The hospital can be a scary place for a child but there are things you can do to help a child feel more comfortable:
- Listen to your child. Whether he is feeling scared or sad, it is helpful for a child to express his emotions. A child should feel that he can share his thoughts with you freely and without your overreacting or becoming upset. Ask how he is feeling if your child does not say anything. Be available and supportive. Not only listen to what your child says, but also pay attention to his nonverbal cues.
- Make things predictable. Going to the hospital can be a very scary time for a child – even for a child who has been hospitalized numerous times. Each time a child is hospitalized, it is a new event which comes with a different set of unknowns for him. Anxiety can build based on the unknown or inaccurate beliefs about his hospitalization. Before my son is admitted for an illness or procedure, I explain that he is going to the “big” hospital with the “fun” playroom. My son is less nervous now about getting general anesthesia because I allow him to take some of his comfort items, stuffed animals and blankets – items from home. I refer to some of the operating room equipment as items that superheroes use. For example, I call the mask that is used to administer the sedation , the superhero mask. Now any time he is going to have surgery, he smiles and asks if he will get to wear “the mask.”
My son absolutely adores superheroes so it’s no surprise he chose to make superhero Valentines for his classmates. There isn’t a Power Ranger, Superman or Captain America movie that he hasn’t seen at least 20 times. Anything you want to know about Superheroes, he can tell you because he knows everything there is to know about each one of them!
Superheroes, as we know, fight bad guys and rescue people, and while my son doesn’t do those things, he is still the greatest fighter I know.
Since birth, he has been dealing with many life challenges both physically and medically. He spent 18 months on a ventilator, survived a handful of near death experiences, underwent a kidney transplant, and now faces blindness.
My son is a child who has been hospitalized over a hundred times and yet he navigates adversity with more courage and with a better attitude than anyone I know.
He may not wear a red cape or leap over tall buildings in a single bound, but he is definitely one real life super hero!
Superhero photo and templates courtesy of:
How do you explain to a typically developing precocious and inquisitive 9 year- old that things aren’t always fair or equal in his household. How can you make him understand that he has to help do the dishes while the other child gets to watch a movie. How do you explain why his needs come second to the other child when he becomes ill. How do you explain why he has to share all of his things, but the other child doesn’t always have to. How do you explain that you will not be home to cook dinner or help with his homework because the other child needs you to be with him. Continue reading
PDD-NOS stands for pervasive developmental disorder. According to the diagnostic literature, it means that a child has a severe impairment in his development of reciprocal social interaction. This impairment involves both verbal and nonverbal communication. In a nutshell, it means that a child cannot communicate effectively with the outside world. PDD-NOS is one of the three types of spectrum disorders; it is an atypical form of autism.