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How can I prepare my adolescent for a hospital stay?

Starting around age ten, kids will have a lot of questions and fears about any medical treatment. And they’ll have misconceptions from a hodgepodge of sources. Here are some ways to help adolescents and teens prepare:

  • Explain the procedure and the reason for it. Use videos if possible. Many hospitals now offer online links you can watch that demonstrate the procedure. Talk about the benefits and about feeling better when it’s over. Tell the truth but remember that you’re talking to a nervous child—don’t go overboard and speak to him as if he’s grown-up. Even if he’s a mature fifteen and acts like an adult in many ways, right now he’s looking to you for reassurance.
  • Don’t “open up” about your own fears or anxieties. Your child needs to rely on you right now and not see you as a nervous wreck or worry about your well-being
  • Adolescents tend to worry about waking up in the middle of the operation, so assure your child that this won’t happen. If he searches on the Internet and finds out that the odds of this happening are extremely low but not nil, have the anesthesiologist talk him through it.
  • Encourage your child to ask doctors and nurses questions. This will make him feel empowered and also hopefully clear up any misconceptions about pain or disfigurement.
  • If your kid’s facing a slow recovery or dealing with a long-term problem, find a support group that will help your child meet others with similar experiences.

 From The Smart Parent's Guide: Getting Your Kids Through Checkups, Illnesses, and Accidents by Jennifer Trachtenberg.

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The Smart Parent's Guide: Getting Your Kids Through Checkups, Illnesses, and Accidents

What to Do When You Don't Know What to Do! "Moms and dads need expert guidelines, especially when it comes to their kids' health. This book reveals the inside strategies I use myself-I'm a parent,...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.