Unfortunately, not all of us have 100% healthy children. Some children are born in the hospital and then do not return for years. Our daughter soon returned to the hospital to have her tear ducts pierced, and then to the ophthalmologist because she needed glasses and had a lazy eye. She now has to have an annual check-up for her glasses. However, since a few months she has developed other health problems. We have now completed some hospital visits and she has been diagnosed with exercise-induced asthma. But how can you properly prepare your child for a hospital visit?
Prepare your child well for a hospital visit
A hospital visit can be a frightening experience for children. It can bring a lot of uncertainty and fear. As a parent, you want to make sure that your child is well prepared and reassured for the visit to the hospital. In this article, we will share some practical tips and suggestions to help your child prepare for a hospital visit.
Explain the situation well
Take the time to explain to your child in a calm and understandable way why the hospital visit is necessary. Use simple language and answer any questions your child may have. Encourage your child to ask questions about the hospital visit. Help them write down questions to ask the doctor. Maybe they dare to ask it themselves, and maybe they don’t. It doesn’t matter, they have you with them! Preparing your child for the hospital visit is a process of doing it together.
Emphasize the positive aspects of the hospital visit, such as the care and help they will receive to get better. You don’t actually feel a blood test, a vaccination hurts more, says daughter. If your child is afraid of needles, try strategies such as distraction techniques, relaxation exercises, or using an anesthetic cream to reduce pain.
Also emphasize that the doctors, nurses and nurses have years of training and specialize in young children because they want to make you better.
Explain what the different tests or treatments involve, without giving too many medical details. Explain what steps will be taken. In my experience, we always receive clear information at the appointments about what is going to happen. If necessary, check the website of the hospital with your child. Show them the pictures of the children’s ward and read any information about the visit.
A role play to prepare your child well for a hospital visit
If possible, schedule a visit to the hospital before the actual visit. This can help your child explore the environment and feel more confident. This can be reassuring, especially if your child has to be admitted for a short or long period of time.
Use books, videos, or drawings to give your child an idea of what will happen in the hospital. This can help reduce anxiety.
After this you can possibly play a role play. Let your child be the doctor or nurse and you be the patient. This helps create familiarity and reduces anxiety.
Look here for handy picture books about hospitals*. And a role-playing game also includes dressing-up clothes* and toys* in the theme.
Also read this blog about being sick.
Does your child have to go to the hospital for a short or long time?
For some visits such as blood tests or a check-up appointment, your child’s hospital visit will not take long. But sometimes all kinds of tests have to be done or your child even has to stay overnight or longer. Make a checklist with your child of what they need to bring to the hospital, such as soft toys, books or favorite toys. Keep in mind that hospital visits can be unpredictable and there may be waiting times. Be patient and try to keep your child busy. For once, don’t make a fuss about screen time and give them what they need for distraction and relaxation.
For many children it is just nice that you are there. That they can crawl up to you for a hug or hold your hand for a while. Reassure your child, offer comfort and a listening ear.
Praise and reward your child for their courage and patience during the hospital visit. This will boost their confidence and encourage them to behave bravely.
Tips for good preparation for your child’s hospital visit
- Reach out to other parents whose children have also had hospital visits. Share experiences and tips to support each other.
- Dress your child in comfortable clothes that are easy to put on and take off. This makes it easier for medical personnel to conduct examinations. But also for your child to undress themselves independently. Nice jogging pants and shoes with velcro.
- Make sure you have all necessary medical documents, insurance information, and ID on hand during the hospital visit. Some hospitals have special hospital cards.
- Hospital visits can be lengthy, so be sure to bring healthy snacks and water to give your child energy and prevent hunger.
Good luck during the hospital visit with your child
It’s normal for both you and your child to feel anxious about a hospital visit, but with proper preparation and support, you can make the experience less stressful. Continue to communicate with your child, offer reassurance and be a source of support throughout the process. Remember that every child reacts differently, so adapt the tips to your own child’s needs and temperament. With the right approach, you can help your child face the hospital visit with confidence and resilience.
If you are reading this because your child is ill, I wish you a lot of strength, get well soon and a speedy recovery! I hope you have found these tips to prepare your child well for a hospital visit useful.