Patients of any age find it uncomfortable to be staying in a hospital for several days because hospitals are often associated with sickness, medications, operations, and anything related to various health conditions. That’s on a case-to-case basis, but the most affected people when it comes to dealing with hospitals are the children.
Hospitals can be one of children’s traumatic occurrences in their youthful years, especially for ages under ten. They’re not introduced to this environment unless they have a reason to visit, which is likely stressful on its own. It can also be that other kids have had their share of unpleasant memories during previous hospital visits. Moreover, hospitals aren't exactly portrayed as positive and pleasant in books, children’s movies, or television shows.
Making Hospital Visits Delightful
Some of you may have experienced that when pediatric patients start throwing tantrums and feel anxious with the place and everyone surrounding them, administering medication can be difficult. This won't only be complicated and stressful for the child but the parents and the medical staff as well. Thus, they must know how to put children at ease during hospitalization.
Calming an anxious child may be challenging, but it’s possible. To help you put children at ease during hospital visits, consider trying these tips:
1. Use Distractions
Pediatric nurses who’ve been in the industry for too long know even the slightest distraction can be a great help toward sustaining children’s behavior. Distractions can significantly help patients to take their minds off the hospital anxiety and overthinking.
You can distract them by asking questions about their favorite games, movies, or interests. Find a way to make them talk about their school, favorite subjects, or even their pets. The more they focus on sharing their stories, the more likely they’ll forget about their fears during treatments. If encouraging them to talk is tough, give them something they can play or interact with.
That’s why pediatric nurses are encouraged to wear medical scrubs with pockets like this
to have storage for small things like snacks, toys, colorful band-aids, and others. When you get them to concentrate on other things, the less scared they’ll be.
2. Be Calm
The last thing you’d want to do when a child is anxious and scared is to show them you’re stressed with the situation. Despite being exhausted because of your long shift, you must know how to put yourself together and remain composed when dealing with children. Even if you don’t show it, children can sense when you’re tense because of your body language. It’s also discouraged to use a commanding voice when dealing with kids, which will only trigger more fear.
Start by preparing yourself in front of a mirror. Take a deep breath
before you deal with children, so by the time you face them, all they’d see is the more comforting version of you. Use a calming and soothing voice when you talk to them. Your patience will be infectious to them, making them feel at ease and be cooperative with the treatments.
3. Include Children In Conversations
One of the main reasons children feel uncomfortable during hospitalization is they have no idea what to expect and what will happen during their visit. This feeling makes them feel vulnerable and fearful of the environment they’re being put in. Their minds might be full of questions such as:
• Is it painful?
• Will I be hurt?
• Will I be separated from my parents for so long?
• Will they leave me alone?
• Why am I here for?
When these questions are left unanswered, the more likely fear will grow into them and lead them to feel traumatized when it comes to hospital visits. The best way you can help kids set all these questions aside is by communicating with them.
It’s common for doctors and nurses to only talk to the parents as if the child isn't in the same room. However, when the child feels excluded, the more they’d feel vulnerable, so recognize their fears and include them when having conversations with their guardians. As much as their level of understanding and age allows, they’ll be able to comprehend what’s going on and hopefully grasp the processes they’ll need to go through. Once they know what to expect, it’ll give them a chance to prepare emotionally.
4. Teach Them About Common Hospital Instruments
It’s also a great idea to make educational conversations about children’s hospital visits. For instance, you can take time to talk to a kid about the common hospital instruments you’ll be using for their treatment such as the stethoscope or even children’s band-aids. Teach them what the stethoscope is and let them hear their heartbeat. You can also teach them how to put a band-aid on a wound correctly.
These little yet relevant bits of knowledge will make the child feel pride for themselves in learning new things and make them feel comfortable and safe with their surroundings.
5. Prioritize Their Physical Comfort
Another reason children fear hospital visits is because they fear they may encounter something painful. It may be because they’re about to have their vaccine shot, getting their blood drawn, or undergo an operation. Even if the purpose of the visit will cause them a tremendous amount of pain, make sure you prioritize their physical comfort.
You can do this by applying topical anesthesia or other alternatives
, which will help pediatric patients feel comfortable and less nervous while reducing physical pain. It’s also a good idea to ensure your facilities have child-friendly chairs and comfy cushions or pillows that'll help put them at ease during their visits.
Ensuring the comfort of children during hospitalization must be prioritized. Not only will this make their treatment processes and medications easier but this will also affect how they perceive hospitals as they grow up.
Children’s age, personality, the reason for visit, and past hospital experience may contribute to their behavior during hospitalization. But by applying the tips above, you can help put children at ease, improve their hospital experience, and create a positive impression that’ll last a lifetime.