How to Help a Child at the Hospital
We recognize that the hospital is a difficult environment for children to be in. While we cannot take away all the stress, we want to help your child to cope.
The following are suggestions to help your child while hospitalized.
- Play as often as possible. Having down time to just be a kid and participate in favorite activities is a great way to provide an appropriate distraction.
- Encourage your child to maintain connections to siblings and friends. If possible and you feel it is appropriate, have siblings and friends visit.
- Talk with your child, in an age-appropriate manner, about what to expect while in the hospital. Use simple language and short phrases and encourage your child to ask questions.
- Provide time prior to procedures or events so that your child can understand what to expect and can ask questions.
- If a procedure will be taking place in your child’s hospital room, ask if it can be done in the Treatment Room instead. This room was created because we recognize it can be difficult for children to relax and sleep at in the same space in which procedures take place.
- If your child will be hospitalized for an extended period of time, ask for a daily schedule to write in your child’s cares, treatments, therapies and playtimes (or down time) so they know what to expect throughout the day.
- If you must leave your child’s bedside, tell your child before you leave. Tell them what time you are leaving and when you will be back.
- If you cannot be with your child at all times while hospitalized, plan when you will call to talk with your child.
- Child Life Specialists are educated in the effects of hospitalization on children and they are available Monday through Friday to provide resources to help your child cope with hospitalization. Resources include procedural preparation picture books, medical play equipment, children’s books about coping with hospitalization and specialized distraction and diversion activities for coping with procedures.