It’s ironic that we go to the hospital to get better, and yet the idea of going to a hospital can be frightening – especially for children. When choosing the right hospital for your child’s treatment, it is important to look for a hospital that understands kids’ fears and how to help overcome them. At Nemours Children’s Health System, a team of Child Life Specialists work with kids and their families to help everyone feel more comfortable. Here are five tips from the experts to help ease your child’s hospital fears.
This post is sponsored by Nemours Children’s Health System.
5 Ways To Ease Your Child’s Hospital Fears
Whether your child is a hospital as a patient or visiting a loved one in the hospital, hospitals seem big and scary. Nemours Child Life Specialists have tips for you to help your child overcome these fears. While this post focuses on how to ease fears if your child is the patient, they can also work to help ease fears if a family member is in the hospital.
A Pair Of Teddy Bear Friends
One of the reasons a hospital seems so scary is the separation from loved ones. To help ease that transition, the team at Nemours suggests a pair of teddy bears – one for the patient and one for the family member back home. Each time your child looks at the teddy bear, they can feel closer to their loved ones by knowing that they are looking at the same teddy bear. Plus teddy bears are always good for cuddles.
Photos Of Family Members
Another great way to help little patients feel connected to family members back home is to print photos of family and friends to put around the hospital room. It’s a great reminder of all of the people who are thinking about your little patient and hoping they get well soon. It also cheers up the room and makes it feel more like home.
Make A Scrapbook
Kids love looking at pictures, so make your kiddo a scrapbook of what’s going on back home. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just a series of pictures to show your child that everything at home is as they remember it. Pictures of ordinary events like making dinner, of pets, of their room, etc. This is a fun project that siblings can create to help them stay bonded. Child patients can also make a scrapbook for siblings back home to see what their life is like in the hospital.
While in-person visits from family and friends are the best, sometimes little patients can’t have visitors. Arranging FaceTime visits with those who can’t come in person is a fun way to use technology. Siblings can even “play” together via FaceTime so that the visit is more than just, “How are you?” it becomes a virtual playdate.
Even for adults, medical jargon can be confusing, but not knowing anything is just as scary. Using age-appropriate language to explain diagnoses and what kids will experience in the hospital can help ease some of those fears. Keep explanations kid-friendly by consulting with a Child Life Specialist who knows how to talk to kids about medical experiences.
Nemours Child Life Specialists
At Nemours Children’s Health System, it is the Child Life Specialists who take on the role of helping to make patients and their families more comfortable during their stay. They are trained in the use of using developmentally appropriate, child-friendly language to prepare children for various medical experiences such as procedures, new diagnoses, etc. They also provide support to the entire family, including siblings who often have misconceptions regarding the patients’ medical condition and questions about their care.
Last spring, a five-year-old boy named Sebby was admitted to Nemours Children’s Health System and diagnosed with medulloblastoma (a brain tumor). During his 37 days at the hospital, the team of Child Life Specialists at Nemours helped Sebby prepare for medical procedures and helped calm his fears by using child-friendly language to explain the steps and sensory experience. By going over what he would see, feel, touch, etc. it helped to build trust and understanding.
In addition to helping Sebby, the Nemours Child Life Specialists team also helped ease the fears of Sebby’s twin brother, Hunter. Knowing that Hunter would be worried about his brother, they helped the boys stay connected during Sebby’s treatment utilizing many of the tips mentioned above.
By connecting with the family and helping to ease both boys’ fears, the Child Life Specialists team at Nemours helped treat Sebby and his family’s mental wellbeing so Sebby could focus on recovery.
Learn more about Nemours Children’s Health System.