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Wisdom of Families: Children Think Differently
by Trillium Hibbeln on 11/02/2010 at 9:14 AM

If you were hospitalized as a child, I bet you remember it vividly.  From my daughter's heart surgery experience, her most vivid memories are of having her blood drawn and how the nurses put stickers in her journal.

Imagine what a hospital looks like to your child. There is scary looking equipment, different sounds, people wearing masks and asking you questions. You aren't sleeping in your own bed, and being sick and taking medicine make you feel different than normal.

Children think differently than adults, so they need help understanding what to expect and to have their fears calmed with simple explanations in terms they understand.

Our pediatric specialists are trained to understand the ways kids think, and how to help them cope. You as parents and family members have a role too of course, because you understand your child better than anyone.

The world of a child is largely defined by their own experience, so they may think they are sick because they did something wrong. One of my friends told me he was in a line of traffic taking his daughter to the children's hospital for a dentist appointment and she asked, "is everyone going to the children's hospital, daddy?"

One of the ways that we made our daughter's experience more positive during heart surgery was by having her create a journal of her experiences.  In this journal, I wrote down things she said (Like, "today, I'm going to get my heart fixed so I can run fast).

I had friends and the children's hospital staff and write Sofina a note in the journal.  When the nurses gave Sofina stickers for being brave she and I put those in the journal together. Later I included pictures Sofina had painted in the playroom and photos I had taken. 

To this day, Sofina is incredibly proud of this journal and continues to share it.  She brought it to school again this year during "about me" time and showed her friends how brave and special she is.

Our staff believes that a traumatic hospital experience can mark a child for life, and a good experience, in which a child feels comfortable and safe, can be life changing. 

I have noticed so many times when kids come back for follow up appointments and they are happy to see the staff who cared for them at the children's hospital.

What examples can you share about the way your kids think differently?

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