part of development. But how do you help ease their thoughts about getting this special test… especially if you are nervous too?

As the test draws closer, children will certainly have a lot of questions. Our primary care team provides some tips to help ease worries and fears for the whole family.

Preparing for the Test

In preparation for the test, role-playing the entire process can be especially helpful for younger children. Although it is an important test, going through the motions with them can reduce fears about the experience.

What’s the “magic wand” that is used?

The swab that’s used for the test isn’t a magic wand, per se, but is a tool doctors use to seek out and find tiny, invisible viruses that may be lurking in people’s noses.

Explain that the swab they use is very similar to the Q-tips you have at home—just a bit longer. Let them know that they will feel that swab go deep in their noses and that it may feel a little strange and itchy for a few seconds. If you have a Q-tip at home, you can let them hold and feel it – but don’t leave young children alone with it as they can get hurt. They can also practice swabbing their favorite stuffed animal or doll to get the hang of what will happen.

The superheroes in masks

Just like our favorite superheroes wear costumes, our medical professionals wear costumes as well to protect us and themselves from bad guys like COVID-19. Describe that the people running the test will be wearing masks, gowns and special face shields and they are there to help them feel better.


The most important thing for your child to remember when preparing for the test is holding their head completely still so the staff can carefully swab them.

Typically, it takes about 10 seconds for them to swab both sides of the nose, so you can practice together staying still and counting out loud to 10.

For younger children, it may help for them to imagine that they’ve been frozen in ice by their favorite animation character, and the only way to unfreeze is to hold completely still until the superheroes finish swabbing their nose.

Where the test is done

Most often when you arrive at the testing site, you and your child will remain in the car the whole time the test is being done. Let them know you can sit next to them during the swabbing or have them sit in your lap as you hug and comfort them.

Additional Tips to Ease Fears During the Test

No matter how much you prepare your child, they still may be very nervous and scared during the test. Here are some additional things you can do to help:

  • Bring a stuffed animal, blanket or special toy for them to hold during the test.
  • Listen to calming music.
  • Let your child know that it’s okay to not like getting tested, but that it will be over faster than it takes them to wash their hands.
  • If it helps, count out loud together as they are getting swabbed.

What Happens After the Test?

Once the test is completed, they can wave goodbye to the heroes in masks and go home, stay home and rest.

Depending on the testing location, it can take several days to get the results, so it’s important for everyone in the family to stay home until that time.

For additional information on COVID-19, check out the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or contact us through our website here: