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Normalizing the Hospital Environment for Your Child

Normalizing the Hospital Environment for Your Child

Play is the cornerstone of expression in childhood and a familiar part of every day life. The child life department provides opportunities, appropriate toys and activities to encourage children to play. Often through play, a child can relax enough to express feelings or fears about medical experiences.

Playing with medical materials helps a child gain a sense of control in a new and often confusing environment. Child life specialists supervise medical play to help children become more familiar with hospital equipment. As the child's creative imagination unfolds, the medical equipment and experiences become less frightening.
Child life employees maintain specially equipped playrooms that are safe, stress-free places for patients and their siblings to play. If your child is unable to participate in playroom activities, bedside play is available for all ages.

How You Can Help Your Child

A hospital experience can be disruptive to family life. Here are some suggestions that may help to ease the transition.

When possible:

  • Offer your child choices
  • Allow your child to express feelings and ask questions
  • Cuddle and play with your child
  • Encourage your child to attend playroom activities
  • Be optimistic and reassuring with your child
  • Maintain familiar routines and communicate them to staff
  • Surround your child with familiar items and favorite activities from home
  • Participate in your child's care (e.g., bathing, changing, meals)

Special tips for teens:

  • Respect and maintain their privacy
  • Encourage teens to speak for themselves and be involved in care decisions whenever possible
  • Help teens remain connected with peers