Infant/Toddler (up to 3 years)
Keeping normal routines and continuing to be involved in playtime, bath time and other daily activities provides your child with a sense of normalcy. This age group benefits from physical comfort, such as cuddling and holding. Toddlers may also benefit from preparation that is half a day or one day before the appointment.
Preschooler (3 to 5 years)
This age typically fears separation from family, so tell your child when you are going to leave them, where you are going and when you will be back. Children in this age group experience “magical thinking” and often create their own reasons for going to the hospital. You can help by being honest and giving simple answers and explanations. This age group benefits most from preparation a few days in advance.
School-Age Child (6-11 years)
This age group tends to fear anesthesia. Assure your child that this is a special “sleepy medicine” that helps their bodies go to sleep so that they do not feel anything. When surgery is finished, your hild will be given special medicine to help him or her wake up. Children in this age group are more aware of their bodies and how procedures or surgeries can affect them. They benefit most from detailed preparation that is given at least a week before the appointment so that they can ask questions and process the information.
Teenager (12-17 years)
Encourage your teen to bring his or her own clothes and activities. This will help your child be more comfortable during the stay. Physical appearance and socialization are important to this age group. Remember to respect their privacy and encourage support from their peer group. This age group benefits most by being involved in their care, so encourage them to:
- Ask their doctor/nurse questions
- Write down things they want to ask, or may forget.
- Express their feelings/concerns
- Participate in discussions