What to Tell Your Child

  • Use simple and honest language to describe what your child will see, hear, and feel while in the hospital. If your child is having surgery, see Talking to Your Child About Surgery for child-friendly words you can use.
  • If you are unsure what a particular visit may entail, contact the department where your child will be seen so they can let you know what to expect.
  • Avoid making assumptions based upon what you may have heard or experienced yourself. Every patient's care will be slightly different based upon their individual healthcare needs.
  • Allow your child to steer the conversation. Provide opportunities for your child to share their thoughts and feelings about their upcoming hospital visit. Try asking "Is there anything you were wondering about?" and "Do you think it's going to be easy or hard?"
  • Avoid making promises you aren't sure you can keep, such as, "nothing will hurt," "I'll be there the whole time," etc. If your child asks you a question and you're not certain the answer, try saying, "That's a great question! I don't want to tell you something I'm not sure of, so let's find out the answer together."
  • Talk about your child's health care providers in a positive way. For example, "The doctor/nurse is here to take care of you/help you feel better/keep you healthy," etc.
  • Set a calm example. If you are anxious about your child's appointment or are generally nervous in hospitals, your child can pick up on these feelings and become more anxious themselves. If you do not feel you can talk to your child about their hospital visit without becoming upset, contact your child's health care provider or the Child Life Program for help preparing your child.

We are here to help

Please let us know if you have any additional questions in preparation for your child's visit.

Contact the Child Life Program