There are many things that you can do to prepare your child for coming into hospital. All children (except infants too young to understand) should ideally be told:
- That they are going into hospital
- That they will be having an operation or investigation
- Some basic information about what will happen to them when they are in hospital.
Most children coming to hospital for routine operations respond well to a simple explanation of the procedure a few days ahead. Any questions your child asks should be answered simply and truthfully. Children may become distressed on the day if a parent has not told the truth about going to hospital. Parents sometimes do this in an attempt to protect their child or because of their own anxieties about the procedure. Unfortunately, this can result in major distress for the child in hospital. Favourite toys and comforters are more than welcome to come to hospital too!
Parental anxiety contributes to distress in a child in hospital. Children rapidly sense when a parent is anxious or upset. Ensuring you are calm, confident and well composed makes a major contribution to minimising your child's distress. If you have concerns about the procedure or anaesthesia, these should be addressed before your child goes to the operating theatre.