It’s never easy to prepare your child for treatment for a heart condition. Depending on their age, many children may not understand what is wrong with them or what the treatment entails.
At the Congenital Heart Center at Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, NC, our physicians and medical specialists help prepare you for your child’s treatment. Our child life specialists are trained to provide psychosocial and emotional support for hospitalized children, helping explain hospital procedures and treatments in age-appropriate ways.
There are also steps mom and dad can take to help prepare your child before treatment begins.
Once you have spoken with your child’s physician, asked all the questions you need and are clear on your child’s diagnosis, it’s time to explain it directly to your little one. Begin by explaining the diagnosis using simple, nonthreatening words, such as, “the doctor will fix the problem.”
If your child is older, encourage him or her to ask you or the physician questions so they understand everything and don’t feel lost or alone in the process.
Before undergoing treatment, a child may develop a variety of fears. This is normal, and it’s important that you, once again, explain away their fears using simple language and explaining the roles certain physicians, such as an anesthesiologist, will play in their treatment. Always reassure them that you will be right there when they wake up.
Before arriving at the hospital, we recommend the following steps to help ease your child’s fears and be prepared for their upcoming treatment.
If you have any questions or need help preparing your child for treatment, the experienced and specially trained child life specialists at Levine Children’s Hospital can help.
Our KidsHealth Resource Center is a great place for parents and children to start.
Making sure your child is comfortable the day of their treatment is important. By bringing books or toys that they like from home, they can gain a sense of normalcy. Older children may want to bring along electronic devices such as music players, tablets or laptops. Be sure to check with a member of the healthcare team before bringing any belongings to the hospital on the day of treatment.