***This post is a collaboration and may contain affiliate links. If your child has to go to the hospital for treatment or tests, you will likely feel anxious about it. I recall when my youngest daughter was admitted for a strange virus, I was extremely distraught. What was worse, I didn’t have time to prepare myself or her for the stressful event. She was only 4 at the time, so I did my best to comfort her. She was terrified of the nurses, the needles, and every strange sound. There were some tantrums! I learned a lot about how to handle emergency situations with children that week. Here are 4 ways to prepare your child for a hospital stay.
Prepare Your Child for a Hospital Stay #1: Be Honest with Your Child
It is very important that you are honest with your child about where they are going and why. Explain as much as you need to, according to what you believe is age-appropriate. However, depending on the situation, sharing too much detail up front could scare your child unnecessarily. The most important thing is to let your child know that you will be there and everything will be OK. Regardless of what is ahead, your calm, comforting voice will help keep your child calm.
Hopefully, when it’s time to see the doctor, he or she will feel safe enough to talk and cooperate. When my daughter was in the hospital, the nurses took her blood every two hours or so. Her IV line was not operating correctly, so it was the only way to test her blood for any changes in her condition. There was no way I could have prepared her for this because I didn’t know up front. In cases when things don’t go as planned, remain calm and do your best to comfort your child. That was all I could do.
Prepare Your Child for a Hospital Stay #2: Take a Tour of the Facility
If you have time before the scheduled stay, take your child on a tour of the hospital. That way, he or she feels more familiar with the setting and sounds. Children’s hospitals are particularly good about providing special rooms and activities for their young patients. Lyric was at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis for her one week stay. I was so thankful for the bright colored, child-friendly rooms they had. It made our stay so much more relaxed. Some facilities even have partial hospitalization programs for children who have extreme anxiety. You can learn more from Compass Health Center about these types programs.
Prepare Your Child for a Hospital Stay #3: Bring Some Things from Home
When in the hospital, your child needs to feel safe and comfortable. Having special toys, blankets, and books take the edge off of the stress and even pain. It’s not uncommon for people to take pillows and the comforter right off the child’s bed. I believe you should do whatever is necessary to keep your child comfortable.
If for some reason you have to leave your child alone overnight, leaving a cell phone or tablet will help ease the discomfort for you both. However, do what you can to stay with your child. If it’s impossible for you, select someone else from your family that the child feels safe with.
Prepare Your Child for a Hospital Stay #4: Stay Positive and Supportive
Physical care is only a part of the healing process your child will go through. You can help immensely with a strong sense of leadership and positivism. Being positive and clear about all that happens there helps to improve your mindset, as well as your child’s. I remember talking about future events positively, like how we would spend the next Christmas or birthday. These happy distractions helped my daughter know that things would be OK, that she would be coming home soon.
Fun, happy games, puzzles, and crafts are usually provided by the hospital, but make sure to bring your child’s favorite. Your support and complete attention are what will help everyone stay calm and hopeful should things get scary. Remember, you deserve support, as well. Choose someone from your family who can give you a break and talk to you about everything. Rest when you your child rests. This is extremely important for your well-being.