Preparing your child for a visit

Your child is likely to be anxious or nervous about a hospital stay or surgery. As a parent, you may not be sure what to say to your child and when to say it.

Age-appropriate information can relieve stress by taking some of the mystery out of what’s going to happen and give your child a better sense of involvement in the plans.

Our child life therapists are available to help your child and family better understand what’s going to happen and help prepare your child for their hospital experience.

Children who get an explanation about the procedure tend to be less fearful and anxious. With a greater understanding of what’s happening and their role, children tend to be better at following the provider’s instructions.

Provide accurate information and try to do it in gentlest possible language. Tell your child the purpose of the procedure, the anticipated sequence of events and how long it will take. You, your medical team or child life therapists may also be able to tell your child what they’ll see, hear, feel or smell.

Top tip for parents

When explaining anything about the hospital or a procedure, be honest with your child.

Don’t tell your child that a painful procedure isn’t going to hurt. Try to describe what they’re going to feel. For instance, when inserting an IV or giving a shot, a child life therapist usually tells the patient that it will feel similar to a bee sting.

There are age-specific steps you can take to help with pain.

If you don’t know the answer to a question your child asks, be honest and let them know you don’t know.

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