What should I tell my child about coming into hospital?
The thought of coming into hospital might be worrying for children so please tell your child, and any brothers and sisters, as much as they can understand before they visit us.
- Be clear and honest
- Tell your child as much as you can about what will happen
- Use simple words
- Answer any questions truthfully
- Try to make the experience positive by telling them about the hospital and the environment
- Tell them that other children will also be at the hospital and how they might make new friends.
When should I tell my child?
This will depend on your child's age.
- Toddlers may not understand time. Tell them at least the day before so that they understand they are coming into hospital
- Pre-school age - tell them at least a week before as they may enjoy 'hospital play'
- Older children - give them as much time as possible. They may need time to think things through and want to ask questions.
Read our leaflet
Timmy's operation (PDF 706Kb) is written for children up to eight years old. You may find it useful to read through it with your child to help prepare them for their hospital stay.
Preparing for hospital together with your child can help, for example packing the hospital bag and reading books together. 'Hospital play' and drawing pictures together can also help and may encourage your child to ask questions and voice any concerns they may have.
We have also prepared a useful checklist for you and we have a section of our site aimed specifically at children - why not have a look with them?
For more help, contact Action for Sick Children, a children's healthcare charity.