Childr Health Information

Preparing Your Child for Medical Experiences

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Topic: Tests & Procedures

This handout was written to answer some of the questions most often asked about preparing children for medical experiences. Feel free to ask your doctor, nurse or a child life specialist to go over any information you do not understand.

What is a "medical experience"?
Medical experiences include:

  • Visits to the doctor
  • Visits to the emergency department/urgent care
  • Medical tests (such as x-rays, blood tests)
  • Vaccinations or baby shots
  • Surgeries
  • Admissions to the hospital

Why should I prepare my child?
Medical experiences can be very upsetting to children. You can help your child to be less upset and to feel more in control during the event.

How do I prepare my child?

  • Learn why the medical experience is necessary and what will happen. Your doctor, nurse and other hospital personnel can help with this.
  • Explain to your child what to expect in words your child will understand.
  • Tell your child about how long the event will take. For example, “the blood test will be over before you can count to “20”, we will be able to leave the hospital around lunch time.”
  • Answer any questions that your child might have. Be honest.
  • Read library books about doctors, nurses and hospitals with your child.
  • Allow your child to play “doctor” or “hospital” at home using puppets, dolls or toy medical kits.
  • If your child is having surgery or will stay in the hospital, call to schedule a pre-surgery or hospital tour.
  • Preview any videos and educational materials available.
  • Have all information given to you in a folder or binder for reference.

When should I prepare my child?
In general:

  • Preschool age children (ages 3-5) should be prepared one to two hours before the experience.
  • School-age children (ages 6-11) should be prepared a day or two before the experience, if possible. This gives them time to ask questions.
  • Adolescents (ages 12 and above) should be involved in the planning of the experience when possible and be allowed to make decisions about it.

What can I do for my child during the medical experience?

  • When possible, stay with your child during any test or procedure.
  • Bring a favorite toy, stuffed animal or security blanket.
  • Bring a favorite book or tape and recorder.
  • Give hugs and praise during and after the event. Praise your child’s efforts, no matter how small.
  • Plan to spend extra time together after it is over.
  • Talk with your child after the experience is over. Listen to your child’s feelings about it.

Books you may find helpful
Curious George Goes to the Hospital, Brett G. Hellcats
Going to the Hospital, Mr. Rogers
Elizabeth Gets Well, Aflons Weber
I Know A Nurse, Marilyn Schima, RN
Madeline, Ludwig Bemelmans
Mom, I Broke My Arm, Angelika Wolff
My Doctor, Harlow Rockwell
A Hospital Book, James Howe
Why Am I Going to the Hospital? C. Ciliotta
A Shot For Baby Bear, D. Carey
When I See My Doctor, S. Kuklin
The Teenage Hospital Experience, E. Richter
Chris Gets Ear Tubes, B. Pace
Barney Is Best, N. White-Carlstrom
Eric Needs Stitches, Barbara Pavis Marino
Who’s Sick Today?

Videos you may find helpful
Sesame Street Goes to the Doctor, Jim Henson
Plastic Eggs: Cracking Hospital Life, Starbright

Check with our Family Resource Center (937-641-3700) for other materials that may help you and your child.


Derechos de autor(c) de The Children's Medical Center, ano 1999. Este material unicamente tiene fines educativos. No puede ser reproducido, distribuido ni modificado sin previa autorizacion de The Children's Medical Center of Dayton, One Children's Plaza, Dayton, Ohio, 45404-1815. Llame al 937-641-3666 para solicitar autorizacion o para obtener un juego maestro para copias. Para obtener mas informacion puede visitar (consulte la seccion de informacion legal).

La informacion contenida en este material es unicamente informacion de tipo general. No debe considerarse como completa. Para obtener mas informacion acerca de los complementos para leche materna, por favor pidala a su doctor.
Corregido: 2000, 2003

The information contained in this handout is for general information only and should not be considered complete. For specific information about bathing your baby, please ask your doctor or nurse practitioner.

Additional information may be located in the Family Resource Center, 2nd floor, near the Outpatient Surgery Center. Hours of the center vary; please contact the Family Resource Center at 937-641-3700.

Copyright(c) The Children's Medical Center of Dayton. This material is for educational purposes only. It cannot be reproduced or distributed without permission from Dayton Children's.
Revised: 2000, 2003


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