For a child, going to a hospital or medical office can be scary. Painful treatments, new surroundings, separation from family and friends, and changes in routines can increase these fears. The Child Life program helps reduce anxiety and prepares children ahead of time for the things they will experience during their stay in the hospital.
Preparing children and teens for hospital visits gives them a chance to deal with information and ask questions. Educational preparation and sensory explanations help children learn about what they will see, feel, and hear in the hospital. It is very important that children and teens receive honest age-appropriate explanations about hospital stays, surgery, and procedures that they can understand.
Age-appropriate Preparation for Medical Procedures
The Child Life program focuses on preparing your child prior to their inpatient and most outpatient medical procedures. Child life specialists use age-appropriate language and teaching materials, including medically modified dolls and stuffed animals, photo books and real medical equipment.
Children's responses to hospitalization and medical procedures will differ depending on their age, the procedures they are having and their past experiences.
Ways You Can Help Prepare for Medical Procedures
- Encourage your child to talk about their feelings and ask questions about their hospital stay
- Use words that your child will understand
- Help your child pack a suitcase with the things he or she wants to take with them to the hospital
- Ask about any tours or programs that the hospital may provide
- Be honest. If you don't know the answer, tell your child you don't know, but you will find out
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