Children and teenagers may have a variety of responses to hospitalization. The following suggestions may help you prepare your child for his or her hospital experience:
- Talk honestly about what will happen and listen to your child’s or teen’s concerns.
- Reassure your child or teenager that the hospitalization is not his or her fault. Some children think that hospitalization is the result of something they have done wrong.
Use educational materials, such as dolls, pictures, and books to provide your child the opportunity to play or talk out his or her experience. Read books with younger children about hospitals. Some books that may be helpful for children ages 4-7 are:
- Going to the Hospital by Fred Rogers and Jim Judkis
- A Visit to the Sesame Street Hospital by Deborah Hautzig, Dan Elliot, and Joe Mathieu
- Tubes in My Ears: My Trip to the Hospital by Virginia Dooley and Miriam Katin
- Remember to let brothers and sisters know what’s going on so they don’t feel left out or worried.
If you are unsure when and how to explain hospitalization to your child or teenager, you can talk to a Child Life specialist on the day of admission or reach a Child Life specialist in advance at (773) 702-6481. Child Life specialists can also provide activities and relaxation techniques to help hospitalized children.