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Talking to your child
The following tips may help you prepare your child's hospital stay.
Infants (4 weeks to 1 year)
- Learn about your child's illness and how it will be treated.
- Talk with hospital staff about your own feelings and hospital experiences.
- Try to spend as much time as possible in the hospital caring for your infant.
- Bring familiar items (music, special toys, or a blanket) to the hospital.
Toddlers (1 - 2 years)
- Since you know your child best, trust yourself about how much information to share.
- Learn as much as you can about your child's hospital stay.
- Toddlers should be prepared one to two days before they come to the hospital.
- Books about the hospital can be helpful when talking with your toddler.
- Medical kits and playing with toddlers can help you learn how much they understand.
- Give toddlers simple explanations to help clear up any misconceptions they have.
- Reassure toddlers that going to the hospital is not a punishment.
Preschool (3 - 5 years)
- Prepare preschool-age children three to five days before their hospital stays. Reading books about the hospital is a good way to prepare children for their hospital stay.
- Ask your child, what he or she thinks the hospital is and what will happen there. This will help you understand what he or she knows.
- Playing with medical equipment can help children become comfortable with what they see.
School-age (6 - 12 years)
- Give children specific information about what will be happening.
- Ask what they understand and help clear up any misconceptions.
- School-age children can be prepared up to two weeks before their hospital stay.
- Include children in conversations with medical staff. Otherwise, they may not understand what you're talking about and be scared about what they're hearing.
Teens (13 - 18 years)
- Include teens in conversations and decision-making.
- Use correct terms and provide honest information.
- Encourage your teen to ask questions.
- Offer teens books or pamphlets that talk about their condition or procedures.
- Give teens the chance to talk to medical staff without you in the room. They may have questions they are embarrassed to ask in front of you.