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Preparing your child

Preparing your child

Hospitalization can be a stressful time for both you and your child. Your feelings about the hospitalization can affect your child’s emotions and behaviors, so remember to speak positively around your child when discussing the upcoming stay at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Boston. Honesty will be important to your child. Be sure to have all your questions answered by your child’s physician. The unknown of the hospital environment can be frightening. By helping your child prepare, you can make the hospital experience a more positive one. A child life specialist may be available to help your child understand their upcoming visit.

Younger children

  • Read stories or watch videos with your child about going to the hospital.
  • Encourage doctor play. Allow your child to talk about his or her thoughts and feelings.
  • Allow your child to help pack. Let him or her choose a few favorite items to bring to the hospital.
  • Know what is comforting to your child and share those methods with the staff members helping to care for your child.
  • Reassure young children that hospitalization is not a punishment, but instead is a chance to stay in a place where children heal.

Adolescents

  • Have your teen speak with someone who has had a similar hospitalization.
  • Encourage your teen to maintain contact with family and friends through visits, phone calls, email or mail.
  • Have your teen pack for the hospital stay.
  • Remind your teen to include both special and personal items – pictures of family and friends, music. Please leave valuables at home.

Siblings

Hospitalization can also be a stressful event for brothers and sisters at home. Their day-to-day routine may be altered with the absence of a caregiver. Brothers and sisters may experience feelings of isolation. To ease potential anxiety, please remember to:

  • Encourage siblings’ understanding of hospitalization.
  • Encourage contact between siblings and the child in the hospital.
  • Continue to provide understanding and reassurance for the siblings at home.
  • Try to stick to routines as much as possible.
  • If siblings are unable to visit, help them feel included by suggesting they make decorations or get well cards.

When there is no time to prepare

Hospitalization can be sudden when your child has been injured. Having little or no time to prepare for the experience and not knowing what to expect can be overwhelming. Children can experience distress related to unplanned events. You can help your child through this difficult time.

Be honest. Answer your child’s questions openly and honestly, but keep it general and don’t promise anything. It’s appropriate to tell your child that you do not know the answer to a question. In these situations, you can let your child know that you will check with the treatment team to get them information.

Remain supportive. You are your child’s source of comfort and love.

   
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