Preparation is important.
Communicate with your local hospital where surgery is planned for ideas and suggestions on how to talk to your child about their upcoming hospital stay – Play team have lots of ideas for different ages of children built on years of experience working with children, young people and families
Talking to your child about treatment
There are many things that you can do to prepare your child for coming into hospital – have a look at our Talking about hospital page for ideas and suggestions. It's important that you sit down with your child and explain to them where they are going, that they will be having an operation or procedure, and basic details about what to expect.
There is lots of information on this website about operations or procedures – read the information provided so that you understand what will happen before you talk to your child about it.
Make sure they understand why they are having the operation or procedure – it will make them feel better in the long run.
Use words that your child will understand
Encourage your child to ‘play hospital’ so that they can talk about the operation or procedure and ask questions.
Talk to them about how long they will probably be in hospital and what will happen during the stay.
During your stay
Most children will worry about being away from their main carers. We encourage one parent to stay with their child throughout their hospital stay – either at the bedside or nearby.
If your child is in intensive care, usually the hospital will offer somewhere to stay to both parents – this cannot be at the bedside for safety reasons, but priority is usually given for accommodation nearby to parents of children and young people in intensive care.
During hospital stays all parents are encouraged to take regular breaks from the ward environment. Taking a break and taking time-out for yourself can help with the stress of caring for a sick child.
While it can be tempting to be less strict about what happens and when, your child will probably prefer to stick to their usual routine during a hospital stay. The familiarity of usual mealtime and bedtime routines can be a source of comfort for children when they are away from home.