Raising People

5 ways to prepare a child for a hospital admission

Macsen’s hospital visit in January to remove play doh from his ear took me by surprise.  I had absolutely no idea how to prepare him for it.  Yes, we went through a lengthy hospital stay with Enfys but she was under 6 months.  She didn’t really understand anything. 

In the lead up to taking Macsen in, I prepared him for it in a number of ways.  Here are my top 5 ways to prepare a child for a hospital visit.

Explain what’s going to be happening

This can be difficult depending on the child’s age and personality.  Macsen didn’t really want to go into hospital but I explained that if we didn’t take the Play doh out of his ear then it could get really painful.  I also explained that he would be going into hospital to have a little sleep.  He loved that idea.

The hardest part to explain to him was the fact that he couldn’t eat before he went to sleep.  He was surprisingly good about it though.  I had to promise him a big chocolate cake afterwards though.

Plan something exciting beforehand

The weekend before we knew he had to go in we planned a nice relaxing weekend.  We asked Macsen what he would like to do and he decided he wanted to visit the park.  We did just that and followed it up with his favourite dinner and some treats.  We also got all the duvets down and watched movies on the sofa.  It was lush.

Pack your child’s favourite toys

I asked Macsen which toys he would like to take.  He, naturally, chose his dinosaurs.  He was actually really excited about choosing and packing some toys ready to go to hospital.  I even told him he could show the nurses his favourite dinosaurs. 

Personally, involving the child in this decision is crucial.  Even if you’re in for the day, there is a lot of just waiting around.  Playing with their favourite toys certainly helps to relieve boredom. 

Recruit help

For me, this one was vital.  I had to take Enfys and Anwen along too so I recruited my Mam for the day.  She helped me with  the girls and gave me some company. 

If you do go alone though, take something to read or keep your mind occupied. 

Hide your own fears and concerns

This is perhaps the most important one to remember.  It’s okay to show your child some of your feelings but make sure you don’t project your feelings onto your child.

I know that Macsen can get quite agitated so this was a concern of mine.  I hid it and only spoke about hospital positively.  I tried to make it something fun and projected only positive thoughts onto him. 

Do you have any other tips to prepare a child for a hospital visit?

Beth is a 30-something, self-employed Mum rediscovering her connection to British History and nature. Her loves include the discovery of knowledge, walking in the woods, and writing, among others. Beth is a Virtual Assistant at The Happy VA.

9 Comments

  • Emma

    Oh my goodness how scary for you. I think it is so important to explain what is going on to children, I think it really helps them understand the process.

  • Cardiff Mummy Says - Cathryn

    It’s so emotional when your child needs to go to hospital. We have never had an overnight stay but we;’e had a couple of A&E visits and one to the local children’s hospital. Like you say – you really need to stay in control of your own emotions and fears. My littlest fell and cut his head open back in the summer. It was awful – he needed to be glued back together and my husband was away so I had to take all three kids to the hospital. It was only when he was in bed later that night that I let go and actually cried because I had to be calm for him and my other two children while we were in the hospital.

  • Annette, 3 Little Buttons

    What a brave little thing. These are great tips to have under your belt for a situation like this. I especially love the idea of of having a blow-out weekend of fun before the hospital trip. *Whispers – I did this just before the birth of my little one!

  • Amy - All about a Mummy

    You are so right about hiding your own fears. My eldest had an emergency ear operation a couple of years ago and I was scared witless about the anaesthetic. It was a real struggle to keep it from her but vital to her experience.

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