Childhood Cancer

Your Child in the Hospital

Answer questions

Whether you use books, videos, tours, computer programs, or other methods to prepare your child, it helps to talk and answer any questions that arise. Young children sometimes believe they are going to the hospital as punishment. Explain that this is not the case. You can tell your child that hospitals are special places that help people who are hurt or sick.

Children also may form incorrect impressions or have scary fantasies about what can occur. They can conjure up genuine horrors, and you should try to replace those fearful imaginings with the truth.

Our children perceive things differently than we do. We’ve found it’s really important to ask them to explain to us what they think is coming. A lot of times we can dispel their fears. Before heart surgeries, we have asked David what he thinks is going to happen. Once he asked, “How do I know they’re not going to take my heart out?”

Be realistic. If you tell your child that a painful procedure won’t hurt, he won’t believe you the next time. Be truthful, and explain the procedure as well as you can. Encourage your child to ask the doctor questions, too.

If your baby must be hospitalized, she can’t ask questions or understand explanations. An infant’s whole world is eating, sleeping, being held, being sung to, and being nestled in her parent’s arms. These familiar comforts will help soothe your baby during medical procedures.