Like adults, children need to know what to expect
Having a medical procedure can be stressful for children, caregivers and siblings, especially the first time. Children may have unspoken fears, questions, or misconceptions about what is about to happen to them. They may hear doctors, nurses and other staff members use unfamiliar words and medical terms. Until they receive information in words they can understand, children are left to imagining. These thoughts can be scarier than an actual event. Preparing children for what to expect during a procedure, admission or surgery will help to:
- Reduce anxiety
- Develop trust in caregivers and the hospital staff
- Identify what may be difficult and develop coping methods
- Give a sense of control over what will happen
Child life specialists help children understand what they will feel, see, hear, taste and smell. They learn about the sequence of events, as well. This provides opportunities to express fears or concerns. Child life specialists provide information about preparations based on a child’s age and level of development. During preparation, medical equipment can be used to help explain upcoming events. Talking openly to your child using words they understand can make the healthcare experience easier to manage.