Kohl's Child Life Program - Preparing Children for Procedures
Going to the hospital can be very stressful for children of all ages. Preparing your infant, toddler, preschool, school-age child or teenager ahead of time for things they may experience in the hospital will reduce their anxieties, help them cope and trust the people who care for them.
Tips for preparing your child for a hospital stay:
- Dependent upon their age, children can be prepared a few days to a few weeks before their hospitalization to learn about their experience and ask questions.
- Be honest. If you do not know the answer, tell your child you do not know, but you will find out.
- Use words your child will understand.
- Talk to your child about going to the hospital. Encourage him/her to discuss feelings and ask questions. Listen to the question(s) your child is asking; give information specific to what he/she wants to know.
- Encourage your child to pack comfort items from home such as a stuffed animal, favorite movie or book.
- Learn what types of preparation programs (such as pre-admission tours) may be available for you and your child to participate in.
It is not uncommon to see changes in your child's behavior before, during or after a hospital visit. Children's responses will differ, depending on their age, the procedures they are having done and their past experiences.
Child Life staff is available in inpatient and some outpatient areas to prepare your child prior to a medical procedure, test or surgery. Child Life specialists explain procedures to patients using words children understand and encourage them to express their emotions. They also focus on sensations the child is likely to experience during a procedure such as sight, sound, taste, smell and touch. Medical play also is encouraged. This allows patients to explore and play with medical equipment, dolls and books related to the hospital. Talk to your child's nurse about having someone from Child Life provide support for your child and family.