Helping your child during a hospital stay
Tips for parents
This leaflet will provide you with information about how you can help to improve your child’s hospital stay
Hospital stays can be challenging and overwhelming for children and parents as well. Parents can play a strong role in supporting and improving their child’s hospital stay.
It is fairly understandable that not all families are able to be with their child all the time during the hospital stay because of other commitments, however, we encourage parents/caregivers to spend as much time with their child as possible as they need your love, care and attention, especially during this time.
Why it is important to stay with my hospitalized child?
- Hospital stays can be a very stressful and challenging experience for your child.
- Hospital stays separate your child from familiar people, places, and normal daily routines. This can be very stressful, challenging and difficult to cope with.
- Dealing with strangers and unknown procedure anxiety and stress.
- You know your child’s needs better than anyone else.
- You know what your child can understand and when they need encouragement and support.
How can I comfort my child during a hospital stay?
You can make hospital stays as comfortable as possible for your child by:
- Be honest with your child about the reason for the hospital visit, its duration, and other details.
- Explain to your child any procedures they will go through using simple, age appropriate language.
- Explain any potential stressful procedures to your child
- Accompany your child, hold hands and encourage positions of comfort during procedures.
- Bring your child’s favorite music, books or toys to distract them and help them feel comfortable.
- Discuss with your child how hospitals and staff help to make sure your body is healthy and strong.
- Bring familiar items (blanket, favorite stuffed toy) from home that can create a safe and more comfortable environment for your child.
- Arrange visits for your child’s siblings and friends.
- In addition to the above, consider the following activities for teenagers: breathing exercises, conversation, massage and video games.
If you have to leave the hospital, it is helpful to provide the following information to your child and your child’s healthcare providers:
- How long you will be absent
- Returning time
- Possible delays to avoid anxiety, or distrust
- Consider leaving an item of yours for the child to hold on to, assuring them of your return.
How can I help my child’s healthcare providers?
You can help your child’s healthcare providers by:
- Helping your child relax during medical procedures.
- Using toys to distract your child when necessary.
- Playing or signing to your child to help them calm.
- Supporting healthcare providers to treat your child.
Sidra Medicine’s Child Life Specialists are here to help support your child and foster positive coping. These staff are specially trained to support your child to:
- understand the hospital in age appropriate ways
- understand and prepare for procedures and exams
- help your child understand a new diagnosis or healthcare condition
- make the hospital environment more normal through play and art.
Sidra Medicine cares about your health. The information in this leaflet should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and the advice of your doctor. Ask your healthcare provider about this information if you have questions. You can find us on www.sidra.org