Preparing children for a hospital stay can be a challenging and emotional experience for both parents and children.
Here are some tips for parents to help make the process smoother:
Honesty and Communication: Be open and honest with your child about why they need to go to the hospital. Use age-appropriate language and answer their questions as truthfully as possible. Reassure them that you will be there to support them.
Choose the Right Time: Try to schedule the hospital stay at a time when it is least disruptive to your child’s routine, if possible. This can help reduce anxiety.
Visit the Hospital in Advance: If possible, take your child for a visit to the hospital before their stay. This can help familiarise them with the environment and reduce anxiety.
Explain the Process: Explain what will happen during their stay, such as the procedures, tests, and treatments they might undergo. You can use simple language and possibly read age-appropriate books about going to the hospital.
Bring Comfort Items: Allow your child to bring their favourite comfort items, such as a stuffed animal, blanket, or a special toy. Having familiar items can provide comfort during their stay.
Stay with Them: If possible, stay with your child during their hospital stay. This can provide them with a sense of security and comfort.
Bring Entertainment: Bring books, games, or electronic devices to keep your child occupied during downtime. Hospitals can be boring, and having distractions can help pass the time.
Maintain a Routine: Stick to your child’s normal routine as much as possible, including meal times and sleep schedules. This can provide a sense of stability in an unfamiliar environment.
Support from Hospital Staff: Ask the hospital staff for information on child life services, which often have specialists who can help children cope with their hospital experience through play and education.
Stay Calm: Children can often pick up on their parents’ emotions. Stay calm, positive, and reassuring, even if you are feeling anxious yourself.
Stay Informed: Be informed about the hospital’s policies and procedures, as well as any rules regarding visiting hours and support services available to you and your child.
Prepare Siblings: If you have other children, prepare them for the hospital stay as well. Explain what is happening and why their sibling is going to the hospital.
Follow-Up Care: Understand the post-hospital care your child will need and be prepared to support them through their recovery at home.
Remember that every child is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Tailor your approach to your child’s age, personality, and needs. The goal is to create a supportive and reassuring environment to help them feel as comfortable as possible during their hospital stay.
Here are some children’s books that can help prepare your children for going into hospital:
“Curious George Goes to the Hospital” by Margret Rey and H.A. Rey
“Clifford Visits the Hospital” by Norman Bridwell
“Franklin Goes to the Hospital” by Paulette Bourgeois
“A Visit to the Sesame Street Hospital” by Deborah Hautzig
“The Berenstain Bears Go to the Doctor” by Stan and Jan Berenstain
“My Hospital” by Leslie McGuire
“Topsy and Tim: Go to Hospital” by Jean Adamson and Gareth Adamson: Topsy and Tim experience a hospital visit and learn about the medical care they receive.
“My Friend the Doctor” by Joanna Cole: While not specifically about going to the hospital, this book helps children understand the role of doctors and nurses, which can be reassuring.
These books are designed to ease children’s fears and provide them with a better understanding of what to expect during a hospital visit.