Talking to Your Child about the Hospital

Going to the hospital can be stressful for children of all ages. Whether it’s an extended stay for an illness, the result of an accident, or for routine medical tests, caregivers at Mott specialize in helping children feel in control of their treatment. As parents, there are many things you can do to prepare your child ahead of time for a stay in the hospital.

Preschoolers

  • Talk to your child about two days before coming to the hospital
  • Use simple language and words they can understand
  • Encourage your child to talk about his or her feelings
  • Be open to questions
  • Assure your child that going to the hospital is not punishment
  • Read books that show pictures of hospitals, caregivers and equipment
  • Play with toy medical kits so they know what to expect
  • Bring a special blanket, pillow or stuffed animal from home
  • Remind your child about Mott’s play rooms, playground and toys
  • Help your child select favorite movies or music to bring

 

School-age kids (6-11)

  • Talk to your child a week before coming to the hospital
  • Use simple language and words they can understand
  • Answer questions and address fears your child may express
  • Remember that kids this age are fearful of pain, sickness and the idea of death
  • Assure your child you are available if he or she wants to talk
  • Play with medical kits so they know what to expect; talk about the idea of cause and effect
  • Allow your child to pack his or her own suitcase
  • Bring special toys, stuffed animals and games
  • Be honest about why he or she is going to the hospital

 

Adolescents (12+)

  • Talk to your child one to two weeks before coming to the hospital
  • Be aware that kids may be stressed about missing school or friends, in addition to pain or illness
  • Include your child in discussions concerning his or her health care
  • Respect his or her opinion, fears and need for privacy
  • Encourage your child to pack hand-held video games, movies and books to stay occupied
  • Remind your child that Mott has computers in most rooms with Internet access
  • Ease your child’s fears about falling behind in school by telling them Mott has resources available to help them
  • Give your child a journal to express thoughts and fears in words
  • View pictures of medical equipment on the Internet