to want children to be happy. And it's natural to want to protect them
from situations that make them sad, or angry, or frustrated. Because hospitalization
has the potential to evoke many negative emotions in children, when seven
year old Jeffrey becomes a patient, it's natural to want to protect him
from the truth. Natural, but not in his best interests if he is to be successful
in this new role. And not to his advantage if he is to continue to trust
the most important people in his life.
are some "reassurances" that parents often give their children; reassurances
that backfire, that should be avoided, and that should be replaced instead
with the truth and a hug:
like these are common, yet as unfortunate as they are understandable. Part
of growing up is learning how to deal with difficulty. It's learning how
to cope with frustration, pain, and loss. As parents, we can teach our
children effective repertoires for handling tough times. And we can do
so with honesty and love. Here are some alternative ways of dealing with
separation, pain and treatment regimens:
going to the toy store.",
hospitalization is the agenda).
back as soon as I go to the bathroom.",
you plan to go home and return the next day).
won't hurt you, don't worry.",
an injection is necessary).
to go home as soon as you drink that carton of milk."
the plan is for four more days of hospitalization).
Fleitas, Ed.D., R.N.
we need to go to the hospital so that you can get better. Remember when
we visited Aunt Mary? We'll be staying in a different part of the hospital,
a part just for children. And guess what...there's a special room where
children get to play."
to go home, Amy, but I'll be back after dinner. Dinner comes in the hospital
right after 'Mr.Roger's Neighborhood'. Look, I brought your very favorite
blanket to keep you company while I'm gone."
for that special medicine, Jeffrey...the kind that you can only get through
a needle. Isn't it great that the nurse used that special cream to make
your skin go to sleep? Now you'll only feel it a little bit."
had a tough time drinking since your operation, haven't you, Amy? Look
what the nurse brought us...two tiny cups. We can have a tea party, and
each of us can drink two cupfuls of juice. It will be easy because they're
so little! What kind would you like?"
Professor of Nursing, Lehman College, CUNY
Bronx, New York 10468
updated: November 14, 2004