My Child Needs to be Hospitalized: Tips on Preparing Him
By Terry Carson
If we could avoid putting our kids through unpleasant moments such as dental visits, hospital stays or intrusive medical procedures, we would. But when our child needs medical intervention we cannot walk away.
So what if your three-year son old needs surgery? How do you prepare him for it without making him upset?
1. Avoid sending negative messages. Children pick up our anxieties very easily. It's almost like they're human thermostats. So, if you think that this will be a negative experience for him, he'll begin to think so too. Try and be upbeat about the event and make it less intimidating.
2. Take a tour before the surgery. Some hospitals will allow you to do this with your child, but if yours doesn't then go ahead and take a tour yourself. Ask the hospital staff to walk you through the halls and areas he will be going through so you experience the visit the same way your son will in a few weeks time.
3. Describe the surroundings. Now that you've completed the tour, give you son details about the hospital. Include general information such as what color the walls, floors and draperies are, as well describe the nursing staff, their clothing, etc. This will help him to feel more comfortable once he actually goes to the hospital. Avoid talking about procedures such as IV's or needles. Merely describe the surroundings, furniture, etc.
4. Take pictures. Bring a camera along with you on the day of your son's visit and ask for his input as to what you should photograph. Let him know that he can use the pics for 'Show and Tell' once he's back at school/daycare or at grandma's house.
5. Use transference training to surface any fears. Transference is a method that takes away direct 'contact' with a situation and removes the intimacy associated with it. For example, in a puppet show with you and your son, talk to the puppet about the hospital visit and ask the puppet, not your son, what he thinks about going. This gives your little guy the opportunity to safely talk about his fears (if he even has any) through the puppet. Mom or dad can then probe further and offer soothing words to the puppet, not the son.
6. Make the visit feel special. Consider getting some new slippers, pajamas or a bathrobe for the stay. Or give your child a new stuffed toy to hang on to. Fill it with dozens of kisses so that he can pull one out any time he needs it. Of course, after it's all over talk about how grown up he was to gone to the hospital. And feel free to brag about him to your parents and friends within earshot.
Are you tired of kids who don't listen, cooperate, go to bed, complain or whine? Terry Carson, M.Ed. is a certified Parenting Coach and educator who helps her clients get back their control without spanking or shouting. Whether she's delivering a seminar, Lunch'n'Learn or doing a media tour, she's one of Canada's experts when it comes to disciplining kids. Get Terry's free handout "The #1 Mistake Good Parents Make" by signing up for her newsletter now.
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