Easing Children’s Fears
In the Activity Center or at the bedside, you can often find a Child Life Specialist providing “medical play.” This type of play helps children express their feelings about medical treatments and procedures.
Children can play and explore using real medical equipment and supplies. This calm their fears and help children become familiar with hospital words and routines. This type of play can also clear up any misunderstandings they may have.
Distraction and Coping
The Child Life specialist can help ease children’s fears by drawing their attention to calming, fun activities. Blowing bubbles, looking at pop-up books, or relaxing with music and stories help make procedures less scary.
Tips for Parents Helping Their Child Cope With the Healthcare Experience
Be honest and talk with your child about what to expect. Children have active imaginations, and if they do not have enough information, they will make up a story to fill in the gaps.
Bring special or familiar objects from home to the hospital, for example:
- Photos of family and/or pets
- Favorite toys
- Stuffed animals
- A pillow
Allow your child to have choices and feel in control when possible. Allow your child to choose what:
- To wear
- Activity to do
- Movie to watch
- Music to listen to
Praise your child for what he/she is doing well. For example, if your child is holding still during a procedure, tell him/her what a good job he/she is doing.
Let your child know that is it okay to cry. Crying is a good way for some children to cope.
Spend time with your child, but take time for yourself to eat, sleep, and relax. Child Life assistants and volunteers can help provide breaks for you during the day.
Remember to let your child know when you are leaving the hospital and when you will return.
Help your child have a normal daily routine. Set limits for your child even at the hospital.
Below are some resources that can help your child understand what will happen during medical procedures.
- Electroencephalogram (EEG)
- Voiding Cystourethrogram (VCUG)
- Magneti Resonance Imaging (MRI)
- Your Surgery Day at WVU Medicine Pre-Op Video