Patients and Families

During Your Child's Hospitalization

Your support, presence and involvement are very important to your child’s sense of comfort and security while in the hospital. You are encouraged to spend as much time as possible with your child. Please inform your child’s nurse when you will be leaving the hospital and when you plan to return.

In addition to spending time with your child, the following guidelines may help your child more easily adjust to hospitalization:

  • Establish good communication with your child’s health care providers so you can help your child understand what is happening. For example, with staff assistance you can help prepare your child for procedures and tests or explain why he/she is experiencing certain symptoms. If you have any questions about your child’s condition or treatment plan, including questions about information you have read in books, magazines, medical journals or on the Internet, please ask your child’s physician, nurse or child life specialist for more information.
  • Share your child’s routine with his/her care providers. This will help us maintain your child’s daily routine as much as possible.
  • Encourage your child to participate in activities and special programs offered by the Child Life and Volunteer Services Department. It is easier for children to be in the hospital when they are involved in interesting activities. Activity Centers are rooms where hospitalized children of all ages can relax in child-friendly, medical-free environments. Supervised group and individualized play sessions are provided daily. Bedside activities are offered to children who are on bed rest or in isolation.
  • Stay in touch with changes in your child’s personality or behavior during or following hospitalization. Young children may become clingy or demanding. If your child recently has been toilet-trained or weaned from the bottle, he/she may temporarily regress. The Nursing and Child Life staff can help you cope with these issues.

Children at different ages react differently to hospitalization. Here are possible age-appropriate reactions your child may have, as well as suggestions for comforting your child during his/her hospital stay:

Younger than 3
For a child under 3 years of age, having close and continual parental contact during hospitalization is the best means of support. Young children generally do not understand their illness or the hospital environment and most likely will be concerned about being away from the family. Being with your child in the hospital will make him/her feel more secure. However, in observation suites and in the intensive care environment, families will find there are periods of time when they cannot be with their child around the clock.

Ages 3 to 6
This age group also wants to be near the family and often views a hospital stay or procedure as punishment for something. Honest, simple, age-appropriate conversations can help your child feel more secure. Remember, young children learn best through play.

Ages 7 to 12
Older children usually are worried about painful procedures and changes to their body. Providing information is key at this age. Don’t mislead your child by saying something won’t hurt if it will. Instead, talk with your child about how to cope with possible pain and confusion.

Teenagers
Teens often are self-conscious and may have lots of questions about specific procedures. Encourage your teen to talk to doctors and nurses involved in his/her care and allow the teen to be part of decisions. This will help your teen feel some degree of control.

Last Update
September 19, 2013
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Last Update
September 19, 2013
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