How do I prepare my child for hospital?


When my daughter needed to have her brain activity checked, it was really scary, because we didn’t know what was going to happen. But it’s really difficult, because the information online is so complicated. So what we do with the
‘what why children in hospital’ charity, we want to help parents prepare their children for hospital. Of course it’s completely natural for parents and the child to feel anxious and we totally understand that and we prepare for that when they come in. It’s scary
getting needles. It makes me worry. At home we used to have like a doctor’s kit, so we could practice, on my teddys and stuff. I tried to build an MRI machine, I got a teddy bear, I got a cardboard box. And once she had played a couple of times, she really felt confident that she could do it herself. It really made such a difference preparing her. What we know helps children particularly, is to be prepared in advance for coming in. And again you kind gauge that a little bit by what age they are or what developmental stage that they are at. So generally the younger the child the closer to the time that you tell them. But what’s really important is that you do tell them and that you give them information, enough for them to be able to come in and know what to expect. I just never lied to Sam, if he asks me questions I try and find out the best answer for him. If I don’t know the answer, then I try and find out. You should really gauge how much information you give them by what they ask you. You don’t want to overly worry them, but at the same time it’s important to be honest. So this is something the parents have found particularly helpful. Is the hospital passport and the bright ideas cards, that gives them some different ideas of things that they can do, to either distract themselves if they’re feeling worried or to calm themselves down. Most of the time children actually cope really well with coming into hospital. With a little bit of preparation and support from parents or the Play Specialist if they need that as well. Being a Play Specialists is working with children, to help them cope with procedures or treatments, that they have to go through in the hospital. We are very lucky in Glasgow that we have a Teddy Bear Hospital. Which can be used by many children attending the hospital, taking the teddy bear through various procedures that they may be going through themselves. The Play Specialist helped me understand what’s going on. Just she took them down to the anesthetic room, took him to the MRI department before he actually had that procedure done. When I get injections and blood taken, they give me Where’s Wally (puzzle) books. You would use distraction. Just something, a noisy thing, or bubbles or something like that. I will use my iPad, before I’m going in for an operation, I’ll sit there and just play it. It distracts me from me going in. So I think it is actually a really difficult job for parents to bring children in for procedures. Sometimes when we’ve done some work with parents, because of their own experiences, still find it very distressing to go into the room with their child. And I think actually in those situations, what we would suggest to parents is that maybe they don’t go in with their child. The patient themselves can get more stressed, because they’re concentrating on their parent and how their parent’s feeling. So if they see them upset then they think “Oh I must have to get upset”. We will be making these video clips, to show the different procedures and show what you can tell your children about a procedure. And also how you can play with them, to make them confident in having the procedure in hospital. When the parents understand what is going to happen, and why it is going to happen. Then they tend to be more relaxed and better able to support us in making the tests work as best as we can for the child. That they have had some good ideas to use with their children, then that gives them something to focus on, and they can feel an awful lot more confident about that.

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