Children 7 years and older can begin preparation for a hospital stay at Sutter Children’s Center, Sacramento one to two weeks before admission. School-aged children are able to understand explanations about the reason for going to the hospital, and should be able to relate to symptoms, illness or recent doctor visits that they have experienced. Many children this age are concerned that their bodies will be changed by a certain test or surgery. It is important to assure your child that you are telling him or her about everything that will happen. For example, "The doctor is going to close the hole in your heart but won't change any other part of your body." Children are less anxious when they know they can trust the people around them to answer their questions honestly and tell them what will be happening.
Books about hospitalization or body parts related to your child’s illness or surgery can be helpful in preparing your child. It is important to take cues from your child and give only as much information as your child can handle.
It is common for school-aged children to worry about friends at home and in school. School-aged children may worry that their friends don't know where they are or that they don't care about them anymore. Bringing cards or letters from friends and school mates to the hospital can help your child's adjustment during hospitalization.
When packing for the hospital, encourage your child to bring favorite toys, a blanket, pillow, pictures of family and friends or anything else that feels special.
You may notice your child's behavior is different than usual—becoming quiet or angry during the hospitalization. These are normal responses to stress. Please feel free to discuss your child's behavior with a Child Life Specialist.
For more information or to schedule a pre-admission tour, call the Child Life Program at (916) 887-0500.