When a child is hospitalized, a clear-thinking parent at the bedside is very good medicine. Here are five things clear-thinking parents do to help their hospitalized children:
#1 Stay Calm
It’s hard to stay calm when a child is in distress, on the way to surgery or enduring a difficult treatment. But conscious or unconscious, children pick up their parents’ emotional vibes. So it’s important for Mom and Dan to project calm and confidence, even if they don’t feel calm and confident. Also, doctors, nurses, and hospital staff members are more likely to listen to calm parents than to those who are out of control, and that translates into better treatment for your child. So do whatever is necessary to stay calm, which leads into the next point…
#2 Develop a Support Group
Clear-thinking parents surround themselves with calm, supportive people. They contact friends and family, explain the situation, and ask them for help. You need to do the same thing. Ask your support team to visit you, pray with you, and to bring an overnight bag or anything else you need. Whenever you need a calming influence, give someone on your support team a call. Ask them to pray on the phone with you and to call other people and get them praying.
#3 Find Experts
To help when a child is hospitalized, effective parents ask nurses and doctors about the educational and support services provided by the hospital. They contact hospital chaplains and child life specialists, who are trained to help children deal with medical trauma. You should locate and take advantage of the services your child’s hospital provides. If the hospital doesn’t have a child life specialist, the Child Life Council website, www.childlife.org recommends asking your physician or healthcare provider if child life services are appropriate and/or available.
#4 Ask Questions
Effective parents ask lots of questions. Highly-effective parents write their questions in a notebook so they’re ready when the doctor or nurse comes in. So ask someone from your support group to bring you a notebook and start jotting down your questions.
#5 Get Online
Most medium to large hospitals provide Wi-Fi services and computers on each floor so parents without laptops can access the internet. Clear-thinking parents visit their hospital’s website for more information about services available to parents and families. They use a search engine to research their child’s condition and to find parent support organizations. And they go to www.caringbridge.com or www.carepages.com to set up a free web page and post updates about their child’s condition. If you aren’t online already, ask a nurse how to get started.
An unexpected stay in the hospital with your child isn’t fun, but by staying clear-headed, you will find the resources you need to weather the situation and support your child during a very difficult time.
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