Support through the ages (and stages)


Knowing how a child may react to a medical encounter can help make it a less stressful experience. Below is some helpful information and how you can support your child depending on their age.

I am an INFANT

My caregiver makes me feel safe and I don’t like separation

Rocking or singing to me can help calm me

I like routines

Unfamiliar people may scare me

Things that may help me:

Swaddle me to help me feel secure

Lower the lights and use soft voices

Watching my crib mobile

A pacifier can be soothing

A rattle or similar toy may help distract me

I am a TODDLER

I like to say “No”

I am afraid of strangers

I am scared of shots and needles

My caregiver makes me feel safe

Routine is important to me

I am learning to do things on my own

I use play to gain control and show how I am feeling

Things that may help me:

Avoid separating me from my caregiver when possible

Give me choices when possible

Help distract me with toys that light up or make noise

Blowing bubbles

Singing a song

Tell me what you are going to do in advance

Utilize a position of comfort

Keep my routine when possible

Toys I might like: Blocks, picture books, push/pull toys, balls, musical toys, stacking rings, stuffed animal

I am a PRE-SCHOOLER

I am fearful of strangers

I am scared of shots and needles

I like to make choices when possible

I may think I am in the hospital because I did something wrong

I am becoming more independent but still don’t like separation from caregivers

Things that may help me:

Allow choices when possible

Keep my caregiver close

Tell me what you are going to do in advance and explain it simply and clearly so I understand

Blowing bubbles or taking deep breaths

Help distract me with toys that light up or make noise

Singing a song or looking at a book

Utilize a position of comfort

Keep my routine when possible

Playing is familiar to me and can help me feel calmer, especially medical play and pretend play

Toys I might like: books, coloring book and large crayons, blocks, musical toys, dolls or stuffed animal, action figures

I am SCHOOL-AGE

I can understand why I am in the hospital

I am scared of shots and needles

I like to make my own choices

I don’t like to be separated from my caregiver

I have definite interests and enjoy talking about them

Privacy is becoming important to me and I may feel a loss of privacy and control

Things that may help me:

Let me decide my coping techniques

Give me clear explanation and preparation before procedures or tests so I know what to expect

Give me choices when possible

Use distraction such as television, music, games or talking to help me feel calm

Toys I might like: things to build like LEGOs, art activities, board or card games, puzzles, video games, action figures

I am a TEENAGER:

Friends are very important to me

I may fear loss of peer status while in the hospital

I am independent and value privacy

I want to make decisions

Things that may help me:

Respect my need for privacy

Allow me to be a part of the care plan

Involve me in decisions when possible

Help me feel a part of the medical team

#doctor #medical #preparation #pediatrician

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