Helping Kids Cope With a Hospital Stay

There isn’t much that’s scarier than having to admit your child to the hospital. For the child, the process can be traumatic and overwhelming. But there are some steps you can take to make the process a little less stressful for the child, and the whole family in the process.

There isn’t much that’s scarier than having to admit your child to the hospital. For the child, the process can be traumatic and overwhelming. But there are some steps you can take to make the process a little less stressful for the child, and the whole family in the process.

1. If the admission is planned and time permits, arrange a tour of the pediatric unit with your child so he or she can meet some of the staff, see the rooms and so on. Some hospitals even have great playrooms for hospitalized kids. This way, when the child is admitted, some things will seem familiar. Contact the admitting office about this.


2. Inquire if the facility has a child life specialist on staff. This is an individual (usually a nurse or other professional) who specializes in working with children who are hospitalized and their families to minimize stress and confusion. They offer support, guidance and information before and during the hospital stay. Ask to speak to this person if one exists. If not, ask to speak to the nurse manager or one of the staff nurses on the pediatric unit beforehand or during your child’s stay for suggestions on how to make the hospital stay as comfortable for your child as possible.

3. Bring some of your child’s world into the hospital room. Check beforehand about unit polices, but you may be able to bring in personal photos, posters for the wall, cards, a favorite pillow or slippers, stuffed animal, etc.

4. Include the child in discussions and decision-making as much as possible in plain and age-appropriate language. Encourage the child to ask questions and talk about his or her feelings. Let him/her know it is okay to be scared.

5. Bring activities such as coloring or puzzle books, magazines, crafts or a deck of cards. It may not be advisable to bring expensive electronic devices such as DVD players, electronic games and computers, but check with the nurse or child life specialist.

6. For older children, provide a journal and encourage them to record their feelings, thoughts and experiences.

7. Many hospitals allow parents or guardians to sleep overnight in the child’s room in some circumstances. Inquire about this if it is something you might want to do. The nurse can advise you on this.

8. Read books to younger children about being in the hospital. These are available in bookstores and libraries. They may even be available in the hospital gift shop. Discuss how the children in the story feel and how they are coping.

Every child and family, as well as every situation, is different. But with a little thought, planning and effort you can minimize the trauma and make your child’s stay in the hospital as calm and comfortable as possible. 

4 Steps to Shedding Your Pandemic Pounds

Forgive yourself, and start walking toward a healthier you.

For those of you who have put on the Pandemic Pounds or added several new COVID Curves, you are not alone. Alarmingly, the American Psychological Association has recently published that almost half of all adults in their survey now have a larger physique. In fact, 42% of people reported gaining roughly 15 pounds (the average published was surprisingly 29 pounds but that included outliers) over the past year. Interestingly, 20% of adults in this survey lost about 12 pounds (I am surely not in this group). Clearly, there is a relationship between stress and weight change. In addition, one in four adults disclosed an increase in alcohol consumption, and 67% of participants distressingly revealed that they have new sleeping patterns.

This past year has brought about what has been called the 'new normal.' Social isolation and inactivity due to quarantining and remote working have sadly contributed to the decline in many people's mental and physical health, as demonstrated by the widespread changes in people's weight, alcohol consumption, and sleeping patterns. Gym closures, frequent ordering of unhealthy takeout, and increased time at home cooking and devouring comfort foods have had a perceptible impact. In addition, many people have delayed routine medical care and screening tests over fear of contracting Covid-19 during these visits. Unfortunately, the 'new normal' has now placed too many people at risk for serious health consequences, including heart attacks and strokes.

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