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Coping with Seizures in Children

Only about 1 in 10 people will ever have a seizure in their life. Children who have seizures may have only one and never have another. Other children may have seizures once in a while, or many times a day. And though seizures can be scary for parents and caregivers, they aren’t painful and are usually brief.

What to do if your child has a seizure

A convulsive seizure is also known as a major motor seizure or a grand mal seizure. If your child shows signs of having this type of seizure:

  • Stay calm.

  • Make sure the child is breathing.

  • Roll the child onto their side.

  • Place the child on the ground in a safe area.

  • Remove any nearby objects that the child might hit.

  • Loosen any clothing around the child’s head and neck.

  • Remain with your child until the seizure is over.

Watch and be able to describe what happened before, during, and after the seizure. Try to look at a watch or clock to know how long the seizure lasts.

If your child has medicine to stop a seizure while it happens, make sure you know how to use it.

If your child has a vagus nerve stimulator to treat seizures, follow the instructions you were given to activate it.

What not to do during and after a seizure

  • Don't try to restrain the child’s movements.

  • Don't put anything in the child’s mouth.

  • Don't wake the child if they fall asleep after the seizure.

  • Don't give the child anything to eat or drink until they are awake and alert.

Keeping your child safe

  • Develop a list of safety measures with your healthcare provider to prevent injury to your child when they have a seizure.

  • Carefully monitor activities such as swimming and bathing to keep your child safe in the case of a seizure.

  • Tell other caretakers of your child’s condition. Instruct them on how to respond to a seizure if it happens.

  • If your child is on medicine, make sure they take it as prescribed.

  • Keep track of the number of remaining pills and refills. Call your healthcare provider for refills if they are running low.

  • Talk with your healthcare provider about when and if it will be safe for your child to learn to drive and obtain a driver's license.

Call 911

Call 911 if your child:

  • Has trouble breathing

  • Has bluish skin

  • Has a heart condition

  • Hurts themselves during the seizure

  • Has a seizure that lasts more than 5 minutes

  • Has a seizure that seems different than usual

  • Remains unconscious, unresponsive, or confused for more than 5 minutes after the seizure

Online Medical Reviewer: Joseph Campellone MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Ronald Karlin MD
Date Last Reviewed: 7/1/2023
© 2000-2024 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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