How to Handle Hospital Stays for Kids and Parents

Having surgery can make any patient apprehensive, but when it’s your child, you may be slightly more anxious than usual. You have a million questions and forget to ask half of them while you’re trying to stay calm for your child and ease their fears. A hospital stay can be a confusing time for a child. There are lots of machines beeping, lots of new faces on the medical team and a bed that isn’t theirs. Here are a few tips you can use when your child is having surgery or spending the night in a hospital:

Talk to your child:

  • Explain what the surgery is for and how it can help them feel better.
  • Ask your child about any fears he/she might have about surgery.
  • Let them know they aren’t alone and that you’ll be there when they wake up.
  • Set up a time for your child to attend a hospital orientation session.
  • If your child is too young to understand what’s going on, you can bring a favorite toy or blanket, sing soothing songs and give them extra love and attention.        

Talk to the doctor:

  • Ask the physician how to explain the procedure to your child.
  • Find out about recovery time and any postsurgical care you may need to do.
  • Check with the hospital regarding visiting hours and/or if you can stay overnight with your child, if necessary. Many procedures are same day, which means your child may not have to spend the night.
  • Don’t be afraid to speak up if you notice anything “off” about your child such as their sleep habits, appetite or behavior.

Talk with your family:

  • Keep your family’s routine as normal as possible.
  • Recruit relatives and close friends to help with shifts at the hospital, and any driving that needs to be done.
  • Use video chats or family dinners to bring the whole family together.
  • Communicate regularly about home care and follow-up appointments

Talk to your pediatrician or surgeon for more information about surgical services at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital. If your child is scheduled for surgery at St. Joseph's Children's Hospital and you’d like to register for a preoperative tour, call (813) 554-8155.