Talking to your child about a visit to Children’s

Before coming to Children’s Minnesota, talk about the visit with your child. Although all kids like to know what to expect, the best way to talk to your child will vary by age.

Toddlers (1 to 3 years old)

Talk to your toddler before you leave for the appointment

  • Tell them where you’re going, who they will meet, and how it will help them
  • Allow choices, such as which stuffed animal to bring or what to wear

At the appointment:

  • Explain what the staff will do before they examine your child
  • Work with staff by allowing them to “examine” your child’s stuffed animal before they examine your child

Preschoolers (3 to 5 years old)

Talk to preschoolers about three days before the visit.

  • Invite them to bring a favorite blanket, toy or other comfort item
  • Explain what will happen during the visit and how it will help your child
    • Play hospital or doctor — play is how preschoolers learn
    • Draw pictures to explain what will happen (stick figures work just fine)
    • Look at a children’s book about going to the doctor or the hospital
  • Talk to your child honestly about the hospital or clinic, giving simple explanations such as:
    • Stretcher = “bed with wheels”
    • Blood pressure cuff = “arm hug”
    • Anesthesia = “sleepy air”
    • Recovery room = “wake up room”

Elementary school age (5 to 12 years old)

Prepare your child about a week before the visit

  • Invite them to bring a favorite blanket, toy or other item
  • Allow your child the chance to ask questions and talk about concerns
  • Be honest, explain:
    • What will happen at the appointment, who they will meet, and how it will help them
    • Explain what your child will see after a procedure (stitches or bandages)

Teenagers (12 to 18 years old)

Teenagers are learning independence and decision-making. They are concerned with body image, privacy and relationships with friends.

  • Invite your teen to bring a favorite comfort item (music/iPod®, cards, games, movies, books, cell phone, laptop, iPad®)
  • Talk honestly about what’s going to happen
  • Encourage your teen to participate in decision-making
  • Encourage your teen to ask questions of their doctor or nurse



Hours, maps, and directions, plus team members and specialty services at each Children’s location.



Children’s Minnesota offers interpreter services for all languages to assist patients and families free of charge.