Coming to the hospital can be scary for your child. Helping your child prepare will make you more comfortable as well. When and how you prepare your child will depend on the child’s age. In general, talking with your child gently and honestly about an upcoming stay and carefully listening to his or her concerns are the best ways to prepare.
- Discuss what will happen during your child’s hospital stay, what may hurt and how you will be there to support him.
- Use simple language and role play with young children using stuffed animals to describe what your child can expect to happen at the hospital.
- Older children may want to read about going to the hospital and teens may want to do their own research.
- If you need help preparing your child, the Family Resource Center has a number of resources available. They can be reached at 937-641-3700.
Helping Children at Every Age
The needs of your child will change based on age. Our child life experts offer the following tips based on your child’s age.
Infants and toddlers
- Comfort items such as favorite toys and blankets are particularly important for infants and toddlers. Bringing these items will help your child feel soothed and comforted. Easing a child’s anxiety helps him or her heal faster. You may also want to talk to a trusted friend about staying with your child if you have to be away for an extended length of time.
2 to 6 year olds
- Encourage your child to express his or her feelings about the hospital stay. Role playing with stuffed animals is a good way to help him express his emotions.
- Reassure your child you will be there throughout the hospital stay and make arrangements for a friend or family member to take over when you have to be away.
6 to 12 year olds
- Be prepared to answer your child’s questions and take time to explain procedures, treatments and recovery in simple terms.
- Encourage your child to talk about her feelings and concerns.
- Address all of your child’s concerns. Reassure your child that you and everyone caring for her want to make things better. Also, make arrangements for a friend or family member to stay with your child when you have to be away.
- Encourage your teenager to talk with the doctors and nurses caring for him, ask questions and be involved in discussions about the care plan.
- Reassure your teen that the hospital staff will respect his privacy.
- Familiar objects from home such as photos or music, can help make your teen feel more at ease in the hospital.
Come See Us
To help your child feel more at ease, your family may tour the hospital before your scheduled stay or visit. To arrange for a tour, call 937-641-3333. If your child is scheduled for surgery, be sure to take advantage of our Presurgery Tour. Tours are held two evenings each week. You may also order a DVD or video to watch from home, or you may view the tour online.
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Visit the "Dr. Mom Squad" blog at blog.childrensdayton.org to hear from four local women who know what it is like to be both a doctor AND a mom! Come back each week to learn important information on kids health and safety from women who understand the medical and the mom side of you child's health!