Preparing Your Child For The Hospital
Preparing your child before he/she visits the hospital can help lessen fear
Being in the hospital and having medical procedures can be very stressful for children of all ages. Preparing your child ahead of time for the things he/she may experience during a visit to Hurley Medical Center will reduce much of the anxiety.
Giving your child honest, accurate information will help lessen many of his/her fears about what will happen. Talk with your child about the upcoming event. Give your child a chance to tell you how he/she is feeling and to ask questions. Your child may be worrying about something that will not happen. Being honest with your child will help him/her trust you and the people he/she will meet at the doctor's office or hospital.
Tips to help your child before an appointment
The more a child knows in advance about what to expect, the more comfortable he/she will be. If your child is under the age of 5, talk to him/her one to two days before the hospital visit. Older children should have more time to hear the information and ask questions, such as a few days to a week).
- Resist the temptation to ‘sugar coat’ what is going to happen. If something will hurt, say so.
- Be honest. If you do not know the answer to your child's question, tell him/her that you do not know, but that you will find out.
- Use simple words that your child will understand.
- Encourage your child to discuss feelings and/or ask questions about the upcoming experience with you, but be careful not to force a discussion if your child does not seem ready.
Tips to help your child before being admitted to Hurley Medical Center
- Emphasize that the hospital stay is temporary.
- Reassure your child that you will visit often and will stay overnight if this is the case.
- Pack together for the hospital stay and include the things your child wants with him/her in the hospital (pajamas, a favorite toy).
- Include your entire family in one of your 'pre-hospital' talks.
- Borrow a library book that describes a hospital stay and read it with your child.
- Ask about any tours or preparation programs that the hospital may provide
What your child may be feeling
Younger than age 3
Your child's greatest fear is being away from you. Being with your child as much as possible during the hospital stay will make your child feel more secure. Explain in a way that your child can understand why the hospital stay is necessary and that it is not at all a punishment.
Ages 4 to 6
Children in this age group fear damage to their bodies. Be careful when explaining what will take place and avoid phrases such as ‘being put to sleep.’ Instead, you can say, “The doctors will help you take a nap for a few hours.” When talking about surgery, you can say 'opening' instead of 'cut.'
Ages 6 to 12
Children older than 6 will worry about losing control as well as damage to their bodies. Be honest that there will be pain after an operation, if this is the case, and explain that although it will hurt for a while, he or she will be made to feel as comfortable as possible.
Teenagers are often reluctant to ask questions, leading you to believe that they understand more than they actually do. Encourage your teenager to ask the doctors and nurses questions about his or her condition. Include your child in discussions so that he/she feels more in control.
Child Life Services
The goal of Child Life Services is to help make a medical experience easier on a pediatric patient and the family. Hurley's Child Life Services has been providing loving emotional support for our pediatric patients from birth to young adulthood for over 35 years. By talking to and playing with our young patients, Child Life workers discover their likes/dislikes, their interests, their fears, and ways that might help them with their medical experience. To learn more about Hurley's Child Life Services, click here.
Preparing a child or teenager for surgery is essential. To help reduce the fear of the unknown, Child Life specialists will take young patients and their parents on a tour of the surgical area before the scheduled procedure. Pre-surgical tours may include a virtual or actual tour of the surgical area, and can be scheduled by contacting the Child Life office at (810) 262-9577. Tours are recommended for children ages 3-17 and are best scheduled within a week of the surgery date. The Child Life Specialist Team can also offer recommendations for how to prepare your child for surgery if a hospital tour is not possible.
Hurley pediatric patients (ages 10 and older) have their own special place on the 2nd floor of the hospital in the pediatric unit. Children can forget for awhile the many tests and procedures they have to endure and play on an Xbox. In this magical room, they can have fun and just be kids. For more information about Hurley's Xbox Room, click here.