If your child is planning for a stay at a children's hospital, this advice will help make the transition a bit easier.
Be Honest With Your Child
Regardless of how old your child is, being honest with them is the first step to keeping every one confident and comfortable. For example, if they ask you a question and you don't know the answer, let them know that you'll be finding out together. Honesty is also important if they have questions regarding how often they'll be seeing you, how they can stay in touch with you, and so on. Let them know in advance so they can ready themselves.
Prepare Siblings, Too
Siblings should be informed of what to expect also. Younger children, like those under 5, should be told about what to expect about 1-2 days in advance. Older children should probably be open to the discussion about a week in advance so that they can process the information you give them and prepare to ask any questions that come to mind.
Encourage A Discussion on Feelings
Letting everyone in your household know that you're open to expressing feelings and talking about the impact the visit will have on each individual is important to making sure everyone feels comfortable. Your child may prefer discussing this privately or they may prefer that others, like their siblings, don't talk about it while they're in the room. If that's the case, don't force a discussion.
Have Your Child Help Pack
It can really make an older child feel more comfortable with their upcoming hospital stay just by giving them the opportunity to take part in the packing and preperation steps. Ask your child what they would like to bring and have them with you as you prepare their clothing and other items. They may wish to bring a toy or another keepsake, a photo of the family or a pet, or a notebook and pencil to keep in their hospital room with them.
Be Mindful of Behavioral Changes
Children will often act differently before a hospital stay and throughout their time at the hospital. They're likely to act different upon returning home, too, as they re-adjust to their normal life. You should be mindful of these behavioral changes and understand that it's normal. Prepare to discuss this with their healthcare providers so you can get the answers you need about why these behavioral changes are happening and what you can do to prepare your family.
Understand Your Own Feelings
As you work to prepare your family for your child's hospital stay, don't overlook your own feelings. Make sure that you have a discussion with providers and with your significant other and close friends about what you're going through. Find ways to manage stress and be aware of how it may impact your own behavior.
Give Your Children The Right Resources
Here at The Crayon Initiative, we believe every young patient should feel comfortable during their stay at a children's hospital. That's why we facilitate crayon donation and distribute to CHA network hospitals across the nation. You can help by collecting crayons, encouraging local businesses to participate as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility goals, or by contacting your local children's hospital and telling them about TCI. Together, we can bring creativity and art into the lives of hospitalized children.