Childhood Cancer

Your Child in the Hospital

Help with longer-term hospitalization

If your child will be in the hospital or undergoing medical treatments for a long time, a child life specialist can do a great deal to help your child understand and deal with the hospital and medical treatment. Child life specialists provide play experiences that encourage expression of feelings and increase understanding. They also talk with other members of the healthcare team about the emotional needs of children and their families.

Giving children some control over what happens helps tremendously. Many children have definite opinions about how they want things done in the hospital. Encourage your child to express those opinions and do what you can to accommodate them. For example, your child might prefer that you hold her during a procedure, instead of a nurse. Or your child might like a handshake from every doctor who comes in the room. Your child might have a preference for which arm to use for the IV Chapter 7, Common Procedures, has many suggestions for giving your child some control over what happens in the hospital. Children do better when they have choices and when they are prepared.

My son and I learned lots from other patients and parents about how to survive a hospital stay. We learned it was okay to wear shorts and T-shirts instead of hospital gowns. We learned parents can sleep on the floor if no cot is available. We learned to welcome all visitors, especially those bringing food. We learned to share our treats with hospital personnel—from the doctors to the cleaning staff. We learned that we could request a favorite nurse. We met friends and had incredible experiences that we will remember all our lives.