Preparing Your Child


Hospitalization can be a stressful time for both you and your child. Your feelings about the hospitalization can affect your child’s emotions and behaviors, so remember to speak positively around your child when discussing the upcoming stay at Shriners Hospital. Honesty will be important to your child. Be sure to have all your questions answered by your child’s physician. The unknown of the hospital environment can be frightening. By helping your child prepare, you can make the hospital experience a positive one.

Younger Children

Read stories or watch videos with your child about going to the hospital.

Encourage doctor play. Allow your child to talk about their thoughts and feelings.

Allow your child to help pack. Let them choose a few favorite items to bring to the hospital.

Know what is comforting to your child and share those methods with the staff members helping to care for your child.

Three Tips to Comfort Your Child


Have your teen speak with someone who has had a similar hospitalization.

Encourage your teen to maintain contact with family and friends through visits, phone calls, email or mail.

Have your teen pack for the hospital stay. Remind your teen to include both special and personal items – pictures of family and friends, music. Please leave valuables at home.


Hospitalization can also be a stressful event for brothers and sisters at home. Their day-to-day routine may be altered with the absence of a caregiver. Brothers and sisters may experience feelings of isolation. To ease potential anxiety, please remember to:

Encourage siblings’ understanding of hospitalization;

Encourage contact between siblings and the child in the hospital.

Continue to provide understanding and reassurance for the siblings at home.

Preparing your child for surgery

Preparing your child for surgery can be an important step to minimizing the anxiety that he/she may feel about having a surgical procedure, especially if it is your child’s first time having surgery.  Shriners offers pre-operative tours for you and your child to help familiarize yourself with this hospital and the surgery unit, so on the day of surgery there is less to worry about.  A child life specialist can help explain the surgery process to your child in a way that is non-threatening, and can help answer a lot of questions that your child may be afraid to ask.

To schedule a pre-op tour or to speak with a child life specialist about your child’s surgery, please call: (916) 453-2000 ext 3316

When there is no time to prepare

Hospitalization can be sudden when your child has been injured. Having little or no time to prepare for the experiences and not knowing what to expect can be overwhelming. Children can experience distress related to unplanned events. You can help your child through this difficult time.

Be honest. Answer your child’s questions openly and honestly.
Remain supportive. You are your child’s source of comfort and love.
Ask questions. Be sure to have a clear understanding of your child’s hospitalization.
Share with staff what is comforting to your child.


Three Tips to Comfort Your Child

A nurse working with a patient and young child

Parents and caregivers play a vital role in reducing the pain and anxiety that may be caused by medical procedures.  At Shriners Hospitals for Children, child life specialists recommend using these 3 strategies to ease stress and comfort your child.