Preparing your child
Hospitalization can be a stressful time for your child and your family. By helping your child prepare, you can make the hospital experience more comfortable and positive.
- Speak positively: Speak positively around your child when discussing their upcoming stay at the Houston Shriners Hospital. Your feelings and expressed thoughts about hospitalization can affect your child’s emotions and behaviors.
- Be honest: It is also important to be honest with your child about what a hospitalization entails using developmentally appropriate language in order for your child to understand. Answer your child’s questions openly and honestly, but keep it general and do not promise anything. It is 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.
- Ask questions: Be sure to have a clear understanding of your child’s hospitalization.
- Empower your child: Offer choices when possible.
For families whose children will be having surgery, we encourage you to preview our Preparing For Surgery and Pre Op Care for Babies and Toddlers videos.
Preparing for Surgery videos
If you have questions about preparing your child for his or her hospital or medical experience, please contact our child life department at 713-713-3812. Child life specializes in helping children to understand and cope with difficult experiences that can occur during medical care.
- Read stories or watch videos with your child about going to the hospital.
- Encourage medical play by taking turns playing doctor and patient – include medical equipment when necessary and lots of physical touch.
- Allow your child to talk about their thoughts and feelings.
- Allow your child to help pack. Let them choose a few favorite items to bring to the hospital.
- Reassure young children that hospitalization is not a punishment, but an opportunity for them to heal.
- Have your teen speak with someone who has had a similar hospitalization.
- Have your teen write down questions or concerns they may have and bring them to pre-op appointments.
- Encourage your teen to maintain contact with family and friends through visits, text messages and social media.
- Have your teen pack for the hospital stay. Remind your teen to include both special and personal items.
Hospitalization can also be a stressful event for siblings at home. Their day-to-day routine may be altered by 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 your 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.