Preparing Your Child for Hospitalization

For many children, hospitalization is the single most traumatic experience in their young lives. They can tell, from the way the adults around them are acting, that it’s a pretty big deal. And if things get out of hand, worries and fears can make a trip to the hospital an upsetting experience, one that can carry over after the child comes home.

Parents naturally want to spare their children this psychological distress. However, some make the mistake of pretending the hospital is one great big party. Realistically, it is not. But, it also is not a place that any child should fear.

Openness and honesty are the best tools for preparing your child for hospitalization. Most kids are curious. They will feel better if they understand why they are going to the hospital and what will happen to them.

Children will trust their parents’ word and reassurances if they encounter few surprises during a hospital stay. They also will trust the hospital staff more. They will cooperate better and generally have the best possible experience.


Research has shown that children who are prepared for hospitalization and surgical procedures tend to recuperate faster and better than children who are not prepared.

Akron Children’s Hospital’s Child Life staff helps children prepare for surgical procedures and other medical experiences by offering age-appropriate information, hands-on familiarization with medical equipment and support via regular, pre-surgical programs for children and their families. The goal is to help familiarize children with what will happen during their hospital experience. There is a surgical tour offered that has some hands-on activities with things like surgical hats and an ear thermometer, and some refreshments.

The pre-surgical programs also are a good opportunity for parents and siblings to ask questions of staff members. Please call 330-543-8700 (Akron) or 330-746-8106
(Mahoning Valley) to sign up for the tour, or ask to talk to a child-life specialist. If you are unable to attend a tour in person, virtual surgery tours as well as an anesthesia video are available for viewing at

Here are some things you can do to help your child prepare for a trip to the hospital:

Preparing for surgery

Coming home

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