The hospital experience can be frightening and unsettling for a child. Child burn survivors, who are limited in life experience and often sensitive to new situations, not only have to deal with the pain and trauma of their injuries, but also the strangeness and scariness of the hospital. Fortunately, there are a lot of things you can do as a parent to help your child in the hospital cope and to make the experience much more comfortable.
What kinds of fears and responses do children have at the hospital?
The way children react to the hospital experience and the fears they commonly experience depend, in part, on their developmental level. Below are some of the hospitalization issues your child may experience.
- Infants: Infants fear loud noises, strangers, and separation from their parents. At the hospital, they may cry more often, display separation distress, be lethargic, and may be very sensitive to touch.
- Toddlers: Toddlers fear dark rooms, large objects and machines, and masks. They may also misinterpret the hospital as a punishment. At the hospital, they may have a decrease in appetite, temper tantrums, and a decrease in play.
- Preschool: Preschoolers also dislike the dark, loud noises, and parental separation, and they fear bodily harm. During their hospital stay, they may experience regression such as baby talk or bedwetting, have nightmares, or act out aggressively.
- School age: School age children’s basic fears include bodily injury, their physical appearance, staying alone, and death. At the hospital, they may test authority, withdraw, act aggressively or regressively, or deny their favorite activities.
- Teens: Adolescents’ fears usually comprise social performance, rejection and criticism, and bodily changes/injuries. At the hospital, they may withdraw socially, have major body image concerns, experience psychological distress and depression, and have sleep disturbances.
How can I make the hospital experience better for my child?
As a parent, the more you understand about how your child is feeling and what he or she is going through, the better able you may be to offer support. Be sensitive to fears and provide reassurance. When you talk to your child about his or her treatment or other hospital-related matters, make sure you explain things in age-appropriate language. This will help avoid misunderstandings, as well as empower your child with knowledge so he or she is less fearful about the unknown.
Speak to the hospital administration and see if they have any specialists available to work with your child. These specialists may use play as a means to explain and alleviate fears surrounding medical procedures and equipment.
Also, encourage normal behavior and maintain regular routines as much as possible to help your child acclimate. Simply being present and offering support, and allowing other family members to visit and do the same, can do a world of good in making the hospital experience better for your child.
If you would like to speak with a lawyer about any legal options you may have to recover compensation for your expenses and losses or the effects of the injuries on your child, call our lawyer referral specialists at 844-549-8774.