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, different things may work based on the age of your child. Here are some suggestions for different age groups:

Toddlers

Toddlers are focused on their own needs. If it’s not their idea, then it’s not a good idea.

  • Parental presence is helpful.
  • Tell them where you’re going, who they will meet, and how it will help them.
  • Encourage choices, such as which stuffed animal to bring or what to do when you get home.
  • Doctor play with stuffed animals is a great way for your child to learn about medical experiences. This is also helpful to see what they understand.

Preschoolers

Preschoolers have amazing imaginations and for what they don’t understand, they often create their own explanation.

  • 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 with words they can understand.
  • Provide choices that allow them to be actively involved in their care.

Elementary school age

School-aged children like to know facts and details, especially how their body works.

  • Invite them to bring a favorite blanket, toy or other item.
  • Allow your child the chance to ask questions and talk about concerns.
  • Find out what they already know and explain what they don’t know.
  • Be honest, explain:
    • What will happen at the appointment, who they will meet, and how it will help them.
    • What your child will see after a procedure (stitches or bandages).
  • Provide choices that allow them to be actively involved in their care.

Teenagers

Teenagers are learning independence and decision-making. They may be concerned with body image, privacy and control over their experience.

  • Invite your teen to bring something to provide comfort and distraction, such as something he might bring along on a long car ride.
  • Talk honestly about what’s going to happen.
  • Encourage your teen to participate in decision-making.
  • Encourage your teen to prepare and ask questions of their health care provider.
  • Support their inclusion and involvement with their health care experience.

For more information and support, contact the child life department.

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