School-Age Kids (6 - 11 Years) 

Helping Your Child Cope With Hospitalization

School-age children relate well with their friends, like to compete and are more critical of themselves than younger children. They are able to understand cause and effect and think logically. School-age children can classify and organize facts, and have an increased awareness of their body.

Common hospital issues for school-age children include fear of injury to their body; pain; loss of control; loss of mastery; and death. The following ideas can help parents and caregivers during their school-aged child's hospital stay.

Play:

  • Bring familiar items such as a blanket, pillow, stuffed animal, doll, movies, music and clothes.
  • Listen to favorite music.
  • Watch favorite movies or cartoons.
  • Play board games.
  • Play card games.
  • Play video games.
  • Read.
  • Put puzzles together.
  • Do arts and crafts.
  • Participate in group activities.
  • Sculpt with play dough and clay.
  • Keep journals and scrapbooks.

Medical play:

  • Make art and collages with safe medical supplies.
  • Use syringes in water play.
  • Play with doctor kits, real medical equipment and dolls.
  • Read books about being in the hospital.

Preparation:

  • Prepare your school-age child one week ahead of time.
  • Answer your child's questions; if you don't know the answer, tell them you will find out and tell them when you do.
  • Talk about your child's fears and questions openly and honestly.
  • Help your child understand why he or she needs to go to the hospital.
  • Allow your child to pack his or her own suitcase.
    • Coping ideas:

      • Pick a favorite place or thing to talk about such as a TV show or cartoon character.
      • Play music.
      • Squeeze a ball.
      • Use a glitter wand.
      • Breathe with slow deep breaths.
      • Talk on the phone with family and friends.
       
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