Helping Kids Cope
Children take many of their emotional cues from their parents. Remaining calm about a hospitalization or procedure will help children feel the same. For a planned admission, ask your child in advance what they know about hospitals and doctors. Present the hospital as a helping place, for example, “people of all ages go to the hospital when their bodies need special medicine or other help to heal or feel better.”
There are great books and terrific websites to help you talk about the hospital with your child. Let your child know that there are lots of ways to feel about going to the hospital and that it is ok to feel worried, curious, angry or frightened. Read stories that talk about going to the hospital and ask how the characters in the stories might feel.
Provide choices and control whenever possible. For example, ask “Do you want daddy or mommy to help you hold still?” or “Should we count to three or four before you take your medicine?” Never tell a child that something won't hurt if it will. Use clear, soft, simple language. “When the nurse takes a little blood from your arm with a needle you will feel a quick pinch. You will feel the pinch about this long (and count to five).” Never keep a medical visit a secret. Tell your child where he is going and why.