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Preparing your child for a hospital stay

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My child is going into hospital

For children, hospitals can be strange and scary places, if they are in discomfort then this trip could make them upset.How on earth do you prepare your child for a hospital stay without upsetting them? There are various things that you can do to help ease their fear and make their trip into a calm, and in some cases even an exciting visit. A hospital is completely different to your home environment with strange smells, noises and people they haven’t met before.

You should prepare your child for a hospital visit in advance as much as you possibly can, there are a number of great ways of achieving this. You could try reading them a story and adding their name in as a character in the book or by playing doctors and nurses with their favourite teddy, doll or toys.

Be honest with your child

It is always best to be as honest as you possibly can be, if it’s going to hurt then don’t say it won’t. If they know what to expect then it would be as much of a shock, plus they will then trust you to support them through the experience.

Most hospitals have systems in place where parents and their children can visit in advance of an admission and have a look around. This can help to ease your child and prepare them for what is going to happen. You could tell them they will be on a ward with other children and it will be just like a big sleepover.

Talk to nursing staff in advance of your visit to arrange where your child will be sleeping. It’s important to stay with your child or they could become scared and upset. Make the nurses or doctors aware of anything important regarding your child’s routine or habits, like various ways of comforting your child or of any signals they may use for when they need the toilet. You will be able to sleep at the hospital with your child, all NHS hospitals can offer you a room with your child for overnight stays.

preparing your child for hospital

Familiar toys

Encourage your child take their favourite toy or blanket with them, this will make them feel secure and reassured. Having familiar things around may help them feel less upset after the procedure.

It is important that you remain strong for your child prior and also afterwards. The nursing team will be on hand to talk to you about any concerns that you have, they are there to offer support too. If you feel tired or emotional take a break away from the ward even if it’s to get a cup of tea. If you wish to leave your child for any length of time let them know how long will be and reassure them you will be coming back.

Except help!

Don’t say no when family or friends offer their time to come and help, it can be just as stressful being a parent of a child in hospital as it is for the child. In some cases it’s much worse for the parent and completely natural. It is good to take frequent breaks and to make sure that you are looking after yourself too. Something as simple as having a walk around the hospital grounds or having a quick chat with a friend on the phone will make you feel refreshed and may ease the stress of the situation. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or for help, the hospital staff are there to help you and your child.

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