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5 Ways To Help Your Kids Cope When In Hospital 

child hospital coping tips

Being inside a hospital facility may cause traumatic stress to young people. For this reason, parents need to be by their child’s bedside every step of the way to help them cop. 

For the most part, hospital facilities, like Idaho Falls Community Hospital, have well-trained pediatrics staff who can foster a nurturing experience for your child. However, nothing can replace your warmth and support when your child is struggling with their health. 

There are several ways parents or guardians can help make being hospitalized a better experience for their children. Some of the tips discussed in this article can apply in any situation, while others are age-specific, as needs may vary depending on your child’s age. 

1. General Suggestions: 

  • Talk To Your Child About Hospitalization 

The best way to help prepare your child is by talking about what will happen during their hospital stay. Explain in simple words some of the procedures your child may have to go through. It’s crucial that they understand these things right off the bat because kids are very imaginative. If they don’t fully understand what will happen, their minds will fill in the gaps. 

  • Be Your Child’s Best Ally 

As a parent, going through painful medical procedures isn’t something you’ve envisioned for your child. Nevertheless, do your best to stay calm and reassuring in these situations. Being your child’s best ally means being by their bedside to provide support, hold their hand, and give them hugs during difficult times. 

  • Be Patient With Your Child 

There may be times when your child will not cooperate with a particular procedure or experience temper tantrums, crying episodes, and become irrationally clingy. Accept that these behaviors are typical in a child, especially when exposed to a stressful and unfamiliar setting, such as the hospital.  

These feelings and behaviors are temporary, so be patient when they manifest. You can counter these behaviors by explaining the situation to your child. If they continue to act out, you may set rules like you would at home. 

  • Maintain An Open Communication 

Kids, especially infants and toddlers, don’t typically understand what’s going on in a hospital. To help them comprehend the situation, you can:

  1. Keep your lines of communication open.

  2. Use simple terms to explain medical procedures.

  3. Let them know about specific procedures and tests, which may cause discomfort, such as getting shots, extracting blood, and inserting an IV. Explain that these procedures may hurt, but it’s going to help them feel better. 

  • Listen To Your Child’s Concerns 

After explaining the situation to your child, it’s good to ask them if they have any questions or concerns about being in the hospital. Encourage them to talk about their feelings so you can further provide support. Listen intently as they express how they feel.

  • Give Praises And Rewards For Good Behavior 

Children tend to show good behavior repeatedly if you praise or reward them for it. Since the hospital setting may be stressful for your child, it’s inevitable to keep them from feeling negative emotions and acting out. To prevent this from happening, you can set rewards for maintaining good behavior and punishing bad ones. 

  1. Suggestions For Infants To 2-Year-Old Children: 

Children at this stage may not fully grasp the gravity of their health situation. What they’re most concerned about is being separated from their parents. The most crucial responsibility parents have at this stage is to assure their children they’ll be by their side all throughout. 

You can help your child cope by following these tips: 

  • Spend as much time as possible being by your child’s bedside. This gives them the reassurance and support they’ll need during treatment. 

  • Hold your child’s hand in case some procedures may seem frightening to them. 

  • Bringing your child’s favorite toy or decorating the hospital room with an item from your home may help them feel at home, and divert their attention from medical procedures. 

  • Stick to a schedule even when your child is in the hospital. Set nap time and meal schedules to promote a familiar routine. 

  • Giving them a designated playtime schedule can keep them busy when hospital staff is not making rounds. 

  1. Helping Toddlers Cope (Ages 3-5 Years Old): 

At this stage, children may think that being sick is a consequence of their misbehavior. Provide reassurance to your child that they did nothing wrong to cause the illness. 

Toddlers are very curious. If they have questions about their condition, do your best to explain their diagnosis, medical procedure, and treatment clearly and straightforwardly. Inform them that some procedures may hurt or cause discomfort, but help them understand those are needed to help make them feel better. 

Here’s a few more things you can do to help toddlers cope: 

  • Let them know that it’s okay to cry if they can’t handle the pain or stress any longer. 

  • Encourage medical play. Letting your child play doctor can help them cope by expressing feelings and concerns about being in the hospital. 

  • In some cases, children may have a difficult time expressing themselves. When this happens, other activities like drawing, taking a walk, and playing can allow them to communicate their emotions. 

  1. Helping School-Age Children Cope (Ages 6-12 Years Old): 

At this stage in your child’s life, they’re more capable of recognizing symptoms of their illness. Provide a clear and honest explanation about the diagnosis and treatment they would have to understand the need for hospitalization further. When appropriate, involve your child when discussing their condition with the doctor. 

To help them cope, encourage your child to do the following: 

  • Keeping a journal may help them be in touch with their emotions in a positive way. 

  • Creating a reward system can also motivate your child to take medication and cooperate with hospital staff during specific procedures. 

  1. Helping Adolescents Cope (Ages 13-18 Years Old): 

Teenagers are more capable of understanding their illness and symptoms. During this stage, your child’s peer group is one of their most valued associations. Arrange visits from their friends to help your teen cope with hospitalization. Visits from close friends provide not only opportunities for socialization, but also emotional support. 


No parent would like to see their child suffer from an illness. But, if it happens, you can still help ease your child’s burden by being a rock of support during their hospital stay. Patience, communication, and being your child’s ally are some of the key elements to help your child cope when in the hospital.