Going to the hospital can be a frightening and overwhelming experience for a child. Parents sometimes feel anxious about how to best to prepare their child for this stressful event. Understanding and anticipating a child's emotions can improve how well a child adjusts to being in the hospital and may even lead to a shorter stay. With this in mind, the Child Life Program offers a special program to help parents and children prepare for hospitalization. Our two-hour program, held weekly, is designed for parents and future patients between the ages of 3 and 12. Grandparents and siblings (over 3 years old) are also welcome.
The tour shows children what they are likely to experience during their stay for treatment or surgery. Led by child life specialists, families and children can:
- Tour parts of the hospital, including the operation room, admitting area and pediatric unit.
- See and handle some of the medical equipment doctors and nurses use to care for them, such as stethoscopes, syringes, oxygen masks and blood pressure cuffs.
- Dress in surgical scrubs and masks just like real doctors and engage in therapeutic play using dolls as patients. They may start IVs or practice giving their "patients" shots.
By role-playing, children often reveal their own questions and concerns about hospitalization, and parents learn about their children's thoughts and fears. Understanding and addressing feelings helps both parents and the Rush health care team better prepare for each child's individual needs. Parents and children are encouraged to ask questions and learn more about hospitalization during an open discussion at the end of the class.