RealAge answered:One thing you have going for you at this age: Attention spans are quite short. Little kids live for the moment and don’t dwell on the future, even if the future is, say, about three hours from now. However, not all toddlers are alike. Some four-year-olds are more intuitive and insightful than their twelve-year-old siblings. So gear all of your explanations, descriptions, and assurances about the hospital stay to your child’s individual development level. Some tips:
- The day before you leave for the hospital, take ten minutes (max) to tell your child where he is going, why, and what will happen, but be a little skimpy on the details. Tell the truth, but skip words like “scalpel,” “knife,” “needle,” “slice,” “saw,” “cut off,” or “fry.” If he asks, “Will I get a shot?” a good reply would be, “I don’t know, but if the doctor does have to give you one, I promise to make her do it fast so it hurts only a little.” Do not tell your child that he won’t feel a thing because the doctor will put him “to sleep.” Many kids are afraid that they’ll go the way of a sick dog or cat (complete with being buried under the bushes behind the garage). Instead, explain that the medicine will make him so sleepy that he won’t feel or remember anything. You can tell your child you will be with him when he gets the medicine and that once the medicine wears off, he will wake up to find you right there at his bedside. (Naturally, you’d better be there. An ill-timed bathroom break could cost you big-time.)
- If your child asks how long the operation will take, put it in terms he will understand, like “about as long as your favorite TV show.”
- Have your child help you pack the suitcase, and let him throw in things like toys and blankets for comfort. If he’s going in for surgery, your child will usually be able to bring a “comfy” into the operating room to calm him before he’s given anesthesia. Then the staff will discreetly stash it so it doesn’t affect the sterile environment.
- Talk about the future. Tell him he’ll feel better afterward and start planning a special treat together for when you get home.
- Be ready to repeat any of the above several times during the car trip and again in the hospital.
From The Smart Parent's Guide: Getting Your Kids Through Checkups, Illnesses, and Accidents by Jennifer Trachtenberg.Find out more about this book: The Smart Parent's Guide: Getting Your Kids Through Checkups, Illnesses, an...One thing you have going for you at this age: Attention spans are quite short. Little kids live for the moment and don’t dwell on the future, even if the future is, say, about three hours from now. However, not all toddlers are alike. Some... More