How to talk to your child about the hospital

Family imageThe hospital can be a stressful environment for children of all ages. Preparing your child ahead of time for the different things they may experience – including hospitalization, surgery, and other medical procedures, will help to decrease their anxiety and will facilitate healthy coping.

The more a child knows about what to expect before their healthcare experience, the more comfortable they will be.

  • Talk to your child about the upcoming visit. This will allow them to express their feelings and ask questions.
  • Be honest and accurate with the information you are giving your child. This will help to reduce fears and/or fantasies about what will happen. This will also help him/her to trust you and the medical professionals they may meet. 
  • Use simple words that your child will understand.
  • Encourage your child to talk about their feelings and to ask questions, but be careful not to force a discussion if your child doesn’t seem ready.
  • Your child may experience a wide variety of emotions. It is normal to be angry, sad, or scared.  Encourage them to express their feelings – it’s OK to cry.
  • If you don’t know the answer to your child’s question, tell them that you don’t know, but you will find the answer. You might be tempted to tell your child something that isn’t true. Be honest, if something will hurt, say so.

Preparing your child for surgery

Patient & Staff Image

The Child Life Department at Oishei Children’s Hospital offers a pre-surgical tour of the hospital to children and parents before their upcoming surgery. The tour provides opportunities for your child to see, touch, and experience the different things that they might encounter the day of surgery. Child Life Specialists are specially trained to teach children about what happens at the hospital on an age appropriate level. They want your child to feel comfortable and relaxed on the day of the procedure.

The tour takes place on Saturday afternoons at 1 p.m. If you are interested in signing your child up for the Pre-Surgical Tour or have any questions on how to talk to your child about their upcoming surgery or procedure, please call the Child Life Department at (716) 323-1543.