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Mended Little HeartGuide

Introduction Contents SECTION Older children may refuse to eat or change their food preferences during a hospital stay. This is normal behavior. Don’t force your child to eat while in the hospital. Most children will eat when they get hungry enough. • Some children get clingy in the hospital and want you to stay at their bedside around the clock. Find ways to entertain your child without having to be bedside 24/7, and make a plan so you can take a break. Child Life Specialists and volunteers can play with your sick child and his or her siblings while you step away. Many pediatric hospitals also have playrooms with age-appropriate activities, games and toys for patients and their siblings. Ask if your hospital has a Child Life department or volunteer group. • Bring familiar toys or stuffed animals that your child loves, but keep close track of them so they don’t get lost or dirty. Also, you may want to bring items to entertain older children, including a few surprises that are just for the hospital. • Have a plan for managing your child’s pain. Make sure you understand what can be done to keep your child more comfortable. It’s very hard for parents and caregivers to see their child suffering, and understanding pain management will help you feel like things are more in control. • Parents and caregivers worry that their children will have emotional distress from their hospital stay. Keep in mind that although parents and caregivers may remember every detail of the hospital stay, babies and very young children do not. You may see your child’s behavior change for a little while after their hospital stay, but this often doesn’t last. In fact, some kids even remember positive things about their stay — like riding in the wagon or playing in the playroom — and they may want to go back. However, older children are likely to remember more details about the hospital stay. Find About My Child’s Heart Table of resources to help them deal with the emotions they are feeling, such as being scared. Often these emotions will improve with time. • Don’t forget about your own emotional health. Your social worker should be able to put you in touch with a counselor if you need one. Advocating for Your Child Most parents or caregivers who’ve a child in the hospital will tell you to remember that YOU are the best advocate for your child. Don’t be afraid to speak up if you feel something is not right or if you have ANY questions. You will not offend your child’s medical caregivers. You can also ask for a child/patient advocate if you need help. Parents and caregivers should trust their instincts when they feel like something is wrong and should not be afraid to speak up. Most of the time, things are under control and will go as planned, even if it may not seem that way to parents and caregivers. Most of the care our children receive while in the hospital is very good, but medical professionals are human and mistakes can occasionally happen. Also, each child is different and will react differently to medications and procedures. Unexpected complications can arise. If you see something that concerns you, talk about it with a nurse or doctor so that they can address it. Go To 56


Mended Little HeartGuide
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