Preparing Your Child for a Hospital Stay


The thought of a hospital stay can be scary for children. They may not understand why they need to go. And not knowing what will happen when they get there makes them nervous. But as a parent, you can help. Here are some simple ways to ease your child's fears.

When to tell them

First, choose the right time to talk about it. In general, you can use your child's age as a guideline. For children younger than about age 5, it's best to tell them a day or two ahead of time. For children ages 5-9, you can tell them about a week in advance. And for children ages ten and older, it's best to tell them as early as possible.

The conversation

When you're ready to have the talk, find a quiet place. Use a calm and reassuring voice. Be honest, but be gentle about what you say. Only use words your child can understand. Don't talk about possible pain or complications if you aren't asked. But if you are, don't lie. Let your child know people will be there to help them if they hurt or need anything. Share your feelings with them, and let them know they can share their feelings with you. Listen, and take their questions seriously. If you don't have an answer, say you don't know, but you will find out. Then follow up.


If your child is very anxious about a hospital stay, or if you need more guidance, talk to your doctor.