When your child has to be hospitalized for some unavoidable reason, there are things that you can do to prepare him for this unwelcome experience.
Though this is no simple task (especially for young children), that doesn’t mean you can’t help the little ones have “a pleasant stay” in the hospital.
Preparation comes a long way in this case – starting as early as two weeks before admission.
My preschool son has gone to hospital two times and he was fine though there were some minor hiccups during the first stay.
Here is what you can do for your child who is going to be admitted to a hospital.
Get Your Child Prepared
Mentally, get your child prepared by telling him what he should expect to see when he is in the hospital. I showed my son some scenes in operating theatre from one of the TV programs. He also acted out in a doctor-patient game with his sister. Tell your child about the nurses, the bed, and everything else about the hospital. This should be ideally done one or two weeks before the event.
Explain The Procedure
My son went through a surgery and I told him what he was supposed to go through. Right from the anesthetic to operating theatre. I assured him that mommy and daddy would wait for him when he came out. I told him that he had to stay in the hospital for a few days until the doctor allowed us to go home. This process helped eliminate surprises to my son and he wouldn’t be too much of a shock as he already “expected” those things to happen – even before he stepped into the hospital.
Show Your Child The Hospital
If the hospital is new to your child, bring him there for a visit. Show him around. Tell him nice and fun things that the hospital has. Make him comfortable with the hospital and hopefully you can get rid of the fear in your child about going to the hospital. When we passed by the hospital, I always told my son: “That is the hospital that you are going to.” This is yet another familiarization process for your child. Don’t instill even a tiny fear in your child about hospitals. Tell your son hospitals and doctors are there to help people to fix problems.
Bring Your Child’s Favorite Toy
On the day of admission, bring along your child’s favorite toy. You can let your child decide which toy he wants to bring along. It’s even better if you could buy a new toy. Ask your child what he would like to have for a toy before hand and give him a surprise on that day. You will be surprised what this toy can do to your son during his stay there. This saved us a lot of trouble!
Paint A Positive Picture
Nothing scares more than threatening your child with scary hospital stories. Hold back your negative comments about hospitals. Paint a picture that your child is going to have a positive outcome from the stay. Explain to him the main objective of his stay there and assure him that he will be a better person after coming out of the hospital.
Stay With Your Child
When my son was hospitalized, my wife and I were there throughout his entire stay. I believe this is important as our son needed us most during this trying period. If one of you can’t make it, decide who should stay with your child in the hospital. Your presence would make a big difference in your child’s stay.
The above has helped me and my son to go through the stay very well – not once but twice.
Besides the above pointers, throughout the stay, positive encouragement is your best friend. Your child’s emotions would be like a roller coaster and you have to be there to offer him security, assurance, and comfort.