Hospitalization and the period immediately following are frequently as difficult for parents as they are for children. The pediatric staff at Dell Children’s is interested in helping to make the adjustment from hospital to home as smooth as possible. It is not unusual after hospitalization for children to demonstrate behavior that is not typical of them. Some examples include changes in eating, sleeping or play habits, or in the development of fears. Most likely, the change is related to the experiences of illness and separation from the home.
If any of these problems arise while your child is still hospitalized, the staff is available to give you assistance. Once you go home, the following suggestions may be helpful in preventing or dealing with the after effects of hospitalization:
- Return your child to his/her former routine quickly and give responsibilities equal to his/her abilities.
- Avoid making your child the center of attention because of illness
- Be, kind, firm and consistent in handling your child, especially in disciplinary measures. In this way your child will know he/she is back in his/her normal situation.
- Be truthful with your child in order to preserve his/her trust in you. Provide play materials such as clay, paints, doctor kits and equipment given in the hospital. Allow your child to play on his or her own.
- Permit your child to talk about feelings regarding illness and hospitalization. Correct any misunderstandings. It is common for children to be concerned about hospitals for some time afterward.
- Read books together.
- Avoid leaving a child for long periods or overnight until the child is well-adjusted and trusting of your return.
Suggested books found in the library or books stores to encourage discussion about hospitalization and feelings are:
- Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
- Curious George Goes to the Hospital by Margaret and H.A. Rey
- Elisabeth Gets Well by Alfon Weber
If after 2 weeks you still have concerns about your child’s behavior, call the child life and child development department at 324-0146.