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Health care situations, including hospitalization and medical procedures, can be stressful for children of all ages. Preparing your child ahead of time might reduce his/her anxiety, as well as help him/her cope.
Providing your child with honest, accurate information will help ease his/her fears and fantasies about what will happen. Talk to your child about the upcoming visit. Give your child a chance to tell you how he/she is feeling and to ask questions. Your child may be worrying about something that will not happen. Being honest with your child will help him/her trust you and the people he/she will meet at the doctor's office or medical center.
Tips to help you prepare your child
The more a child knows about what to expect during the medical visit ahead of time, the more comfortable he/she will be.
If your child is being admitted to the medical center, the following tips may be helpful in addition to those above.
Younger than age 3 Your child's greatest concern is being away from you. Being with your child as much as possible during their stay will make your child feel more secure. Younger children, especially those under age 3, often think going to the hospital is a punishment for misbehavior. Explain that this is not the case. Encourage your child to express fears and concerns. Talk to your child in a way that he/she can understand about why the hospital stay is necessary.
Ages 4 to 6Children in this age group fear damage to their bodies. Be careful when explaining what will take place. Avoid phrases that may have different meanings to a child. For example, your child may connect being put to sleep (when you explain surgical anesthesia) with a pet and think that he or she will die. Instead, say, “The doctors will help you take a nap for a few hours.” Or, any another phrase they might better understand. When talking about surgery say, “Make an opening,” instead of cut.
Ages 6 to 12Children older than 6 will worry about losing control and damage to their bodies. Your child may also worry about doing or saying embarrassing things while under anesthesia. Be open. Don't deny that there will be pain after an operation, if this is the case. Explain that although it will hurt for a while, they will be made to feel as comfortable as possible.
TeenagersTeenagers are often reluctant to ask questions, leading you to believe that they understand more than they actually do. Encourage your teenager to ask the doctors and nurses questions about his or her condition. Include your child in discussions about the care plan for an increased feeling of control.
Family members and friends are welcome and encouraged to visit. Here are some guidelines for visitors:
At Cook Children's, we believe in a family-centered approach to health care. We know that when a child is sick, it affects the whole family. Because families play a big role in their child’s recovery and healing, we partner with families to provide the best care possible for kids.
Here are some of the ways we support the family-centered care relationship:
When your child’s treatment is complete, they will be discharged from the medical center. We know you are eager to get home, so we will try to speed along the process. We want to make sure that all paperwork is taken care of properly. By planning ahead, we hope to make going home an easy adjustment for you and your child.
You need to plan for your transportation home at the time of admission. If you need help getting home, please let your nurses know.
Before your child is discharged, your doctor will tell you how to care for your child at home and when your child should see the doctor again. Your nurse will also give you home care instructions. It is important to always give medicine to your child exactly as prescribed by your doctor. If you have any questions or concerns, please call your doctor.
Be sure to arrange transportation home for you and your child. You may be asked to leave your room as soon as possible after discharge to make room for another patient. Please tell your nurse if you have transportation difficulties that will delay your discharge.
As you are leaving, make sure you are following child passenger safety laws. Texas law requires that all children ride in federally approved car seats or booster seats made for their weight and height, until they are 8 years old or taller than 4 feet 9 inches. In addition, all passengers (including adults) above this age/height must use a seat belt, regardless of where they sit in the vehicle (TRC 545.412 / 9-1-2009).
Children should always ride in the back seat. If you need assistance locating a car seat, please ask your nurse.
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