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Children's Hospital at Dartmouth Hitchcock (CHad)
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How Can I Help My Child?

Child Life Boy

In all CHaD areas, we believe that patients, parents and caregivers are members of the care team and we value your input. A hospitalization, planned or unplanned, can often upset a child’s sense of normalcy. With this in mind we have provided a list of suggestions of how you can best help your child while in the hospital.

Inform staff of your child's normal daily routine.

The medical professionals helping to care for your child can try to accommodate things such as mealtime, nap-time, special bedtime rituals, etc., as much as possible. We can post this information in your child's room.

Maintain behavioral expectations, rules, and consequences.

Children need structure and find safety in the boundaries/expectations you set at home. If, while they are hospitalized, all rules disappear, this can be very upsetting to them. To reduce the emotional and behavioral impact of hospitalization, continue to expect your child to follow rules that you would expect at home.

Be honest.

Speaking with your child about why he or she is in the hospital can be challenging for parents and caregivers. However, children generally cope best when they know what to expect. If children feel they have been lied to or have lost trust in the adults caring for them, their cooperation, compliance, and coping with future experiences are compromised. If you aren't sure what to say to your child, or how to prepare them, child life specialists can provide you with suggestions or assist in these conversations.

Encourage play.

Play is an important part of a child's day. It is how your child explores the world and creates understanding in unfamiliar situations. Even when a child isn't feeling well, encouraging play will help their comfort level. If your child has a favorite toy or comfort item we always encourage you to bring it.

Take care of yourself.

Although your focus goes towards the care of your child, he or she needs you to take care of yourself too. It is important that you rest, eat, and take breaks. You are better able to support your child when you have been able to take a few moments to refresh yourself. Consider support from family, community members, and friends.

Please do not hesitate to contact the child life program office if you have any questions or feel your child will need support.

Contact the child life program

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