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Preparing your child

Preparing your child

Preparing your child

Hospitalization can be a stressful time for your child and your family. The unknown of the hospital environment can be frightening. By helping your child prepare, you can make the hospital experience a positive one. Your feelings about hospitalization can affect your child’s emotions and behaviors, so remember to speak positively around your child when discussing the upcoming stay at St. Louis Shriners Hospital.

Honesty is important to your child. 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 their care team to get them information. A child life staff member, including our certified therapeutic recreation specialists, may be available to help your child understand his or her upcoming visit.

Pre-surgery class

For those families whose children will be having surgery, we encourage you to preview our Preparing for Surgery videos below. These videos are part of our Pre-Op Teaching class that all patients and parents are required to attend with our child life specialists prior to surgery. Your care coordinator will work with the child life specialists to schedule this class for you and your child.

If you have questions about preparing your child for his or her hospital or medical experience, please contact our child life department at 314-872-8342, ext. 1155 or e-mail Jen Clark or Laura Teague.

Younger children

  • 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 children to heal.

Adolescents

  • 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 with 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.

Siblings

Hospitalization can also be a stressful event for siblings 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 the siblings are unable to visit, help them feel included by suggesting they make decorations or get well cards.
   
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