Center for child development

The Psychology of a Child’s Visit to a Hospital

It is not every day that a child gets to visit a hospital. The reasons for a visit could be many. A sick friend, a sick relative or perhaps as a patient, to visit a doctor. The sight of a hospital would make anyone feel intimidated; no matter the circumstances of the visit. Most hospitals are imposing enough with the smell of disinfectant permeating all that is to be seen.

Keeping a child occupied

It is not easy for young children to remain quiet. It is that age when they should be doing the running and climbing stuff that most healthy children accomplish so effortlessly.

In case a child is taken to hospital as a patient it does help to keep something familiar to the child with him. It could be a blanket that he uses or small toy that he is fond of. This does help calm the child down. More of a reassurance. Sick children are normally quiet and a smoothening of nerves is what is so required of the parents to do.

Most pediatric wards have small play areas that help the child be at ease with the surroundings. The use of toys and props that emphasize the human part of hospitals would help reassure even the most fidgety of children.

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The need to keep informed

There are those parents that would mask the real reason for a visit to a hospital from the child particularly if the patient happens to be the said child. Although this does at times help better handle the child, it can at most instances prove counter productive. This is because most children are bound to find out the truth at some point or the other and the reaction thereafter can be outrageous so to speak.

The healthy practice is to keep the child informed and reassured of the procedures at the hospital. Stories can help the child relate to people there. Most important is that the parent accompanying the toddler must be at the side all through the visit. A child in panic can cause repairable damage to the psyche.

Relating to the child

It does help to relate to the child when taking him to the hospital. For most children, the doctor is an unpleasant person that sticks needles into them. The child cannot be expected to know that being a doctor needs years of training and that doctors are quite capable of relieving children and adults alike of illness.

There are a lot of books that show children the workings of a hospital and the various people that work at such premises. It does help to bring such books to the children often as soon as they get to four or five years of age. The introduction of various figures and persons at the hospital can help build a healthy relation to actual persons in hospitals. It is inevitable that children visit a hospital at some point or the other.

The fun part

Modern day hospitals are alive to the image that they build for themselves among the population in general. Thus schools are encouraged to pay visits to such premises to familiarize the workings of an actual institution. This could well be the most productive part of PR that a good hospital practices. The rapport that the child makes at an early stage of the childhood is important in maintaining a healthy relation to such an institution so early in the childhood.