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Preparing your child for a hospital stay 

Preparation is very important for children who need to stay at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon over night. Knowing what to expect prior to a test, procedure or surgery will help take away stress and anxiety as your child begins to process his or her thoughts about what they are experiencing in the medical center.

It also allows your child time to think of questions he or she may want to ask to help clear up misconceptions about an overall hospital experience.

There are several ways you can help your child prepare:

Potential outcomes from preparation:

  • Less upset behavior
  • Better cooperation
  • Fewer post-hospital adjustment problems
  • Decreased anxiety

Coping strategies that may help your child:

  • Crying (giving the child permission to respond naturally)
  • Sitting on caregiver's lap
  • Turning head away from procedure
  • Watching the procedure
  • Holding (squeezing) a parent or provider's hand

Suggestions on how to help your child cope with hospitalization:

  • Discuss the reasoning for a hospital stay and what will happen after arriving
  • Encourage questions
  • Emphasize things your child will hear, see, feel, smell, etc.
  • Encourage expression of emotions
  • Talk with a Child Life Specialist at Cardinal Glennon

Helpful links:

Preparing an Infant - Age: Birth - 12 months

Preparing a Toddler - Age: 12 months - 3 years

Preparing a Pre-Schooler - Age: 3-5 years

Preparing a School Age Child - Age: 6-12

Preparing an Adolescent - Age: 12 years and older

Back to Child Life Services

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