Preparing Your Child
Children can become very anxious and fearful about having to spend the night at the hospital. As the parent, there are a number of ways you can help ease your child into the idea of an overnight stay. By the time they arrive for their hospital stay, they will feel secure and safe at the hospital.
If you prepare children ahead of time, it may positively affect their behavior better during the stay and after they go home. One of the best things you can do for your child is to communicate with them, in a way that’s appropriate to their age level. Reassure the child that they don’t need to be concerned about the hospital stay. Allow them to ask any questions and clear up any misconceptions.
Common fears children may have about being in the hospital can include being away from family and friends, having a part of their body injured, or experiencing pain. You can help your children deal with these fears with these ideas:
- Arrange for a tour of the hospital before admission.
- Talk about what will happen to them in general, understandable terms so they know what to expect.
- Emphasize that the child has not done anything wrong and is not being punished.
- Explain the benefits of going to the hospital, such as, “After surgery for your broken leg you will be able to do gymnastics again.”
- Encourage the child to ask questions to their doctors and nurses.
- Be understanding if the child starts to express fears about going to the hospital or displays regressive behavior, such as potty training or being afraid of the dark.
You could also role-play with a doll or teddy bear by taking the toy’s temperature or listening to its heartbeat. Parents may not fully realize their children’s fear about the surgery. Be sure to explain to children that they will not feel pain during the operation, will wake up from anesthesia, and will have their parents waiting for them when they wake up.
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