Hospital stays are stressful enough for adults, but for kids, the experience can be frightening. Preparing your child for hospitalization, whether it's overnight or for a longer stay, can help make your child feel more confident going into the situation.
Here are five ways to better prepare your child for a hospital stay.
1. Have a Questions and Answers Session
Much of the fear and stress of hospitalization comes from the unknown. When children are unaware of what is happening or what to expect, the entire experience can become even more stressful and frightening.
Have a questions and answers session with your child. Encourage your child to ask questions about what may be concerning her or what she wants to know more about.
After answering questions, have your child repeat the answers or summarize what she heard to ensure that she understands.
Find a quiet time to have this discussion and use a calm voice to keep anxiety to a minimum.
2. Be Honest
It's natural for parents to want to protect their children from painful or scary experiences. But minimizing the negative aspects of the experience may ultimately cause mistrust. There will likely be some negative aspect to the medical experience, and your child will be blindsided by these aspects if they are told the entire experience will be pleasant and positive.
Be honest with your child, but do so in a non-threatening way. Tell her about some of the possible feelings she may experience.
3. Talk About How Hospitals Work
Unlike adults, children are more concerned about what the experience will be like. Knowing more about what lies ahead can ease anxiety and make children feel a little less anxious.
Explain what your child will see, feel, hear and smell while at the hospital. You can even discuss the admitting process and how her information will be stored in EHR Software so that doctors know what needs to be done.
If possible, consider taking a tour of the hospital before admission so that everyone knows what to expect and feels better prepared for the experience.
4. Bring Some Comforts from Home
Some children feel homesick during a hospital stay. Bringing some comforts from home can help put your child at ease and quell anxiety. Stuffed animals, blankets and photos can create a sense of normalcy.
It can also be of great help to bring in visitors after your little one is feeling better. If your child is capable, phones can be used to communicate with family and friends.
5. Be Patient and Understanding
The stress of the hospital stay can make your child act less mature than usual. She may ask you to do things or help her with things that she normally does on her own. This is completely normal.
Try to be patient and understanding of your child's situation. It's important to remember that your child's experience will help shape her attitude towards medical experiences in the future. Try to make the entire experience as positive as possible to ensure that medical experiences in adulthood are positive.