Small children between the ages of 3 and 5 are wonders to watch in action. They can be incredibly smart and energetic. They will say things that will make our heads spin and ask questions at the least opportune time. Still, they are young and they will have some trouble understanding the complexities of staying in the hospital. It will be up to a wise parent to prepare them without causing alarm while explaining that there will be changes in a way that they can understand. For example, a parent will have to address:
- The illness and…
- The reason for the hospital stay and…
- The changes in their routine and…
- The absence of the people and things they are most familiar with at home.
Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland has established a great site filled with information on preparing children of all ages for a hospital stay. Some of the advice they offer is:
- Pack everything that will make your child comfortable from their favorite blanket and toys to soothing music and anything they’d usually play with to stay occupied. The ideal is to create an environment that isn’t too disruptive.
- Create a schedule of caregivers for round-the-clock comfort in the form of familiar and trusted people to help your child feel better about the change in their environment and above all, the treatment for their illness.
Depending on the age of your child, Johns Hopkins recommends that you purchase a doctor’s kit to prepare them for some of the standard procedures they will be subjected to in the hospital. Perhaps your hospital is like Johns Hopkins and also has a special website just for children that will introduce them to a hospital stay.
Another option is to purchase our book The Adventures of Nurse Nicole, which contains great information from A to Z about the nursing profession but also about the inner workings of a hospital. Engaging little ones with fun facts and information helps reduce the fear they could possibly experience.