Supporting Your Child
While a child is hospitalized, his or her sense of normalcy is compromised. There are things you as parent/caregiver can do to help reduce the impact of hospitalization.
Inform staff of your child's normal daily routine.
We can try to adhere to your child's normal schedule, such as mealtime, nap-time, special bedtime rituals, etc., as much as possible. We can post this information in your child's room.
Maintain behavioral expectations, rules, and consequences.
Children crave structure and find safety in the boundaries you set at home. If, while they are hospitalized, all rules disappear, this can be very disruptive for children. They often interpret this as a sign they must be really sick or that the situation is very bad. To reduce the emotional and behavioral impact of hospitalization, continue to expect your child to follow rules of appropriate behavior.
Speaking with your child about why he or she is hospitalized and what types of things they may experience can be scary and stressful for parents and caregivers. Sometimes it seems easier not to tell children anything. However, children generally cope best when they know what to expect. Withholding information can set up a situation where children lose trust. If children feel they have been lied to, their cooperation, compliance, and coping with future experiences are compromised. If you aren't sure what to say to your child, or how to prepare them, child life specialists can provide you with suggestions or assist in these conversations.
Play is an important part of a child's day. It is how your child explores the world and creates understanding in unfamiliar situations. Even when a child isn't feeling well, encouraging play helps the child feel more comfortable. If your child has a favorite toy, it is a good idea to bring it with you. The Child Life Program also has items that can be brought to your child's room.
Take care of yourself.
Although your focus goes towards the care of your child, he or she needs you to take care of yourself too. It is important that you rest, eat, and take breaks. You are better able to support your child when you have been able to take a few moments to refresh yourself. Allow family, community members, and friends to provide support and to help you run your household.