What’s the best way to ease a child’s fears of going to a hospital? If you’re a parent, this is a question you must have asked yourself at one point in time since kids can be terrified of hospitals and doctors.
9 Tips To Help Ease Your Child’s Anxiety Visiting The ER or Hospital
This fear of going to the hospital can make even a healthy child afraid of getting the necessary treatment. Even more so if they need to be rushed to the emergency room.
To reduce such stress, here are useful tips to consider to ease your child’s fear of going to the ER:
1. Identify Your Child’s Source Of Fear
The first step in dealing with any fear is identifying where this fear is coming from or causing it. There are several ways you can identify a child’s fear of going to the hospital or emergency room.
One of which is to ask your child questions. These questions can be direct or framed so that they may seem harmless or not intimidating at all. Find out what exactly it is about the hospital that they fear and why they fear it.
If they’ve previously been to the hospital or ER before, ask them if anything about that experience causes their anxiety. It can be a particular event they experienced themselves or something they saw in the ER that made them afraid. It may even be something a person told them. Younger children may have a harder time articulating this, so it’s best to be patient with them.
2. Explain To Your Child
Make it a point to talk to your child about the process of going to the hospital or the emergency room. For instance, if your child is afraid of the hospital because they think they’ll never leave, try to reassure them that isn’t the case. A hospital is a place where they can recover from illness injuries.
Another way to help your child understand the process is by visiting the hospital’s website. This allows them to see what kind of hospital you’re taking them to. For example, you can go to idahofallscommunityhospital.com and explore their emergency services, which you can explain to your child. This way, you’ll assure them that their fears are unfounded and a hospital or emergency room is not a scary place after all.
3. Consult Your Doctor
Besides talking to your child, you should also consult with or let them speak to a doctor about these fears. Often, children become afraid because they don’t know what will happen, or their imagination runs wild, that they come up with extreme scenarios about being in the hospital. This can bring about the fear and anxiety they’re feeling.
Discussing these with a doctor may help children understand what happens in a hospital and why it’s essential for them to visit the facility when they’re injured or sick. A doctor may also be able to dispel some myths and false notions about going to the ER that a child may have heard from an adult, which can alleviate their anxiety.
4. Be Comforting
Besides discussing with your child, another effective way to ease their fear of hospitals is to offer support during this stressful period. As an adult, you may unwittingly brush aside their anxieties and fears because you already know what happens in a hospital or emergency room.
Instead of thinking their fears are silly, empathize with them and comfort them. Don’t invalidate their feelings and assure them of your presence. For some children, knowing that their parents understand their situation can help them overcome their fears because they know their mom or dad will support them during the ordeal.
Simply being emphatic and comforting can prevent your child from becoming aggressive in the hospital and make them more cooperative towards the ER staff.
5. Visit The Hospital Before Actual Admission
You can also alleviate your child’s fear of hospitals to visit the hospital itself before they need to be admitted. This will help your child learn about the hospital’s inner workings of the emergency room and how the medical staff treats their patients. While observing, identify the good and bad aspects of the hospital’s service.
Explain what’s happening in a way that won’t frighten them, or ask one of the medical staff to do so. Encourage your child to ask questions so you can clarify some things they may be curious or afraid about. You may even consider talking to other parents who have children in the hospital and get their opinions about their own hospital experience. This lets your child have a broader understanding of what they might expect from being admitted.
6. Provide Some Distractions
Another effective way to ease your child’s fears of hospitals is to provide a form of distraction. This can be in the form of a book, a toy, or an item that gives them comfort. An emergency room can be a hectic place, and your child might inevitably hear some crying or see people in a state of panic, so holding onto something that comforts them or distracts them may lessen their feelings of anxiousness and dread.
If you have a gadget around, you can let your child listen to music or watch videos. This way, they won’t be too disturbed by the goings-on inside the emergency room.
If you don’t have an item or gadget that can distract them, try talking to them instead and gamifying your conversation. You can play some simple games like reciting tongue twisters, playing ‘I Spy,’ ‘Hangman,’ ‘The Alphabet Game,’ ‘Animalia,’ ‘Rock-Paper-Scissors,’ or the ‘Memory Game.’ To make it more educational for them, try incorporating stuff you can find in the hospital in whatever game you decide to play, if applicable.
7. Ensure A Family Member Is Always Around
If your child is afraid of visiting the ER, assure them that you or a family member will always be around. Since the emergency room is an unfamiliar place, having familiar faces around can help your child feel more comfortable and relaxed.
This is also one way of making your child feel less alone and that there’s always someone who will watch over them while they’re at the hospital. Your presence or the presence of a relative may be enough to calm them down.
8. Use Visualization Exercises
A trip to the ER can be stressful for your child to lessen their anxiety and consider utilizing visualization exercises. This requires you to tap into your child’s imagination to try and recollect special moments you’ve had in the past. For example, you can start talking about the recent trip you had as a family as you remind your child how much fun you all had at the time.
Visualizing good memories can take your child’s attention away from what may be causing their anxiety in the ER.
9. Be Calm
It would be best if you remained calm when taking your child to the hospital, no matter how tense you may be. Doing this is vital since your child can sense anxiety and panic in your body language, only stressing them out even further.
Practice calmness by speaking to your child in a confident, composed manner. Make sure your breathing is also even. Doing this will make your child feel more comfortable about going to the emergency room. Keep in mind that your child will look to you for comfort and guidance, so always endeavor to be calm regardless of how you might be feeling.
Help Ease Your Child’s Anxiety Visiting The ER or Hospital
Having your child rushed to the emergency room is challenging for both you, as a parent, and your child. Fortunately, there are several ways you can ease your child’s fear of hospitals. First is being able to identify the source of their fears. When you’ve identified what is causing them to feel anxious, talk to them, and ask them questions. Consider also speaking with a doctor so they can better explain to your child what happens in an emergency room, which can alleviate their fears. Remember to empathize with your child and be comforting when talking to them or explaining the situation.
Most importantly, always assure them of your presence when they’re in the emergency room. This way, your child can feel like they can rely on someone familiar while being on unfamiliar ground. If you’ve brought along gadgets or toys, try to distract them while in the ER so they won’t feel so nervous about the busy and fast-paced environment.
Even before your child needs to be admitted to the ER, try visiting the hospital beforehand. Or, try browsing through their website. Both can help your child better understand what happens in a hospital. It’s a place that can help them get well and recover faster.
Through these different ways, both you and your child will have some peace of mind during a trip to the emergency room.