Your Child’s Hospital Visit

Preparing Yourself

Children take their cues from you. So, before you can help your child, you have to help yourself. Here are some steps you can take to get ready to talk to your child — and to face your own anxieties.

Learn as much as possible about your child’s illness and treatment.

  • Ask your child’s health care professional for information packets and a list of resources you can tap into including library materials and web sites.
  • As you review the information, put together a list of questions to ask your doctor. Check out our sample list of questions for:

Learn as much as you can about the hospital.

  • Start right here by reviewing our Visiting Golisano Children’s Hospital at Strong section.
  • Take a tour. Our Child Life Specialists provide tours so families can see the unit, meet staff and learn about the hospital prior to a child’s admission. Contact them at 585-275-9878.
  • Get specifics about what will happen. For example, if your child will be having a test or surgery you’ll want to find out:
    • What will happen before the procedure;
    • How long the procedure is expected to take;
    • What kind of equipment will be used and whether your child might be frightened by the look or sound of it;
    • What the procedure will feel like;
    • Whether your child will be awake during the procedure, and if so, what he or she will be asked to do;
    • What will happen after the procedure;
    • What will your child look like after the procedures (any swelling, bandages);
    • When you can be with your child (during the procedure, in the recovery room);
    • If your child will have pain and how it will be managed;
    • If your child will need to restrict activity after the procedure and for how long.

You are your child’s “safe place,” so you’ll want to be at the hospital as much as possible, especially for a younger child.

You may need to:

  • Arrange for time off from work or for a more flexible schedule.
  • Line up people you trust to stay with your other children.
  • Find family, friends or neighbors who are willing to help you with the details of daily life like carpools, shopping and other errands.
  • Make arrangements to stay close to the hospital. One adult family member can stay overnight in your child’s hospital room. The Ronald McDonald House (585-442-5437) can provide inexpensive lodging nearby for immediate family members.
  • Make a plan for ways to reassure your other children and help them feel they’re still important in your life. (See Helping Siblings Cope.)

Plan for ways to manage your stress.

Parents who actively seek support for themselves cope better with their child’s hospitalization and are better able to care for their children.

  • Get enough sleep and rest.
  • Ask if there are parents of other children with similar medical conditions who would be willing to talk to you.
  • Ask if there are support groups you can join.
  • Write about your child’s medical experience in a journal.
  • Take breaks from caring for your ill child when possible.
  • Identify relaxation techniques that work for you like deep breathing, meditation, exercise or music.

Decide when and how you’ll broach the subject with your child.

The younger the child, the closer you’ll want your discussion to be to the actual event.

  • Try to anticipate the questions your child will ask so you can plan your answers.
  • Practice in front of a mirror. Your tone of voice, facial expression and body language tell your child a lot about how you’re feeling. Even better, practice with your spouse or a friend.

Finally, there isn’t an absolute right way to do things. You know your child better than anyone else. Trust your instincts.

Return to About Golisano Children’s Hospital at Strong Home

Some Questions Your Child May Ask

“Why do I have to go to the hospital?”

“What will I have to do there?”

“Are you going to stay with me?”

“Am I being punished?”

“Will I have to sleep there?”

” Will it hurt?”

” Will I look different?”

“What will my friends think?”

“Can’t it wait so I won’t miss the school play?…basketball tryouts?…”

“When can I come home?

See Preparing Your Child for some helpful suggestions on answering these and other tough questions.

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