From watching a child undergo treatment procedures to explaining confusing medical terminology, Texas Children's Child Life Department knows that caring for a child while he or she is in the hospital can be a challenging and emotional time for a parent. By educating yourself about the issues your child may face in the hospital, you'll be better equipped to help him or her cope with any matters that may arise.
Answer your child's questions clearly and avoid making promises about aspects of your child's care that may be unknown. (i.e. "I promise they won't give you any shots," or "We won't have to spend the night.") Patients who have incorrect, preconceived notions of the hospital or who constantly feel lied to can develop trust issues that affect the entire hospitalization and future medical experiences.
Though hospital trips are stressful for everyone involved, remain calm and do not let your anxiety show. This is especially important at bedside during procedures. Patients of all ages sense parental anxiety and, in turn, become more anxious themselves. If you feel like you are losing your composure, step out of the room and have someone else support your child. Child life specialists and social workers are available to offer emotional support to caregivers.
Because hospitals are unfamiliar environments for most children, patients of all ages benefit from having familiar items from home. For younger children, these may include favorite toys, stuffed animals, pajamas, pacifiers and other comfort items. For older children and adolescents, favorite items may include video games, movies, books or music. Patients of all ages can also benefit from having pictures of family members, pets or friends placed at bedside.
The stresses of hospitalization often cause patients to regress and exhibit behaviors they have previously "outgrown". For example, toddlers may stop talking and choose to crawl instead of walking. Preschoolers will often exhibit increased stranger anxiety and sometimes begin wetting the bed again.
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