Preparing Your Child for Hospitalization

Learn how to help your child get ready for a stay in the hospital.

No matter how excellent a hospital staff is, kids will be nervous about spending time hospitalized. Carefully prepare your child for hospitalization or an outpatient procedure. When you’re honest with kids, you give them the tools to cope with potentially upsetting or scary situations. Even if your child doesn’t have hospitalization scheduled, it’s a good time to talk about the possibility of visiting the Pediatric Emergency Care Center some day.

Be honest
You don’t need to get into every detail about a surgical procedure or risks, but you should avoid lying to your child. If they ask “will it hurt,” let them know that it might hurt but only for a little while. Tell them that you’ve been nervous about things that hurt before and talk about what you do to help, such as looking away or wiggling your toes. Explain that doctors and nurses have lots of tools and medicines that are used to make things hurt only a little bit. If your child is having surgery, KidsHealth.org recommends explaining the reason for the surgery in simple, nonthreatening words.

Bring something from home
Talk to the hospital’s patient services department about what your child can bring from home. At the very least, a special stuffed animal or small blanket can offer comfort. Consider bringing portable entertainment devices to help kids stay occupied in waiting rooms and while hospitalized. Label everything carefully.

Ask for help
If you’re not sure how to talk to your child about hospitalization, surgery or other procedures, reach out for help from hospital staff members. Pediatric doctors and nurses are highly skilled in dealing with children’s worries and anxieties, and they can help you communicate medical terms on a kid-friendly level.

The Oak Hill Hospital Pediatric Emergency Care Center is open from 11am – Midnight, seven days a week. If you think your child may be experiencing a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or 911. For non-urgent matters, call our Consult-A-Nurse® service at 1-888-741-5120 for health information or for help finding a physician.

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