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Preparing For a Visit

Bringing your child of any age to the hospital can feel overwhelming. You may have several questions about your child’s test, procedure, and/or admission to the hospital. It is easier to talk with your child and support them along the way when you are more comfortable and knowledgeable about the experience yourself.

Children feel safer and more comfortable when they know what to expect. The timing of when to talk to your child about his/her hospital visit varies. For example, a preschool-age child typically benefits from preparation a day or two prior to the event while a teenager benefits from preparation several days to weeks in advance in order to think about the experience/situation and ask questions.

Ideas on preparing your child for a visit

  • Start by providing basic information and allow your child to ask questions regarding the details.
  • Focus on what your child will do and experience. Use sensory information (what he/she will see, hear, feel, taste, and smell) with simple, concrete language your child will understand.
  • Be truthful and use non-threatening language and descriptions.
  • Bring familiar items from home. Having your child’s favorite blanket, stuffed animal, toy, or electronic device could provide comfort and distraction.
  • Encourage your child to express his/her emotions and ask questions.
  • Discuss and develop a plan with your child at home to help him/her cope during the hospital experience.
  • Children learn through play. Rehearse the experience with your child using role play, pictures, and/or dolls.

The Family and Child Life Services team promotes family-centered care and encourages caregivers to be actively involved in their child’s care. Children tend to be more upset when a parent or caregiver steps away unnoticed. It is beneficial for your child to know you are leaving so he/she knows what to expect.

You know your child best. Children cope with hospital experiences in different ways. What works for one child may not work for another child. Keep in mind each child is unique.

Child Life Pre-Hospital Information & Tours

Before a child has a scheduled procedure or surgery, child life specialists offer individualized tours to help children and families know what to expect when coming to the hospital.

For more information on preparing for your child’s procedure or surgery, visit Rainbow’s Guide to Surgery webpage which includes a video and coloring book.

To arrange a tour and/or speak with a child life specialist, please call 216-844-5433.